QR Codes. Benefit or a Complete Waste of Time?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Virtual Pictures Corp. (VPiX)



What Heck Is That?

It looks like a design you'd see from an Anazazi Indian pot from 500 years ago.

If you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you might not know what a QR Code is. A QR Code is a simpler version of a BAR CODE tag. And I'm really shocked to see just how many people love this thing.


For retailers, it's the Anti-Christ.

Why? Because people shopping for rock bottom deals can take their iPhone or other mobile device and snap a photo of any product with a QR tag on the product they want to buy. Within seconds, it will show you where you can get the same thing for a little, or a whole lot less.  

This is the one piece of technology that will further erode America's "traditional retail" brick and mortar stores. Imagine no more shopping malls. QR Codes will ultimately force large department stores out of business like Mervyn's, CompUSA and many more.  In Santa Fe, Mervyn's is gone. So are all of the Hollywood and BlockBuster video stores. 

And while QR codes erode traditional business... people like Jeff Bezos at Amazon are laughing. I heard from a friend Jeff just bought himself a Ferrari F-40. The cost? $572,900


For REALTORS, QR codes can be put onto a yard sign. "So what?" 

Which has been the subject of many heated debates whether REALTORS are just being stupid, lazy or ignorant of older Americans who quite frankly "just don't get it," and don't ever want to.  

In many towns across America, gone now are the house flyers that used to be dropped into the plastic "FREE Take One," boxes nailed to a real estate yard sign.  

My mom just turned 70. She's not very techno savvy. But she's smart, healthy and doesn't look a day over 50. She has an iPad. She has an iPod mini (bright pink) and one of those things you can cradle it on and it plays her favorite smooth Jazz songs.

I asked her the other night if she would like an iPhone so her digital lifestyle would be complete.  She sort of laughed. Okay, mom likes the real AT&T phone with the honest-to-goodness copper phone lines.

The iPad she has is strictly for chatting with her grand kids in Germany, emails to me and her sister.

She knows how to turn the iPod On and OFF but strangely enough -- me or Tanya have to load new songs onto her iPod whenever we visit. She doesn't want to learn how to use iTunes to buy music and she has no interest in learning how to SYNC her iPod.  Entering in her credit card number into the iPad might as well be the same thing as water boarding. She'll never enter a credit card into a computer.  

Which brings me to the logical assumption my mom is probably a lot like a few million next time home buyers that lot of you have just snubbed by putting your QR Codes onto your real estate signs.  

QR Codes and Real Estate


I'm a firm believer in technology. I write about it. I coach people about it. But is QR Codes really going to find a home in Real Estate land?  I rather doubt it. Here's the logic behind my thinking and I hope this gives you reason to think a little before you find yourself following a bunch of lemmings all diving over the same cliff.  

You have a brain and more of you should be using them. Because the facts simply do not support that homes sales will increase simply by spending money on QR codes and slapping them on your real estate yard signs.  


1.) Younger people with crappy FICO scores can't qualify to buy a home.

They owe $100,000 in student loans. Their VISA and Mastercard is jacked to the brim with electronic purchases.  So your younger home buyers have credit scores in the 550 range and below. The fact is, more than 37 million Americans in their 20's don't have any intention of ever buying a home. They would rather rent, or bunk with friends or they'll stay at home until mom and dad finally kick them out. 

So... why are you wasting your time on chasing them and luring them with QR codes? Just because QR Codes are cool? 

2.) Older Americans with great FICO scores don't know what a QR Code is.

So it follows, if they don't "get it," then you won't "get it." Meaning a sales commission. It's a stupid idea to remove your name, your website and your phone number and just place your QR code on the sign because very few people in the 65+ age group will not have an Internet capable phone and they have no intention of downloading a QR code and using one -- let alone barely understanding one.

It remains my humble opinion that REALTORS will be wasting their time, money and essentially giving the "middle finger," to a lot of older Americans that won't ever understand them let alone ever use a QR code.  

They just want to drive around in a nice neighborhood and when the find a yard sign in front a nice house they're interested in, what's wrong with letting them walk up to the curb so they can grab a house flyer out of the box? 

Do you really want to say NO to that customer and say NO to that commission?  Really?


No Clue about QR Codes



QR Codes and Your Privacy. Whoops. Did you Know...?

Do you know what happens when you point your iPhone at a QR Code and ZAP it?  99.99999% of you have no clue what happens next.

I do.

Our U.S. Government spends billions of dollars a year with Google, and state agencies such as Los Alamos National Labs and Sandia Labs.  They blend grant money with technology startups that are in part funded with SBIR's. (Small Business Innovation Research). These are government funds that are sometimes blended with the SBA (Small Business Administration) to help technology get off the ground. It is these same government loans that are getting local companies to build things like QR codes and GPS tracking devices.

