Sunday, February 20, 2011

App – ropriate. Part 3: Zoocasa, Zillow and others.

This series of posts concerns what I think I know about smartphone apps and their kin as it relates to real estate.  We had a go at the new CIBC app in part 1, and looked at the mobile version of in part2.
Zoocasa, Zillow and others are websites with accompanying mobile apps that are supposed to represent the future for access to real estate information.

Maybe they do, but they aren’t there yet. 

Zoocasa is supposedly backed by Rogers and committed to developing its content and presence over the long haul.  We, and quite a few other agents in our community, have committed to a presence with them.  (Translated: they can include our listings and our advertising appears on the site).

In our case, we weren’t expecting them to “take off” instantly.  But given their apparent level of commitment and sophistication they seemed to have the best chance.  And we liked “being there” with the ad presence if and when take-off happened.

Advertising and promotion OF Zoocasa has disappointed us somewhat.  As a result we are not sensing that many people are using the site.  Are you?  If you are, tell us about it.

Again, the site and the app will map an area you select and “pin” listings in the area.  You can then call up the details for any listing – photos, room info, listing agent, etc.  The website also connects you with some area info, mortgage brokers and other trades and professions; and it offers some Q&A help about how the business works.

The app seems more restricted to the nitty-gritty of “what’s for sale here and what is its story?” Even there, the app only seems to include a single photo and a couple of paragraphs of description.  It does have a “history” button which saves an entry for all the properties you have looked at on the app, sorted by time – this could be pretty helpful when you are trying to remember “that third house with the … you remember, don’t you honey?”

The big problem is that Zoocasa is still incomplete and, I have discovered, sometimes inaccurate.
Zoocasa does NOT have access to all MLS® listings.  As I understand it, they have listings from those individual brokerages who agree to provide them.  There will be houses for sale that do not appear.

Worse, it seems there are properties that show up “for sale” that are long sold. On our own street, there is a house that sold nearly a year ago but is still on the Zoocasa map.  That can be very frustrating to you if it happens often.

I think you should have a look at the site and consider the app.  Have a look every once in a while to see how they are progressing.  But don’t rely on them extensively at this stage.

I also mentioned Zillow.  It is an example of one of the large US internet applications that seem to be gaining ground.  It is available for Canadian iPhones and does have some listings.  However, once in Canada it is VERY limited; seemingly only to a very few agents who have “signed up” with them.  Its features may give you an idea of where we might be heading, but Zillow is not likely much use to you as yet in the Great White North.

So … CIBC HomeAdvisor has some potentially handy info, a note-taking utility, zero listings and a bunch of statistical info of questionable value and accuracy. has all of the MLS® listings and makes good use of GPS but is still a little buggy.  And Zoocasa and its ilk remain rather short on content.

Next up, in probably the last part of this series, a brief chat on some of the new technologies related to smartphones that may help with real estate.

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