Paradise Found: Redfin for Android

What was unnerving about the career of English poet John Milton was

  1. his unshakable conviction beginning in adolescence that he would write Christianity’s great poem, and
  2. the actual age at which, deep in blindness, he would dictate the elaborate epic to his daughters: 58.

Paradise Lost encompassed the early modern world’s total understanding of theology and science, addressing questions of how angels defecate, and whether Creation occurred simultaneously on alien planets.

Redfin has followed a similar trajectory on its latest masterpiece, Redfin Real Estate App for Android, launched this morning on Google’s Android Market. We have known for years that we were going to build this application for mobile devices running Google’s operating system, but we waited until we had time to do it right. The app is its own little epic, encompassing nearly everything we know about a home for sale.

Yes, Redfin for Android has all the standard features, including the map-based search that was Redfin’s original invention, now drawing on your device’s awareness of where you are in the world:

Android Real Estate App

And yes, it also provides the standard details on a home for sale:

Android Real Estate App

And of course we didn’t hold anything back when showing you pictures because, as our old friend Adam Doppelt said when designing his own real estate site, Dwellable, it’s all about the pictures:

Android Real Estate App

But what sets this application apart is that it was done in the Redfin style, with freakish depth on every listing. Of all the Android applications available today, this one provides the most detail on a home for sale:

Android Real Estate App

Unlike any other real estate application for Android, Redfin for Android lets users log-in to see all the juicy data about a listing that we’re not allowed to show the general public. This includes not only notes taken by Redfin agents who have already seen the home in person, pictured above, but also the entire price history:

Android Real Estate App

Redfin for Android allows you to take pictures of a home and upload them to your account on our website:

Android Real Estate App

And it keeps track of all the properties you like and don’t, all your notes and even your schedule of tours with a Redfin agent, synchronizing all the stuff you do on your Android phone with the Redfin website:

Android Real Estate App

Building such a sweet app was not my idea. Almost every conversation I have with Redfin’s search and mobile teams goes something like this:

THEM: We want to build something beautiful, even if it takes a little while longer.

ME: Totally agree! Except on one little point: what about doing something lame and fast?

THEM: Sure, we’ll do that instead.

Then they completely disregard what I have to say and ship something a few months later that makes me immensely proud to work at Redfin.

And thank goodness they did! The depth of the resulting user experience is completely consistent with our overall strategy. We don’t make any money when people casually search for homes. Our business depends on taking serious buyers all the way through to a successful purchase. And, let’s be honest, our audience consists of hard-core real estate junkies, who wouldn’t be satisfied with anything but the full-meal deal.

So please install this new little guy and take him out for a spin! The app works on any device that runs Android 2.1 or better operating systems. If you’d like to see the app but don’t have one of those devices, check out our video.

Rather than hiring a video production company with a sound-proofed studio, we told our new rugby-playing intern from Yale to clip his fingernails and make it himself. He bought a bunch of lights and gear at Home Depot that he later sold on Craigslist. He recorded the sound with his head under a fire blanket, because our office is so noisy right now. It’s the only time I’ve heard Daniel speak without a fake Russian accent.

Thanks to all the product managers and engineers who built Redfin for Android, and thanks to all of you for your patience. As always, we’re anxious to hear what you think!

Discussion

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  • Foo

    Congratulations! So when can we expect the same features in iOS app? Don't make me buy an android phone for this?

    • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

      Hey there Foo,

      Thanks for the congrats; we're very proud of the app. We actually already have a build of the iOS app with some of the new Android features, and we're hoping to keep the apps relatively close in functionality in the future. Given that they are almost totally different codebases, it's unlikely that the apps will ever be completely in sync, and there are likely to always be some features that are only one platform or the other. Right now, Android can boast a great gallery viewer, x-out, agent insights, and a really smooth listing details page design, while iOS is exclusively rocking saved searches. 

      (And as an iOS user myself, I might note that iOS has had a lot more features than Android for the last two years or so, so we iOS folks probably shouldn't begrudge the Androiders an exclusive feature or two at the moment… ;)

      • Foo

        Understand completely. Can't wait to get my hands on the updated app.

  • http://twitter.com/mykie242 mykie Gunderson

    The timing on this is perfect, now that we're looking for a home, the Z***** app is terrible for drive-by house hunting! 

    Horrendous, slow and most of the time doesn't even show us the information we're looking for until after we're already a block away.  Every time I use it, it makes me think “Redfin would do this so much better!”

    I'll give it a shot tonight when we do our usual round of drive-by house hunting…so far the interface is beautiful and it works flawlessly on my Epic 4G.  I can't wait to take this little darling out on the town!

    • Donald

      Exactly!!!  Why waste my agent and my time when I don't like outside.  I usually check-out the street before I schedule to look inside.  Z******** app is horrible to get the directions.

      • http://twitter.com/mykie242 mykie Gunderson

        I took the Redfin App for a spin last night with my Samsung Galaxy Tab and my Samsung Epic 4G, and it really rocks for a version 1.01 app (An update on the day of release?  That's dedication, guys!)!