Why oh why do you WANT to be tracked by the Government?  FourSquare.com is a check in social media network. What is the excitement of telling burglars you are at the mall and you confirm you are not home?

You tell your boss you're sick. You play hookey on Friday so you and your friends can go out to play golf.

Thanks to "social media check in technology," some one else is playing golf who just so happens to know your boss and spots you on hole #9. He checks you into Facebook or FourSquare.  You show up on Monday and get called into the boss's office.  You know what's coming next. 

The U.S. Government is a hungry machine. It thrives off of information. Exercise: Count up the number of cameras perched on top of every street corner, street light and building. AXiS is just one of several firms rolling in the billions and billions of dollars. New Mexico has hundreds of them. 


CIA Invents QR Codes for Stupid Americans


Santa Fe is a small town of less than 68,000 people, yet every 38 feet we have another traffic camera on nearly light pole and street light.  

Is this really necessary in Santa Fe? Miami, sure. But Santa Fe?  Really?

We have police cars with really fast engines. We have good samaritans with cell phones who are perfectly capable of dialing 911 when they see a drunk driver or to report a real crime in progress.

Homicides happen every day. And every time they happen, little CSI technicians come out along with the medical examiner and scrape up the body parts. They take dozens of photos of the crime scene.

Which makes me wonder why $13 million dollars in Axis traffic cameras in Santa Fe are remotely necessary.

We have teachers that need pay raises. Our state ranks #49 in the U.S. right now and our former Lt. Governor Diane Denish had the temerity to make an empty campaign promise to boost education.  I was one of the smart people in the audience when I asked how she planned to do that when under her administration with Governor Richardson, New Mexico actually FELL from 46 to 49. She lost the election, and the rest is history.

Couldn't that $13 million have been better spent on attracting and hiring better teachers so our kids can be smarter in math and science to they can compete better in a new world economy? 

Don't get me started... 

Sorry for getting off topic for a minute, but the fact is that Target, WalMart and every store you can imagine collects information how people ZAP tiny QR codes. They sell it to a data management company.  Equifax -- a Credit Bureau is now fully engaged in collecting this data and then selling this to the U.S. Government. 70% of their firm's people and resources including their servers sit in the Philippines with your social security numbers on them. 

Your QR Code can carry information as to your GPS location, who you are, all of your personal information and every time you ZAP a QR code. That information is sent up a big stream of information pipes where it ultimately gets dumped in with the millions of other unsuspecting Americans so naive to think that zapping a QR code carries no personal information about you or your buying habits to the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

And you thought QR codes were harmless.  Think again. 


Posted by

Bart Wilson | CIO
Virtual Pictures Corp (VPiX®)  
iPhone: (719) 645-9940  |  Skype:  vpix360 


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Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

I am so glad to read your post.  I have actually come to hate QR Codes . . . I put them on my signs to be "savvy," but it seems so much more trouble to me to read the stupid things than to just give me a site or a number in the first place :)

Mar 17, 2011 04:35 PM #4
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

Pretty nice weird post, Bart, that reinforces that we should be choosy where we get our solutions.  Never at GOOG, as you demonstrate clearly.  GOOG is NOT free.

The pervading perspective of paucity pervading your post ignores one reality:  No one in their right mind promotes QR Code use to replace traditional marketing.  No one.
It is an added feature in marketing, so if one does not want to use it, one does not have to.
QR Codes offer a convenience that is not present in entering long URL's into a phone.  Scan and click, and there you go, with whatever data is offered. 

And within a couple of years, most phones out there WILL be smartphones.  It is inevitable. 

Will the rule of smartphones and QR Codes change the world?  Shucks, I wish something would, but it isn't going to be QR Codes. 


Mar 17, 2011 04:46 PM #5
Bartley Wilson
Virtual Pictures Corp. (VPiX) - Monument, CO
VR Software and 360° Solutions

Good to see your reply, Mike.  Sorry I've been out of pocket for a while. I appreciate your comments. 

Are older Americans using QR Codes? Are you getting MORE home sales by using QR Codes? 

I think the jury is still out on that decision. The problem from what I see is that too many rank and file REALTORS are just too fast to jump into the herd mentality and mooooooooove down the road with no more thinking than following the tail in front of you.

Thinking for a change works. Following the tail in front of you rarely makes one stand out or makes them unique. 

QR codes are useful if you're a retail shopper.  But if you're too lazy to type in (505) 466-2483 to call Bart Wilson as Amazing Realty, and you have to download a QR app reader, then load it, then point it at the sign and pull the trigger... come on.

