A new mobile app designed to streamline how real estate agents and homebuyers connect kicked off its official global launch in Las Vegas this week. And it has a familiar name in real estate behind it.
REAL Messenger app cofounder Fredrik Eklund, former star of Bravo TV’s reality show “Million Dollar Listing,” said it was important to keep the app simple.
The REAL Messenger app rolls features of social media platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp into a single service. Users are able to scroll through newly listed homes, posted by agents, and connect through in-app messaging.
“The most important thing about the app for me was speed,” said Eklund, who also cofounded the Eklund-Gomes Team at real estate firm Douglas Elliman. “Platforms like Zillow or websites for real estate – it’s very busy with information … which is great when you’re researching or looking at comps or trying to do a transaction. But there isn’t anything like a REAL app where you want to look at beautiful listings, almost like a magazine.”
REAL bills itself as a social app that allows agents to advertise their listings for free and connect with potential clients, essentially giving agents more control over their business. Meanwhile, homeowners can join the app, also for free, and scroll through listings or connect directly with agents.
REAL cofounder and CEO Thomas Ma said that, in addition to showcasing listings, agents are able to create a profile where they can highlight recent deals, post market news and share their styles and tastes.
The agent profiles help take the guesswork out of finding the best real estate agent, he said.
“It’s very personal buying a house,” Ma said. “So you can find a Realtor that understands you. It’s like finding your perfect agent.”
Users can also see popular listings or tailor their search by Zip code or other countries.
The app will eventually be monetized by offering users add-on services for a fee, Ma said, citing LinkedIn Premium as an example.
It was important for the app to be free and easy to use so agents can quickly promote their listings and generate leads, Eklund said, citing how his own team works.
“I have a big team — five states, 13 offices, 92 agents,” he said. “How we communicate within (the team) and to our clients, it has to happen in real time, that was really important (with REAL).”
Eklund’s team soon will be adding Nevada to its list of states, joining other luxury brokerages such as The Agency and Corcoran Global Living that have recently set up shop in Southern Nevada.
“News flash, I just passed my state exam in Nevada last week so I’m getting licensed,” he said.
His team logged an estimated $4.5 billion in sales last year and landed the priciest sale in New York this year with the $70.5 million sale of a penthouse on Park Avenue.
Eklund said entering the Las Vegas market will allow him to use his experience working with developers.
“I know the design trends from New York and Los Angeles and Miami and amenity programming, and really work with developers here to create amazing product,” he said.
Plus, many clients, particularly those in Orange County, California, have been moving to Las Vegas as the pandemic created a shift in how people work, with many still working remotely or in a hybrid model.
“I have a big team in Orange County and we see so much business being referred here and vice-versa,” Eklund said. “So why not just open here and take charge of the market.”