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The new state of real estate

The new state of real estate 

Enter AM Open House, a new app that serves multiple functions. In addition to helping agents host open houses, it also provides them with a means of tracking their active listings, managing their buyer database and communicating with clients through social media and direct email connections.

Available through the Apple App Store and Google Play, the free app was originally exclusive to American agents. As of March 10, 2015, the app has expanded its coverage to include Canadian agents.

In an exclusive interview with IT in Canada, Anthony Mann, founder and CEO of AM Open House and a practicing realtor himself, discusses why the app was created, how both agents and buyers can benefit from it and what the future holds for it.

IT in Canada: What led to the creation of AM Open House?
It was created out of necessity. I’ve been a real estate agent for a little under 10 years, and I was dealing with foreclosures. As you can imagine, foreclosure properties are typically valued at between 10 and 20 per cent below market value. If you do an open house for an hour or two, a traditional agent is happy to get between two and five people through the door in a two-hour span. Because our properties were so aggressively priced, we were getting (up to) 40 people in that same time frame.

With the way real estate is traditionally done on pen and paper, you have these sign-in sheets with people scribbling their information, and you can’t read anything. When you go back to the office afterwards to follow up, you can’t decipher what their email, phone number or name is.

It became a real issue for me, and I started looking for a solution using either my iPad or Android device. Although I was able to find some, all I was able to find was another piece of technology that wouldn’t integrate with the systems I was using. I realized there was a better way to this, so I started building back in March of last year. We came to market really quickly; we were only in development for about 75 days, and then we did testing and final development. We launched on July 16.

(This app) was something that we wanted to give the real estate community because it was something that was really necessary that just wasn’t available for real estate agents.

ITIC: Why is now the time for an app like AM Open House?
As technology continues to improve, we see in a lot of different verticals and markets that is it making a difference in the way people are communicating with each other, and also sending information. We can take a very big name like Uber and say they’ve revolutionized the taxi industry, and they’re a company that doesn’t even own a single car.

One of the biggest reasons why we wanted to develop a real estate app was because I am in real estate, but aside from that, we as an industry are very far behind in terms of technology. The average age of a real estate agent in the United States is about 57-and-a-half, and it’s sometimes hard to get technology adopted by this age because they’re not really interested in it. They’re happy with what they’re doing, and they don’t necessarily realize that there’s a better and more efficient way to do business.

We thought it was a great time (to launch) because as real estate tech starts to take off, it was a very good time to get into the market and give something back to the agent community that they could actually use, and not just another piece of technology that they have learn how to use and never get any benefit out of.

ITIC: What benefits does AM Open House offer agents?
There are a few ways agents can benefit from it. At the end of the day, we realize that we are a digital sign-in sheet. Basically, what we do is allow people to sign in through an iPad or an Android device, but we realized there was more to that and more things that real estate agents are doing in their everyday business, and it was important to integrate with those systems.

For instance, when someone adds a property to the system and they have an open house (at a certain time), we integrated social sharing because we know that agents rely heavily on social media. We wanted them to easily post anywhere where they would have some sort of following and they could get the information out about the open house. We allow them to share their information by email and text message as well.

The other thing we do is integrate with 15 different CRMs, and we are the only app that does this on an automated level. Integrating with the CRMs is really important because within 15 minutes of someone signing into an open house, that information is then automatically linked to the CRM if it’s supported. You can imagine going back to the office after your two-hour open house, and you don’t have to transcribe the information. There’s no data loss, and all you have to do is click one button in the app, and it will actually send a follow-up email thanking (the visitors) for visiting the open house and providing them with detailed information about that listing.

We give the agent the ability to cut down on the time it takes to (host) an open house, and we’re getting an amazing response because of that.

ITIC: Why is the real estate industry becoming more technology-reliant?
It’s something that has become a necessity. Pretty much every other industry out there is using technology to benefit their business. We’re at a point right now where there is a lot of real estate technology coming out, and some of it is actually helping the industry.

As we see this industry continue to grow and become more efficient, technology is one of those things that will help it get there. It will allow top-producing agents or agents that work part-time because they weren’t able to (generate) a lot of business because they weren’t properly trained to finally have the tools to do more and better business.

ITIC: What are the future plans for AM Open House?
Right now, we’re focusing on growth, and we’re looking to get a very large user base. In the U.S., we have thousands of agents already using the system. We’ve just launched in Canada, and we’ve already registered just over 100 downloads in the first day, which is fantastic.

We’re just looking to help the agent community at the moment, and nothing besides that. We want to make a difference in this industry; I’ve been in the industry, and I understand how difficult it can be for agents sometimes, especially with as many tools that are out there, and no one knowing what to do with them or why to use them.

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