Homebuilder Mobile Marketing with Google

EDIT: This image was added in November 2009. Post originally published November 2008.

Early in September [2008], I wrote an article about the how mobile marketing and the evolution of mobile phones was going to impact new home marketing. If you have not read it, it can be found here:
Mobile Marketing & New Homes – A Perfect Fit

In the article I discussed how Google’s new cell phone software, Android, was going to be a game changer for the mobile industry. It’s free and open source model means it will likely be the fastest spreading mobile system in use for new phones, and its software developer friendly nature will make it easy for millions of Google-loving programmers to enhance it with useful applications.

Why do you care? How does this impact homebuilders?

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a programmer working at Google, Dmitri Plotnikov. In case you’re not aware, Google allows all of its employees to spend 20% of their paid time at work on whatever project they choose… don’t you wish? We can all thank Dmitri for using his 20% time to create the greatest little real estate application for Android phones. Simply titled “Homes”, this simple download available for free from the “Android Marketplace” enables fully featured searches on homes for sale or rent. It allows users to search within a radius from a specific zip code, or their current location. You can read more about Dmitri’s creation here:

Can you imagine the family that’s relocating using a tool like this?

The husband and wife are driving around in their rental car alone after an agent showed them a few properties they were less than thrilled with. They drive through a random neighborhood that really appeals to them. They take note of a school they just passed. They use their Google phone to quickly search for the school and find it rated highly in the key areas they value. They stop the car and, using the “Homes” application, perform a search for houses for sale under $400k within a 3 mile radius of where they’re parked. They narrow the initial list of five results down to two possibilities based on the photos and descriptions. One of them is a new home community. From within the application, they email the two listings to their agent and request that he schedule an appointment to see them immediately. The new home sales center is already closed for the evening, but the listing within “Homes” contains a link to the builder’s website. The couple is able to view floor plans, virtual tours, and photos of the model homes all from their phone. How powerful is that?

What do you do now?

First – Be aware. Understand how this is going to change consumer behavior. Understand how this is going to change how people shop for homes.

Second – Make sure you’re a part of Google Base. Google Base is Google’s database of pretty much everything on the planet (eventually). This is where applications like “Homes” retrieves its search results. If you’re not a part of Google Base, you’re not a part of the search results. You can submit your listing there for free, but if you’re a homebuilder, the better way is probably through a listing distributor service like Builder Homesite (BHI, http://www.builderhomesite.com/listings).

Third – Try this out for yourself. If you don’t have a TMobile G1 (the first phone running Google Android), borrow someone’s for a few minutes or go to a TMobile store to try one out. Just like you need to drive your weekend directional signs to make sure people can find you, you need to follow the same digital paths consumers do to ensure you can be found that way also.

Dennis O'Neil

Dennis O'Neil


Dennis has spent over 19 years using the internet to sell and market new homes. He blogs about internet marketing for home builders here, wrote a book about technology's impact on the sales process, and is a respected speaker on advanced internet marketing and the online sales process.