Estera - Communication accelerated by 60%

8 min read

Description: System to manage real estate and customer/tenant relations.
Technologies: React, NextJS, Azure Functions, NodeJS, Sentry
Problem to be solved: Improvement of the communication between landlord and tenant and optimization of property management processes.

How It Started

If you're in the real estate industry, you know that renting out a property is a complex process. Finding the right tenant is only half the battle—you need to make sure the tenancy goes smoothly from start to finish.

That's where our client came in. An entrepreneur in the real estate industry, he knew how difficult it was to keep track of all the things that needed to be done on a property, like keeping occupancy up, communicating with tenants, and finding contractors for repairs.

He wanted to create a system that would allow owners and renters to communicate seamlessly and efficiently.

Here's what our client had to say about their vision: "We noticed that most tenants have issues with paying their rent on time. They usually contact landlords only when they're in trouble and need an extension or some other help. With our product, renters would be able to communicate with landlords like they currently do it (either by phone or via e-mails), but in a more convenient way."

The client also wanted us to create an option for tenants to pay their bills directly from the application. He believed that this would reduce the number of mistakes tenants make when sending their payments, as well as save them time and money on basic accounting tasks.

"The MVP should be easy and understandable for both parties—both tenants and landlords should be able to use it without spending too much time on training." the client stated.

How Design Thinking Helped Us

We began by conducting a Design Thinking workshop with our client and his team. This allowed us to identify potential users, brainstorm ideas for what they'd want out of such a product, evaluate those ideas based on potential user needs, and narrow down which ones we'd develop further into concepts.

By the end of our initial meeting, we had already generated a lot of ideas—some good and some bad—about how such a product could work. After that, we created a wireframe and user story map to determine which features will have the highest priority.

The Biggest Challenge

When we started designing the user interface, the client requested that it be easy and understandable.

The biggest challenge was to create an experience of an online contract signing feature which is easy and understandable. Tenant can insert all his personal information in an online wizard and see the generated contract in real time and then both parties can sign it online. After successful signing an account for a tenant is automatically generated.

The resulting product design took a few iterations with the client to achieve something we could be proud of.

Minimum Viable Product

We immediately got to work on building the application. We created a chat interface between tenant and landlord that allowed tenants to communicate with their landlords about any malfunctions in their apartments. The application had a few additional features that made it easier for both landlords and tenants. It allowed tenants to pay bills directly through the application. This feature allowed tenants to stay on top of their rent payments, while also making it easier for landlords to receive payment from their tenants.

The application also allowed users to submit maintenance requests as well as request maintenance repairmen directly through the application itself. From a software development point of view, the contract generation and signature feature was the most challenging element of this project.

We created an intuitive interface for landlords to create a contract that fits their needs and those of their tenants. It allowed them to send the contract directly to potential tenants. As soon as they access the link provided in their email, they are prompted with all of their choices, which are already in place on the template. They can review all of them before signing online - no additional paperwork is necessary. After signing, the landlord receives automatic notification that they have a new tenant.

We also developed a feature that allows landlords to change or add clauses or add new contracts without re-creating existing contracts from scratch. They can easily modify existing contracts without losing any information from previous iterations.

Techlike created a team of six people to build the MVP, including a project manager, UX designer, one backend developer, two frontend developers and a QA specialist. The MVP was released to our client who was able to test his idea in the real market and see which assumptions were correct and which were not.

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