SF agent group launches its first all-in-one MLS mobile app

No previous app was “comprehensive or flexible enough for the SF market”

Screenshots of Zenlist app, Hud Bixler, Tom MacLeod and Jay Pepper-Martens (Zenlist, Getty, Eric Guarisco,  Renee Thompson and Don Selby)
Screenshots of Zenlist app, Hud Bixler, Tom MacLeod and Jay Pepper-Martens (Zenlist, Getty, Eric Guarisco,  Renee Thompson and Don Selby)

The San Francisco multiple listing service is finally going truly mobile despite several past attempts that sputtered out, according to MLS and San Francisco Association of Realtors leadership.

“We have tried to launch mobile apps a few times but have always faced the same roadblocks: missing data (not all area MLSs participating) and functionality that is not comprehensive or flexible enough for the SF market,” SFARMLS System Director Hud Bixler said via email.

The local MLS has already had three insufficient off-the-shelf mobile apps, Bixler said. One app did tours well, one app had all of the regional MLS data, and one allowed agents to edit some, but not all, MLS data. The result was “dissatisfaction and disjointed workflow,” he explained. 

Therefore, after a lengthy search, the SFARMLS decided to partner with Zenlist to create a new app. The San Francisco-based mobile home-search company has 6,000 agents and more than 200,000 consumers already using its platform and it used that experience to inform the new app.

“Agents require a lot of functionality to do their job on their phone,” said Zenlist founder Tom MacLeod via email. “Prioritizing and miniaturizing those functions for the mobile experience is the biggest challenge that any company faces.” 

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Early in the development process, the SFAR used surveys and meetings to help “accurately determine the minimum viable product (features and functions) that any app must have,” SFAR Chief Technical Officer Jay Pepper-Martens said via email. The Zenlist app was later presented to the association’s MLS and Technology Committee, consisting of about 20 “very engaged” San Francisco agents. After years of false starts, the committee had an “overwhelmingly positive and in some cases surprised” response to the new app. 

The app has an agent and client side. The agent version should feel like the broker is in the MLS with access to private remarks, brokers’ tours and tools for sharing appropriate data with clients, Pepper-Martens said. More importantly, it also shows how clients use that data, he added. In the client version, home buyers and sellers can add comments, expand their search parameters and refine their preferences, plus communicate and collaborate with “top-notch” tools. 

He highlighted the new app’s quick comparative market analysis tool as a game-changer for local agents. 

SFAR agents will have access to the new app by the end of this month. Zenlist said its “ambition” is to eventually bring similar mobile-first functionality to realtors nationwide.