QR Codes – Next Big Thing In Real Estate?

Most of us have seen barcodes for years on products in groceries stores.  They allow stores to quickly scan products to add them to your bill, and at the same time update their inventory databases.

Pretty much anything you buy nowadays has one on it, but what you may not have seen are the relatively new QR codes (which stands for ‘Quick Response’).  They work with smart phones and are meant to automatically pull up extra information, such as linking to a website, a video, or a map, instead of being used at a cash register.

I first noticed them in my local Best Buy flyer awhile back and now they seem to be everywhere.   And then I read an article that mentioned how some real estate agents are beginning to include them on their signage and even their business cards.

Really?  I had to see this.  So I Googled

'QR codes real estate'

and found this informative article.

The 5 Best Ways To Use QR Codes For Real Estate


Hmmm… maybe there was something to this and investors should sit up and take notice.

Then I found this article by a realtor in Phoenix, Arizona.  This guy isn’t convinced.  In fact, he makes a few pretty funny comments throughout the article — check it out:

QR Codes in Real Estate Marketing – The hype is out of control


I decided to try it out for myself. I recently bought an Apple iPhone 4, so I installed a QR code reader and tested it out on the QR code in this article.  The app takes a picture of the code and then after 5 seconds of processing, it opens a website. How neat.

Then I searched for

'qr code real estate ottawa'

and I found a realtor’s website with contact information, and BIG code below it.  Huh?  Why not just post a link?

I tried the code… and after 8 seconds of processing, I was finally directed to (you guessed it) a website with this realtor’s listings on it. (chuckle)


So are these the next big thing in real estate?  Will everyone be running around with their smart phones scanning codes on property lists?

I don’t know, but to me they just seem like glorified hyperlinks.  Maybe their usefulness will improve as their acceptance becomes more widespread and more innovative applications become available.  Until then, I think they’ll simply be a curiosity to most people (even the ones who own smart phones).


What do you think?  Do you scan QR codes for real estate or other information?

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  • Amin says:

    Hi Paul,
    These QR has been used for a while now and esprecially by Adobe PDF files. It intent is way more than storing a weblink. It can contain a lot of information. Good example is how ‘Passport Canada’ use the QR technology. Example: once you fill the Passport Renewal Form (PDF file), and ready to Print it, Adobe creates the QR code. Once you go to the Passport Officier, the Officier just scan/read the QR and he gets ALL the info you entered in the form automatically populated in Passport System – a matter of seconds with no human errors re-entering data.

    • Paul Blacquiere says:

      Hi Amin,

      You’re right… QR codes have been in use for awhile. They were invented in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota according to Wikipedia.


      What’s relatively new, however, is their more widespread use in places like Best Buy flyers and of course by realtors. They can store quite a bit of information, but it seems at the moment they are being used by realtors for very basic purposes that don’t always make sense (e.g. putting a QR code for a website URL on your website)

      There is one area I can see this being IMMENSELY useful for real estate investors in the future… bookkeeping. If you’ve ever tried to maintain your own books, you know how tedious data entry can be and how prone to error it is. Imagine being able to put your receipts into a scanner (or use a handheld one) and instantly scan your receipt data right into Quickbooks. With some proper standards set up by the accounting industry, you could even automatically categorize transactions. Ah… what a dream come true that would be for many people.

      Unfortunately, that would likely take many years (maybe even decades) to implement, as it requires all vendors to product receipts with QR codes on them. In the mean time, we’ll more likely keep seeing realtors put them on business cards, websites (makes no sense to me) and their for sale signs. Useful? Maybe. But certainly not a ground-breaking use of a really neat technology.


  • Tom says:

    Just to add a little to what Amin pointed out – we just started printing them on our business cards as a means to allow our customers, vendors and others to simply scan all of our info right into their contacts section without the need of typing all of the info out and having the possibility of getting wrong. Sort of like how a vCard is used with Outlook. I have fooled around with different applications from the ones that generate the QR code as well the readers themselves and can tell you that not all are created/programed the same. Some do a better job than others so i guess there still isn’t a standard. I look forward to using them at networking events with the hope of creating relationships and not just collecting another name to add to the pile.


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