Homes.com joins the ranks of Trulia and StreetEasy this week and announced the launch of a new iPhone application (iTunes link).
The app is functional enough and grabs its listings from a combination of broker feeds and from the network of websites run by Homes.com parent Dominion Enterprises, which runs the Advanced Access, AgentAdvantage, eNeighborhoods, and Number1Expert web sites.
Real estate has been an exploding category on the iTunes store (though not at the same pace as tip calculators and fart applications), and so far we’ve seen a handful of the aforementioned search portals jump into the fray and even seen some of the brands join the frenzy (see Coldwell Banker Launches iPhone App).
Ultimately however, all of the dedicated real estate apps on the iPhone have a fairly standard feature set that includes maps, driving directions and property detail pages. And most take advantage of the iPhone’s location awareness too to show you any nearby properties.
But the problem with these apps frankly is that they all suffer from biggest issue affecting their desktop counterparts as well. Lack of inventory. Or lousy inventory.
This becomes even more apparent in a mobile environment when a listing that clearly has a for sale sign in the yard (especially one that you’re standing in front of), doesn’t appear in your search results. Or you when the property you’re being guided to has been removed from the market.
House hunting is a natural fit for the mobile platform (see House Hunting On The Go) but suffers greatly from these inaccuracies. While the big search sites may have all but tied up the experience on the desktop, the palm top is still wide open. While there have been iPhone optimized web sites (like Intero’s) that are MLS backed unfortunately they haven’t moved to becoming dedicated apps yet and so suffer a little from the slight.
There is a real opportunity for an MLS driven search solution here, whether it be broker driven or association driven, to corner the mobile market in local markets. I, for one, am still waiting.