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How you can actually use location based apps in your real estate practice

It was less than two years ago that my boyfriend brought Brightkite onto my radar. At first I was leery, why would I want to tell people, strangers, where I am? I approached with caution, but was willing to explore. Just as I started to “get it” and think of creative uses that didn’t put my personal safety at risk, suddenly there was Foursquare and Brightkite was yesterday’s news.

Now, I use Foursquare and my boyfriend prefers Gowalla and it seems daily that a new location based game is hitting the radar. Yelp also added geotagging to their application and many people tell me they prefer that over both of the other leaders. This week a new game was brought to my attention, Scvngr, which has a partnership with

How can one keep up with the trends?

What the heck are these and why would you even WANT to use them? I thought I would put together a top five list of what is out there and the reasons why a REALTOR may want to explore.


#1- FOURSQUARE – from their home page, “foursquare allows you to check-in to places, meet up with friends and discover new places.”

This is the application that I use the most. There are more users on this platform, so it makes it interesting to see where everyone is going. It integrates easily with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, although I don’t push my check ins to them because I go A LOT of places each day. If a person allows it, you can text them directly from their check in, which I have used and enjoy. If you check into a location the most you become the mayor of the site. Certain businesses offer specials to their Mayor, like a free coffee drink at Starbucks. You can also earn fun badges for different check ins.

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I think there are a few uses for real estate professionals:
* create a check in at your office and share what you are doing there. For example, your check in might say “in the office prepping for showings this afternoon”.
* prove your area expertise with lots of check ins in your market with helpful information included.
*- offer a special to people in the vicinity of your office ie: “stop in to see Lesley for a free market report”.


#2- GOWALLA– This platform gets the nod from my boyfriend (Morriss Partee) who has tried all of the services since their inception. He loves their artfully crafted check in icons. From their home page: “Discover, capture and share places and events with your friends. ”

Gowalla’s check ins can also be forwarded to your other social media profiles, if you want to share your stops there. Gowalla adds the fun of a virtual geo cache hunt. Each stop may have an item that you can pick up or drop off. For instance, a bridge may have bats that you pick up and you can leave any other item in your collection for someone else to find. Additionally Gowalla offers a new addition, event check ins. This is a great addition for tweet-ups and office gatherings, but has real estate applications, as well. Another great feature is the ability to create a trip with multiple stops.

*If you have an open house you can create a Gowalla event and ask friends to visit and check in to the event.
*Take pictures of your home for sale and post them as an attachment to the location.
*Create trips of historic homes, restaurants or other important locations and be sure to mention your business in the description ie: Lesley Lambert of Park Square Realty brings you this tour of historic homes.


#3- BRIGHTKITE– Brightkite’s home page states: “We’re all about helping you keep up with your friends, meet new people, and discover new places. All while you’re out and about.”

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This was the first geotagging service that I ever tried and it does still have applications, I just can’t be checking in with multiple programs and have been leaning towards Foursquare.

Brightkite has a status feature that you can use without checking in (very much like Twitter and Linkedin) and the check in feature. With the check ins here you can add photos, also.

New on Brightkite is their group text application. Group text from Brightkite gives you free, unlimited, group text messaging from your iPhone or iPod Touch. With this application you can send a text to a group – when anyone replies, everyone gets the message.

*check in with a photo when you show a listing, at your office or an open house to keep yourself in front of the public as an active real estate agent.
*group text your contacts has a lot of functionality as a real estate agent to peer product: text fellow agents when you get a new listing, price reduction, open house, etc.


#4- YELP -Touting themselves as “the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great – and not so great, in your area,” Yelp has been the leader in business reviews for some time. When they added geo tagging check ins a lot of people I know left Foursquare and Gowalla to use Yelp exclusively.

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I don’t have any personal experience with the mobile application and check in aspects on Yelp, but I love the idea that they are combining the check in with review aspects. I would love to hear from readers how they are using Yelp’s mobile application.

*set up a profile on Yelp and make sure your company is listed, too!


#5- SCVNGR – this new platform is untried by me as of this story, but sounds interesting and could have some applications for tech savvy real estate agents looking for fun marketing ideas.

From their home page: “Go places. Do challenges. Earn points! That’s the core of it, but there’s a whole lot more. Discover cool new places. Do exciting new things. Share what you’re up to with your friends. Unlock badges (and even real world rewards) by doing quick, fun challenges at your favorite places as you go about your daily life.” is running a contest built on this application which was announced in this press release. Their event is a huge house hunt with a grand prize of a down payment for a house.

*An individual real estate agent or brokerage could do a hunt with a massive weekend of open house touring or historical homes for sale or with a broker open house tour.
*Work with other agents in your market place to group your listings by type and host a tour with a contest reward that you all pitch in towards.

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So how are you using location based game applications? Got a great real estate marketing idea for one or many of these apps? Share it!

Written By

Lesley offers 21 years experience in real estate, public speaking and training. Lesley has a degree in communications and was the recipient of an international award for coordinating media in real estate. In the course of her career Lesley has presented at international real estate conferences and state REALTOR associations, hosted a real estate television program, written articles for trade magazines and created marketing and PR plans for many individuals, companies and non-profits.



  1. Greg Afarian

    July 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I enjoy using FourSquare but, I must admit, its sort of a pain to check in and I many cases I am in a building and it doesn’t function properly. That said, it’s fun becoming a Mayor and getting other designations which is what social media is all about. Not to mention some places offer deals when you check in! I like it, and defiantly see a value in users telling their friends what places they like most. Great post!

    • Lesley Lambert

      July 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      I am getting in the habit of remembering, but it took some time! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Jeff Belonger

    July 21, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Lesley…. I am glad I read this one. I am usually the person 1 to 2 years behind such apps. I don’t know how so many people keep up with these things. My Blackberry was just stolen last weekend and once I get my new one, I plan on using Foursquare. I see this being used the most on Facebook.

    In any case, thanks for sharing these… I have made a pledge this past month to start keeping up with all of this technology. Besides, I am a loan officer, so it’s not like I sell houses.. and I can see where these kinds of apps. would be most useful for real estate agents. thanks

    • Lesley Lambert

      July 21, 2010 at 9:55 am

      Glad to be informative! There is a lot of opportunity with these applications, I am sure that people will get creative over time.

  3. Lisa Archer

    July 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I love foursquare now and have actually started generating new leads for our real estate team because of the mayorship battles. Thanks for the great post.

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