House hunting by iPhone photo

Guy Wolcott of Sawbuck Realty demonstrates how the app works. (Courtesy of YouTube)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Whether you’re shopping for a new house, browsing or just nosey, a new iPhone app can get you detailed information on a home by snapping a picture of it.

When you take an iPhone photo of a house with the free HomeSnap app, you can learn its estimated price, how many square feet it has, the number of bedrooms and baths and its yearly taxes. An Android version is being developed.

The app doesn’t actually do photo recognition of the home, but taps into the iPhone’s GPS capabilities to select the home you’re standing in front of.

If the home is actually on the market, you can see its listing price and history, and access photos of the home and other information in the MLS listing. You can click to make an appointment with the home’s listing agent.

The details about the house is culled from public information which is available on other sites, such as Zillow and Redfin, but those sites require a user to type address information instead of just snapping a picture. There are apps for Zillow and for Redfin.

WTOP experimented with the app and found it easy to use, and quite accurate. Standing in Georgetown, the limitations of GPS were apparent, with the app trying to determine between so many properties in a relatively small space.

If the app isn’t sure of the property you’re interested in, it provides an overhead view with pushpin indictators, to help determine the home you want information about.

HomeSnap allows you to share your finds on Facebook, Twitter, SMS or email.

The app was developed by online real-estate company Sawbuck Realty, which is headquartered in D.C.

The company tells The Wall Street Journal it built the app because it hopes a user will one day use one if its agent. However, the company says it doesn’t send information to any realtor or invite calls or emails unless you ask to be contacted in the app.

These YouTube videos show how it works:

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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