Apartment Hunting Goes Mobile

By Teresa O’Dea Hein, Managing EditorCamden, N.J. – To facilitate the apartment hunting/marketing process, a new technology combines mobile location technology, such as GPS, with information about real estate listings, neighborhoods and nearby places of interest delivered to cell phones and other mobile devices. Smarter Agent has earned three patents for its mobile location-triggered real estate search capabilities, which are available across the U.S. “Mobile is growing much faster than the Internet, so we’re capturing that audience,” says CEO Brad Blumberg, who comes from a real estate family. “People are using their cell phones more and more.”Currently, Smarter Agent is available to Sprint customers but Blumberg tells MHN that it will be available through other systems providers as well in the next two quarters.With just one click, users of the application can stand in any neighborhood and see the apartments for rent located near them automatically appear on their cell phones. The data lists pricing and amenities, shows property photos and provides instant access for scheduling an appointment.Smarter Agent enables media outlets, such as Apartments.com, over 150 newspapers and leading Realtors, to provide thousands of their apartment-owning customers access to a mobile audience. In New York City, where apartments go faster than a New York minute, Prudential Douglas Elliman now posts rental listings on Smarter Agent daily.Plus, Smarter Agent recently introduced a new beta where individual property owners or their agents can upload their rental properties at SmarterAgent.com so that they can instantly be viewed by millions of cell phone users. This service is free.At the moment, Smarter Agent has 200,000 apartments in its system. And users conduct an aAdvanced search to choose if they want “any property,” a condo, unfurnished, furnished, short-term, a rental home or a vacation rental.  Users can also sort listings by price, beds/baths and the maximum distance away from where they are currently standing.Eventually, Smarter Agent will monetize the traffic for featured properties and location-relevant advertising within the application. Already, Blumberg reports, two-thirds of users hit the “Featured Property” button to see what’s hot near them. In the future, Blumberg envisions that local businesses could, for example, advertise a free “Welcome to Neighborhood” cocktail. Or that the local hardware store could offer free copies of a new apartment key. According to Blumberg, over one-third of the people using Smarter Agent directly call the property owner.  On every listing, the brand (where the listing came from) is identified and a “Call to See” button connects right to the property owner or agent.“The goal for Smarter Agent is to be the Craigslist of mobile,” Blumberg notes, “and monetize the apartment listings just like Orbitz does while data is being found.”