Technology certainly has come a long way in the last decade. Thanks to innovation, real estate agents and brokers are constantly on the hunt for the very best tools that can simplify their hectic, day-to-day lives. Tablets and mobile apps have paved the way as the industry continues barreling toward a more efficient—and maybe even paperless—future. But what if MLS data could be yours with just a few quick taps on a mobile device? Thanks to Homesnap Pro, this world of information could be yours anytime, anywhere.
Homesnap Pro aims to facilitate and improve agents’ lives, bringing information and convenience to them on demand. The app offers real-time, agent-only MLS data, including property history, showing instructions, agent contact info and competitive data, CMA reports, and more, all of which can be automatically loaded to your screen by simply taking a photo of a home, locating it on a map, or entering an address.
In May, Homesnap launched Homesnap Pro with MRIS, the nation’s second largest MLS. Last month, the company announced that Homesnap Pro would be free to all MLSs for 12 months. The MLS/CLAW, one of the MLSs serving the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, recently signed on, and several other MLSs are now in talks with the company to provide Homesnap Pro to all of their agents.
The idea for Homesnap Pro first struck CEO and Co-founder Guy Wolcott after he began using his first iPhone. While perusing Shazam, a smartphone-based music identification service, Wolcott’s wheels began turning. Until that point, everything offered for smartphones was a mirror image of what was already on the Web. In the case of Shazam, having the ability to play a song and have your phone identify and tag the track only made sense on a smartphone. Along with Steve Barnes, president and co-founder, the duo wanted to create a similar mobile-only experience for homebuyers.
“We thought, ‘What can this mean for real estate?’ We’ll take a picture of the house and find out all about it,’” says Wolcott.
In 2011, the pair began assembling data and figuring out an algorithm. By 2012, Homesnap launched as a consumer app. Or so they thought.
“We found out that a lot of real estate agents were signing up for Homesnap. That wasn’t who we built it for. But because we had really good data, agents were signing up and using it as mobile access to real estate data,” says Wolcott.
After polling agents, the results were informative, yet perhaps not so shocking. Agents are on-the-go, yet nobody had created a truly mobile tool that could properly handle MLS data. Despite a mobile lifestyle, where were they accessing home data? On a desktop computer.
“We were accidentally filling this niche. We stumbled on the fact that there was a gap in the market. Agents want a consumer-quality mobile app with pro-quality data. We’re bridging the gap,” says Wolcott.
MRIS helped brainstorm ideas for the second coming of Homesnap. After seeing a demo of the Homesnap consumer app, David Charron, president and CEO of MRIS, met with Wolcott’s team and made suggestions for how to turn it into a tool just for agents.
“It was a very consumer-focused portal at the time. The demo was one of the most compelling I’ve seen. We recognized and applauded their capabilities and says, ‘If you really want to get our attention, make it a more agent/broker-centric solution,’” says Charron.
That they did. The second incarnation, Homesnap Pro, fully understands that mobile performance is critical for real estate agents today. With most solutions on the market being built on a desktop and ported over for mobile, Homesnap Pro was created entirely for mobile, a vital aspect of the app considering agents’ time in transit.
“My guess is that agents spend two-thirds of their time working remotely on a mobile platform,” says Charron. “With Homesnap Pro, you’re literally a tap away from local market information. Whether it’s school info, the listing agent’s experience and background, list price to sale price ratio…all of that is within a tap or two. We really like that.”
Pulling data instantaneously from the MLS is part of what makes Homesnap Pro so attractive to brokerages. Eddie Berenbaum, president of CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, realizes the benefit of this direct-from-the-MLS approach and notes that Homesnap Pro remains unique from other major portals who have been criticized for being somewhat broker unfriendly.
“The difference is that many of those companies are marketing companies making their money selling leads and ad space,” says Berenbaum. “What Homesnap Pro has done in our local area, paid for by the local MLS, is connect independent home searchers directly to the listing agent.