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Showing app Entro has potential — but should address agent safety

12/24/2020

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Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Entro is an app for homebuyers to find agents for on-demand showings.

Platforms: iOS Ideal for: Agents, new agents looking to build database and teams

Top selling points: Good source for leads Easy to control on/off status One-tap response In-app communications Top concerns:

The app has no mechanism built in for lead identity verification and does not directly address the safety of agents.

What you should know

On-demand showing apps have been around for quite some time. Like Entro, they rely on location tracking to alert a nearby agent that a prospective buyer would like to see a home for sale.

These apps rely heavily on the individual not calling the listing agent directly from a home’s sign, if driving around, and also on the hope that the person isn’t searching on Zillow or Homesnap, as these apps have tremendous marketing budgets and largely remain most consumers’ home search tools of choice.

Entro users can take advantage of its location-based home search functionality — which is nicely interactive and demonstrates some good touches — and “request an agent” should they want to see the property.

Agents who are registered with Entro and are within 15 miles will be alerted to the request. They can choose to accept or reject the request. If declined, the next nearby agent will get his or her chance.

Buyers only see homes within a 15-mile radius of their location by default. I find that odd, especially considering that its initial launch market is Southern California.

Uber and Lyft work because riders are verified to be who they are (it’s not 100 percent safe and never should be considered as such) and the drivers are also background-checked and subject to constant tracking by the app.

That’s not the case here.

The agent has no mechanism for ensuring buyers are who they say they are, despite this being a major concern of the industry with a number of apps addressing the issue. Here’s one. And another.

I asked Entro co-founder Stephanie Landavazo, also an agent in Redlands, California, with the Landavazo Group, about why the app didn’t include a feature for identity verification or agent safety.

“We briefly talked about it at the beginning, and as an agent, what kind of security do you have when you hold an open house?” she said. “The more intrusive you get with buyers the more that’ll shy away from it. No one really wants to give info out who also wants instantaneous results.”

She also said that the agent’s picture or name isn’t available to the prospect, so they don’t know anything about the agent’s persona. The company considered allowing agents to build profiles in the app but felt that would actually increase the risk.

“I feel like it’s slim-to-none that someone will be shopping for a home in a particular area and not be on the up and up,” Landavazo said.

Alongside my concerns for the general safety of the agent is the concept of the buyer’s viability as a lead.

Granted, because the app has easy in-app communications, the agent can use them to question the individual’s ability to buy, representation status, budget and other basic lead qualification inquiries.

Stephanie Landavazo

However, because the app sells itself on an agent responding quickly, these sort of processes may result in frustration on the part of the consumer.

Additionally, I didn’t notice a workflow for the agent to alert the seller that a showing was imminent. Sure, anxious sellers may be open to getting out quickly, but what if they just put a child down for a nap, or a contractor has stopped by to finish the carpet?

If a showing is accepted, the buyer is alerted, and the agents can use one button to open a map to quickly find the property.

Listings are inputted manually for now, meaning agents will need to spend some time typing in data, uploading images, and copying and pasting descriptions. A direct IDX connection, via agent and listing ID would go a long way toward streamlining this app.

Properties for sale can be marked “unavailable” for showing during certain hours, and agents can also turn off alerts when they’re not in a position to show the home.

Also, Entro does not address COVID-19 in any of its features. It could do this by offering safety checklists, links to regional regulations and by showing homes with virtual tours, at the very least. Maybe a “COVID-safe” badge or something?

If this app can solve its glaring lack of concern for agent safety and lead quality, it has some potential, as it’s nicely designed for a stand-alone, nonportal-backed mobile application. It could also be a good way for a listing agent to send leads to a licensed assistant or new agent. Teams could divide showing leads from Entro as well.

Entro is free for agents to use.

Ultimately, I think Entro needs to think harder about what its agent audience needs. This is surprising, because an agent is a co-founder.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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