Real Estate

How to Build an App Like Zillow & Succeed For 2021

19 March 2021 • 6 min read
How to Build an App Like Zillow & Succeed For 2021
Slava Ivanov
Slava Ivanov
Global IT partnerships and Strategic development
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Bringing real estate to the next level with Apartmii
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Apartmii — a New Look at Property Solutions Software
Andrii Horiachko
Written by Andrii Horiachko
Co-Founder at Softermii
Bringing real estate to the next level with Apartmii
Customizable engine that saves development time
Apartmii — a New Look at Property Solutions Software

It is without a doubt that COVID-19 has drastically changed the digital real estate industry — and as a result, many are learning how to develop a home-buying app.

Share of home buyers and sellers who were comfortable with electronic closing documents in the United States in May 2020


More Americans are depending on digital tools to supplement traditional home buying and selling methods. In 2020, more than 60% of home buyers and sellers were comfortable with electronic document signing, and in 2021, 79% of Americans expressed interest in using 3D virtual tours and digital floor plans. Now with the arrival of tech-friendly millennials to the real estate market, digital tools are more essential than ever.

As a result, Zillow and Trulia, two of the most popular real estate applications, are quickly moving to address this upcoming growing demand - and many entrepreneurs are as well. But how do you develop an app like Zillow? Or develop a real estate web platform like Trulia?

In this article, we will explain this growing digital market and how you can build a real estate listings app. We will also go over how much is the Zillow app, how much is the Trulia app, how much it can cost for the development of apps like Zillow, and how long it can take.

Millennials Are Joining the Market and Digital Real Estate Tools Are More Profitable Than Ever

Millennials are the largest generational group in the United States and they’re quickly becoming the newest generation of home buyers.

On average, the typical age of a first-time home buyer is 34 years old - an age that millennials are now reaching. As they approach their mid-30s, they will become the newest generation of home buyers, which will drive new real estate trends.

Zillow research predicts that 6.4 million new residential homes will be put on the market by 2025 to accommodate the surge of millennial buyers. As a result, real estate technology will be used more than ever. According to the same research, millennials are comfortable with making large purchases over a digital platform. In fact, nearly 60% of millennials are confident to buy a home that they’ve only virtually seen and nearly 40% are completely comfortable with buying a house online.

In a highly competitive and fast-paced industry, time-saving digital tools will allow these new first-time buyers to compete for their homes. It will also allow sellers to sell their homes faster than ever. Based on Zillow’s data, homes that had a 3D tour got 29% more views, were favorited 32% more often, and sold 10% faster than homes without a virtual tour.

As millennials want more digital shopping tools for their real estate experiences, the demand grows and the market becomes more profitable.

Zillow and Trulia’s New Features

Zillow and Trulia have been quickly working to accommodate the millennial market. In 2020 and 2021, they implemented the following features:


This feature allows for the automation of the showing, scheduling, and managing real estate process for realtors. Buying agents can book viewings faster than ever and listing agents can easily approve scheduling requests over Zillow. With ShowingTime, it creates a seamless and simple transaction that is both efficient and easy.

Zillow Surfing 2.0

Zillow updated its virtual tour experience and created a more authentic showing by combining different media contents. Interested home buyers can now view specific room dimensions, the exact location of the camera on an interactive floor plan, and get a more in-depth tour.

Zillow Surfing 2.0

New Search Filters

Trulia understands that an advanced search engine is essential to a real estate application, so it recently added new filters. Users can now conduct more detailed searches and receive a simple list of apartment types that meet their categories.

Faster Contact

In an overly competitive market like real estate, sending and receiving time-sensitive messages can either make or break a deal. As a result, Trulia has simplified its contact forms so interested users can quickly connect with listing agents.

Must-Have Features for a Real Estate App

An Expansive Database

It is crucial for real estate apps and websites to have a database that is large enough to store thousands - even millions - of listings. For example, Zillow’s database has over 110 million listings in the United States, which translates to over 110 million potential business deals.

Your database will be dependent on the MLS system for listings, but you can also allow for user contributions. To accept independent listings, you should have a basic form to gather information about the property, such as photos, descriptions, and price.

Advanced Search Functionality

Users should be able to search for listings that fit their criteria. Some must-need filters should include location, property type, price range, and square footage. It is recommended that you also implement the ability for users to save their searches and properties of interest. Not only would this retain users, but it can also benefit realtors, who could suggest listings that are similar to the user’s interest.

