Internet technology is once again pushing the home-buying and selling process to new heights.
If you have a smartphone, you can now get all the information you want about a property – including photos, price and listing agent’s contact information – right off the For Sale sign.
At least you can if it’s a home listed by Sage Real Estate, a Toronto firm that might be the first in the country to use quick-response (QR) codes on their lawn signs.
“Now, for the person driving by who wants to know more about the property, they don’t have to wait and call someone, leave a message, then wait again to hear back. They can scan the QR code with their phone and get all the information they need just standing there,” says Evan Sage, the company’s vice-president.
Some large retailers, such as IKEA and Walmart, enable their customers to scan individual products’ bar codes to get product information and pricing.
QR codes work in much the same way. The QR code is composed of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. It’s encoded with text or other data and can be read by mobile devices equipped with a QR scanner (several free scanner apps are available to download).
Any kind of information can be embedded in a QR code. In the case of Sage Realty, the QR codes on their For Sale signs will take potential buyers to a dedicated website created for that property.
“In that way, interested parties get much more information than they would on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Our sites have an average of 25 to 30 photos of the home. MLS only has nine,” says Sage. “Potential buyers really want to see the home before they commit their valuable time to going to see it in person.”
Sage Real Estate first launched QR codes in October 2010. Some American real estate firms have been using them, as well.
“It just made perfect sense to us to take maximum advantage of digital technology,” says Sage.
The use of QR codes for real estate market is part of a larger trend. Real estate firms have turned to the Internet for years as a tool to maximize the marketing of their listings. Facebook groups, Twitter accounts and dedicated URLs for properties were once considered cutting-edge digital marketing tools, but they’ve now become standard.
“We always have to be pushing that boundary to lead the innovation and change,” Sage says.
He believes the use of QR codes is the next frontier and will soon become an industry standard.
Others are already catching on. The sales office for King Plus Condos, a new condo development in downtown Toronto, features a giant QR code on an outdoor billboard. Passersby can scan the code and automatically land on a registration page for the condo.
“You want to make it as easy as possible for people to access that information and take away as many of the barriers from that end goal as possible,” Sage says.
Though more and more people are accessing the Internet through their mobile devices, QR codes are one more way to get the information they want on the go. Could buying a home by phone be far behind?