A Game-Changing Idea

This year, the Best in American Living Awards® added a new Game Changer category to celebrate ideas that showcase innovation. Entry requirements were left broad, hoping to cast a wide net that would draw in a variety of applicants and ideas.

Game Changer entries must enhance the resident experience and have the ability to significantly change home and community design over the next five years. Individual projects and products were eligible this year, including home design concepts, new types of site development, innovations in products, and interior design.

Applicants did not disappoint, submitting a wide array of projects from apps to floor plans to design details. Individually and collectively, the entries showed that the future of housing is in good hands. Notably, one entry emerged as a Platinum winner, the highest of the Best in American Living award levels. The first-ever recipient of the Game Changer award is Centriq, the Homeowner’s Digital Guide.

As a leading real estate agent noted, “In a couple of years, every home that sells will come with Centriq.”

“When someone buys a home, they won’t just get the keys, a stack of manuals, and paperwork,” said Shubber Ali, chief executive officer for Centriq, the Homeowner’s Digital Guide. Ali founded Centriq with James Sheppard. “They will get all of the information they need to ‘know’ their home in one digital interactive guide at their fingertips.”

What is Centriq?

Centriq is an organized collection of home information that can be transferred between all parties involved in the home’s life cycle. Available as an app in the Apple Store and coming soon to the Google store, Centriq is a digital library of a home’s user manuals; receipts, photos and descriptions for everything from light bulbs to water filters; paint color references; appliance information, and more.

Centriq’s inventory can be divided into two main categories: the knowledge of the home owner (or initial user of the app) and expert knowledge. Home owner knowledge includes information such as service provider contact information, Wi-Fi logins and photos of warranties. Notes can be especially handy when it comes time to sell the home, as the new owner will receive important maintenance dates and contacts, such as the last time the water filter was changed or the name of the electrician and the dates of service to the home.

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The expert knowledge database, populated by manufacturers and home maintenance professionals, is full of videos, owner manuals (which one can highlight or make digital notes on directly in the app), and maintenance schedules and recommendations directly from the manufacturer.

Centriq can also be used to create an inventory for insurance purposes, organized by room. Home owners can take photos and store them directly in the app and have a full list of items in the home in the event of theft or damage.

How It Works

Centriq could not be simpler, which is part of the reason it has the potential to be so successful. Users update information in the app when things come up — when they replace the washer, for example, or hire a plumber to help with the kitchen sink. Owners can record videos of maintenance or repairs and scan in appliance information, all stored in the app and ready for the next time it’s needed.

How can it change housing?

All of the information about a home previously was either stored in the owner’s head or left in a pile of warranties, manuals and notes for the next owner to cipher through — but not anymore.

“Centriq solves that problem because it allows knowledge to flow from the person who knows everything about the home to the person who needs to know everything about the home, the new buyer,” said Sejal Binnings, a luxury property specialist with Pacific Union/Christie’s International in the San Francisco market.

As soon as the new buyer logs in to Centriq, all the information about the home is instantly available to help answer any questions, check on maintenance timelines or purchase paint for touch-ups. Real estate agents are often asked to field these questions about the home, but do not usually have any more information than the new owner, Binnings said. With Centriq, the transfer of information is seamless.

Sure, home owners can look on the internet for solutions. Videos abound online, and nearly any user manual can be found through a search by serial number. Centriq, however, gets rid of the excess information. “There is a bevy of generic information out there about how one should take care of their house, but Centriq is only about your house,” said Lisa Camozzi, a sales associate for Coldwell Banker in San Francisco. “And everything that’s contained in that app is specific to how your house operates. Nothing is going to make a buyer feel more secure than having that information.” No more guessing about old repairs or the age of appliances; Centriq has it available on the spot.

For real estate agents, Centriq can be what sets them apart from their competitors. “Everyone’s doing 3D tours now,” said Arrian Binnings, an agent with Pacific Union/Christie’s International =. Everyone’s doing drone photography. Everyone’s doing…floor plans and professional photos.”

For builders, the app offers a much simpler and more streamlined method than a giant three-ring binder to deliver user manuals, product and warranty information, and home maintenance schedules to buyers. And because all the information is unique to the buyer’s home, it is much more personalized — just like their brand new home.

The full article was featured in the Winter 2017 issue of Best in American Living.

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