How to Make a Real Estate App Like Zillow and Trulia

How to Make a Real Estate App Like Zillow and Trulia

Today we speak about how to develop a real estate mobile app similar to Zillow and Trulia. Nowadays this kind of apps meets demand. We explore why these apps so popular and what to do if you have an idea of the real estate application. In this article, you will get to know what steps you should take to avoid funds burning and receive success in the field of real estate mobile apps.

Do you believe finding your dream house is a constant pain in the neck? We also used to, but then Zillow burst out and we’ve changed our mind at instant. A drastic change Zillow made in the rental business sphere made all the busy landlords and hopeless tenants give a sigh of relief. If building an app like Zillow and Trulia is a question of interest for you - then you are on the right page.

Taking the Stress Out of Renting.

“Four out of every five homes in the United States has been looked up by at least one person on Zillow.”

Founded back in the 2006 (in 2005 technically, but the website was fully delivered in 2006), Zillow Group (or simply Zillow) was a long-term project, founded by two former Microsoft executives as a startup first. By describing it as a long-term project I simply mean it wasn’t initially born as an immense system that we get to use know - but over the course of 11 years it has grown into it. 3 years after the launch the first out of Zillow’s “application networks” was created - iOS app became a pioneer in the field of iPhone rental apps for consumers. Android app didn’t take long to be delivered - in March of 2010 there appeared Zillow Android version. Currently Zillow could be installed on the following devices:

  • iPhones
  • Android devices
  • iPads
  • Blackberrys
  • Windows Phones
  • 2015-released Apple TV application

[Source: Wiki]

Another interesting fact about Zillow is it’s name - as has been originally mentioned by Zillow’s founders Rich Barton, Spencer Rascoff and Lloyd Frink in the interview they gave to Geek WIre (well-timed to their 10-year anniversary), they didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the proper-word-URL, so eventually a combination of “pillow” and “zillion” turned out to become America’s biggest rental services platform.
Quoting Spencer Raskoff, “What we were trying to do with Zillow also, was choose a name that could allow the brand to flex or the business to move in different directions, because we didn’t know where it was going to go entirely.”

Source: [Geekwire]

A Lot to Consider.

Huge Zillow's Database


...And this was the witty prediction to make as now Zillow has split into several app products, including:

  • Real Estate and Rental - Zillow app for tenants, where one can find the dream-like apartment. Parameters that help you choose your apartment include GEO-location services and various filters (price range, size, amenities, even the number of schools located nearby);

  • Zillow Rental Manager - an application for landlords, where you can easily list your property - apparently you can list as many as you have. This app also gives you an opportunity to verify your applicant upfront, performing a check of his credit score and his criminal records.

  • Zestimate - an online service which offers you an estimate of any house, based on the publicly available info like the comparable prices of the houses nearby in the neighbourhood. Despite this “help” has been heavily criticized by public organizations, even by the Wall Street Journal, it is yet afloat amd keeps coworkers gossiping about the costy house of their boss.

Once you get to think about how to make an app like zillow or any other commercial real estate app, you should keep some things in mind. With our development experience, we advise you to begin with a few tips to deal with – in order to be on your toes once the development is all set.

1. Huge Database.

And with this in mind, let me just emphasize - it has to be bigger than ever. Imagine how many points have to be stored in there: all the properties, their amenities, features and locations, routes and maps for a GEO-location function, all the addresses of the nearby institutes, schools and shops.On the server’s side various tech has to be implemented as well, including the Postgress, PostGIS SQL databases, Elasticsearch for a full-text search and Marionette Backbone Framework.

2. Various stack of tech.

Do you want your app to be used by customers? So, you should create a comfortable environment. For the client’s app features to be implemented into mobile app for real estate agents include different technologies, peculiarly:

  • MapKit for the maps integration
  • CoreLocation - for tracking user’s geo-location and setting a point on the map
  • Apple Push Notifications Service (APNS) - for the push notifications to hit on the device
  • CoreData or Realm - to have a list of saved houses and other properties
  • Facebook SDK - to enable sign in and sharing via Facebook
  • Google sign in - for having an additional Google+ sign in option
  • Virtual tours, which allows customers to explore the property without leaving the application. Check the design concept of 360-view search in a real estate mobile app.

Real estate app 360 view concept

How much is it - a cost to develop real estate application?

It’s important to start with conducting business analysis. This helps you to evaluate an idea of your application, get to know the market situation, find your competitors and market leaders.
Next thing is design. It’s important to create an attractive user interface and make your app comfortable for usage. You can check out our design case of the real estate app.