I can enter in a phone number faster than I can do all of this.  I can also enter in www.AmazingRealty.com faster than I can load my APP and point it to my magazine or yard sign, too.

So, are QR Codes useful?  They're a complete waste of time, effort and money if you ask me. 

-- Bart

Mar 17, 2011 05:24 PM #6
Toronto, ON

Hi Bart - I saw a full page magazine ad recently that had a big QR code and two letters which presumably were the initials of the company but I wasn't really sure.  There may have been another word or two and that was it.  What was the ad advertising?  I don't know.  Most people don't yet know what to make of QR codes.

Mar 17, 2011 06:07 PM #7
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

I find it humerous how when Realtors see a new tool they all jump on the band wagon and immediately start plastering it eveywhere. Now at tons of blogs there are QR codes - amazing!

Mar 18, 2011 12:49 AM #8
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

"But if you're too lazy to type in (505) 466-2483 to call Bart Wilson as Amazing Realty, and you have to download a QR app reader, then load it, then point it at the sign and pull the trigger... come on."\


The above overstates the effort to scan a code.  The typical smartphone user either has a scanning app on the phone when they buy, or they download a scanning application once, and maybe another one to try them both.  No one has to download an app everytime they scan a code, unless they delete the app after every use, which would be odd.
And it is the same scanning app you would use for a retail situation, or to read a restaurant menu posted outside the eatery.

If I type in your phone number, does it have the functionality to take me directly to a YouTube video about the house, or about your services, 24 hours a day?  Or will it just make a phone call and get me dumped to voicemail a significant portion of the time?
Will that phone number be able to give me mapping coordinates that can be imported into my phone's GPS in a couple of quick clicks?  That alone is easier than inputting an address.

QR Codes are neither the Spawn of Satan, nor the Savior of the Industry.  They are just an additional means of conveying information.  Traditional marketing should be in place so folks without ability or desire to access information via QR Codes will not be excluded from buying or selling.

Mar 18, 2011 01:39 AM #9
Roger Johnson
Hickory Real Estate Group - Hickory, NC
Realtor - Hickory NC Real Estate

I think I'm going to park here for a bit and see some more comments before leaving my own thoughts.  This is getting interesting

Mar 18, 2011 02:55 AM #10
Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417
United Real Estate - Addison, TX
Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate

Yay! The voice of reason. We have enough new gimmicks. Sometimes there's just nothing wrong with the oldfashioned ways of doing business.

Mar 18, 2011 04:04 AM #11
Leslie Prest
Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ - Payson, AZ
Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,

OK- what am I not getting? HOW, when I scan a QR code, does that get the information about me to the government or anybody else?

Mar 18, 2011 09:32 AM #12
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

^^ Leslie,

If you are using the "Faux-Free GOOG" scanning app, GOOG is collecting your information while they watch you on the internet.

It is how they make money, targeting advertising for you, with the ability to collect higher rates for better targeting.

Mar 18, 2011 03:49 PM #13
Leslie Prest
Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ - Payson, AZ
Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,

So IF I am using s certain scanning app, the people that put out the app may be able to get info on what I'm scanning...and I'm supposed to panic about this WHY? It doesn't sound different than cookies on the computer- so what? It doesn't sound like a sinister government plot.

Are QR codes the answer to RE woes? Of course not. But for people like me who use their smart phones a lot they add a lot of convenience.

Mar 19, 2011 06:47 AM #14
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co


Interesting thoughts on your part and commentary. I clicked on over to your Business Week link, always nice to be quoted by the big boys.

Btw, I love Randy Glasbergen, haven't seen his latest. I contacted him a few years back about using some of his stuff, yet never pursued it.

Mar 19, 2011 08:01 PM #15
Coach KC™ The Prosperitor™
Prosperitor LLC dba Secured Futures - Albuquerque, NM
Marketing • Productivity • Revenue • Development

Mike (Jaquish),

Thanks for your input, I appreciate it, and overall agree with your view. Resistence to change is just as inevitable as change itself. We can all come up with excuses to not accept change and technological advances. It wasn't that long ago that most agents thought there was not much value in using the internet for marketing.

We should take note that often these advances are in steps and stages that eventually will be accepted and utilized by the masses; even the elderly. Cell phones were initially thought to be just for the young, CD's (compact discs) for the young, computers for the young, email for the young, FaceBook for the young, the list goes on. The elderly now use cell phones, play CDs, have computers, send emails, are on FaceBook, and yes at some point will use their phones to get information from QR codes, although it may not be the codes that we see today.

Besides, QR codes can not just be used in real estate, they will be used for information of any type that can be place on the internet.

