With 196 million users and $1.1 billion in advertising revenue, Zillow and Trulia are truly the most successful real estate platform in the US!

Today we speak about how to develop a real estate mobile app similar to Zillow and Trulia. Nowadays this kind of apps meets demand. We explore why these apps so popular and what to do if you have an idea of the real estate application. In this article, you will get to know what steps you should take to avoid funds burning and receive success in the field of real estate mobile apps.

Do you believe finding your dream house is a constant pain in the neck? We also used to, but then Zillow burst out and we’ve changed our mind at once. A drastic change Zillow made in the rental business sphere made all the busy landlords and hopeless tenants give a sigh of relief. If building an app like Zillow and Trulia is a question of interest for you – then you are on the right page.

Its popularity can be explained by the fact that over the years Zillow, Trulia and Redfin have become nearly everything to everyone in the real estate industry:

  1. For buyers, it is the largest openly available database of home listings in the US and an array of useful free tools for home-shopping
  2. For sellers, it is an opportunity to market the house in front of the biggest audience of buyers
  3. For industry professionals, it is the biggest advertising network on the market.

Zillow’s mission is: “to build the largest, most trusted and vibrant home-related marketplace in the world”.

Over a billion dollar in revenues later, one can safely say they’ve already achieved it. Indeed, the company’s results are astounding: 195 million unique users a month and 110 million houses!

By describing it as a long-term project I simply mean it wasn’t initially born as an immense system that we get to use now – but over the course of 11 years it has grown into it. 3 years after the launch the first out of Zillow’s “application networks” was created – iOS app became a pioneer in the field of iPhone rental apps for consumers. The Android app didn’t take long to be delivered – in March of 2010 there appeared a Zillow Android version. Currently, Zillow could be installed on the following devices:

  • iPhones
  • Android devices
  • iPads
  • Windows Phones
  • 2019-released Apple TV application

Zillow is it’s name – as has been originally mentioned by Zillow’s founders Rich Barton, Spencer Raskoff and Lloyd Frink in the interview they gave to Geek Wire (well-timed to their 10-year anniversary), they didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the proper-word-URL, so eventually a combination of “pillow” and “zillion” turned out to become America’s biggest rental services platform.
Quoting Spencer Raskoff, “What we were trying to do with Zillow also, was choose a name that could allow the brand to flex or the business to move in different directions, because we didn’t know where it was going to go entirely.”

Want to follow these apps footsteps?

Then, let’s dissect their business. Understand their apps in detail. Also see what it takes to create a website like Zillow Trulia and Redfin.

Prediction to make such high revenue customers as now Zillow has split into several app products, including:

  • Real Estate and Rental – Zillow app for tenants, where one can find the dream-like apartment. Parameters that help you choose your apartment include GEO-location services and various filters (price range, size, amenities, even the number of schools located nearby);
  • Zillow Rental Manager – an application for landlords, where you can easily list your property – apparently you can list as many as you have. This app also gives you an opportunity to verify your applicant upfront, performing a check of his credit score and his criminal records.
  • Zestimate – an online service which offers you an estimate of any house, based on the publicly available info like the comparable prices of the houses nearby in the neighbourhood. Despite this “help” has been heavily criticized by public organizations, even by the Wall Street Journal, it is yet afloat and keeps co-workers gossiping about the costly house of their boss.

Once you get to think about how to make an app like Zillow or any other commercial real estate app, you should keep some things in mind. With PlusInfosys  development service, we advise you to begin with a few tips to deal with – in order to be on your toes once the development is all set.

Huge Database.

And with this in mind, let me just emphasize – it has to be bigger than ever. Imagine how many points have to be stored in there: all the properties, their amenities, features and locations, routes and maps for a GEO-location function, all the addresses of the nearby institutes, schools and shops. On the server’s side various tech has to be implemented as well, including the Postgress, PostGIS SQL databases, Elasticsearch for a full-text search and Marionette Backbone Framework

We figured out that these data for the real estate market in the USA come from the different MLS (Multiple Listing Service) services. All these different MLS have their different data points and different ways to provide the data. Only with the approved license, one can ask for this data, and to get the license is not the problem. The challenging part is to exchange this data between the MLS database and your website, for which one has to implement the IDX (Internet Data Exchange) within its rules and regulations. To fetch the data from MLS and display it on the website, we implemented it with RETS, the XML based framework is used to access the data. With this, we can create the database and map the property fields from all different MLS services.

Various stack of tech.