        A few observations:
        When driving around, I noticed that as the map moves, the search doesn't appear to update for the location I'm in, just for when I originally searched.  I noticed the “Search here” button, and I'm assuming this was done to keep the app speedy.
        Getting directions from a listing is excellent!  But sometimes, after you've gotten directions from one listing, and gone back into the Redfin app, and requested directions to the next listing, the map application will still guide you to the previous location.  I was using Google Maps, so I'm not sure if this is Google Maps' fault or the Redfin app.
        I feel like the map is a little overzealous about grouping listings together into blobs.  Sometimes I will be on a street with two listings, and there will be a blob that I need to tap it will zoom in impossibly close to be able to view them separately.
        I would like to see hearts and x-outs on the blobs.  Maybe a smaller “heart (2) x (3)” where the parenthetical number is the number contained in the blob appears above the blob number.  This will save me time zooming in and out of blobs.

        All-in-all, Redfin has done with a version 1.01 app that Z***** and T***** have never been able to do in the months/year that they've been out.  Congratulations on once again re-inventing house hunting!

  • northseattlesarah

    Any chance of a windows 7 app?

    • http://blog.redfin.com GlennKelman

      We don't have any immediate plans for WIndows & NorthSeattleSarah but wish we had enough time to get to it. We'll probably prioritize an iPad app first!

      • Cynthia

        I second this request!

        • Mmason

          I third the WP7 app request!

          • http://theimod.com/ Jack Smith

            Even I vote for WP7 app..c'mon developer just bring it to WP7 platform

  • https://openid.aol.com/opaque/0e0df68c-ae5d-11e0-896b-000bcdcb5194 Eugene

    Why are you incompatible with T-Mobile Comet?

    • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

      Hey there Eugene, you should be able to install on to any Android device that has Android 2.1 or higher. What are you seeing when you try to install the app to your Comet?

      • https://openid.aol.com/opaque/0e0df68c-ae5d-11e0-896b-000bcdcb5194 Eugene

        “This item is not compatible with your device”

        • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

          Hey Eugene, we figured out the issue here. Our app asks for access to certain phone hardware features, and by default that means that those features are mandatory in order to download the app. That was a mistake on our part, and we'll fix it soon.

          For the record, the feature that we're accidentally requiring is autofocus.

          • https://openid.aol.com/opaque/0e0df68c-ae5d-11e0-896b-000bcdcb5194 Eugene

            Hi Sasha, Thank you for following up! Any idea when I can expect the fix to show up on Android Market?

          • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

            I don't know yet. We're collecting a bunch of small-ish fixes to release together. It will probably be not more than a few days, but we don't have a definite date yet.

          • Navtej Sadhal

            Hi Eugene, you should see version 1.0.2 of the app in the market now. It should work with the Comet. Please email us at techsupport@redfin.com it still doesn't work.

  • Juline

    Is there no street-view option, or am I just not finding it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

      Juline, street-view didn't make it in to the first pass, but it's on the list for enhancements. Cheers.

  • michael I

    About time ;-)

    • http://blog.redfin.com GlennKelman

      We know, we know. Hopefully it's worth it!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/sahajsingh sahaj singh

    App looks and feels great on my Galaxy S.  I owned the original iPhone and switched to Android a few years ago and until today I hadn't been completely satisfied with Android.  Way to go Redfin!

    • http://blog.redfin.com GlennKelman

      We'll let Google know you feel that way Sahaj!

  • jamesv

    Thank you Redfin.  I've been waiting for this app for over a year.  Many trees will now be spared, as I no longer need to print out listing sheets before going on the road to view houses.  I'm also glad that you waited until the app was ready.  Makes for a better user experience, and impresses people with that “wow” factor.  It's definitely a value-add for the user experience of existing Redfin users, and I suspect it will also help in acquiring new users to Redfin.

    • http://blog.redfin.com GlennKelman

      Thanks JamesV, I'm glad we waited too.

  • Iheartredfin

    You guys should post your app into the Amazon Appstore – Ive started only getting apps from there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

      We're working on it!

  • MrAtomic

    I'm unable to download the redfin android app while traveling in Europe. I keep getting this error message…

    “This item cannot be installed in your device's country.”

    I am using a Nexus S purchaced in the USA.

    I see no need to restrict this app to US downloads only. I still want to use your app to search California properties even when I'm outside of California. Please allow people outside the coverage area to download and install the redfin app.

    Thanks

    • http://www.facebook.com/aickin Sasha Aickin

      Hey MrAtomic, we've restricted it to the US because we're afraid that folks outside the US would find the app on the Market, download it, realize belatedly that it's US-only, and then give us bad reviews. Or even worse: they won't realize it's US only and think that it's just a terrible app that has no listings near them.

      The star rating and review count is very important to us, as it's a major way to get promoted on the Market. We may be able to send you a copy directly if you need it (write to techsupport at redfin), but I think it's unlikely we'll change our mind about allowing the app in other countries.

      • MrAtomic

        Your reasoning makes total sense. I will try contacting Tech support for a copy.

        Thanks

  • Andy

    Android finally got some love from Redfin and I'm loving it on my Nexus One & Galaxy Tab 10.1.  I love how much info I can have it in my phone (as much as the site) with me and the UX is great as well.  My only suggestion would be including home estimate (zillow) info in your detail view like you have on your site.

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