Using Foursquare to open a real estate lockbox

OK I know there is already something like this for real estate boxes using IR technology, but check this out:

You can read more on their blog post, but they aren’t giving away any big secrets.  They don’t really need to.  Anyone with a soldering iron, a bit of Python programming and a cell phone could make this happen in an afternoon.  Be sure to  follow @istrategylabs on Twitter (I do).

So what is this exactly?  How do I check-in with my cell phone?  What is that.  It’s Foursquare.

If you haven’t heard of FourSquare it”s a location based game that you play using your mobile phone (iPhone, Android, or other smartphone).  Businesses and locations have check-ins, and users can only check in when they are actually, physcially at the location.  There is also the ability to add tips to each location – stuff like “this restaurant has the best Cobb salad”, or “mention the secret word for a 10% discount”.  Plus there are a few game-like aspects to Foursquare.  The person who has the most check-ins at a particular location becomes the Mayor, and some places offer special deals to the Mayor (like free ice-cream).  Users can also collect badges.  Stuff like – visit 3 Apple stores and get the Steve Jobs badge.

Imagine the possibilities of integrating Foursquare with Real Estate.  Let’s start from the perspective of an agent.  Imagine if every property was a check-in:

  • Use foursquare to unlock the front door (or open the lockbox)
  • track which agents showed your property
  • see nearby similar properties, or cool places to eat, or get gas, or …?
  • get tips on special locations (Realtors and visitors can add tips to properties when they check in)
  • Mayorship of a neighborhood – discover who truly is an expert on a certain neighborhood, they will have the most check-ins.
  • Track open house attendance

And from the buyer’s perspective

  • See all the listings in the area
  • Find open houses nearby
  • Earn badges for visiting open houses
  • Earn badges by visiting X listings by a certain agency
  • Find nearby services like gas stations, and supermarkets
  • learn who the Mayor of a neighborhood is (great person to talk to about the area)
  • Get Tips on special features on specific properties (Check out the garden in the back, or this house has a built in instant hot water heater).

Foursquare has been huge among lots of businesses, like Starbucks, and even niche groups like Food Trucks.  I predict that in 2012, Foursquare will hit Real Estate, and only help our industry.

Real Estate Photography

While visiting an open house last Sunday, an idea came to me, that quite frankly I’m surprised I didn’t think of before.

Modern Living room iphone

I was visiting a very modern house on Jeff Davis St. in Austin, and while I was walking around my iPhone came out, and I just naturally began to snap photos of the place.  I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to technology, and am still using the original iPhone. The 2G model. I stood in line, outside in front of an Apple store for 4 hours to get it, and for years have lovingly taken care of it. I have it with me ALWAYS, and it is my link to YOU!

That’s when it hit me. Photos for real estate.  There are really only two things people want when they are looking for a house  Price and Pictures.  I can’t do anything about the price until I’m licensed, but I can take some incredible photos.  You don’t need to just believe me on this, you can actually check out my 6+ years of wedding photos on my portfolio site

I’ve got experience with Real Estate Photography in Austin, and can provide Realtors with pricing.

Just so you know, all the photos on this post were taken with just my first generation iPhone.  No editing, no fancy lighting, no fancy camera.  If you are a Realtor in the Austin area, I’d love to chat with you and learn your requirements for pictures.  I love to do interiors, and really REALLY love sunset shots of exteriors.

My style is clean, fresh, and natural.  I don’t like to over-process images (no HDR here), and have enough equipment for any size condo or house.

If you are interested, send me a note and I’ll get right back to you.

Bathroom iPhone Pic


Kitchen iPhone Open House

Real Estate for Twitter

I just set up my Twitter account.  @EricEstate  I don’t have any followers – who will be the first?

Why do I want to deliver short timely 140 character long messages?  It’s a great way to meet new people.  I had successfully used Twitter with my Photography Business, and I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t carry over for Real Estate.

Eric Estate on Twitter

Why use a Twitter account when I have a blog?  Can’t I get  all the information I need from your real estate blog?  Yes, and No!  I see a blog like a magazine or newspaper article.  Something you sit down to read.  Something you search for to get information.  Something you subscribe to to get informed by.  When I read a blog or visit a website, I’m usually sitting at my desk doing research, or hanging out on my couch with my iPad.  But, everybody who talks about the internet says it is becoming more and more mobile.  That’s where Twitter comes in.  Tweeting is a fast way to relay little bits of information.  So a blog has in depth articles, and Twitter shares fast thoughts.  Plus, I can’t always blog when I’m out and about.  It takes time to write a blog post (This one took about 20 minutes).  A tweet takes seconds, and I can do it right from my mobile phone.

One last thing I did find was that for my old industry, photography, Twitter was mostly a B-2-B channel.  That means there were more wedding professionals using twitter than brides.  I think this will be totally different in Real Estate.  Follow @EricEstate and you will see.