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NYC apartments to get bar codes?

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This Memorial Day weekend, real estate broker Toni Haber ventures where no NYC agent has apparently gone before: She is putting souped-up bar codes in her ads, starting with a full-page display in Hamptons magazine hawking three sleek Manhattan apartments.

Potential buyers who have downloaded a free app to their BlackBerries, iPhones or other PDA point and click at the bar code (pictured here and technically referred to as a "QR code"). Then they are whisked away to Haber’s website to learn more about the properties in question, without the bother of pecking away on their pixie-sized PDA keys.

Haber wants to add the futuristic bar code to t-shirts and hats as part of a marketing effort targeting city dwellers in the Hamptons this summer.

“You’ll get all of my listings by scanning someone’s head,” says Haber, delighted.

A marketing stunt? For now, maybe. But perhaps not forever.

Clay Hebert of Tribes Win—a social media and marketing consultancy that works with Prudential Douglas Elliman—envisions a not-necessarily-far-off future where these enhanced bar codes are standard fare on the listing pages laid out at showings.

“With one click, potential buyers could scan and automatically store everything from the details about the listing to the agent's contact info, no paper necesary," says Hebert.

"That said, these QR codes aren't yet common in the U.S. like they are in Japan. Right now," says Hebert, "it's mostly the early adopters, but as smart mobile devices get more ubiquitous, it could certainly catch on. It's simple, and simple is always good."

BuyFolio.com, which launched back in February, already provides a clean, intuitive online tool for organizing a co-op or condo search. Thus far, users add apartments by entering the website address for the listing.

We asked founder Matt Daimler whether he might eventually enable people to add listings using the point-n-click bar code method.

“I haven’t thought of it but I’ll take a look,” he says. “The idea that you could extend it into your offline life is really interesting.”

He cautioned that the early adopters of scanned bar codes are probably a little bit younger than the people buying apartments.  

For our part, we’d like to see the bar code go further than serving up details that live in a contextual vacuum.

Instead, the bar code (or FourSquare application?) could serve up all the current and past listing information for a building as well as the closest comparables in the neighborhood, and include links to StreetEasy discussions about the address or specific apartment, Bed Bug Registry entries, and Department of Building violations.

We’d call it… “Is this apartment hot, or not?”

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