QR Codes in real estate - a missed opportunity?

by Alistair Helm in ,


QR codes have been around a long time, infact they were invented over 20 years ago as a means of monitoring production lines in the automobile industry. Over the years I have heard it said that "this year is going to be the year of the QR code in real estate". How it will revolutionise the industry and empower the consumer. 

In my mind and in the context of real estate it is best seen as a technology looking for a solution.

I find it interesting that it is being used in very much a piece-meal fashion by some companies in the industry - a recent copy of the NZ Herald Home supplement showed QR codes on listings from Premium and Harcourts.

QR codes 1.png

The QR code on a printed ad makes sense - it can be a great "call-to-action" for access to more details of a property and that is what it does. What I find interesting, and if I may say a bit dumb is that the URL (the web address) behind the QR is not a unique link that tracks the people using the QR code but takes users straight to the listing on the company website. Try it for yourself below:


The missed opportunity by these real estate companies is the ability to analyse metrics of the users of this QR code. To be able to track how many people actually used the QR code - when they used it and from which publication, what actions they carried out on the site once they landed there, what device they used to access the information. All of this, is vital information for the real estate company to assist the vendor and buyer.

All of this capability is free and readily accessible. I created the red QR code at the top of this article at QR Stuff and I also used the Google URL shortener which provides tracking metrics, so if anyone decides to try the QR code above then I can see the details, as you can here.

Given that in principle the QR code is the bridge between the printed media and the digital media in the context of real estate and the real estate industry is so fond of telling clients how important print advertising is, I am somewhat surprised that more of the print media does not undertake to create QR codes for all listings as a free service for agents and use the data to reinforce the true value of the print advert!

The other utilisation of QR codes has been on street signs for property for sale, there has not been extensive application of this in this country but my recent commentary about the UK real estate market showed a sign with a QR code. Again it makes sense as it can provide instant digital content without having to try to punch in a lengthy URL code for the listing.

However the process of accessing a QR code on a printed sign is lengthy - 6 steps in all

  • Switch on smartphone
  • Tap QR scanner app
  •  Tap scan
  • Hold phone to sign
  • Confirm link
  • Access to content


Compare that to using a smartphone app like Realestate.co.nz

  • Switch on smartphone
  • Tap Realestate.co.nz app
  • Tap 'Near Me'
  • Tap the listing flag
  • Access to content

5 steps so a little shorter. However the benefit of the app is the ease of use and the contextual information - once in the app you have all the other listings around you and the content is in a form best used to a smartphone as opposed to being on a webpage on a mobile device. You also in the case of the QR code need to get out of the car in the pouring rain and stand close up to the sign and focus the camera on the phone whilst passer-bys wonder if they should question your suspicious activity!

QR codes are a smart technology - I do suspect that they are not a perfect solution for real estate and I sense that there is better solution just around the corner.