93% of homebuyers in the US look for their future homes on the Internet.

Clearly, in 2020 customers are choosing the fastest & most convenient method to buy, rent or sell a house. Specific real estate applications let us do that without turning to a real estate agent.

What does it mean for realtors & startups? Mobile and web apps in real estate are getting more advanced and sophisticated than ever before. 

If you aim at creating a popular house-hunting app or an online portal for the US market, it’s a good idea to use some of the app development trends. Here are some of the recommended features:

Real estate APIs to build a house hunting app
  • Artificial intelligence
    Zillow already uses AI algorithms to recommend properties based on user needs and previous searches. With AI you can create an app that gets ahead of competition. By providing users with relevant and personalized search results might simplify users’ journeys and get you higher retention rates. 

    Another way to use AI is to predict future house value based on its’ price history, level of crime, marketplace activity and more. This might make buyers more confident in their investments while also inform about future changes in the US market.
  • Multi-platform presence
    Your app should function equally well on the web, mobile, and desktop OS. This way, you can increase your user base and provide a more seamless app experience. Make your real estate app instantly accessible, adjusting to user’s lifestyles. 
  • Geolocation tracking
    By integrating GPS into your app, you can showcase available properties near a user in real-time. Thus, walking in a cozy neighborhood, users could see houses for sale with their updated status & rates.

Behind the scenes of creating a house-hunting app

Now let’s get on the technical side of things. This article covers insights about the US real estate market, but it will be useful for anyone wanting to build a real estate app.

You will need to access huge amounts of data to build your house-hunting app. Available properties nearby, prices, sale status, and client reviews all contribute to the end-user experience. It’s hard to imagine a real estate app without at least some of this data. So how do you integrate up-to-date properties into your application without spending a fortune on the app development?

Fortunately, you don’t need to create your own data server hosting all these properties. To access the data about properties available across the country, you can use external service databases and MLS. 

What is MLS?

MLS, or Multiple Listing Service, is a complete database of homes & properties for sale that brokers and realtors use to exchange valuable data. It’s the richest source of information you can use to power your real estate application. However, these datasets are not so easy to access. That’s why you can use MLS APIs by third-party companies to access this information in real-time.

What is a real estate API?

API (or Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules and processes that enable interactions between different software components or apps. In real estate, APIs are used to pull the data from third-party databases i.e. Multiple Listing Services and display it via your website or app. 

Third-party API is just one of the ways to integrate property listings into your application. You can also do it via:

  • FTP Protocol. It requires transferring the whole datasets and storing data on your web server. It’s also longer to integrate since each MLS is connected separately.
  • Real Estate  Protocol (RETS). It’s faster and more convenient to use than FTP. However, it brings loads of data to your site that you will need to accommodate. (for the US and Canada)
  • IDX Framing. This one is free and fast to set up. However, it might harm the SEO of your app since it presents listings as UI design elements (pictures) that Google cannot read.

Why integrate MLS data via third-party APIs?

How to build a house hunting app with real estate APIs

A simplified and fast development process 

Third-party APIs keep you from reinventing the wheel – all you need is to integrate the code components into your software. Also, some companies like Zillow allow you to pull the data from multiple sources at once. Thus, integrating info about property listings into your app becomes much easier.

Fast updates

Let’s say that via a search engine in your app users should see all the properties for sale from many MLS listings. MLS service owners will keep the data constantly updated so that you can access it via real estate APIs instantly. Thus, the data in your app will be automatically updated in real-time. Other technologies might update listings once a day which isn’t enough for real estate businesses.

No need to store data on your server

Retrieving data from MLS databases directly is more efficient than hosting all of it on your server. Via third-party service APIs, you can access this instantly stored data on their databases and use it when necessary. This saves you time while also reducing your operating costs.

Cost savings

Some real estate web services that provide APIs are free. However, even if you use the paid ones it will be much cheaper than storing all the data on your own server. Meanwhile, you will still need a software developer to integrate MLS API into your application and ensure proper app functioning on the server-side. 

Down below, we’ve outlined some companies that offer access to the MLS data via their APIs. Use them to get your real estate app up & running as fast as possible.

Top MLS datasets & APIs to access them

How to create a house hunting app

Bridge API ($50/month)

This flexible MLS API provides access to tons of MLS across the US and Canada and keeps the listing data normalized. It’s fast and easy to integrate, with robust documentation to simplify the task for your team. Software developers can focus on building great products while Bridge API manages all the data.

SimplyRETS API($49 – 199/month)

SimplyRETS enables simple to complex geographical searches and refreshes databases every 2 hours. It also supports several programming languages such as Python, PHP, Node.js and Curl. You can use this API to easily integrate the listing & market data into your software product. See active, pending and sold properties in real-time and pull multiple listings to your website.

Mashvisor ($89.97/3 months or $299.98/year)

This real estate platform lets you analyze the real estate US market for both long-term and short-term rental properties. Via this MLS API you can access price estimates, property taxing, realtors info, office information, top reviewed houses and more. See how different houses in the same area are performing to make the right investment. Mashvisor also integrates with Airbnb and displays info about Airbnb night rates, occupancy, and rental income. It counts 2M+ listings in the database and cuts the research down to 15 minutes.

Zillow API (free)

This is the leading real estate marketplace with a database of more than 110 million U.S. houses for rent, for sale or remodeling. Empowering customers with rich data, Zillow offers access to various MLS to answer your needs. 

  • GetDeepSearchResults API – search by address and find available properties. The service also lets you learn about the last sale, size, year built and other details.
  • GetUpdatedPropertyDetails API – this one is a good choice for specific property searches. It shows all the home facts that have been noted by the agent or homeowner. 

Rets Rabbit API ($150 – 699/month)

This MLS API imports real estate data from multiple sources, MLS listings and ListHub to store it on a secure database. It simplifies integrating real estate data into your app, whether you need it for research, analysis or any other purpose. Property listings, photos, office & agent info are all part of the real estate data that you can use.

Wrapping up

Real estate APIs can be handy tools to transfer and integrate data from external databases into your app. In development terms, they let you streamline the interaction between different services. However, keep in mind that the development of any great real estate app starts with a high-skilled & dedicated team. Make sure to have one before you begin building your real estate app.