HomeSnap, the real estate app that uses MLS and public record data to offer home prices and other info about houses both on and off the market, is today launching on the iPad. While the original application for iPhone took advantage of the phone’s sensors and camera to ID nearby homes while you’re out and about, the iPad application offers more of a lean-back experience, primarily focused on home shopping from the comfort of your couch.
For those unfamiliar, HomeSnap, an app from online real estate broker, Sawbuck Realty, launched earlier this year, and closed on $3.5 million in additional funding later this summer. (Sawbuck, which offers more than just the app, also had $4 million in funding prior to HomeSnap’s debut). To use the app, you can either snap a photo of a home or use the stealth mode feature to just tap on the home’s address to learn all details sourced from MLS and public data. This includes things like square feet, bedrooms and bathrooms, estimated price, schools, and more. The app, like Zillow and others in this space, can help you determine a neighborhood’s market value, which can in turn help you determine if the homes for sale are priced too high. It also allows you to follow listings and receive alerts.
With the iPad release, HomeSnap now lets you browse through neighborhoods virtually with an aerial map “Explore” option that lets you view other snapped photos from across the U.S., as well as a “search by address” feature that lets you drill down to a specific locale.
The update also introduces more of HomeSnaps’s business model, by now connecting potential buyers with local agents through the “HomeSnap for Agents” feature in the iPhone and iPad app. After agents sign up and invite their clients to the app, those users will be shown their agent’s mini-profile within the app every time they use it. This shows things like the agent’s photo, contact info and tagline. When the user has a question, they can tap to connect with the agent via phone or email.
According to Sawbuck CEO Guy Wolcott, his company works with over 300 agents around the country and has driven over 10,000 qualified leads to agent partners this year. “However, what we are launching here is a bit different,” Wolcott explains. “The idea is that agents can sign up to have their existing clients use HomeSnap. When the agent signs up, we put them (and only them) in the app for their clients – they won’t see any of our other partner agents, just their own agent,” he says.
Real estate agents, Wolcott adds, are generally worried that their clients will be bombarded with pitches from other agents when using apps or websites, since that’s basically what tends to happen. “We’re trying to solve that problem for them. They can be confident that when their clients use HomeSnap they see – and interact – with only them,” he says.
Sawbuck typically gets a 30% referral fee when connecting new buyers to agents, but HomeSnap’s new agent feature is not about short-term monetization, Wolcott says. “Our goal is to get more and more people using the app, especially power users who will, in turn, expose it to even more people,” he says. “We think this will pay off for us in the long run, and we have a number of opportunities for monetization that aren’t just buyer lead gen.”
More info on what those features might be will be revealed in Q1 2013.
HomeSnap currently has 300,000 users on iPhone and users have snapped over a million photos. Sawbuck has around 1 million monthly active users across its website and app. (7-8% of that is in the app).
The updated iOS app, which also brings an improved snap process based on user feedback, is now available here in the Apple App Store.