The Real Estate Valuator app: 400 building terms in a single app

Get Inspired Liz Bollema 3 Dec 2013

Real-estate brokers no longer have to memorize volumes of books, and consumers can save themselves a considerable amount of money — all thanks to the free Real Estate Valuator app. Sander Koëter and his son Christiaan distilled their sizeable real-estate knowledge into a handy app that comprises 400 building terms and explanations of building defects: from Anchor bolts to Waterproofing.

There are already millions of apps out there, but the REV app is quite unique. Who are you trying to reach?

Sander: “The real estate sector suffers from a stuffy image. It’s also a closed world. We wanted to create something that was truly readily accessible. Well, an app is something that anyone can download. It is a handy solution for real estate agents, who all carry a smartphone. But it is also convenient for our students — both Christiaan and I are teachers. Our exhaustive overview of building terms and explanations of building defects secretly comprise the answers to our students’ exam questions. No, the idea is not that they use our app as a cheat sheet. They can actually learn a lot from it. Thanks to the app they simply carry around a virtual teacher in their pocket. Moreover, besides coming in handy for experts such as building managers and appraisers, it may also prove of great value to consumers. They no longer have to take everything a real-estate broker says for granted. The app contains a number of insightful building inspection movies that show how things look through the eyes of a real estate broker, and provides the user with quick insight into the cost of repairing a building defect.”

How did you come across AppMachine?

Christiaan: “Siebrand, AppMachine’s CEO, was one of the speakers at an industry day that I attended. After hearing his talk, I decided I wanted to know more about the solution. It turned out that developing a mobile web app was really as simple as he claimed. I have reasonable technical skills and build my own websites, so the way in which AppMachine works was completely transparent to me. We thought long and hard about the structure and layout of the app and experimented with them a bit to ensure they were logical to end users. To great results, I might add: we immediately saw an increase in the number of visitors and in the amount of times the app was launched. The analysis tool provides us with detailed insights. For instance, I often hear people say that Android has already surpassed Apple, but when I look at where users are located, it turns out the majority still use an iPhone. Google Analytics tell us that people do click the link to our app on our website, but do not actually download it. We suspect this is because some visitors do not have an iTunes or Google account. For older users in particular, this first step can be an obstacle. This is why our website now features instructions for setting up such an account.”

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The feature set of MyRev has expanded quite a bit. Is there anything it cannot do? Sander: “Christiaan really has pushed AppMachine to its limits. However, the people at AppMachine really seem to appreciate this, if you ask me.”

Christiaan: “The helpdesk is excellent. They are able to provide immediate answers. I often use the live chat feature. This is a great service, as you are directly attended by someone. If they don’t know the answer, they will quickly ask around internally. ‘Oh, what you want should be possible with our next update,’ is an example of some of their answers.”

Sander: “Personally we are also continuously working on updates. In our line of business the work is never done.”
Christiaan: “A great new feature would be the ability to take a photo of a building defect with a smartphone and directly forward the picture. Currently, this still has to be done via email, but who knows, in the future …”

Doesn’t the app get in the way of your website?

Sander: “No, I am actually a great believer in apps. Websites are really intended for home users who are sitting behind a desk. We do indeed have a website, myrev.nl, with a paid section for subscribers. However, in the digital world it’s a question of give and take. That is something customers have come to expect. They can access some content free of charge, but have to pay for other information. Eventually, we may make the transition to in-app purchases as a business model. However, it’s my belief that a free app will attract interested parties to our website. When we launched the app, it was downloaded more than 300 times within no time, and we hadn’t even informed anyone of its existence!”

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