Web Design For a Real Estate Platform – Behance These two stages, business analysis and design, usually take about 2 months and cost in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $8,000 per month.

The real estate app development cost may vary depending on several factors - the time, the scope of features you obtain, whether it is going to be an MVP or an MMVP that you are willing to create, but if we were to generalize - you need to have several products developed. The first stage would be mobile app development for real estate agency with a finish-line product - mobile application. We are going to take iOS-based one as an example, but if there is a need for Android app - then the estimates are likely to rise. The second, but the crucial one as well is a web development, where the website+server part combo has to be developed.

Read also: How to make an app like Airbnb?

Part 1: Mobile app like Trulia/Zillow


Mobile version of Zillow for iOS


So if we were to take the iOS application, the most constructive estimation would consist out of several blocks, named in compliance to the algorithm users normally interact with the app.

  • Onboarding, where the features sign in/ sign up/sign out, signup with social networks, push-notifications, static pages, side menu, settings, customer support page and rate this app included would take around 56 hours.

  • Rentor’s profile + apartment details - 150 hours. Search homes: saved searches, search details, saved searches map, saved searches edit, saved search sort, filters, map of homes, recently viewed list, maps of homes - all of these would need 80 hours ish.

  • Saved Homes: list, sort, edit, maps, hidden, listing, search (with GEOlocation and navigation), deep links, report an appartment function - 96 h

  • Maps integration: in-app maps, mappoint integration( ordinary view, satellite), full-screen photo gallery,apartment details: school ratings (as Zillow also shows you the schools in the area you’re apartment-shopping) and lists on the map - all of these takes up from 170 h.

  • Project setup - 16 hours.

Overall: an MVP for a similar to Zillow iOS app would take up from 570 hours at it’s least.

Part 2: Web Zillow Platform Development

Zillow covers an extremely large database within the web platform they have developed and a numerous range of features they have created for the project. We have estimated the ones required for a basic MVP version, they go as follows:

  • Setup / deploy during the development / configuration stage - 24 hours

  • Flexible authorization solution / signup / sign in / restore password via email / change password for the System, API and Web parts would take around 100 hours

  • Basic tasks for API implementation (application / oAuth / API namespace) - 14 h

  • Tenant profile model, 5 steps related lists for the System, API and Web parts - up from 104 h

  • Search with polygon, PostGIS || ES + Postgress + filters and sorting for the System, API and Web parts - 238 h

  • Places organization (nearby schools, etc.) for the System, API and Web parts - 98 h

  • Save Search / likes / comments / followers / abuses and interaction for the System, API and Web parts - 260 h

  • Push-notifications + Deep Links for the System and API - 38 hours

  • Auto tests for API - up from 40 hours

There also will be Admin panel for a web application, consisting out of several functions:

  • Dashboard - 20 hours
  • CRUD for basic entities - 60 hours

Overall: an MVP out of the massive product like the one Zillow is would take up from 1180 developers' hours. Respectively, the cost of real estate app development would start at $43 k with the overall minimum number of functions included. Please pay attention to the fact that we have excluded a few additional features out of this MVP-estimate, precisely Price / Tax History, Price This Home feature, Zestimate Details, Neighborhood and a few more. If you would like to get a complete Zillow clone estimate, please let us know. :)

How to Earn Your Money Back Like Zillow Had?

You can list your property for sale on Zillow for free. You can also post your proprietary for rent - same, absolutely free of charge. How does Zillow make money then?
The revenue-generating scheme is completely based on advertisement and works in several ways:

  • Paid advertisement for the property management companies

  • $10-per-month fee for the premium services for the real estate agents

  • Paid advertisement for the mortgage lenders and other Zillow-interested businesses

According to Investopedia, Zillow Group (which also includes Trulia) reported the revenue of $224.59 million in the quarter ending September 30, 2016, and $644.68 million in the year ended December 31, 2015.

Read also: How Do Free Apps Make Money? 5 Steps to Increase Sales and Avoid Mistakes

Enjoy Living in the 21st Century.


Real estate application


Only a few years ago, rental services industry would have been a pain in the neck for those seeking for help and assistance - for landlords, tenants and contractors. These days, rental platforms are designed for users to spend less time searching and more time living, less time looking for a dream house and more time enjoying the sweet moments in there. So why don’t you contribute and make a breakthrough in the real estate mobile app development - for the sake of a better future where people rent without a hustle?

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are always ready to give a free consulting and answer all questions you have.

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Written by Yuriy Smirnov, Oleg Tsarenko and Elina Bessarabova.

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