IDEA & OPPORTUNITY > Property prices by txt msg

As the popularity of text messaging continues to grow, we're seeing more ways that entrepreneurs are monetizing it. Take HouseFront, a US start-up that's currently in beta, that greatly simplifies the process of shopping for a new home. Drive by a house and text in its address to 46873 (spells 'house' on a phone's keypad). A moment later, the complete scoop on the property is returned by SMS, from its estimated worth to the number of bedrooms and baths. Users can also post comments about the homes for others to see, as can a home's owner. And consumers who are seriously searching for a new home can save each address on the website for later review.

While HouseFront was created to fill a practical need, some visitors have come up with a more entertaining use for the site: texting in celebrity addresses. Posted on HouseFront's blog are direct links to the homes of Paris Hilton, Bill Gates and Jennifer Anniston, to name a few. That's bound to generate some buzz for the start-up. But to succeed long term, HouseFront and any similar services may need to assure users right up front that they won't be harassed by realtors every time they text in the address of a home that interests them.

That said, HouseFront fits in with other commercial SMS sites we've covered over the years, like UK auto-pricing guide publisher Parkes, which lets users text in a car's license plate number and receive information on the car's year and model and its likely value. Similarly, Netherlands'-based CarSpotter (http://www.carspotter.nl/) lets users access price information via SMS. Like HouseFront, both auto sites empower consumers with useful information, when and where they need it.

Website: www.housefront.com
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Spotted by: Bill McMahon
Content courtesy: www.springwise.com

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