--Coach KC™

Thinkers Wanted!™

Mar 21, 2011 05:09 AM #16
Joyce Godwin, Realtor, CRS
RE/MAX Elite Properties; Serving Cypress, Spring, Tomball, NW Houston - Houston, TX
RE/MAX Elite Properties

Bart, Thanks for the info.  I was dreading having to set one up -- just one more thing to do to conform.  I like your thoughts on QR codes.  I surely didn't know they were collecting data.  I don't even give out anyone's email address without permission, so I don't think I would want to be guilty of transmitting info about them to wherever.  Thanks again.

Mar 21, 2011 05:13 PM #17
Roger Johnson
Hickory Real Estate Group - Hickory, NC
Realtor - Hickory NC Real Estate

My thoughts: I don't completely agree with Bart on his points about young people and old people and whether to use (or not) QR codes based on that.  I don't like the fact that QR codes are another means of data gathering to be used against us.  That said, the "smartphone" itself can do that already.

After playing around with several QR readers, I can say this; they are lacking.  As Bart says, unless it's a painfully long URL, I can type it in faster than the QR reader can access it.  If that's the case, what's the point?

Do they have their uses?  Yes.  Are you going to lose business if you don't use them?  I doubt it.

I simply can't shake the feeling that QR codes are still a fad, a fad because there 'usefulness' hasn't been cemented in the real world yet.  Yes, it's cool that all I have to do is take a photo and something pulls up on my phone...when it works.  When it becomes something faster and easier than I can do manually, then it'll have true function.

Mar 23, 2011 09:57 AM #18
Rich Cederberg
eXp Realty - Albuquerque, NM
eXp Realty Agent Albuquerque

Interesting discussion. I have considered jumping on the QR code bandwagon just to look hip. But it's not even that hip anymore. Eproperty sites where I make my individual property sites automatically generate a QR code, so does Realbird when you create a listing.

Bart wrote "if you're too lazy to type in (505) 466-2483 to call Bart Wilson as Amazing Realty..." I think Bart is a little out of touch with everyday real estate practice here. Sign calls are way down and other means of getting listing information are way up. Evidently many people are afraid of the overly aggressive response they may get when they call a Realtor. That's why prerecorded 800 number messages used to work, that's why internet marketing works and why texting hotlines work. Why not add the QR code to your arsenal of tools?

Great post btw Bart. Don't get me started about traffic cameras!

Apr 03, 2011 07:13 PM #19
Dylan Schleppe
DriveBuy Technologies - Austin, TX

Your QR Code can carry information as to your GPS location, who you are, all of your personal information and every time you ZAP a QR code. That information is sent up a big stream of information pipes where it ultimately gets dumped in with the millions of other unsuspecting Americans so naive to think that zapping a QR code carries no personal information about you or your buying habits to the U.S. Department of Commerce.


This is pretty humorous... and absolutely false as presented.  

QR Codes are nothing more than a standard for encoding information, much like the internet.  They can not pull your GPS location.  They can't pull your contact information from your device. 

They can't send any information to some server in the Philipines.

They simply give your mobile device some instructions.  Bring up a website or show some information.

Now, "free" applications you install on your phone to read QR Codes can do some of the nasty things mentioned.  Actually, even paid apps could do that as well.  When you install an application on your phone you give it permission to do various things.  Use common sense. 

If the terms of service say the appication can access your contact information stop and think 

"is it worth it to give this applicaiton/company my personal info?"  

There are dozens of "free" apps that generate revenue by collecting consumer info and selling it.

You could also have websites that offer the consumer the ability to share her location to access location based search etc.  This is NEVER automatic though.  The consumer is asked to share her location and has to make a decision.

We all need to, and should,  make decisions about whether we trust websites with any of our information.

I don't disagree with your "lack of value take" on QR Codes in most applications today.  Just like any tool though, the result usually reflects the skill of the craftsman using it.




Apr 15, 2011 09:45 AM #21
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Interesting post and comments.  It's nice to get a couple of different viewpoints on this topic.  

Jun 25, 2011 10:11 AM #22
Kenneth Cole
Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com... - Staten Island, NY
NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

OK, let's see if I understand this correctly.  I have a new listing, I put the QR code on the "For Sale" yard sign, my newsletter, which goes out to 300 locals, and my flyers.  Some one sees the code in my newsletter, scans it while having lunch at home and some one thinks he/she is half way across town near my listing?

I also post it on Active rain.  So someone in Utah scans it and it looks like he/she is in Staten Island?

Aug 14, 2011 01:41 AM #23
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Feb 12, 2012 03:25 AM #24
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