Thursday, February 3, 2011

App - ropriate?

Real estate apps (and more) for your smartphones.

An ad ran in the Globe this week for a real-estate app for the iPhone and Blackberry. The next day there was an article titled “Bungalow hunting? There’s an app for that”.

They mention a couple of mobile apps and suggest more are coming. They are probably right. So we’re going to give you our take on a few that we have seen.

Let’s start with the new kid. The CIBC product is called CIBC Home Advisor.
It is location-aware – it will show you where you are on a map. Give the map a second and it will show shaded neighbourhoods – the red ones are increasing in value over the last year or so; the green ones are declining (doesn’t that seem backwards? Maybe not if your corporate colours are predominantly red)
Tap the map and you get an average property value and a percentage change over a year. Then tap “More Info” and you get highest and lowest sales and average number of bedrooms and baths.

Then tap “full report” and -- oh-oh – now they want your contact info and promise you, not just the full report (whatever it is) but also a call from a mortgage broker.

That’s all nice and techy-flashy. But it doesn’t seem very useful. Look at the screenshots. Knowing the average sale price in this area is pretty basic info and doesn’t likely tell
you anything you didn’t know already. And sorry, but the prices in this area have NOT gone up 18% in a year. Nope. Haven’t. Unh uh.

Wait, there’s more. There are some generic but somewhat useful bits: articles about home buying; a glossary of terms; and some financing calculators.

Now comes the neat part. “Visited Properties” allows you to keep notes on the houses you’ve seen. The GPS nails the address to the block, so all you have to edit is the street number. Then you can tick off features, enter price info and general notes. You can email the info to yourself
or anyone else. You can also take photos, but I couldn’t find any but the first photo taken. That first shot gets used as a tiny thumbnail image associated with the record. So forget about having a bunch of shots of the house attached to the record. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to take notes and this makes part of it pretty easy.

It seems the bank behind this app is hoping the app is going to provide a bunch of leads for their mortgage people. Whatever. There isn’t a good mortgage broker on the planet that won’t return your call same day, so I don’t know if the app will help them much.

If you have read this far, good for you. But let’s give you (and me) a rest.
We will opine over the next few days on other related things, including (the app), Zoocasa, Zillow, and things like QR codes.

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