Real Estate

Fredrik Eklund, Thomas Ma Announce Official Launch Of New App

REAL is like a mashup of WhatsApp, Instagram and Zillow for agents and consumers, Eklund said, but at “lightning speed.”

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Douglas Elliman team leader and alum of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” Fredrik Eklund and Hong Kong-based real estate entrepreneur Thomas Ma have announced the official launch of their co-founded real estate social app “REAL,” scheduled for Aug. 2 at a launch party in Las Vegas.

The agent-focused app is a bit of a mash-up of existing social and real estate apps that the public are familiar with and has been available to agents in beta for the last 11 months. Thus far, it’s been downloaded 147,500 times.

Fredrik Eklund | Eklund Gomes Team

“This is Instagram meets WhatsApp meets Zillow, but much faster, at lightning speed,” Eklund told Inman in an email. “REAL is for agents globally … and it’s free.”

The platform has an interface a la Instagram and a chat feature similar to WhatsApp’s so consumers can reach out to agents directly and agents can communicate with one another. An agent’s listings are also available to view on the app as well as properties coming soon.

Users can view agents’ profiles and search for properties with specific criteria in an individual zip code or neighborhood and see what properties are popular among other users. In addition, agents can post reviews of listings they curate on their profiles so consumers can get to know agents’ personalities and styles, a press release notes.

“National — and even global — real estate is becoming one big market as people are moving around more and searching globally,” Eklund said in a statement. “Agents are getting licensed in many different states and there’s a complete crossover happening, especially in the luxury market. Current real estate apps, like Zillow, do not provide quick answers and MLSs are slow.”

In addition to a need for more speed, Eklund notes that real estate has become a social experience consumers want to participate in with other people, which is where REAL comes in.

“People want to use their mobile phones for this, they want it to be fun, and they want it to be fast,” Eklund said. “At the same time, they see what people around them like and look at … They don’t want to see what listings Zillow pushes because agents have paid for those hidden ads. They want to see what’s truly popular socially.”

The chat feature also allows agents to create contact lists of other agents and consumers within the platform, helping facilitate follow-up correspondence.

The app’s interface | Credit: REAL

Ma said the app’s more personalized experience, both on the agent’s and the consumer’s sides, allows both parties to find a more compatible agent-consumer partnership when it comes to consumers finding the right agent to work with.

Thomas Ma | LinkedIn

“Traditionally, agents are referred by someone, your friend or relative, your acquaintance, or even a friend of a friend,” Ma said. “The agents you’re introduced to don’t really know who you are, your unique tastes, your lifestyle, or your needs to facilitate your home search. We wanted to give talented agents an opportunity to share their stories, their knowledge, and their experience, and give them control of what listings and recommendations they bring to their audience.”

The new app follows other similar listing apps that came before it, connecting agents and potential clients. Riley, which was founded in 2015 and came out of the startup accelerator YCombinator, provided robot and human concierges 24/7 as a search assistant and messaging service for brokers. In 2019, Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty created Rila, an app that allows agents and consumers to look at properties within a certain neighborhood and add their photos and comments.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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