Thanks to reality TV Shows like House Hunters, My First Place and Property Virgins, house hunting has never been trendier. It has also been enticing since the recession, due to the current low interest rates across America. Unfortunately, trend and high demand make finding that perfect place all the more challenging.
Luckily, we no longer have to rely on traditional house-hunting methods to find properties for sale. We don’t need to wait for the Sunday paper to find detailed real estate classifieds, nor do we have to locate and browse through listings posted on realtor storefronts. Technology now allows us access to listings, open houses and rate comparisons at the click of a button.
The Advantages of Real-Time Access
In the seller’s market we find ourselves in, buyers are bidding against one another in a fight to purchase the property they want. Homes are selling for higher than their asking price after barely gracing the market for a few weeks.
Successful buyers have speed on their side — they find the property first, view it fast and act quickly to close on it. Speed is what you need. How can you get it? With the help of some of these house-hunting apps that provide real-time access to new listings straight from your smartphone or tablet.
The demand for homes has also increased the competition amongst real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia, that now each have their own house-hunting apps and are contending for downloads against numerous other listing sites, such as RedFin and Realtor.com.
All these apps tend to have the same basic features in common — the ability to create a personalized search in your desired area and price range, and a tool to search for open houses. Consequently, selecting the right app is merely a matter of personal preference. To get you started, here is an overview of the major players in the house hunting app arena:
Recommending 4 House Hunting Apps
- Red signifies an active listing or property currently for sale.
- Dark blue indicates a foreclosure opportunity (either pre-foreclosure or current).
- Pale blue notates a property that is not currently listed for sale, but whose owner could be convinced to sell if offered the right price.
- Yellow notes properties that sold recently.
- White arrows (that appear when you zoom in) indicate all properties in the area that are not for sale, but which provide comparative data (though this should not be taken as 100-percent accurate).
When viewing a selected property, Zillow also provides a handy line chart showing the value of the property over the past 10 years. If you’re a rate shopper, Zillow is your answer. Finally, you can see what Zillow has to offer in different big cities, like New York.
Unlike Zillow, the Trulia App defaults to a list layout on most operational devices, though it can be adjusted and viewed in map format. It’s a great place to start if you don’t have a particular area in mind and want to search a general vicinity within your price range.
Trulia also provides a crime overview when viewing a selected property. This ranks the level of crime activity in the area of the property you are researching in comparison to the county average.
If your search has just begun, Trulia is for you.
Claimed to be the most up-to-date of the apps, RedFin is said to have 20-percent more listings than both Zillow and Trulia and approximately 30-percent less out-of-date listings. (RedFin commissioned real estate research company WAV Group to perform this in-depth study.)
RedFin resembles Zillow in its map format but is unique in that, when browsing the map, you have to click the “Search this Area” button before RedFin will highlight the area and bring up the listings data.
It also uses a number system to indicate the number of properties listed for sale in a particular neighborhood. If, for example, the application shows a circle with an “8,” it signifies that, when you zoom in on that spot, you will find eight listings.
If you want to stay one step ahead of the masses, RedFin is a must.
- Active listings show the property amount on a blue background.
- New listings appear as a plus sign.
- Properties sold in the last month are marked in gray, with the date they were taken off the market.
- Properties sold in the last year have the price they sold for displayed on a red background.
To search a different area, you need to click the “Search Here” button, as you do with the RedFin App. If you prefer Trulia’s list layout, simply click the “list” button in the bottom right corner to instantly switch viewing format.
If you’re looking for a holistic overview, Realtor.com is your solution.
The great news is that all these house hunting apps are free. So you can download them all, discover which one works best for you, and gain the competitive advantage you need to secure the property of your dreams this moving season.
Photo Credit: Hing Ang Photography