Transforming home buying in Latin America using Firebase
November 9, 2022
Santiago García (co-founder and CTO) and Daniel Gomez Rico (Tech Lead) of La Haus talk about their app development journey and how La Haus uses Firebase tools to help prospective homeowners in Latin America buy their first home.
Where did your passion for app development come from?
I like app development because I get actionable feedback on what I'm doing. When you build things like the backend of an app, it’s invisible. You don't feel or see it. So it's really cool to build something that you can hold in your hands and interact with it.
What led you to start La Haus?
Two things. The first is my personal experience of buying a house. When I was buying a home for the first time, I didn’t really know what to do. There weren't that many market listing services, and the ones that existed weren't hosted on old technology that made it very hard to research and identify which home I wanted to purchase. In addition to that, in Latin America the housing market doesn't have much structure, guidelines and professional agents, so sometimes the house listings were fake and the "agents" weren’t very helpful.
The second is around the experience of building houses; there's so much to know and many facilitators involved to determine what area to build the houses, raw materials, and government regulations to observe. It’s just so much to process and navigate on your own to make a final decision.
So with the combination of these two things, we thought,"why don't we make this experience seamless?" This led us to start La Haus, so we can simplify the process of purchasing a new home or building one.
How does La Haus work?
New homes are a big market in Latin America, but on the other hand there is a deficit of new homes, so a lot of them need to be built. We provide both a marketplace for buyers and products for developers to help them manage their inventory and share their listings with us. When a buyer visits our site, we guide them through the whole process, from viewing available homes to making a reservation to see the home to even making a secure down payment, right through our platform.
What app development challenges were you trying to solve at La Haus?
When I joined La Haus, we didn't have a mobile app yet, just a website. We knew we wanted to build a mobile app, but we didn't know if we just wanted a clone of the web or something really feature-based and native. It was important for us to find a platform that allowed us to build a dynamic and agile app because we didn’t have the resources to create our whole team infrastructure for our mobile development, and we were trying to get to market under some tight deadlines.
How did Firebase help solve these challenges?
Since we built our app in Flutter, using Firebase was a no-brainer. They’re already integrated, and the tools are just right there, ready to use so we were able to get our app up and running quickly. Once our app was launched it was very important for us to make sure it was reliable and high performing, so we monitor things a lot. We move pretty fast because this is a new industry, so things break a lot.
We mostly use Firebase to maintain the quality of our app. We rely on [Firebase Crashlytics](https://firebase.google.com/products/crashlytics) not only to see crashes, but also business errors, using the custom report error method. Additionally, we attach more details to each reported error to help us resolve the issue if it occurs again, like logs as breadcrumbs and user properties. We also use [Firebase Performance Monitoring](https://firebase.google.com/products/performance) to measure the render time of some widgets to see which ones need an urgent fix or can wait for the future, or we measure all requests done to our backend to see effectiveness, error rate and so on.
To test small ideas and have an idea of the impact of our changes, we use [Firebase Remote Config](https://firebase.google.com/products/remote-config) and [A/B Testing](https://firebase.google.com/products/ab-testing). Firebase provides a user interface that allows everyone on the team to have autonomy in testing their ideas during the process of building the product. In the upcoming weeks, we plan to have at least one A/B test per feature. This will ensure that we are as impactful as possible.
How would you describe Firebase in one sentence?
Firebase gives us the tools we need to move fast and stay agile without compromising the quality of our app. We couldn’t run our business without it.
Essential tool in any team that wants to monitor and save costs at the same time.
Thanks to Santiago and Daniel for sharing their Firebase story and taking us behind the scenes of La Haus. For more developer stories, check out our website, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to the Firebase YouTube channel.