Smart flat hunting via your phone

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Smart people don’t wear out shoe leather hunting for flats any more … they just hit the phone, says Jamie Thomson

Yes, apartment-hunting is a hugely frustrating and tortuous process, but there is a silver lining. It’s such a universally loathed endeavour that people are endlessly trying to find better, quicker and more painless ways of finding and viewing properties.

So far we’ve had househunting in the form of a Facebook chat, and virtual reality tours of properties – now, from US digital startup Realync (pronounced Real-inc) comes real-time, live-streaming walk-throughs of properties, all relayed to your computer, tablet or smartphone.

The brainchild of Matt Weirich and Ani Rangaranjan, Realync’s software, marketed to real estate companies and leasing firms, offers a more affordable and immediate digital solution than VR, which requires sophisticated hardware and expert camerawork for an effective experience. But it also allows prospective buyers and tenants the ability to take notes, interact with agents, and view recorded tours after the fact – something that rough-and-ready digital walkthroughs via Skype and Facetime can’t really do.

As Weinrich explains: “Our platform puts the leasing team up front with the [prospective] tenants, live and interactive.”

And while VR real estate may remain the preserve of highly specialised high-end markets, a $1.1m funding drive has seen Realync’s more democratic and affordable model already scale up to most of the US mainland and 30 other countries worldwide.

Realync even offer a Open House Livesteam, where up to a 1,000 users can log on simulteanously and watch an agent show off a property to their analogue counterparts. And if the thought of battling with 1,000 other people for a new home gives you palpitations, just remember how much worse it would be in the flesh.

It doesn’t say it anywhere in their literature, but we’re going to guess that online hectoring of those silly enough to actually make the journey to the apartment in question is somewhat frowned upon, however understandable.

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