I’ve been out of town these past few days, so decided to try out an app that I’ve been curious about but haven’t had much use for in my town. The app of the week is called HomeSnap and its purpose is to give you quick, basic information about any house you photograph. The app saves the picture you take, then uses GPS positioning to give you a selection of houses you may be viewing. You can also do this in “stealth mode” and not take a picture, but still get a list of houses in your proximity. You swipe through the address choices until you find the match. HomeSnap then presents you with the following format for viewing your “snap.”
Once you’ve identified the house address, HomeSnap provides you with the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, estimated taxes, parking, number of fireplaces, exterior and roof composition, foundation, heating, AC, basement or attic, etc. It also tells you when it last sold and for what price. In addition, HomeSnap gives you their impression of how good an investment it will be and where they think it rates as far as appreciation potential.
The app places a price tag on the corner of your picture. This price tag can be blue, green, orange, or red depending on what information the app used to determine the price. A blue price tag indicates the estimated value was based on tax records and nearby comps. A green tag is a currently listed house price, whereas, an orange tag indicates the most recent list price of a house that is currently under contract. Finally, a red tag is for a final sale price of a house that recently sold.
You can share your “snap” on Facebook, Twitter, as a message, or by email. Although, I’m not sure I’m excited about the idea that someone could snap a picture of my house then share all its details on Facebook, it’s all public record information even if it’s tacky (in my opinion). …and, yes, I realize I just did that here by sharing this house, but I rationalize that it’s okay because this house is listed so I’m just giving it added publicity. I wouldn’t publicly share information on a house that isn’t for sale, even if that information is available. Anyway… tangent.
For my trial of this app, I snapped a number of pictures of houses in the Portland area and compared my results to what I saw on flyers of homes for sale and from real estate apps such as Zillow and Trulia. I found that for the most part it was fairly accurate on prices and square footage for houses in the suburbs, but not as close on houses in close-in neighborhoods where real estate has begun to take off again. I expect it will catch up, but prices are going up quickly in some of the neighborhoods where I was taking my pictures, so it tended to be a little under the asking prices there. Also, if a basement had been refinished, it wasn’t always included in the square footage on HomeSnap, whereas it was on the flyer. Regardless, it gave a quick, simple way to evaluate size and rough price of houses on the fly.
All in all I felt like it would be a great app for someone who was house hunting. It would enable easier gathering of initial information before involving a realtor. I also really liked the “history” function. Like I said I snapped a number of house pictures, but there’s no way I could remember where they all were located or any pertinent details. The history feature is just what it sounds like; it’s a picture log of all the houses I snapped, any of which I can tap on to pull up its information again. From my experience, the one thing I wasn’t particularly impressed with was the colored tagging. Most of the houses I snapped were ones that were listed for sale, but none of them came up with any tags except blue (tax records). Based on HomeSnap’s information, they should have had green (or orange if under contract) tags showing their listing prices. That would have eliminated the disconnect I found in prices for houses located close-in. I’m not clear on why that occurred. Maybe others have had better results elsewhere? I’m curious to hear from anyone else who has used this app to see if their experience differs.
HomeSnap is simple to use and provides the information in a very user friendly and appealing format. I would definitely use it again and think it would be a real benefit house hunting, especially in a unfamiliar city.