Is it spooky or cool?

Real Estate Agent with The Berkshire Group Realtors

HouseFrontThe age of information has brought us a deluge of facts, figures and convenience.  Sometimes I'm not sure if we are heading in the right direction.  It seems we can get information faster than we can decipher it. 

My clients come to me with a fistful of listings, county records and virtual comps from Zillow.  I end up spending more time explaining the reality of the situation, taking each fact, figure and comp, examining and explaining it.  When we are done, we wonder who is ahead, the gatherer of the info or the explainer of the facts.


The latest new whiz bang wow tool has been developed in the land one mile above the sea, Denver.  This service is easy, free and guaranteed to open eyes wide with amazement.  

 Send a text message with your cell phone to the number 46873 (if you can't remember that, it also spells HOUSE on the keypad).  Enter an address, any address will do, I tried my own.  Within seconds you will have a response back telling you the estimated value, sq. ft., number of bedrooms/baths, year built, lot size, owners names, last sold price and date, plus the 1 year area trends.

Oh my!

The service is brought to you by HouseFront. The developers took nine months to create a data base that combines County Records with the MLS info.  Their website claims they cover 77 MILLION properties.  Chances are yours is among them.

THE  SPOOKY PART...Should it be let loose?

As I've said, I've used it and it is really cool. But with that said, I also worry about such a tool in the hands of the general public.  The transparency of information is not what bothers me, it's the accessibility to information that can be used in unscrupulous ways. 

My mind wonders how my 86 year old, mother-in-law who believes everything anyone tells her, even telemarketers who call to collect a past due bill (that doesn't exist) could be at risk.  Someone could show up at her door, spew out a few facts to prove their credibility and she would give away the farm.

Of course the information is available, but now with this service it is delivered to one's finger tips while they are standing on your doorstep. Does this bother anyone else, or am I just a wimp?


I love technology and have a passion for finding the best ways to use it.  This service is a handy way to provide speedy information on the fly. Overall I believe the positive (convenience) will out weight the negative (spooky) part.  

 The people at HouseFront have blogged here on Active  Rain before, but didn't get much milage.  Maybe by me sharing this new tool again, it will get more exposure.  Try it out and let me know if you think it is Cool or Spooky?

Here are some media links:

Rocky Mountain News ~ Real Estate info at one's finger tips

 Techlife ~ How much is the  house on aisle 4?

 Lifehacker ~ Research home prices on your phone with HouseFront

House TXTR on AR ~ Text HOUSE 

Our own Roberta Murphy ~ Disruptive technology Alert: Home Values via Cell Phone 

 NOTE: I have no connection to this company (other than via text messaging that is!).


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Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal
I've seen this a few months ago.  It sounds really neat but is there really a need for such instant information?  What are you going to do with it?  I'm not a big fan of text messaging.  I hate keying things in on a telephone.  If I'm in front of a home and I have questions, I'd rather just key in the agent's phone number and ask my questions to the agent.  Or I might just go and knock on the door and talk to the seller.   I like to have hard copy printouts that I can mark up and sort on a desktop.   Like Zillow, I think that it's a neat sounding novelty but they are  more like a toys than real tools.
Apr 23, 2007 01:38 AM #22
Elaine Reese, REALTOR® in central Ohio
Real Living HER, Powell Ohio - Powell, OH

With my laptop and its air card in the car, I can get all that info now via the county Auditor's web site. The only thing missing is the trends. Plus, with the auditor's site, I can find out if they're delinquent on their taxes, who they bought the home from, when and for how much, view a plat map, and get their neighbor's names. Our auditor's also have taken photos of all the properties, so we can also see photos and satellite maps.

Therefore, I doubt that I would bother with this system.

Apr 23, 2007 01:49 AM #23
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks, KK. Seems like a cool idea but I doubt I will use it. I get more and better info in other ways. Guess I see the same problems as with sitting down and looking up a Zestimate - the info is off, in more cases than not, and for a variety of reasons.  But there will be folks who find this intriguing and will likely use it. But I don't really see the need to have this at your fingertips. What is the value add? How will the information be used and for what purpose?


