Navigate the Housing Market With These 3 Apps

Now that the frantic pace of the housing market has slowed down, are you ready to jump in? Take a look at these helpful apps for homebuyers.

There’s an app for everything these days. Need to order a pizza? There’s an app for that. Want to find your forever home where you’ll live for the rest of your life? There’s an app for that, too. 

Real estate apps can make the often-overwhelming process of buying a home much simpler. Then, once you’ve found your home and signed your mortgage, there are informative apps for homeowners, too.

Whether you’ve never purchased a home before, you haven’t purchased a home in twenty years, or you move to a new city every five years, these real estate apps will help you on your home-buying journey.

Real Estate Apps

Downloading one (or two, or even three) real estate apps is a smart idea if you’re looking to buy a home. By having up-to-date information in the palm of your hand, you’ll be more informed about what’s available on the market – and how much houses in your area are selling for. 

When you’re serious about buying a home, and you’re financially ready, having more than one app could be beneficial. The main reason why? Some homeowners and real estate agents may choose to list a home one on one app, but not another. 

But which apps should you download? Take a look at the top three.

Here’s a pro tip for before you hit download: check your email and push notification settings as soon as you sign up for these apps. Real estate apps are notorious for sending an email (or notification) every time a new house pops up on the market. Depending on the area where you’re looking for a home, that could quickly add up to a ton of notifications. Take the time to configure your settings as soon as you create your account.

Zillow

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Zillow is listed as an Editor’s Choice app in the Apple App Store, and the app boasts of tons of downloads and positive reviews. Investopedia also voted Zillow as the best overall real estate app in 2022. There are plenty of reasons why. 

Zillow is extremely easy to use and it’s packed with helpful features. It provides detailed information about all aspects of a listing, from the history of the home, including its price and tax history, to the details of its construction.

Where does Zillow pull its information from? Some of it comes from MLS (the Multiple Listing Service), and some of it comes directly from the agent who is listing the home. The information covers:

  • facts and features of the home
  • home value
  • price and tax history
  • monthly cost
  • down payment assistance
  • rental value
  • nearby schools
  • similar homes
  • neighborhood
  • local legal protections

It’s important to know that Zillow doesn’t guarantee the accuracy of any of the information on its site. So while it’s a good starting point, you might not be getting the whole truth. For example, Zillow suggests that if you want to know for sure which schools your future home feeds into, you need to check with the school district.

One of the more unique features Zillow offers is the Zillow Estimate, which is, according to Upnest, “an automated home valuation tool that provides an estimate of a home’s market value. Also called a Zestimate, it’s based on public and user-submitted data, and incorporates home facts, location and market conditions.”

However, the Zestimate isn’t always the most accurate picture of a home. Upnest found that “a Zillow estimate doesn’t take into account the recent upgrades or any structural issues. It’s also very difficult for the algorithm to tell the difference between a painted floor and another one that is fully furnished. This is true for any online valuation tool such as Redfin or Realtor.com.”

The Zestimate tool has about an 80% degree of accuracy. So, if you’re wondering about a home’s market value rather than its listed price, you can look at its Zestimate – but take it with a grain of salt. It would be better to consult with your realtor or to get an appraisal.

Read More: What Do Higher Mortgage Rates Mean for Home Buyers?

Redfin

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Zillow’s main competitor is Redfin, which in my opinion, is even easier to use than Zillow. Investopedia voted Redfin as the best app for home purchases of 2022

When you tap on a home in the Redfin app, you’ll be taken to pictures of the listing. But in the Zillow app, the pictures are interrupted by two different map views, which makes for a less pleasant user experience, in my opinion.

Redfin takes you directly to a full page dedicated to the home. You’ll be focused on just images of the house rather than the maps that pop up on Zillow. Zillow also likes to send its users large pop-up ads, which in my opinion, detract from the user experience. Redfin doesn’t.

