I continue to be amazed at how companies are starting to use Twitter in a professional way (see for example my profile on Best Buy’s efforts with @Twelpforce). Another case in point: RealEstate.com is today launching the beta version of @Housewatch, a Twitter bot that can instantly deliver statistics and information to home buyers, sellers and agents who use the social networking service.
Here’s how it works: you follow the (protected) account, and as soon as the bot follows you back you can use a variety of commands through direct messages sent to the account. RealEstate.com’s Housewatch can respond to simple commands to automatically deliver data on everything from median home values to neighborhood crime statistics and monthly mortgage calculations. To get an overview of which commands are supported, you can DM the word ‘commands’ to the bot, but here’s the full list:
Stats – median home price (by city)
Value – home value (by address)
Income – median, per capita and median disposable income (by city)
Weather – monthly high and low temperatures (by city)
Demographics – population count and density (by city)
Cost – cost of living including local sales tax and a ranking of household expenses based on an average of 100 (by city)
Transportation – median travel time to work in minutes, and average use of public transportation (by city)
Environmental – air pollution and ozone indices based on an average of 100 (by city)
Crime – total, personal and property crime rankings, based on an average of 100 (by city)
Fixed – monthly loan payments including insurance and taxes
Equity – amount of home equity using current value minus outstanding mortgage balances
Amort – full amortization schedule including monthly payment, total interest paid and total amount paid over the lifetime of the loan
Information sent in response to most of these commands will evidently include a link to more comprehensive information found on the RealEstate.com website, but the company has humans on Twitter who can guide people looking for more info as well (Dennis Kuntz aka @RealTweet). Ironically, Kuntz appears to be on holiday so the automated responses will have to do for the moment.
All in all, it’s pretty cool way to get access to this type of information from RealEstate.com, even if I’m not sure how many people exactly will be using it, unless they’re die-hard Twitter fans who refuse to simply visit the website and also happen to be looking for a house while tweeting.