It is also advisable to integrate analytics to gather information on the most popular filters and search trends.

Advanced Search Functionality

Informative and Attractive Listing Pages

Listings should use a combination of text and pictures. You will want to avoid long paragraphs and use graphs or photos to hold the user’s attention. Information such as a monthly mortgage breakdown, home values, and maps should be done visually.

Interactive Neighbourhood Maps

A neighbourhood map should display information based on important criteria, such as the availability of schools, stores, or other points of interest. It is highly recommended to incorporate a GPS into the app so users can also determine travel times between the listed home and important destinations, such as work, daycare, and family.

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours are beneficial for both potential homebuyers and for agents. Users can view homes whenever and wherever they want while realtors can avoid hectic schedules. It is also useful for international users who cannot physically see the property in-person.

Video Tours

Video tours are similar to virtual tours, but are done in real-time. An agent can walk through the home and give a more personalized tour. They can also answer questions and accommodate specific requests that cannot be done over a virtual tour.

Match Users and Agents

Potential buyers and sellers should have the ability to match with a real estate agent who fits their needs. This can be done with users reaching out to agents or vice versa.

Real-Time Messaging

Allowing users and agents to communicate with each other will increase engagement and the continued use of your app. Your app should, at the very least, have text messaging, but it is recommended that you also implement voice and/or video chat. Read also: Voice Chat App Development

The Tech Stack That You Will Need

Building a real estate listings website is not simple. In order to manage large amounts of data, you will need a robust backend. Therefore, the following tech stack is recommended for the server-side:

  • Developmental Language: Java and Python
  • Cloud Ghosting: Amazon EC2
  • Cloud Storage: Amazon S3
  • Version Control: Jenkins
  • Data Management: Real and CoreData

For the client-side, you will have to determine which platform you will be using for your app. For Android, you can use Kotlin or Java, and for iOS, you can use either Swift or Objective C.

Some additional APIs that you will need in order to provide geographical and neighbourhood information to your users will be Google Places, SimplyRets, CoreLocation, MapBox, and CoreData.

How Much Will It Cost To Build An App/Website Like Zillow?

Here are the golden questions. What is the cost of Zillow’s website? The cost of Trulia’s website? What will it cost to build a website like Zillow? And what will it cost to create a real estate app like Trulia?

Well, the final costs of a real estate app development can depend on various factors, such as product complexity and the number of overall features. Furthermore, the size of your development team can also influence the price. However, the typical employees and factors that will determine the final costs are:

  • Project Manager
  • UI/UX Designer(s)
  • Frontend Developer(s)
  • Backend Developer(s)
  • Android/iOS Developer(s)
  • Business Analysis
  • Quality Control
  • Post-Release Maintenance

Creating a basic and simple app can cost $25,000 to $45,000, but to also create a website alongside your app can range from $40,000 to $70,000.

How Long Will It Take?

Just like the final costs, the developmental time can vary depending on different factors. Keep in mind that creating a high-quality product includes more than just development. It can also include preparation, planning, testing, and fixing.

On average, it can take anywhere from 600 to 800 hours to develop an app. As for an app and a website, it can take up to 1200 hours. This will typically translate to two to six months.

Softermii Experience

Developing a real estate app is difficult. You will need an experienced and talented developmental team who can create a final product that will meet your exact expectations. When you work with Softermii, our dedicated team will ensure that you have a high-quality real estate software development service for creating an app that can compete against market giants, such as Zillow and Trulia. We have also created a mobile app for real estate agents.

Our expert developers and consultants will work with you every step of the way. Whether you need web or mobile development, we will provide you with user-friendly solutions. Receive data-driven products and become a market leader with Softermii.


The market for real estate digital tools is booming and homebuyers are more eager than ever to utilize online searches. Top companies such as Zillow and Trulia have already realized this and are adding new features to their apps every day. Up-and-coming entrepreneurs have also been jumping on board to enter the marketplace, but it’s not as easy as it seems.

Creating a simple real estate app won’t stand out from the crowd. To create a successful app, you will need a high-quality and high-performing app that would appeal to all types of users. You will also need to keep up with real estate market trends and consistently update your business to promote future growth.

With Softermii, we will ensure that you’re ready to enter and stay in the market with a powerful product. Build a real estate website for agents and buyers by contacting us for a free consultation and become the newest market leader.

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