A Fredrik Eklund-backed listing app offers brokers spin on social media

REAL brands itself at the intersection of Zillow, WhatsApp and Instagram

Thomas Ma and Fredrik Eklund
Thomas Ma and Fredrik Eklund (Fredrik Eklund, Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty Images)

A new pursuit from Fredrik Eklund, founder of Douglas Elliman’s top-producing Eklund-Gomes Team, is looking to spin social media, listings and communications into a new app for brokers.

REAL brands itself as an Instagram-style social platform combined with a WhatsApp-style chat feature, aimed at enabling agents greater control over promotion. By curating listings to create a profile alongside in-app communication, agents can connect to and keep up with buyers, sellers and other agents.

As a result, the profile’s followers — sellers and buyers alike — can see agents’ reviews of highly curated listings and get a feel for their personalities, styles and tastes before contacting them.

“Million Dollar Listing” alum Eklund co-founded the app in collaboration with Thomas Ma, a real estate entrepreneur and broker. It’s slated for an official launch party in Las Vegas on August 2, but a beta version launched 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 listings apps aimed at keeping brokers and potential clients connected. Riley, a Y Combinator alum founded in 2015, offered robot and human concierges for a 24/7 search assistant to tackle messaging and coordination for brokers. In 2019, Rodeo Realty agent Ben Bacal co-created Rila, which allows agents and consumers to scroll through properties located in a certain neighborhood in a feed, adding photos and comments.

REAL’s co-founders emphasize its place at the intersection of data and broker networks. Ma said agents’ brands are a central aspect of the app, as it merges a listing platform with a social media interface.

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“We showcase their knowledge on the market, their knowledge on the property, the area, and we showcase everything, so people can follow them,” Ma said.

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The app also takes a cue from the sneak peeks agents often post on Instagram, allowing posts previewing properties that haven’t yet hit the market among the listings on a profile.

Users can also see what’s popular and conduct specific searches tailored to their needs. Brokers and hopeful buyers can search for residences with certain criteria in a specified community or zip code.

Followers can also reach out directly to agents seen on REAL, and be sure their connections are retained, as the app stores data in its WhatsApp-style platform with a contact list.

Agents can also message each other to build their broker network. Eklund said his 91-agent uses the app to communicate across 13 markets and five states.