However, overall these apps are very similar. Like Zillow, Redfin offers in-depth information about each home. Redfin’s sections include:

  • home facts
  • price insights
  • payment calculator
  • open houses
  • property details
  • sales & tax history
  • schools
  • around this home
  • public facts
  • climate risk
  • Redfin Estimate
  • real estate market insights
  • nearby similar and recently sold homes

Also like Zillow, Redfin does not guarantee the accuracy of the information on its site.

Once you get to the stage where you are extremely interested in a home, a smart strategy is to compare the information on both apps. Look at what details match and see if any are different.

If you already own a home that you’re looking to sell, and you don’t have a listing agent, consider listing with Redfin. The cost is substantially lower than many other real estate brokerages. However, because of that low cost, their customer service can be lacking.

If you choose to purchase a home through Redfin, you may qualify for a Redfin Rebate on your closing costs, which is around $1,700 on average. However, there are several conditions that must be met. Speak with your realtor and your mortgage lender to learn more. 

Overall, Redfin offers a smooth user experience and great discounts for sellers. Redfin is not available in every area, so make sure you check to see if it’s in your area before you download the app.

Realtor.com

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Last but not least, the Realtor app is another great option for homebuyers wondering what’s on the market. When you tap on a home in the Realtor app, you’ll be taken to a split screen where the top portion is the pictures of the home and the bottom features details about the home. This view is somewhat distracting, and it’s very different from the experience in the Zillow and Redfin apps.

The sections in the Realtor app are:

  • description
  • surroundings
  • open houses
  • monthly cost
  • schools
  • home value
  • property history
  • neighborhood
  • additional info

Like Zillow, the Realtor app intersperses maps in the listing pictures, which can be frustrating for users who just want to see the pictures of the home. 

That’s not the only drawback. You can’t list a home for sale in the app, nor can you see an estimate of the home’s value (like the Zestimate provides). But there are plenty of positives to the Realtor.com app, too.

For example, it offers a variety of search filters to help you narrow down your results. It’s also extremely easy to save, share, and hide listings. If you’re interested in renting out your home or in renting someone else’s home, Realtor is one of the best apps for renters, too.

Read More: 9 Cheap and Easy Ways to Boost Curb Appeal

Homeowner Apps

Congratulations! You’ve found your home (using one, two, or maybe even three of the apps we listed), you put in the work, and now you’re a proud new homeowner.

What’s next? 

As you probably already know, you’ll need to invest time and money into the upkeep of your home. Luckily, there are apps that can help you keep track of the necessary tasks and timing. Take a look at these helpful apps for homeowners.

Sweepy

With sweepy, you can track your chores, automatically generate a schedule, and even compete with other app users. You can sync your Sweepy account with other devices in your household. 

Sweepy is useful whether you own or rent your home. However, homeowners have more to lose if they don’t keep their homes in good condition.

If digital reminders and calendars are helpful for you, then Sweepy is a great tool that will help you keep your home sparkling!

Handy.com

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There are some home maintenance tasks that you just can’t take on yourself. Whether you’re in the busy season at work and you don’t have time to fix your broken door, or you’ve tried and failed to fix it using YouTube, the Handy app can help. 

With Handy, you can book home cleaning, handyman, electricians, plumbers, and other professionals. See reviews and you can even pay (and tip) through the app. 

Handy is still limited in its scope, as it is only available in 20 cities in North America, Canada, and the UK. 

Build.com

Is your new home a fixer-upper? Or maybe there’s just one room that’s a little outdated that you’d like to renovate. The Build.com app can help you solve your home improvement problems.

With Build.com, you can organize your home improvement projects, order and securely pay for what you need, and consult with live experts.

Build.com also includes savings on top brands, instant price-drop alerts, and free shipping on orders over $49. It’s easy to use, and there’s a Pro version that assigns a dedicated Account Manager who is focused on your projects. 

Read More: Our Guide to Down Payments for First-Time Homebuyers

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