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Eight ways estate agents can make the most of mobile

Sun 14 Jul 2013

Like most people Im not a huge fan of estate agents, but like most people Im also nosey and want to peek inside

homes down my street.

This means that even though I am not in the market for a new home I find myself browsing estate agent websites

more frequently than I perhaps should.

In general my snooping takes place on my mobile phone after Ive spotted a for sale sign while strolling to the

tube, and as I dont want to believe that Im the only person in the world guilty of this behaviour I feel that mobile

is an area that estate agents should be looking to exploit.

If someone sees a house up for sale or rent and wants to know more then its a good idea to allow them to access

the details there and then, otherwise they may forget to look up the information when they finally get home or to


So, here are a few ways in which estate agents can use mobile to help sell their wares, as well as a look at which

businesses are getting it right...

Build a mobile site

Its a rather obvious point, but if you want house hunters to check property details while theyre out and about then

you need a mobile site.

Many estate agents have mobile sites, including Hamptons and Foxtons, but Knight Frank and Savills are still

behind the times despite being among the biggest agencies in the country.

Have a prominent search function

In London Foxtons is one of the most visible agencies, however its mobile homepage is quite disappointing. A

large, yellow call to action (CTA) at the top of the homepage shows you what is most important to their business,

even though mobile users would probably prefer to be presented with a decent search tool.

The search function is lower down the homepage and could easily be improved by making the text fields and

buttons larger just look at those tiny radio buttons for choosing between buying or renting a property...

In comparison, Hamptons homepage couldnt be simpler. Whereabouts are you looking and are you buying or


This makes it incredibly easy to find what youre looking for, with necessary filters applied on the results page.

Simple search results

Search results should ideally include at least one image of the property, the price, location and number of


Foxtons ticks all these boxes, but I feel the number of bedrooms should be given more prominence as at the

moment it falls below the mortgage calculator.

Strutt and Parker packs in a lot of information about the properties, though the colour scheme is awful.

Hamptons probably has one of the best results pages as its simple and uncluttered, while Douglas and Gordon

also has a clean results page, complete with the square footage of each property and a handy click-to-call link.

Simple yet detailed property pages

Property pages appear to be a major challenge for estate agents as none of them is particularly user-friendly.

They tend to have far too much text, fiddly buttons, or tiny images. Foxtons probably has the best overall design ,

offering a concise description, bullet points of the key features, good sized images and plenty of other


The one minor issue is the lack of a click-to-call button to make it easy to arrange a viewing.

In comparison, Marsh & Parsons offers decent images and a good-sized floor plan but the text is far too small.

Make it easy to arrange a viewing

Ultimately agents dont just want people checking property details online, they also want the visit to result in a

property viewing with one of their agents. This means making it as simple as possible to get in touch with the


Foxtons presents nice big Arrange to view this property CTAs in its search results but if you click on it you are

asked to login, which is a sure-fire way of repelling potential buyers.

It does also give the option of calling the office, but wheres the click-to-call button? The process could be made

far simpler.

For example, Marsh & Parsons puts a big Call us CTA on its property pages.

Text for details

Marsh & Parsons has a text number on its property boards that allows you to receive local property details by text


If you text Marsh to 84840 the agency then sends you a hyperlink to a webpage that details all the properties

available for sale or rent in your local area.

Its a really neat feature and delivers useful information quickly and without forcing people to speak to an agent or register their details.

QR codes QR codes are almost as much-maligned as estate agents themselves, yet I feel that the property industry could really stand to benefit from using the pixelated little squares.

For example, they could be placed on for sale signs to allow people to instantly access the property details.

Ive yet to see anyone implement this technology, however London agency Currell has QR codes in its shop windows next to each property advert. This means people can easily access property details while browsing the window display and without having to enter the agency.

Currell also avoids the cardinal sin of linking to a desktop site , but instead links directly to a mobile optimised property page.

The pages themselves could do with a bit of tweaking to make them easier to read and navigate, but on the plus side Currell does include a huge number of excellent images for each property.

Put a phone number on for sale signs

Pretty much all estate agents do this already as standard, but its still worth flagging up as it means that house hunters can quickly contact the agency for more details.

The problem is that often agents arent willing to give out details until theyve registered the buyers personal details, which then means theyre opening themselves up to a barrage of spam calls and emails.

And obviously we snoops who have no intention of buying a home dont want to reveal ourselves by actually speaking to an agent...

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