Curious to know what the homes in your neighborhood are worth? Or how much the current owners paid? Or the square footage or how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are? Snap a picture of a home with HomeSnap, a free iOS app, and you'll get all of this information and more. The app uses your iPhone's GPS and other sensors to figure out which house you are looking at, and then it pulls in MLS info to spit out a variety of data about a home. HomeSnap is so slick and provides so much information that you might wonder whether you ought to be privy to such detail.
The app is literally a snap to use. Put HomeSnap in camera mode by tapping the camera button at the bottom of the screen, point your phone at a home and tap the camera button again to snap a photo. The app will take a few seconds to attempt to find the home you're looking at. In my experience in Concord, N.H. (not exactly a top market), the app did fairly well -- a little less than half the time it matched an address to the picture. If it can't zero in on the home, it shows you a map with blue dots on nearby homes, letting you choose which home you just took a picture of.
Once you have matched photo to address, hit the Done button in the upper-right corner to save the home to your history, which is like an Instagram feed of homes you like. Tap the History button at the bottom of the display to scroll through the homes you have snapped pictures of. Each photo has a color-coded price tag. A blue tag indicates the price is a estimate based on tax records and nearby comps. A green tag is the actual sale price of a home currently on the market, an orange tag is the list price of a home under contract, and a red tag is the sale price of a home that recently sold.
Tap on a home's photo from your history to see the home's details, which include the square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, year built, estimated taxes, exterior and roof details, heating system, and more. Below this data, the app lists the estimated value, the local schools and a mysterious rating for each of the schools listed, and a map of the area. For a home on the market, you might see photos and links to call a Sawbuck agent or schedule a viewing. (Sawbuck is a online realty service and developer of HomeSnap.)
If you don't want to get caught snapping a picture of a neighbor's home, you can use the app's stealth mode. When in camera mode, tap the black Stealth button in the upper-left corner. HomeSnap will then show you a map of your current location. Tap the button at the bottom of the screen to enter stealth mode and you'll see blue dots for the homes in your immediate area. Tap on a dot to get information about that home. If you tap the Done button for a home in stealth mode, it will get added to your History feed, though instead of a photo of the home, you'll have to make due with a satellite image.
Below each photo in your History feed is a button to add the home to a favorites list and a share button to share the home via Facebook, Twitter, text, and e-mail. You can view a feed of your favorite homes, and tapping on the Stream button at the bottom of the display shows you other homes people have snapped using the app, either those nearby or a random collection of homes anywhere.
Sawbuck states that HomeSnap data for more than 90 million homes. Based on a couple of walks around my neighborhood, I found HomeSnap's estimates were a little lower than current market value, but consistently so. I also found that it didn't always know when a home was on the market, making it an app better suited for those just curious about the homes in their neighborhood than serious house hunters.