Six month of product design: TrendAgent
Six months of product
 

Trend and TrendAgent



Trend is a real estate center with a superpower called TrendAgent. It’s a B2B product composed of:

database with 50.000 existing apartments; 
backoffice that assists real estate purchase and sale transactions; 
Web and mobile application. 

All of these allow the real estate agent offer the buyer all apartments at once. With the help of
TrendAgent it is simple, not to mention free of charge for both the real estate agent and the buyer. Here’s what the business process looks like in three steps:




File Manager



Real estate industry deals with big loads of documentation. It has to be stored, looked through, downloaded, sent, received, maintained and organized. TrendAgent was developed as an MVP pattern. This is why some of its tools needed to be redesigned.

Issues that a user or a business could come across
The first version of the file manager was designed by few people in a compressed time frame and with the need to seek compromise settlements:

→ No name search, navigation issues;
→ Disarray due to the lack of file structure and the difficulty with administering;
→ Oftentimes real estate agents had the need to send documents to the clients. The first version of the file manager didn’t have the file-sharing feature;
→ Sometimes it was vital to find a previous version of the document. There was no such feature either.
 
Therefore according to the metric, research and interviews, a user friendly file manager was much needed.

Solution
Our team has designed a file storage system. It is based on creating templates for content managers. This allowed organize and eliminate faulty files.

The first version didn’t have a search feature. We added a residential building, developer and bank name search. Meaning we decided against a file name search. This was necessary so that the agent could quickly find a file by the name of the residential building. A file-sharing feature and file history was added as well.

      


Mortgage calculator



Starting July 1, 2018 Russia introduced into effect new laws. Previously the developer had the right to manage depositors’ funds. Now all transactions are controlled by the bank. These new developments protect the depositors in case of unfinished building projects but at the same time the whole industry working with unfinished building projects have to look to bank actions. We decided to start with basics: make dealing with mortgage more clear and convenient for the users. For that we decided to create a brand new mortgage calculator.

Issues and the current state of affairs
TrentAgent had a simple mortgage calculator. It had limited features: 

1. the agents had to ask a junior mortgage specialist to be present at the meeting with the client which lead to higher staff expenditures. 
2. the agent who couldn’t give consultations on simple issues looked incompetent to the client.

Project development
I learned from an interview with mortgage specialists and agents that there’s a certain set of challenges that can be foreseen to reduce the number of referrals to mortgage specialists significantly: 

estimating the needed monthly salary; 
basic early redemption calculations; 
a complete list of mortgage plans available for a certain residential building; 
capability of taking into account the client’s current loan obligations.
 
Mortgage calculations are necessary for the agent-client meetings after the client has already chosen the apartment. Which is why we moved the calculation feature to the “apartment” page.
Also, I have added a list of banks where the client can learn about different mortgage plans. Now the client can see what interest rate the client can use in the calculations and what plans the client can expect.



It is vital that the client has preliminary early redemption calculations so I added an early redemption graph that can help visualize the mortgage payments. Now the agent can demonstrate to the client how an early redemption payment will affect the payments schedule. This allows the client to make a confident decision about buying an apartment.



There’s a way to see how the necessary salary and monthly mortgage payments change depending on the apartment cost and the downpayment.

It has become clear how the apartment price and the downpayment affect monthly payments and the necessary salary. At the moment new features for bank integrations are being designed: an expanded calculator that will take into account all the details. It will allow to count the mortgage to the penny considering all the plans available for each client personally. Later a new feature will be added allowing to create an application form from the calculated data and automatically send it to all the banks.




Adding apartments



TrendAgent is a tool helping find new and secondary real estate. Still, the secondary real estate database is small. Since the new laws have been implemented there’s a need to fill this database so that the company could be free from developers.

How can we achieve it?
We decided that the first step to this will be letting every agent put up their own sale listings on TrendAgents. For this we need to:
  
design an application form for adding a new listing into the database. It is vital that all the listings going through agents are synced up with the already existing data structure. 
make the process of adding a listing fast and simple without hurting the backend or business. 
design a new business process for moderating listings. 
design user area and organize work with listings.

Solution
To understand what data the user should provide I compared the existing data structure to the secondary real estate market specifics.


TrendAgent has all the new Saint Petersburg real estate in its database. This needs to be used to help the user fill up all forms correctly. However, users shouldn’t be able to change the database directly. For this I suggested a post-it note system. In this case the following apartment database stays untouched, but every apartment in the database can be “marked” with a post-it note. This will allow to make the database safe, trace the apartment history starting with the construction and pair it with using all the available building and apartment data for client to fill it quickly.



When adding an apartment the user will have to choose the type of the agreement used to sell the apartment for the client on the start screen and fill in only the necessary data.
 
If the user’s apartment is already in the TrendAgent database, they only have to choose it on the floor-by-floor plans.




 
Moderation
  


There are three roles in the moderation process: Superadmin, Admin, and Moderator. Superadmin supervises the whole process, they can appoint and remove the responsible parties. Admin adds lacking data into the database. Moderator verifies the data accuracy. They work remotely which is why they cannot work with the master database.


We are planning on implementing a full set of feed features, an option of uploading apartment database from an XML file and other developments.

In this module design process we decided to switch the whole product to our design system. Which is exactly what our team has been working on with enthusiasm.

 
 

 
To conclude



To me product design has become not just a job, but also a way of thinking in day-to-day life. While working on these challenges I had to leave dozens of features behind and focus on the real issues. I learned how to turn down the excess and cultivate the necessary. This is unbelievably engrossing and offers multiple opportunities for growth.

Special thx to my team, design lead, and my beloved wife for that amaizing illustrations and help <3
And also, guys, DO NOT try to make presentations via behance native tools. IT HURTS!





Six month of product design: TrendAgent
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363
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Published:

Six month of product design: TrendAgent

41
363
3
Published: