Editor’s note: On March 30, Inman News opened its headquarters to a full day of real estate technology demonstrations. This first-ever Demo Day featured 24 participants. Inman News and sister site InmanNext will be highlighting some of the participants’ technologies in upcoming coverage.
|Product name:||HomeSnap for iPhone|
|Company name:||Sawbuck Realty|
|Revenue model/cost:||HomeSnap is a free mobile application for the Apple iPhone. Sawbuck’s revenue stream is based on successful referrals. When a partner agent successfully closes a transaction based on a Sawbuck referral, Sawbuck receives a referral fee equal to 30 percent of the agent’s commission.|
|Key features:||1. Take a picture of any U.S. home to find out its current value, last sale date and price, similar homes for sale, tax records data, school attendance boundaries and performance measures, and other real estate-related data.|
|2. In the 13 markets where Sawbuck operates as a broker, also see multiple listing service data, including current list prices, interior photos and listing details for for-sale homes; recently sold homes; listing history; and final sale price.|
|3. Get notifications when a "snapped" home’s status or price changes, contact a Sawbuck partner agent directly from the app.|
|4. Share snapped homes via Facebook, Twitter, email or text message.|
|5. See snapshots others have taken of the same home. For for-sale properties, only multiple listing service photos appear. Also see a stream of other snaps coming in from across the country or in your local area.|
|Product launch date:||March 8, 2012|
|Product summary:||When a user takes a picture of a home with his or her iPhone, HomeSnap captures the user’s location, identifies the home, and serves up details on the home from various data sources.|
While property search apps generally provide information on available homes for sale in a particular area, Sawbuck Realty’s HomeSnap iPhone app is meant to deliver information on a very specific home — the one right in front of you, for sale or not, with the snap of a photo.
"We’re trying to create something super-simple, kind of iconic, and magical" in the way it works, said Guy Wolcott, Sawbuck’s CEO and co-founder.
The app launched about a month ago and Sawbuck already sees several enhancements on the horizon.
Adding more and better data to the app will be "an ongoing and never-ending quest," Wolcott said.
In the next four to six weeks, the brokerage plans to add demographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau, such as income, age distribution, household composition, density and political preferences, to the app.
The data would match a home’s particular census block group rather than the specific home. Such geographic units typically contain between 600 and 3,000 people.
Sawbuck also intends to eventually add information on nearby amenities and housing market trends and statistics.
In addition, the brokerage will be adding new features for homebuyers, homeowners and real estate agents. In the next few weeks, Sawbuck officials plan to roll out a feature that allows buyer’s agents to "claim" their clients by entering their email addresses.
"When those clients used HomeSnap, they would be connected to their agent — and not a Sawbuck partner agent. When buyers snap homes they like, their agent will get an alert. If an agent sees a home that’s perfect for a client, they can snap it and alert the buyer," Wolcott said.
"We want to make it ‘safe’ for agents to recommend HomeSnap to their clients and feel good about the ones who will be using it. They’ll be using an app that keeps them connected to their agent, not constantly showing them other agents."
Sawbuck plans to let listing agents claim their listings, though that feature is "probably a few months away," Wolcott said. ‘We’d like them to be able to claim their listings and embellish them with additional information designed for someone standing right outside."
HomeSnap app screenshot.
In the next two to three months, Sawbuck intends to integrate some homebuyer-suited features from its property search app, such as the ability to take notes, pictures and video with one tap while viewing a home, Wolcott said.
"But we are being careful to only ‘unlock’ (those features) when you appear to be home shopping. Otherwise, we risk killing part of what people love about HomeSnap — its simplicity," he said.
At some point, Sawbuck will also allow homeowners to claim their own homes. Owners would be able to correct data inaccuracies, embellish property details with additional information, and easily track their home’s value and comparable sales, Wolcott said.
"Obviously, the (feature) that makes it easy for you to claim your home, but hard for you to claim my home, is critical here," he added.
Sawbuck recently closed a $2 million round of funding, which will help the brokerage expand to a total of 35 or so MLS markets over the next year.
In the three weeks following the app’s launch, the app was downloaded more than 75,000 times and users took more than 110,000 snaps. As of April 5, it had 3.5 stars in Apple’s App Store, out of 143 ratings.
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