A new app called Plunk, with a reputable pedigree of industry knowledge behind it, has launched to help homeowners better evaluate the return on home improvement.
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Plunk is home renovation value app for homeowners.
Ideal for: Homeowners, agents
Top selling points:
- User interface
- Integration of market trends
- Chart/graph animations
- Highly analytical
- Home condition scale
In short, there are a lot of these apps out there. Plunk does some things differently, but those already using home maintenance trackers and similar renovation valuation models will need good reason to switch.
What you should know
Plunk is an iOS (iPhone) mobile app that allows homeowners and real estate agents better assign value to home renovation projects and updates. It uses live market data to analyze how homes with similar finishes and amenities are selling. Agents at any level who work with investors or have a client wanting to update a home before listing would have a reason to download Plunk.
Despite its recent launch, Plunk comes across as a much more mature app than its tenure in the App Store may suggest. It’s polished, engaging and is able to distill vast amounts of property intelligence to help its users arrive as close as possible to what a home may go for on the open market.
Understand that it’s the same open market that ultimately dictates what a home is worth, regardless of finishes or the quality of the renovation. Still, this app should give people a pretty good idea on what to expect.
In brief, Plunk lets you know what impact a particular home improvement project may have on a home’s value. It does this with the understanding that it’s not a one-to-one return, which many consumers seem to think.
The app’s developers were inspired partly by the Zestimate and how it didn’t always take into consideration recent improvements or nuanced features of a home.
The app breaks down its points of activity as Feed, Dashboard, Improve and Your Home. The Dashboard offers a very cool selection of animated graphs that compare a Plunk value (after) to the Real Home Value (before).
Each home project comes with a detailed description of what’s involved and allows the user to indicate what’s in the home, not unlike an MLS input sheet, except much better looking. Users can upload images and give the home a Condition Score, as an appraiser would: Disrepair, Economy, Stock, Semi-Custom, Custom, Luxury.
Users can also see a history of the home’s value, plotted on, again, a very cool line graph. It takes into account size, year built, lot size and plugs in micro- and macroeconomic trends, as well. This includes regionally driven data, such as how local industries, retail growth, population and major workforce centers affect value. Nice.
The Improve module is where you can apply renovation scenarios and see expected value increases, such as a new bedroom, updated primary bathroom or new deck, for example. This will also show how long it will take for the project to pay off.
The Feed is where users can thumb through relevant news and select what kind of content they may want to see. It can be about mortgages, local activities of the housing market, etc. You get the idea.
The Seattle-based company has a lot of real estate technology expertise behind it; its founder played an early role in realtor.com.
Plunk will start out in the Seattle market, a pretty bold move given the wide array of home types and its always-on-the-up home values. This is a commendable move. A lot of apps test run in Phoenix or Las Vegas, because the homes are all so much alike. I think this is going to give the Plunk team a very good test case for its product.
Obviously, there are ways to connect with nearby contractors and lenders, a feature that no app in this category can seem to find a way to make money without. I was hoping this wouldn’t be the case, but I suppose these vendor connections are table stakes for apps in this milieu.
Future premier features will include more agent-centric property valuation reports as well as in-app purchases for additional analytics.
Plunk’s user experience and realistic approach to the link between home renovation and resale value help it rise above a few of its competitors. Assuming the rollout goes smoothly, there shouldn’t be reason to not use it.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.