Justin Jackson, from JustinJackson.ca, always says that the best applications are born out of solving a problem for a particular group of people. If that is the case, then Realintory should be no exception.
The Problem the Real Estate Industry is Facing:
Currently, managing inventory is done by hand, especially for rental properties. There is a big problem with double listings by the same office or real estate agency. Until now, agents and brokers have managed and tracked their listings via spreadsheets and paper, which is very time consuming as well as unreliable. Another problem is that one cannot extract any useful analytics from paper and spread sheets to run any serious analysis that would promote the business. My good friend Andrew Haxhiu, a real estate agent for many years, has been working closely with us and providing valuable feedback on the current challenges of an agent during the entire SDLC process for Realintory.
How Will this Problem be Solved with Realintory:
Realintory is a solution for real estate agents and brokers to manage their inventory from any device. We intend to make it the most intuitive way for real estate professionals to manage their rental properties as well as properties for sale.
Additionally, since the application is cloud based it has the added value of allowing seamless integration with services like Zillow, Trulia, and the MLS. What that means is that real estate agents will only need to enter a listing once and push it out to all of those services right from Realintory. In addition to saving time during the tracking it is also a great resource for looking up inventory and doing comparisons from anywhere and any device.
Another great value that brokers and agents will get from our application will be in the form of valuable analytics on the homes they have in their inventory. The Realintory Analytics tools will empower the agents to compare home trends across different periods of times as well as zones therefore increasing the transparency for both buyers and sellers that they serve which in turn increases the value to their customers.
The team right now consists of me, a full stack engineer with an M.S. in Computer Science that most recently worked at a Fortune 500 Software and IT Services Company. I have helped scale out multi-million dollar projects to Tier 1 financial institutions and have worked with many different technologies in the process. My brother Anton Bacaj, who is a phenomenal UI designer and software engineer, he is currently enrolled in a master’s program for Computer Science and has helped build many web sites and web apps as a consultant under Luce-Designs. Websites such as AlexPerlov.com, EzGrillNYC.com, SalvatoresOfSoho.com, and other apps such as the Fitture Windows Phone 8 app. Our realtor expert Andrew Haxhiu who has worked in the industry for over 5 years and owns and manages several commercial properties. We are enticing some other engineers to come onboard in the near future. We had a lot of architecture and platform decisions to make and do it quickly.
High Level Architecture:
Realintory, under the hood, is a cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, which means it will have:
- Services on the cloud (API based)
- A web interface
- Mobile apps (Android and iOS initially)
The benefits of the architecture:
This cloud implementation will seamlessly allow agents to enter listings and take photos of the properties right from the field on their iPad or Android phone. Additionally this architecture will allow the application to keep the entire office or agency in sync and constantly provide valuable analytics. Having to enter a listing only once in our app and pushing it out to all the major real estate applications, like Zillow and Trulia, will save agents valuable time.
Tools and Technologies:
For Realintory We decided to go with:
Windows Azure - For our infrastructure and to host our services and application.
ASP.NET MVC 5 - Server side and web application development.
Web API 2.0 - Endpoints for our mobile apps.
Xamarin - Android and iOS app development.
HTML 5 - Front end for the web app and simultaneously leverage some of that for our mobile apps as well.
Entity 6 – Code first migration for the database side
Reasoning behind these technologies:
We landed on these technologies because our day to day stack is C#/.NET and Java in our full time jobs and because we wanted to leverage that to build this in an iterative approach. Mainly get something out there as soon as possible. Having successfully used Azure before to build some web apps and mobile services, it seemed like a no brainer for a SaaS application like this to be built in that way. We will look to convert certain parts to other technologies, like Node.js, in the future, especially some of the collaboration aspects we plan to add to it down the road.
Ultimately, we are looking to build this on solid foundations, as well as in an agile rapid development manner. Things like security are handled for us via Identity, while caching and document based storage are easily done using Windows Azure.
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