A safety management system good enough for the airline industry was the inspiration for a new tool that will keep real estate agents and their clients organized beyond their wildest dreams.
James Copeland, CEO and founder of House Manual App in Vancouver, and 21-year-real-estate veteran Dan Welyk of The Real Estate Professionals in Calgary, created the House Manual App, an easy-to-use, intuitive system that people can use to organize every aspect of their lives.
Whether for everyday/personal use, Realtor/client use or as a reference in case of emergencies, the live app comes in handy.
Most people have their valuable belongings in their house – their family, their possessions and the house itself – but don’t have an organized, easy-to-access system for important information such as medical details, warranties, an inventory of a home’s contents and mechanicals and directions for their use. Knowing where the water shut off is, for example, and how to turn it off during an emergency can help prevent further damage, Copeland says.
When designing the app, Copeland, a long haul pilot for Air Canada, wanted a logical and easy process that is friendly for a variety of users. And he wanted a system his super organized wife, who is also a pilot, would use. He says if she moved from her paper system to his app, he knew he had a hit. The app is equally suited to the organized, wannabe organized and the less organized.
House Manual App contains large folders, which the user can name and customize. A room photo or floor plan can be added and a marker dropped on an item, for example the stove, with details such as make, model, warranty and user manuals added and easily accessible. The information can be shared privately with an individual or a group. (There’s no need for the recipient to download the app.) It provides instant access to information. There’s even a universal search, which means no wasted time looking for items.
When using the app for personal use, it wasn’t long before 21-year real estate veteran Welyk discovered the benefits for his profession. “It naturally evolved for the real estate. I saw how easy it is to utilize it for little tasks, to share pictures and write ups.” He says it’s great for managing inspections and viewings.
For home inspections, instructions can be shared with the inspector so he knows how to fire up the furnace without changing all the settings, for example.
A welcome package can be created for buyers, so they know the location of such things as the water shut-off valve, how to change the furnace filter and more. The information can be sent to the buyer, who can save it as a PDF if they don’t want to download the app. The sender (agent or seller) can then remove the shared folder.
The welcome package can also be shared with rental tenants and Airbnb guests, then unshared after they leave.
The app is easy to use. “I shared it with my son, who is tech savvy. A few minutes later he said, ‘I have to give it to you guys. You created an app that’s easy to use’,” says Welyk. “My 72-year-old mother uses it daily.”
The handy reference guide to your home is accessible across a variety of platforms and the information is encrypted and secure.
Welyk says he created his own home inventory after his girlfriend had a house fire and found it a daunting task to complete an inventory for insurance after the fire. He discovered he had “really undervalued what he had, even little things like board games.”
Welyk says he recommends that clients who are moving create an inventory list. During a recent move, he followed his own advice. “I started packing months ago and began entering information into the House Manual App.
As he packed, he’d label each box with the room and a box number, then entered a few of the key contents of the box into the app. He snapped a photo before he sealed each box and stored it with the information about the contents.
His son was staying behind for a few days and Welyk snapped pictures of things that didn’t fit into the moving van and created a priority list of what his son should bring along.
The app is popular with younger generations. His 21-year-old daughter uses it to store information about her pet.
House Manual App was created during the pandemic. “With everyone sitting at home, it was the perfect opportunity to create inventory reports of their home,” says Welyk.
Copeland and Wekyk met three years ago and were working on a business project but quickly pivoted when COVID-19 hit. The building blocks were already in place, so developing the House Manual App went quickly.
Copeland says he has been doing contract work on IT, predominantly for airlines, and has a good skill set and a good network. Another of his apps, a booking system, is used by 35 large resorts.
Welyk says over his years as a Realtor, he has always been tech savvy. “I am always looking for good tech to save time.”
New features are constantly being added. The app now has a “tell your friends” section, which Welyk says, from the lens of a Realtor, is ideal for a new homeowner or seller because the information can be shared.
He wants to share the news with his colleagues in the real estate community. He reached out to the Calgary Real Estate Board and in three weeks, “a little partnership was born.” Now they are reaching out to other boards.
The House Manual App is available on iOS. App users can then share their House Manual content privately and securely with any recipient on any device and operating system.
It’s available on the Apple App Store and costs $11.99 per year in Canada.
“We provide discounts for Realtors and they can offer specific discounts to their clients from within the House Manual App,” Copeland says.