With easy-to-use mobile technology fueled by unmatched, real-time data intelligence, Homesnap is changing the way real estate agents connect with consumers and serve their clients. Homesnap launched in 2012 during South by Southwest (SXSW) as a mobile application, allowing users to take a picture of any home to find out all about it. The information that powers Homesnap comes from a unique blend of data, including tax records, MLS data, school information and attendance zones, census demographics, neighborhood information, lot boundaries, geolocation data and more. Today Homesnap is the highest-rated and most-installed mobile productivity app and marketing platform for real estate brokers, agents, and clients.
With over 850,000 agents in the country with access to Homesnap Pro, the agent version of Homesnap that shows real-time MLS data, the solution is entirely custom-built software which can be found on multiple platforms: the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, Google Play for Android, and on the web at Homesnap.com.
Homesnap’s Chief Product Officer, Lou Mintzer, says that the company “has well passed the hundreds of millions of images mark and is constantly growing. Every listing can have 10 to 30 photos. Some [listings] have more than 30 photos and listings are constantly going on and off the market. There are over a million listings per year nationwide and it accumulates with time and you never remove images. We had a desire to embellish the images with additional data, so that when people would see a photo of a house in an email, for instance, where it’s difficult to do formatting, we could do things like put the price of the house right on the image or, include the status of the house. If a house was for sale, under contract, sold, or had an upcoming open house, we wanted to put that right on the image and aspect fill it so it could look better in its space.”
Homesnap explored a variety of solutions to tackle this problem. “There are C# libraries and .net core libraries that focus on graphics, but they all had the disadvantage of happening on a very high-level language. Therefore the advantage of Imagizer was having all these calculations happen as close to the metal as possible,” said Lou Mintzer.
Lou said that there were two important things for Homesnap: storage and speed. Prior to Imagizer, Homesnap did a lot of preprocessing and storing to make an image, overlay the price, the status, and would then save that to Amazon S3. “Every time a listing changed, it had to be remade and saved, regardless of whether or not it had been viewed by users. Now we don’t have to spend the processing or storage budget, because we can just put that price on the image in real time and we know it’s the right price, and it doesn’t need to be stored anywhere. Imagizer has given Homesnap the ability to add embellishments to the images that are updated in real time,” said Lou Mintzer.
Imagizer allows customers like Homesnap to perform URL-based manipulations, which can improve speed and reduce operations costs. “Now, If we want to change a graphic, all we have to do is change the URL and then all of the graphics will be created like that moving forward. Before if we wanted to change a graphic, we’d have to change how we made the graphic and then remake all the graphics that we had already made and staged. That’s where a significant amount of savings has come in,” says Lou.
“Imagizer has been a good fit for us. It’s on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and we already have a lot of other systems and services running on AWS. This made it easy to spin up the instances and get the Imagizer app running,” said Lou Mintzer. With flexibility in deployment, Imagizer can be launched on AWS, Imagizer Engine, and with an on-premise cloud storage solution.
Prior to Imagizer, Homesnap utilized C# graphic libraries. “Imagizer has reduced the amount of time it takes to produce a dynamic image dramatically. The amount of time it takes to generate some of our most complex images has gone from upwards of 60 seconds down to less than one second, which is just incredible,” said Lou. Imagizer also provides Homesnap with logging. Lou also commented that “error logging is important for us and we also have monitoring logging, which allows us to see things like the response time and the number of requests etc. in the cloud lodge dashboard which is an important part of running our system.”
With on-the-fly image optimization, Imagizer has delivered significant improvements in speed. “The number one thing is delivering complex images without wait time. Before we would have to put up loading indicators saying ‘Your preview is being made’ and they [customers] would have to wait until it was done, but now they can see their preview in real time,” said Lou Mintzer. Lou also mentioned that “lag conversions are up and this directly leads to improved conversion rates.”
Imagizer’s ease of use allows cross-functional teams outside of engineering to utilize the solution for their needs, creating more autonomy and freeing up development power.
“Before all of our logic was locked in c-sharp code, and so anytime someone in the company needed a dynamic graphic for product, marketing or training purposes, they would need to work with a developer to get that code written. Now that we’re using Imagizer, the image layers are specified in the URL, which means we can now easily train those outside of the development team. Our marketing, sales, and business development teams can now easily learn how to manipulate URLs to create some custom graphics,” says Lou Mintzer.
As a result of the reduced operations costs, accelerated image load time, and improved conversion rates, Lou says “I recommend Imagizer to companies who utilize dynamic imagery, specifically in email, where you can put a lot of the formatting in the email, instead of dealing with a repugnant way that HTML and CSS need to be formatted inside of an email.” For companies with large amounts of photos, perhaps a high Amazon S3 bill, and the desire to do real-time customizations, Imagizer may be the solution.
The Homesnap team
Imagizer is the world’s only image processing engine purpose-built for eCommerce. It effortlessly accelerates page load times and makes products look their best on any device. Besides typical transformations such as resizing and formatting, Imagizer provides ecommerce specific optimizations, such as intelligent product cropping and optimized compression for mobile and desktop.