Ever get that dreaded call from a tenant complaining that the toilet is dripping? Or perhaps the dishwasher blade has snapped off? You grit your teeth because you noticed in your files you didn’t write down the make and model. You’re forced to visit the property yourself, get the information, run to the store hoping they have the part, and then return to fix it. Or maybe you pay someone else to take on the same adventure, hoping all goes well and it’s able to be fixed quickly.
Well, there’s a free app that helps solve this beautifully. The National Association of Home Builders awarded it the “Game Changer” award for 2016. It’s getting lots of love because there are some awesome uses for builders, real estate agents, and investors.
It’s like Trello meets inventory control. As a quick example, I purchased a new refrigerator in 2010 for my primary residence. I never changed the water filter because I lost the manual and thought it required a rather large production that involved me getting behind the fridge.
I downloaded the Centriq app and took a picture of the serial number tag inside. Within a day, the serial number was transcribed and the app sucked in the appliance make, model, and user manuals and provided direct links on Amazon to purchase replacement parts. I easily purchased the replacement water filter, and no search was necessary!
The filter arrived in two days. Once I got it home, I opened the app and watched the video on how to install the filter. Embarrassingly, it only took a minute to install, and I did not have to get behind the fridge.
I’ll walk you through how it works with some screen shots and provide some inside tips on how I’m using it as a landlord. I’ll share some upgrades that I’ve learned are coming soon by co-founder Shubber (rhymes with rubber) Ali, which I think investors will really love.
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How to Use the App
The app is free and is currently available only for Apple. However, Android is coming soon. In iTunes, just search for Centriq in the lifestyle category.
The app does a great job walking you through the app, but the process is simple. You have a property folder that contains different room folders. You can organize this however you’d like, but I like keeping the folders listed by room. Within the room, you can upload both video and pictures of appliances. It’s worth noting there is no charge for uploads, so you can upload photos and videos to your heart’s content.
Within the property folder, hit the big plus sign at the bottom of the screen, and you’ll be prompted to select whatever picture you’re taking or uploading (photo, note, appliance/item, document, video).
Selecting the appliance or item prompts you to take a picture or upload a picture of the appliance serial number, which typically appears on the name plate.
Once you upload the picture, I recommend taking a picture of the appliance inside and out and making notes on condition. You can track it back to the appliance so all the pictures of that appliance are organized in the same place. If you have a receipt, take a picture and upload it as well.
In my experience, it takes about 24 hours for the system to transcribe the serial number, which sucks in all the info on the appliance, including the appliance manuals, links to purchase the parts directly from Amazon, and the videos to help you with replacing parts on the appliance.
Check this out:
The app transcribed the serial number and pulled in information on the manufacturer and the model automatically. It then links to parts on Amazon. If you tap the Amazon button, you’ll see the parts available for purchase.
Hitting the button takes you directly to the part on the Amazon app. It gets delivered to your home or wherever you need the part delivered.
When the part arrives, if you hit the “Expert Info” button on the bottom right of the screen, you’ll have access to the Manuals and Guides, Videos, and Instruction sections. It gives you easy access on how to replace the part you just purchased.
Imagine you’re able to buy the part for your handyman before he steps foot on the property. If the part isn’t available at your local store, you may be able to save getting charged for an exploratory visit if you have a good idea of the part you’ll need and have it shipped right to your handyman.
This makes centralizing and organizing all this information beautiful, simple, and actionable. The company makes money from your orders through the Amazon links. There are other advertising opportunities I’ll get to shortly.
Investors and Landlords
I recently bought a rental out-of-state, which I will rarely be able to visit in person. I made extra notes and took tons of pictures and videos.
I’m about to do a mini rehab on the property, and I will get the contractor to take pictures of the rooms when they are done and I’ll upload it to the app to stay organized and keep good records.
