Rocket Internet’s Lamudi.pk is one of the leading players in the online property listing market in Pakistan. Their mobile app is arguably the first of its kind for the Pakistani market, and helps us explore the application of mobile apps in this arena.
How It Works
The option to choose a country at the beginning of the app gives it an international feeling from the very beginning. Once you choose Pakistan, you have access to all of the approx. 100K properties listed for purchasing or renting out available on the website.
You can then go on to chose the city, area, property type, maximum price, minimum total area, minimum bedrooms and minimum bathrooms to set the parameters for your search. Once you hit search, you are able to view the results in the form of a list or on a map.
Clicking on any property listing provides the available details and description, location on a map, and seller’s details. What makes this app handy is that you can just click “Call” to contact the seller. If the seller is an agent, you can also find out more about other properties that the same agent has listed on the website.
From browsing some of the properties, two things stood out. The first was that the listings’ descriptions were not written by the actual sellers but by Lamudi.pk’s team. This gives a standardized look to the details with a neat “mention Lamudi.pk when contacting your agent for preferred services” at the end of each ad, but also kills the originality of the listings. The second thing is that the descriptions were too generic – this reflects the nature of the property market in the country where information is withheld at the beginning.
Maps and Limitations
Clicking on the Map options displays the properties (up to 50 at a time) on a map. The map is powered by Google Maps and provides a great idea of the location if the address is actually listed down to exact address rather than a general area like just Bahria Town or DHA Phase 1. This seemed to be the general trend leading to a limited functionality of the map function.
Real estate agents and private sellers would not be comfortable giving out the exact location due to security concerns or to not give away everything at once. This would encourage prospective buyers and renters to contact the parties and find out more, but it limits the usefulness of the map function of the app. You aren’t really able to compare properties in different parts of the same area as the whole cluster of them shows at the same point on the map because of limited addresses.
Perhaps the silver lining here is handy access to an overall map when you are looking at properties so you can see how far/close other areas are.
Saved Searches and Alerts
If you choose to register with Lamudi.pk, you can save your searches and set up alerts to be notified when new properties matching your search criteria are listed. These features add greatly to the functionality of the app in terms of being customized for your specific needs.
Real Estate Directory versus Property Portal
One additional search criteria that can be added is to filter out properties that have photos from the ones that don’t. This would also encourage sellers to put up photos and also give a chance to the app’s users to go straight to the ones they can really see via this portal.
With the way things are the app is only translating (roughly) into a directory of property listings or real estate agents. With the app’s platform and capabilities, it should be way more than that. It should ideally help you properly browse properties from anywhere on your phone – this would require more properties with photos, more accurate addresses and perhaps descriptions provided by the actual sellers.
Mobile app for property
The final question we will discuss is the value of a mobile app for property portal in terms of the market (specifically Pakistan). As already discussed, market specific limitations related to descriptions and addresses cut down on the functionality of the app.
A related question would be: even if those features were functional, what segment of the market would use a mobile app to search for properties? Mobile apps for smartphones bring down the market of users to 3% of Pakistan’s population. From the traditional methods of using real estate agents and ads in classified sections of the paper, the journey extends to online property portals, with mobile apps at the farthest end of the stick.
What would compel me to use a mobile app if I was looking to buy/rent are the alerts feature and the map function. The alerts feature is important because it would mean that I use the app more than once – but this would depend on the number of new properties being listed on the website on a regular basis. This brings us back to the dependability of the app on the actual content and listings on the online portal. If the app is to be a success in the Pakistani market, the back-end needs to pick up its game.