Apr 23, 2007 02:08 AM #24
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Ok so everyone immediately types in there address, right. I did and I'm not there. No information.

We have lived here for 14 years !!

Apr 23, 2007 02:25 AM #25
George W. Miller
Keller Williams Realty - Naugatuck, CT
Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Real Estate
Interesting. I received an e-mail the other day saying you could do this but it didn't go into detail so I thought it was a viral mail. I found it amazing how they get do it with a cell phone. Where do they make money? What do they get out of it?
Apr 23, 2007 03:03 AM #26
Randy Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
You hit on a good point.  There are too many dishonest ways that information that accessible could be used.
Apr 23, 2007 03:12 AM #27
Beth Butler
Beth Butler - Big Mouth Consulting - Miami, FL
What a great post!  I think the technolgy of it is very cool.  My idea - have realtors send this info to their sellers to get price reductions.  This kind of information is coming at us very fast - we need to find a clever way to introduce it and use it to our advantage.  Thanks again for a new fun tech toy!
Apr 23, 2007 05:50 AM #28
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate
I'm trying to think who besides real estate agents might want such instant access to this info. And wouldn't a tech-savvy agent just pull up the same info and more on their Treo or tablet?
Apr 23, 2007 07:30 AM #29
Daniel Gates
Insure Consulting - Palm Bay, FL

Cool new tool, thanks for sharing!

Apr 24, 2007 05:25 AM #30
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

KK... wow, this is cool. But as you stated, cool, yet scary. And yes, information is traveling at such a quick rate.... that you bring up a great point in regards to your mother-in-law. That she believes everything that people tell her. I seem to deal with many of these clients that tell me the same thing. Gee... it's sales. Throw it up against the wall, hoping that it sticks.

Anyhow.... thanks for sharing this.

                                                                                                            jeff belonger

Apr 24, 2007 05:39 PM #31
Robert D. Ashby
Visual Approach Aerial Photography (Visual Approach Photography) - Plantation, FL
Turning Visions into Photographs (and Videos)
Krystal...Sorry for showing up late to the party...My 2 cents are that I think it is cool if you are out shopping for homes, but may be a little bit too much info if someone wants to use the info for the wrong reasons.
Apr 25, 2007 01:59 PM #32
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

KK... I agree with Rob. Just as Lenn Harley mentioned in another blog about Zillow. Why do you think these companies start these types of platforms?  Just one big data base after the fact.


Apr 25, 2007 05:53 PM #34
Phillip Cross
TBD - In transition... - Seal Beach, CA
ePRO Realtor - Relocation Spec
Kristal, Too COOL! Need to check this one out. But like you said too much information in the wrong hands can be extremely dangerous! Rob has an excellent point above as well. Give out my cell # to thousands of businesses for new text SPAM!? YIKES!
Apr 28, 2007 01:32 AM #35
Ed DeChristopher
Fredericksburg Realty, Inc. - Fredericksburg, VA
CRS Fredericksburg VA
Plan on talking about this while at the square table in Albuquerque?
Apr 28, 2007 10:48 PM #36
Stephen Joos & Chris Brubaker- HouseFront
HouseFront - Denver, CO

Kristal has succeeded in creating quite the colorful discussion with her recent post on our service. I have really enjoyed watching how the overall opinion of HouseFront has evolved. There are a few comments I would like to address:

Jay~ Soon we'll have an option for the homeowner to be able to correct data on their home if our data is off slightly, or the owners' have made additions and improvements. 

Beth~ "We need a clever way to introduce it and use it to our advantage." Don't worry, HouseFront was created by people doing business in real estate. We created the tool to act as an on the go assistant to Realtors. We have tried to build ourselves as a Realtor centric company, keeping you in mind with every decision. In the future we hope to be able to pair inquisitive buyers and sellers with the local real estate professionals who service their markets. 

