Real Estate

About Time Tours Puts The Mobile In Managing Homebuyer Tours

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About Time Tours is a mobile app for home showing and tour scheduling.

Platforms: iOS, Android; browser app
Ideal for: Brokerages, agents and multiple listing services

Top selling points:

  • App for both platforms
  • Local MLS integration
  • Agent-developed
  • Past tours recorded per client
  • Touring routing

Top concern:

The competition in the home tour and showing space is getting thick, and it appears to me this app was pushed out while still ultimately in development. If it interests you, get a solid idea of where it stands before committing.

What you should know

Another home tour and showing app (for mobile and desktop) has emerged from Bend, Oregon, on the heels of ShowingTime becoming part of Zillow.

But whereas its neighbor Instashowing emerged as the first-to-announce showing scheduler competitor to Zillow’s new plaything, About Time Tours leans more toward addressing all aspects of the home tour process, not just showings from the listing agent’s perspective.

About Time Tours takes a full-featured approach by managing lists of clients, their preferred properties, current and past homes viewed, a user’s listings, preferred homes and supporting multihome tour navigation.

Let’s get into it.

Features are spread throughout three modules: Tours, Clients and Listings.

The Tours module, its primary offering, is map-centric and details upcoming and past tours, and it allows users to assemble a new one. There are times listed with each tour so the user knows not to overlap times and dates. However, I’d like to see the app tell me of conflicting tour times.

Tours are also categorized by client name. Would tours organized by day be easier? After all, that is how most of us plan our work weeks.

I like that when you tap a client to create a new tour for them, it auto-generates a list of the homes they prefer. Once a home tour is created, alerts to the listing agent are sent via text, email and through the app (if being used by the listing agent) for confirmation. If a tour is assembled and then a listing agent’s response indicates needing to reschedule, the published tour will self adjust for all parties and notify buyers.

There’s a thumbnail image of each property under each address in a tour. I think most people tend to browse and recall homes visually, so this is a nice touch.

On that front, the app is little visually bland and could stand some user interface sophistication. Granted, it’s in early stages, but future versions need to include some consumer-facing design touch-ups to encourage user engagement.

The Clients module is where the agent can see what’s happening with each buyer and seller. They can see what tours they will or have been on, as well as view “Homes of Interest” and “Homes for Sale” in case they’re also a seller. This module also offers access to the client’s profile, where a notes field allows for some manual input of property preference specifics. You can also tap to text or call the client.

One issue here is that client data comes from them using the consumer-facing version of About Time Tours. They enter it themselves. This is valuable business data being entered manually by what amounts to a third party.

It will need to then be entered manually a second time by the agent into their CRM, along with what properties they prefer, which is not entered by the client — also an odd choice given how often preferences change. That’s a lot for the agent to keep up with. Herein lies the issue with About Time Tours not being able to communicate with a central database.

In most two-way search apps, when a buyer saves a property, the agent is notified on the back-end and can follow up accordingly.

Inside Listings, users have a breakdown of their own available listings. Tapping one gives access to any tours in which they’ve been included, as well as a full MLS detail sheet for each home. That sheet is available wherever an address appears in the app.

I find the inclusion of a full MLS feature sheet pretty odd, especially in the mobile environment. It’s clunky, for starters, and MLS data are intrinsically visually tedious, which is why so many home search apps repurpose their details into their own look and feel.

It’s this interface omission that gives me reason to think the app may have been pushed out the market earlier than internal roadmaps had planned. Ultimately, there’s no “flattening” of the process, it’s simply a home tour process replicated in an app.

For software to ultimately be at its best, it needs to identify long-standing pain points of a process and solve them. About Time Tours merely digitizes each existing step. I suppose it does eliminate the hassle of multichannel coordination and approvals in which agents are trying to assemble tours through voicemails, texts and emails. So there’s that.

The calendar tool is also accessed in the Listings module. This is where buyer’s agents can see when a home is available and how listing agents can control viewings.

The calendar tool is part of an About Time Tours browser dashboard, but I’m not seeing how it would encourage a user to adopt it over an existing Google calendar. This integration can’t happen soon enough.

That said, its native navigation tools are solid. Agents can choose a starting location for each tour, and the app optimizes the route. Tour routes can be manually edited by dragging one property in front of another. When finalized, tours will populate the app’s calendar with included commute times.

Buyers using the app will be notified of the tour’s creation and sent the route so they can safely arrive at each home without having to worry about tailing their agent through traffic like cops do a suspect in a bad crime thriller. (How do they never notice?)

There’s an alert mechanism to let users know when a listing agent or client needs to change a tour time, offering them the chance to suggest an alternative.

Feedback is always critical, and About Time Tours gives users the chance to pre-populate a simple response form indicating if it was or was not making a buyer’s shortlist.

Ultimately, I can’t get over the confusion about what this software is trying to be. An app for arranging tours would be totally OK, but this muddled combination is hard to define.

There are tools for the listing agent (feedback forms, calendar-based availability blocking) sprinkled in with a broader solution for managing multihome tours.

I was told there are plans to help users migrate homes of interest from the app to a CRM and to connect to Outlook and Google Calendars. I was also hoping to see indicators for available virtual showings. There’s also too much manual input required at this stage.

About Time Tours has been officially in development since 2018, but it still feels rushed to me, like it needs more time. I can’t help but wonder if the ShowingTime news compressed their timeline for launch.

There’s absolutely potential here, but it needs to decide what it wants to be, or at least more clearly bifurcate its functionality between showing management and home tour navigation. And, it needs to get smaller, more refined.

Let’s give it more (about) time.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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