Scott Atkinson is the senior developer at Homesnap.
Describe what you do in one sentence. I am responsible for development of the iOS version of the Homesnap app.
Time at current company: A little over 2 years
Degree, school: Bachelor of Arts in English and computer science – Case Western Reserve University
Location: Washington, D.C., area
What do you do?
I am responsible for implementing new Homesnap features in our iOS app. Every day, I work with a team of back-end developers, designers, and other mobile developers to figure out how best to implement new Pro and consumer-facing features. It’s a true collaborative effort to design and build our tools and features. I sit in the same room as our designer, data architect and our other iOS developer. At the beginning of a project we may discuss ideas every hour, but throughout the remainder of a project my work becomes more solitary and coding-focused.
How’d you end up in real estate tech?
Like much of my career: serendipitously. I answered a Craigslist job posting for Homesnap and really hit it off with our co-founder and CEO, Guy Wolcott, and senior vice president of product, Lou Mintzer.
What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?
The contexts in which mobile devices are used can be much richer than simply “a user sitting in front of a screen.” Where is the user? What direction are they facing? Have they been in this location before? How fast are they moving? Mobile is such a perfect fit for real estate. You can really take advantage of those contexts to provide new data, new features and a richer experience than ever before.
For example, we’re don’t have to ask the user to type in an address to search for a house; we can simply have them take a picture of it to find it. In the future, the proximity of a house shopper to an agent might be used to share information in a way that wasn’t possible before.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I love the craft of writing software. Coding is part science and part art. There’s a series of established patterns and techniques that you should follow so that you write code that is easy to use and understand later. But within those rigorous guidelines is a nearly infinite variety of recombination and creative application of the tools at your disposal. It’s fun to explore those various paths to come up with elegant and effective solutions to real problems.
What products have you had a part in developing in the past?
“IOS 8 by Tutorials” – A really great book from raywenderlich.com. I was one of the technical editors on it.
FreeMarkets – One of the first B2B Internet-based systems. It was an auction system and consulting business that allowed buyers of engineered goods to create a real-time auction where suppliers could bid to earn the business. I was a business analyst for the main auction system (BidWare.) We were a small team that built some truly innovative solutions to a previously paper-only market.
What are you working on right now? What are the challenges?
I am working on a new way to bring timely information to agents and consumers about homes in their market. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to present a possibly huge fountain of information to individuals. Since everyone consumes news differently, it’s a real challenge to make a system that gives most people the amount of data they want without overwhelming them.
Favorite Twitter account?
That’s a whole other interview. It’s most likely Asian. Probably Thai, Lao or Korean. Simply prepared ingredients from the sea and farm fresh vegetables are great too. But, what I appreciate most is a friend’s grandmother’s recipe cooked with attention and an appreciation for its history.
Favorite video game?
Probably “Halo,” but I’m really rusty.
To visit: Paris.
To eat in: San Francisco.
To people-watch: Portland, Oregon.
Favorite band or singer?
To be honest, I’ve just not been into music lately. The bands that have stuck with me the longest are The Police and The Beatles. But saying that makes me sound less than hip.
What do you hate about technology?
Its hold on us. I’m no Luddite, but it’s nice when you can put the devices down for a while.
What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?
When I bought my house (and in speaking with others) the process was a bit impersonal. My wife and I did much of the searching and legwork in narrowing down places to live. While we could look at a house and its characteristics to get a feel for it, we always felt like we didn’t have a complete picture or a professional opinion of it. It would have been great if we could have had a more seamless communication path with our agent, where she could have easily given us the opinions we were looking for while still allowing her to support all of her various clients.
Do you think technology can change the industry?
It already has. I bought my first house in 2013. I had way more information going into that deal than I would have even two years previously. I can look at listing pictures on my street to get ideas on how to decorate and save those ideas to Pinterest. I can ask contractors what ceramic tile they used in a bathroom via Houzz. My city government posts free maps that show things like the location of sewers and special use permits.
As tools mature and bring agents and consumers together on a more real-time basis, I’ll be able to get better interpretations of the data I’m looking at. I’ll not only be better positioned to buy or sell a home in the future, but I’ll be able to make better decisions about how to manage the one I am in now.
In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?
Definitely small: I’d like to figure out how to help people learn to cook great food without recipes.
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