Sawbuck Realty releases an iPhone app – stifle that yawn!

Sawbuck Realty, a web-based referral brokerage that operates in over a dozen markets, has released an iPhone app.

So 2009, huh?

Not exactly. This is much more than a press release app: it’s a robust tool for homebuyers that offers some interesting features I haven’t seen before. It’s worth a close look because it is indicative of a larger trend toward more sophisticated home search apps intended to function as a buyer’s primary search tool – not just a small-screen sidekick to a website experience.

A few things:

You can kinda-sorta “check in” to a home with this app – meaning you can broadcast your presence at a listing on Twitter or Facebook. This may seem frivolous, but could possibly be useful for buyers (or buyers and their agent) communicating and coordinating via these channels.

The app includes solds in markets where MLS rules permit their display (The MLS in my area seems to think this information is just too hot for me to handle).

Scheduling and routing tours – either with or without an agent – is handled in a manner that’s novel and well executed:

sawbuck app tour

Users can take photos and videos, tag them with the room they represent, and save them alongside the MLS-supplied property photos:

Sawbuck app photo

Neighborhood level market stats derived from fresh MLS data are also in the mix. This I love – though labeling could be better (e.g., median price is “+126.1” from when?)

sawbuck app market stats

The visual design of this app is in many ways quite good, and creates an experience that is more pleasing than most. Note, for example, the “price tag” on the home and the woodgrain texture of the background in the screen below. These are nice touches that also happen to be consistent with Sawbuck’s overal brand vibe. This app feels more “fun” than many others I’ve seen. That’s good.

Photo app

This creative streak goes too far, though – much too far – with the app’s search function, an obscure metaphor I found thoroughly confusing. I struggled to make sense of this, even with the instructions. This was not so fun. If you want to get a couple steps ahead of the user with a UI element that’s new, that’s fine. But don’t lap them.

sawbuck app - search

Overall, this is a nice app that throws some new moves into the mobile real estate space. Kudos to the Sawbuck team for making it happen!