When you think of online and mobile real estate sites, Zillow and Redfin are probably the first names that come to mind. Seattle-based Estately, however, has been quietly growing in the shadow of these larger companies, and the 17-person company doubled both its revenue and site traffic in 2013. Now, it hopes to continue to build on this momentum with the release of its first mobile app.
Estately for iPhone, which is launching today, is a pretty late entrant to the mobile real estate game. Zillow, Redfin, Trulia and others have long offered mobile apps. As Estately CEO and co-founder Galen Ward told me earlier this week, the company’s focus has long been on running a very lean startup, and the team didn’t want to divert resources away from its efforts on the web. Ward also argues that waiting for iOS 7 allowed his company to more easily build the kind of native app the team wanted to build.
Estately expanded to 30 additional markets last year, bringing its total to 70. Unlike some of its competitors, it has direct access to MLS listings in most areas. To do this, the company had to set up offices in many states, but in return, it can notify users within 15 minutes when a new house comes on the market because it has full access to the same information regular real estate agents have.
Ward told me that the new app is meant to be “super easy to use.” There are no slide-out menus and everything was designed to streamline the process as much as possible. Because it is an iOS 7-only app, the team was able to easily create animations for when users favorite a house and perform other actions in the app. The app, Ward said, should “feel alive and like something that people want to touch.”
As for other platforms, Ward told me that the team doesn’t have any plans to expand beyond iOS right now. Instead, the company plans to deepen its investment in iOS (maybe with a dedicated iPad app) before it goes broad.
Estately is playing in a very competitive market, but even without a clear mobile strategy, the company has done well over the last year. To remain competitive in the long run, though, it definitely needed this mobile app, so it will be interesting to see how this will influence the company’s growth over the course of this year.