With all the listings to sort through, areas to research, and prices to compare, finding a home to buy or rent can be frustrating — even for retirees who have gone through the process in the past.
Luckily, your smartphone is ideally designed to help. In that little device is an internet connection, camera, and GPS. Basically everything needed to make your search easier. These days, mobile applications can help you research a neighborhood, compare prices and even find a mortgage.
Below are our 10 favorite real estate apps. Most, though not all, are available for phones and tablets, as well as for Apple and Android devices. All are free, though a few charge for the upgraded/professional versions.
Zillow is the most popular real estate application for a reason. It easily allows you to see nearby homes for sale and rent, and even shows foreclosures. The list of filters is impressive — you can sort by size, keyword, and price (including a handy “price reduction” option).
Each listing is accompanied by Zillow’s excellent charts, showing comparable prices over time in the neighborhood. The app also includes a built in mortgage calculator so you can see your estimated monthly payment.
The Trulia app is very similar to the Zillow app. It also has a good selection of listings and allows you to sort by a number of filters including location and price. Each property for sale or rent is presented nicely, with photos, maps, and sales/tax history. Like Zillow there’s also information about comparable listings — though sometimes a bit less in-depth.
In this digital age, why do people continue to use real estate agents (and pay their hefty fees)? In part because of three letters: M-L-S.
A MLS (multiple listing service) is a database that stores information about properties for sale. For a long time access to these databases was restricted to real estate agents, meaning that most buyers and sellers had to work with an agent in person. That’s slowly changing, but parts still remain closed off.
Why do we mention this? Because the Realtor.com app was created by the National Association of Realtors. This means that while it looks similar to Zillow and Trulia, it has better access to the MLS databases. Theoretically that can lead to more up-to-date information and extra listings.
4. Homesnap – iTunes Link | Android Link (Not Yet Available)
Have you ever driven by a home and wondered how much it is worth or how much it last sold for? If so, Homesnap is the app for you. Just take a photo of a property and this brilliant little program will pull up the sales history and estimated value. There’s also a handy map feature that allows you to see property boundaries and prices across a neighborhood.
Redfin is an online real estate agency that claims to have 20% more listings than other applications. We’re not 100% sure that’s true, but what we do know is that the app comes with some handy features like price alerts and home tours. It’s also got a sleek design that’s easy to navigate.
Photo by pittaya via Flickr.