A cool little tip I received from the co-founder comes directly from how builders are using the app. If you’re opening walls, have your contractor take pictures of piping and connections before the wall is closed. You’ll later know exactly where pipes are located and how the pipes were configured. It also gives you some extra intel on their workmanship before it’s hidden from view. I wish I would have done this on plumbing in my last rehab!
Related: 3 Technologies Changing the Way Landlords Manage Rental Properties
I learned Centriq is working on allowing landlords to give access of specific folders and/or items to tenants. How great would it be to give access on how to do things like shut off the water in case of a leak or gas in case of an earthquake? Or perhaps you’d like to give access to the tenant on how to replace their air filter and how to easily buy the filters online.
Expect to see some additional functionality in the shareability for your tenants and easy exports for insurance purposes coming soon. A side bonus is that the app will tell if you if one of your appliances has a recall in place.
Real Estate Agents
Advertising as a real estate agent has gotten difficult since newspaper and magazine readership has declined. Online advertising is noisy to say the least. In such a relationship-driven industry, most agents resort to throwing buyers and sellers on generic email lists where they send out occasional city and/or neighborhood updates. Let’s be honest, those get old real fast.
We’re all looking for more meaningful and creative ways to stay relevant and in front of clients. One of the ways Centriq makes money is allowing branding within the application itself. When you’re in the application and hit the main menu tab, there’s a large area specifically built for advertising.
Let’s say you’re a buyer’s agent and you’ve just helped a first-time buyer purchase their first home. As a gift, you diligently download the Centriq app and carefully document all the appliances and pictures from the home.
Upon close, you transfer access to the app to the buyer. Inside the application, you’re able to place your logo for marketing purposes, so every time the new owners log in to order parts, they associate you with making their life easy. You also leave them notes inside the application for trusted partners for insurance, repairs, pool cleaning, lawn services, etc.
I think this also allows real estate agents to create gifts new buyers might use, like a year worth of air filters. Or perhaps every year you send them batteries to replace on their smoke alarm(s). I’m always looking for creative and inexpensive ways to stay in front clients, and Centriq has my mind spinning with creative ideas to build brand and lock down that relationship. That’s exciting.
Builders, Home Inspectors, and Contractors
I’ve hinted at how builders are using the app in the investor description. Some builders are taking the time populate the Centriq app for their buyers complete with appliances and pictures of items before the walls are closed. A builder will have complete access to all the parts being installed in a new property, and it is a brilliant gift that allows new homeowners to easily access what’s in their new home. It also offers unbridled transparency, which is somewhat unusual.
Moving is hard enough. Having all the appliance and building information in digital format in one place is awesome. Buyers can then start adding their own information in the app, making it something they will more likely use. And should any item within the property be recalled, they’ll be notified.
For home inspectors, I think Centriq could be a great add-on service or gift to clients. The pictures are already being taken, and a home inspector might decide to either add it as a bonus or charge an additional fee to complete installation within the app.
Related: 4 Ways Technology is Shaking Up Commercial Real Estate (& Why Multifamily Will Pull Ahead)
For contractors, it’s also a great way to offer some transparency into your work and a great gift to clients who don’t know this exists. If one of my contractors had gone the extra mile by using this, they’d certainly win me over. It may even help you avoid those annoying calls for help if it’s in the app and they know where to find it. The advertising opportunities are the same as it is for real estate agents.
The Future of the Application
I haven’t seen anything quite like this on the market before, and I like that it touches numerous real estate sectors. It makes me feel the adoption rate will be higher. It’s user friendly, visual, and offers some needed features that make home ownership easier.
As I turn over my rental portfolio and get access inside the properties, I am moving more and more away from Dropbox and Trello and moving to Centriq. I’ll follow up in about one year to see how often I’ve used it in conjunction with real estate agents, insurance providers, handymen, and tenants.
For now, at least I have filtered water for the first time in a very long time in my primary residence. That’s a good starting point.
Have you used the Centriq app yet? What are your favorite new technologies for landlords?
Let’s discuss below!