Mobile applications company Visionary Apps has partnered with foreclosure data site RealtyTrac to power its popular foreclosure property search mobile application.
RealtyTrac will serve as the sole provider of nationwide foreclosure data to Visionary Apps' Complete Foreclosures app, and Visionary Apps will formally announce the partnership July 19. The Complete Foreclosures app is compatible with Apple iPhones and iPads, and there are plans to soon release an Android version of the app.
"We thought this was a great opportunity for us to provide current RealtyTrac subscribers with a free mobile app and expose our foreclosure database to a broader audience than what you get just on the Web," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's senior vice president.
Sharga added that RealtyTrac will likely roll out its own branded mobile app at some point, "but not in the short term."
The Complete Foreclosures app now offers details on more than 1.5 million properties in various stages of foreclosure. While the app had "close to" that number of properties before, data quality varied because the app was pulling information from dozens of providers, said Daniel Burrus, CEO of Visionary Apps.
"Our research has shown that RealtyTrac (has) the best database of foreclosed homes. (The partnership ensures) we have the best possible data and the largest number of foreclosed homes available," Burrus said.
The app is among a short list of foreclosure apps available, and also is among the highest rated. Since the app's launch in January 2010, its consumer ratings have generally been good, Burrus said, "except occasionally somebody got bad data." He believes that problem has been remedied now that RealtyTrac is the app's exclusive data provider.
"It comes down to (the) quality of data. It's not just ease of use. We're trying to stay the best," he said.
Though the app itself is free, the company has now incorporated a paid feature through its relationship with RealtyTrac. As part of its revenue model, RealtyTrac offers partial listing data on its site at no charge and full listing data to paying subscribers.
"In the past ... even though we weren't a partner of RealtyTrac, we were still tapping into (their) partial listing data, but there was no way to convert. Now we can," Burrus said.
A user of the Complete Foreclosures app can now choose to become a RealtyTrac subscriber to obtain full listing data, or pay an introductory rate of 99 cents per property. Current RealtyTrac subscribers can access full listings data at no charge.
The app offers a mix of full and partial listings. Properties with complete data are denoted by full green circles on the app's map interface, while those with partial data are denoted by circles that are half green, half gray.
"In our agreement with RealtyTrac we made sure we had a similar number of homes with full data," Burrus said. He declined to give an exact number of properties available with complete data, but said "many hundreds of thousands."
There are now a total of 70 property details offered on the app, up from 25, Burrus said, and properties with incomplete data have between 15 and 20 details displayed free of charge. Which details are available vary widely, Burrus said.
"Sometimes they may just be missing a street number, or a street number and a photograph," he said.
The app "will tell you the details available so you know exactly what you're paying (for)," he added.
Through consumer testing, Visionary Apps said it is comfortable that there is enough data displayed in the partial listings that users can still identify the properties they are most interested in.
"Then, it's a no-brainer to pay 99 cents (per property) to get full data on those homes," Burrus said.
Both companies will share in the revenue from the single-property purchase feature, he added. The introductory offer will likely last for 60 days, and then go up to $1.99 per property, Sharga said.
While RealtyTrac offers monthly and biannual subscriptions, "it seems ... micropayments are more user-friendly in mobile apps," Sharga added.
RealtyTrac is also testing a single-property purchase option on its website for $4.95 per property. In addition to what's available on the app, the Web data includes loan information, market trends, and details on comparable properties.
Right now, "it's not available every time somebody logs in to the site. If it's a success, we will probably roll it out so that it's universal," Sharga said.
The Complete Foreclosures app allows users to search properties by location, price, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, and square footage. Users can also get directions to a property, share a listing by email, save favorite properties, and link to further listing information on the RealtyTrac site.
The app offers guides on buying homes in different stages of foreclosure -- a feature that contributes to the app's popularity, Burrus said.
"Most people don't know how to buy a foreclosed home and don't realize there are different categories. An auction home is different from a bank-owned home," he said.
Each guide ends with a suggestion to "contact your Realtor" for information on the foreclosure process in a given locale.
Real estate professionals have the option to purchase exposure on the app. For $24.99 a month, an agent can appear on an exclusive basis on the property pages of any listing in a given ZIP code.
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