Do you want your app to be used by customers? So, you should create a comfortable environment. For the client’s app features to be implemented into mobile app for real estate agents include different technologies, peculiarly:

  • MapKit for the maps integration
  • CoreLocation – for tracking user’s geo-location and setting a point on the map
  • Apple Push Notifications Service (APNS) – for the push notifications to hit on the device
  • CoreData or Realm – to have a list of saved houses and other properties
  • Facebook SDK – to enable sign in and sharing via Facebook
  • Google sign in – for having an additional Google+ sign in option
  • Virtual tours, which allows customers to explore the property without leaving the application. Check the HotRhome in a real estate mobile app.

Advance Search: The challenge is to create an effective advance search that should let users quickly get the most relevant results quickly either they search for home address, street address, city, county or state.

Mobile Responsive: With the study for other business & relevant websites and as per the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 73% of users are from the mobile device, we knew that we needed the prominent solution to stand out in business with mobile responsive layout which should be fast, reliable and should work with poor internet connectivity as well.

Image Processing: The main concern was to build a system that is fast, reliable and robust. With all the large images and millions of data we needed to find a way that system should load fast in any type of internet connectivity or even find a way to work offline.

Property Data Mapping

All the states/ counties use the MLS as a real estate listing service but the different MLS are the different data types are there to match them for the database and later via data exchange display it on the website. Data points like property details, utilities information, 3rd party information against the property, images, routing and geo locating on Map.

Schedule Tour and Contact

The HouzQuest platform is not just only about displaying properties and their details, we needed to provide easy contact to local real estate experts and the functionality to schedule the tour of any property users liked with min response time and surety.

On the server side we used different tech stack

The PHP Framework

Laravel is a web application framework with expressive, elegant syntax. We’ve already laid the foundation — freeing you to create without sweating the small .


PostgreSQL, also known as Postgres, is a free and open-source relational database management system emphasizing extensibility and SQL compliance.

MySQL, open-source relational database management system

MySQL Cluster enables users to meet the database challenges of next generation web, cloud, and communications services with uncompromising scalability.

Amazon Elasticsearch Service

Highly scalable and available. Amazon Elasticsearch Service lets you store up to 3 PB of data in a single cluster.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services offers reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services. Free to join, pay only.

How much is it – cost to develop a real estate mobile app

It’s important to start with conducting business analysis. This helps you to evaluate an idea of your application, get to know the market situation, find your competitors and market leaders.

Next thing is design. It’s important to create an attractive user interface and make your app comfortable for usage. You can check out our design case of the real estate app.

The real estate app development cost may vary depending on several factors – the time, the scope of features you obtain, whether it is going to be an MVP or an MMVP that you are willing to create, but if we were to generalize – you need to have several products developed.

  1. The first stage would be mobile app development for real estate agency with a finish-line product – mobile application. We are going to take iOS-based one as an example, but if there is a need for an Android app – then the estimates are likely to rise.
  2. The second, but the crucial one as well as a web development, where the website + server part combo has to be developed.

The most constructive estimation would consist out of several blocks, named in compliance with the algorithm users normally interact with the app.

  • Onboarding, where the features sign in/ sign up/sign out, signup with social networks, push-notifications, static pages, side menu, settings, customer support page.
  • Rentor’s profile + apartment details 
    Search homes: saved searches, search details, saved searches map, saved searches edit, saved search sort, filters, map of homes, recently viewed list, maps of homes.
  • Saved Homes: list, sort, edit, maps, hidden, listing, search (with GEOlocation and navigation), deep links, report an apartment function.
  • Maps integration: in-app maps, MapPoint integration (ordinary view, satellite), full-screen photo gallery, apartment details: school ratings (as Zillow also shows you the schools in the area you’re apartment-shopping) and lists on the map

To overcome the above challenges PlusInfosys experts made sure we’re building the system with latest and reliable technologies and created the decoupled server architecture so the components and instances are not dependent on each other and the system can work flawlessly in any situation. This helped us with the downtime as well. Because now if we make any major changes in the system/ add new modules or change in the database. There won’t be any downtime.

With custom development of a completely separate project of MLS using the RETS APIs and MongoDB we are able to add any new MLS with data mapping very seamlessly. The different AWS services like ElasticSearch, Redis Database the result to display when user search for the property or location became very efficient.

The all hardwork and dedication to develop the system that is user friendly and loads fast for desktop and mobile applications was alright and on the plan, but for mobile responsive usage we found an even better solution with developing the website as progressive web application using the advanced techstack.

PlusInfosys breaches the gap of not only the best apps and rendered business, As Zillow covers an extremely large database within the web platform they have developed and a numerous range of features they have created for the project, we create the same strategy for your organisation to grow.