A new lawsuit from Fredrik Eklund, founder of Douglas Elliman’s most productive Eklund-Gomes team, seeks to turn social media, listings and communications into a new app for brokers.
REAL bills itself as an Instagram-style social platform combined with WhatsApp-style chat functionality, aimed at giving agents greater control over promotion. By curating listings to build a profile alongside in-app communication, agents can connect and track buyers, sellers, and other agents.
As a result, profile subscribers – sellers and buyers – can see agents’ reviews of highly curated listings and get an idea of their personality, style and tastes before contacting them.
Eklund, a “Million Dollar Listing” alumnus, co-founded the app together with Thomas Ma, an entrepreneur and real estate broker. It’s slated for an official launch party in Las Vegas on August 2, but a beta released on Apple’s App Store 11 months ago has so far reached 147,500 downloads.
The app is the latest in a long line of ad apps aimed at keeping brokers and potential clients connected. Riley, a Y Combinator alum founded in 2015, offered bots and human janitors for a 24/7 research assistant to handle messaging and broker coordination. In 2019, Rodeo Realty agent Ben Bacal co-created Rila, which allows agents and consumers to scroll through properties in a certain neighborhood in a feed, adding photos and comments.
REAL’s co-founders point to its place at the intersection of data and brokerage networks. Ma said agent brands are a central aspect of the app, as it merges an SEO platform with a social media interface.
“We showcase their knowledge of the market, their knowledge of the property, the region, and we showcase everything, so people can follow them,” Ma said.
The app also draws inspiration from the previews agents often post on Instagram, allowing posts to preview properties that have yet to market among listings in a profile.
Users can also see what’s popular and perform specific searches tailored to their needs. Brokers and potential buyers can search for residences with certain criteria in a specified community or zip code.
Subscribers can also directly contact agents seen on REAL and ensure their connections are maintained, as the app stores data in its WhatsApp-style platform along with a list of contacts.
Agents can also message each other to build their network of brokers. Eklund said his 91-year-old agent uses the app to communicate in 13 markets and five states.