John~ Since our service launched it has become clear to us that there are many people besides the real estate professional who find value in attaining such instant data. 

Rob~ Have no fear, HouseFront does not resell any of the mobile phone numbers that come through our system for marketing  purposes. We think that would destroy the user experience! 


Ryan Boykin



Apr 30, 2007 01:55 AM #37
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Ryan ~ Thank you for your comments and clarifications.  I really appreciate you logging on to clear things up.

On an added  note, I was at the Shore this past week (N.J. Exit 100 for those in the know.)  Anyway my sister and I were walking the boardwalk and admiring all the new construction there.  I asked her what homes were selling for in this area.  She didn't know, so I pulled out the TREO and text messaged HouseFront.  Talk about "WOW! Factor."  My untechie sister was so impressed.  Of course I didn't tell her she could do it herself....  I must keep some mystery about what I do and how I do it!   

Apr 30, 2007 03:01 PM #38
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Ed ~ You betcha!  See you in AlbuQ!

 Philip ~ Good shall win over evil...we must believe!

Jeff B ~ I think the future of real estate is changing, just like many other things we know.  Sometimes you just have t let go and go with the flow. See where it takes you...hopefully that will be in a better place.

Rob ~ Ryan the founder of HouseFront said not...guess we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

Robert ~ home shopping or in my case just being nosy.  Or should I say trying to know the real estate market.

Daniel Gates ~ You are welcome!  Thanks for stopping by!

John ~ I did pull it up on my TREO.  Of course you can use the Tablet PC and pull county records. But if you were doing that and I was texting the addy, I know I would win.  (Assuming the addy was part of their data base.)  Try it, it is very efficient and cool.


Apr 30, 2007 03:08 PM #39
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022
Matt ~ I fear misunderstanding the data more than making it available. 

Fran ~ Yes, I agree.  Let's go with the flo and see where it takes us.

Linda ~ New agents will need to find the new gadgets AND trust that they work.  They might be more apt to do so than some of the more experienced and skeptical types.

Teresa ~ Perhaps you need a keeper.  I've heard some people have them.  :)

Tim ~ I think you are wearing your Realtor hat.  Think outside of the hat.  This is a tool for anyone.  It will help us, but not just us.

Elaine ~ Ah you are so right. But tell me, can you put your laptop in your breast pocket?  That's where I had my TREO this weekend.  Nosey  me used the service to learn about N.J. real estate.  Otherwise our questions of values would have dissipated in the wind. 

Jeff ~ Instant info can be used on a whim for WOW! factor, curiosity and facts.  You choose.

Missy ~ I have  no answer for you.  When I have used it, there has been data.  Are you sure you exist?  :) (just kidding!) My GPS does that with streets that have been around forever, it ticks me off!

George ~ Yes, I got an email too.  Funny I already knew about it. The viral mail thing needs work, it looks way too much like spam.  I understand agents will be able to buy and "area" so perhaps that's the point behind the tool.  $$$

Randy ~ As spooky as it is, there are many other ways to get the same info. We just have to believe the good will win.

Beth ~ Hey you are welcome.  I enjoy tech toys with the most of them, it's good to share the news and spread the wealth of knowledge.
Apr 30, 2007 03:22 PM #40
Jamie Wisecup
Colorado Thermal Imaging - Steamboat Springs, CO
Sounds like something I would try.
May 04, 2007 03:53 PM #41
Dave Kaufman - Techlife

@Kristal -  Thanks for the link to the Techlife article.  I appreciate it.  From what I read here the real estate business could be a bit scared, but as a writer and business consultant, I have found that those that embrace technological changes and realize the benefits, can easily show clients and earn more trust.

Email used to be novel and unique, now it is taken for granted.  When you actually send a real birthday card you are flaunting technology.  But certainly greeting card companies and postal service could have originally thought, "We're screwed."

I look forward to the people who realize that Housefront can help their clients become more informed at a basic level so that the agent can really begin to show their value.

Jul 21, 2007 06:56 AM #42
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Kristal Kraft

Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022
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