Online offers aren’t always what they seem. Anyone who has experienced online dating, shopping or using the Web to book vacations understands that sometimes, a picture can say a thousand words … it just depicts the wrong ones. Since most of what we do today can be and is done online, it’s important to find a way to realistically portray things, whether that’s a product being sold, a hotel being booked or a date waiting to happen, on the Internet.
One important area this applies to is real estate. With a decision as important as buying or renting a home, credibility and accurate property representation are critical. Looking online for real estate is usually only the initial step in the buying, renting or selling process, but it is still time-consuming and disappointing nonetheless when you finally check property out in person and photos don’t match up to reality.
This is where Rexcheck comes in. Nii Addo, founder and managing partner, and Jeffrey Erickson, managing partner, created a mobile app that aims to bring people closer to the reality of what a space looks like. The app -- a play on words for “real estate exchange check” -- is a tool for homeowners, property managers and real estate agents to generate awareness for a property. The emphasis on mobile caters to the modern home owner, buyer and real estate agent, who communicate, shop, work and share from their mobile device.
“We’ve seen mobile grow not just as an essential gadget, but the power it has is also growing. First we had email on our phones from BlackBerry, now we can play Angry Birds, we can manage our bank accounts and we can pay bills all at the same time. We control more of our lives on here,” Addo explained, pointing to his smartphone.
The app is perfect for the small business agent who may not have a lot of resources for marketing and posting on sites like Zillow and Craigslist. Now these smaller organizations and agents can use their mobile phones, which they’ve already paid for, in a new way: as a marketing tool. With the app, they can add filters, share photos, shoot videos and present an informative, accurate representation of properties.
“Consumers want the beautiful shot, and that’s why we have pictures too. You can write a nice description, tell a story of the place and sell, but also have an added component of, ‘Let me see what you’re talking about,’” Addo said.
There are essentially three options for people looking for properties to interact with agents or homeowners (or, “property representatives”):
Users can scroll through the application for properties and watch pre-recorded videos from property representatives;
Users can work with property representatives and request more videos or focus on a specific area, such as wanting to see more detail in the living room or appliances in the kitchen;
Property representatives and users can interact in real-time via FaceTime through the app to experience a live house tour.
Addo and Erickson emphasized the importance of maintaining credibility on Rexcheck. Looking for and selling real-estate, especially online, is a process that requires trust.
Rexcheck scrutinizes every video and photo posted to keep the application as trustworthy as possible. In the future, it also plans to roll out a self-censorship feature, similar to flagging inappropriate content on social networks so users can take control to keep Rexcheck a credible resource. Users also have the option to mask their addresses and names so they can advertise confidently. For example, they can specify the city and describe the neighborhood, but don’t have to list the real address if they are concerned about privacy or security.
Videos can be up to 45 seconds long, and users can also upload up to five photos for a property – the two combined with the property description and information is enough to start a conversation with an agent or homeowner. To manage this data, Rexcheck relies on a scalable cloud service from Media Temple so as the user base grows, the app will continue to run. Uptime isn’t the only important factor to the app’s success: video quality has to be fast and clear. The Rexcheck team is made up of experienced designers, so that -- combined with the data services provider -- promises to be a reliable, quality app.
“We live in a world where it’s OK to put things as they are out there – people want to see the way the light flows through the windows, for example. People don’t want to show up and find surprises. Photos are very two-dimensional. Agents are using this to show different rooms and virtually walk users through them,” Addo said.
The application focuses both on U.S. and international cities, which is extremely helpful in closing the distance gap for those interested in properties abroad. For those looking to relocate across the country, this is an extremely useful tool for scoping out the market and eliminating pain points of looking at homes via photos. Addo points out in a world of House Hunters, Love It or List It, Property Brothers and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Rexcheck can also be a source for entertainment and inspiration for those looking to improve their own homes.
The app officially launches today and will be in beta for the next few weeks. It’s available in the App Store and Google Play for free.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson