What it Takes to Build and Ship a First-to-Market Real Estate App (Part 1 of 3)

January 15, 2020


Rebuilding the Reali App for Home Sellers

A new version of the Reali App rolled out for home sellers this week, offering first-of-its-kind solutions for homeowners who want to sell their home fast, efficiently, and for the best price. These tools guide sellers through their homeselling journey, bringing clarity and structure to an often-opaque process. 

The work to release these industry-leading seller tools started months in 2018, when the team realized they needed to rethink the Reali service from top to bottom – for both the front- and back-end.

Reali’s Head of Product Stacy Hoover recently visited our Engineering team in Tel Aviv to prepare for the launch of the updated app. While she was there, she and the team squeezed in some time to talk about the development of the seller tools, the app’s technical foundation and where it’s headed. Today, they’re giving us an in-depth look at the evolution of Reali’s app.

What makes Reali’s seller app different from what else is available on the market?

Stacy: We’re the only app for both home buyers and sellers that takes the user from discovery to close, with the support of technology. The user is empowered to go through the entire journey from end to end, with as little or as much support from the Reali team as they’d like. So for example, a customer can sell a home with Reali and use the app to track their progress. And if they are a Reali Trade-In customer – where they are buying and selling a home at the same time – they can use the app to track the sale of their existing home and the purchase of their new one. 

Kobi Naparstek, Mobile Team Lead: For us, “journey” is not just a word. It’s an entity in our system. For the app, we distilled selling into three easy steps: Evaluate, Prepare and Sell. Selling a home can be a very long, confusing process. Our focus on the journey provides order to the user through the process. It’s the most challenging and unique aspect of our service.

Stacy: Traditionally, agents all sell homes very differently. They assess and price differently. They prepare homes differently. Defining a journey for selling that was linear and consistent – a system that gave insight and confidence to sellers but was still adaptable to different agents – was a challenge.

Kobi: The app really keeps the user informed throughout their experience. That’s especially important for sellers. At every step in the process, the seller knows what the next step is to sell their home.

Tell us more about the Product and Engineering collaboration process. What was unique about your approach to design and development?

Stacy: Our collaboration is different for a few reasons. We’re in different time zones. We’re off on different days of the week – in the U.S. we work Monday through Friday, and in Israel they work Sunday through Thursday. And for the most part, it works! But I’d say Product does tend to get a lot of pushback from the Engineering team.

Kobi: Pushback?

Stacy: It’s actually a great thing! Because the Engineering team is in Tel Aviv, they’re not as intimately familiar with the U.S. homebuying process. When they ask questions about why things are designed or worded a certain way, it forces us to question those assumptions too. If our decisions don’t make sense to “outsiders” within our own company, then maybe they won’t make sense for our customers either. It helps us reject jargon, and simplify and refine our processes. 

Kobi: Have you heard of the famous Israeli chutzpah?

Stacy: Oh, we know all about that!

Kobi: It’s sort of a “nothing will stand in my way” mentality. I will make things happen. When you combine that attitude with Silicon Valley’s tools and mentality, you have the privilege to truly combine the best of both worlds and create something that is very new and innovative.

Once the team decided to rebuild the app and service a few years ago, what went into rethinking and rebuilding the experience for users?

Stacy: We took our time in understanding the steps and journey for buying and selling, and what that would look like with Reali. We conducted user testing, talked with our Reali Agents in detail and scheduled ridealongs in the field, combed through customer chat logs, surveyed our entire user base and really examined the pain points. 

When mapping the journey, we focused on identifying the highest highs and lowest lows. Those are the places where we decided we should have a human touch. Everything else could be automated.

How about for homebuyers?

Stacy: For home buyers, we are working on improving the home feed, wishlist capabilities, adding the ability to add a co-buyer and collaborative discovery. The improvements will allow Buyers to work with their co-buyer through the app to create wishlists, schedule appointments and chat with Experts. Looking further ahead, we are going to streamline the escrow process by integrating more fully with Reali Escrow.

Join us tomorrow for a more detailed look at the technical work needed to launch Reali’s new seller tools.

Next up, part two: Take a peek at Reali’s tech journey.

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