Until recently, regular Inman contributor and indie broker Troy Palmquist thought using a branded app was a luxury. But after a conversation and some research, he’s opened his eyes to the possibility of white-labeled tech and the benefits that far outweigh the costs. Here’s why this is a reasonable option for indies competing with big-box brokerages and behemoth portals.

Troy Palmquist is an indie broker in California with more than a decade of experience. His regular column, which covers a range of helpful tips for agents and op-eds on industry happenings, publishes Thursdays on Inman.

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Until now, I thought using a personally branded app was a luxury. I questioned whether people would download the app or even use it. Now I see there are options out there that are easy to download and encourage agents and clients to actually use the tech.

Following one of my recent articles, I was contacted by Will Grewal, app developer and co-founder of HomeStack. His company uses proprietary software to deliver speedy updates and an ultimate home search experience to each of its users. During our conversation, Grewal began justifying his case for why my brokerage should have its own app and it really got my wheels spinning.

In fact, the product truly blew me away. However, at the time of writing this article, I have yet to commit to a vendor or make a decision on moving forward with app development. All the same, I think my discussion with Grewal is relevant.

For starters, he points out that search patterns show most homebuyers are searching on mobile at some point, and more than likely, they are using apps like those from Redfin or realtor.com.

As an indie broker-owner I have to ask myself the big questions: Should big-box brands be the only option? Why go with a portal that’s selling the lead, when you can have your own app with tech tools that make it inherently easy to track client engagement? If a buyer wants info on a house shouldn’t it go to the agent they are working with?

This is where branded apps come in. They can put the power of home search in the hands of the agents and allow the agent to essentially build out their own real estate app and convert more deals in less time.

To get behind a product like this, I have to do my research and create an effective way to present this technology as a value-add to my clients. If I am working with buyers, I want them to understand the advantages of using my app versus realtor.com or Redfin.

We all have the same data. The same houses listed for sale. The same listing details, all relatively updated in the same amount of time online.

What’s the differentiator?

After doing a little digging, I’ve found there are several compelling things that HomeStack in particular gets right. Some of which are faster data speed, accuracy and new ways to brand yourself as a top agent. However, a specific feature that caught my eye is HomeStack’s one-touch search and sharing option.

The platform is able to send me actionable data on what my clients are looking at and engaging with in real time. Plus, it provides a simple, fast and effective way for us to communicate on properties that grab their attention. This is a win-win, as it keeps my clients off other platforms that are selling the lead.

And as a broker-owner, apps like this present a clear advantage that could help me get my team of agents behind it, trained on it and using it.

Of course, there are a handful of great vendors and multiple solutions for agents and brokerages who are looking to partner with a white-label app solution (meaning the developer’s name would remain behind the scenes).

Advantages of branded apps

The news of SmarterAgent being acquired by Keller Williams demonstrates further that broker-owners like myself see real value in branded mobile apps. But, what are the real advantages of having a branded app? Here’s what I’ve discovered.

  • Improves your client experience: Clients want technology that is easy to use and improves their home search. Creating your own app helps them do that, while keeping them actively engaged in the process.
  • Arms agents with tracking and insights: An app allows you to receive real-time data on what your clients are interested in. It also helps you to maximize client communications and follow-up.
  • Creates brand loyalty: Mobile apps are proven to increase the frequency a client engages with your brand. According to a recent study by Adobe, “Building a mobile app is a worthy investment, as users of mobile apps are more loyal to the brand versus those who just visit the website from their mobile device.”
  • Helps you stand out over the competition: Real Estate Webmasters says, “If real estate agents genuinely want to compete with the portals (like Redfin and Zillow), they need to be on the playing field, at the very least. Mobile apps put agents in the game and provide the opportunity to keep mobile traffic on their own site.”

In addition to HomeStack, I am investigating a number of products, including SmarterAgent, AppyPie and SnApp. And though my sights are set on HomeStack and its innovative suite of agent-centric features and next-level lead generation tools, the verdict is still out.

Are you an agent or brokerage using a branded app? Share your thoughts about it in the comments section below.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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