When Guy Wolcott got the Shazam app on his iPhone, which identifies music and TV shows that are being played around you, it inspired him to develop a similar service for people seeking to buy houses.
Wolcott and Steve Barnes are co-founders of the Washington-based Homesnap start-up, whose app gives users instant information about nearby houses.
Wolcott, the firm’s chief executive, said consumers like Homesnap because it’s as easy to use as it sounds: You simply snap a photo of any home, irrespective of whether it is on the market, and you can immediately access the best available data from multiple sources, such as the basic number of bedrooms and baths, a recent tax assessment, the most recent property records, school boundaries and school ratings.
If the home is on the market or has been recently, you can see all the listing information, including interior photos.
Homesnap received a big boost in 2012 when Wolcott and Barnes introduced the app idea at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, which highlights music, film and tech innovation. The two entered a pitch contest and emerged as the winners.
The app drew the attention of Steve Case, former head of AOL and founder of Revolution, an investment firm created to support entrepreneurs.
“After we won the contest, Steve Case came over to talk to us for 10 minutes and then suggested we come by his office,” Wolcott said. “It took a few months, but Revolution is now our biggest investor.”
Wolcott said Homesnap serves 3 million customers a month, including house hunters and thousands of real estate agents.