To gain a competitive advantage in today's market, homebuyers
are utilizing mobile applications to instantly learn more about the
homes and neighborhoods they're interested in.
According to a recent
by Google and the National Association of Realtors, 68 percent of
new home shoppers used mobile applications throughout the
Instead of simply driving past a home that's for sale,
can use mobile apps to educate themselves not only on the home but
the neighborhood itself, says Jeff Lobb, vice president of
technology and innovation with Exit Realty Corp. in Augusta,
"While buyers are sitting and looking at a home that might be
for sale, they are also getting better educated by looking at what
has sold up the road and at what price point they've sold for. And
they are outsmarting the neighborhood agents by having more
information in many cases."
Home search apps
The most popular home-search apps are from
Using the geolocation feature on your smartphone, these apps --
available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices -- display homes
for sale, their estimated value, photos, recently sold homes in the
surrounding area, and provide additional information about the
"All three of those have maps that show where you are, what
homes are for sale, and you can select criteria and go driving,"
says Bill Petrey, a Dallas Realtor and founder of AgentHarvest, a
free real estate agent finder service. "You can see the house from
the outside, you can look at the photographs inside. You can also
drive around and see where the local shops are, where you can get
groceries, and where the banks and restaurants are."
The Trulia app provides an alert for new listings and when the
price drops on a property you are interested in.
While all these apps are user-friendly, the Realtor app has an
edge in that it comes with access to multiple-listing-service (MLS)
"The inherent weakness of Zillow and Trulia is that they
basically do not have the direct feed to MLS data," says John
Pinto, broker/owner of Realty World -- John V. Pinto &
Associates in San Jose. "What the buyer is looking for is an app
that is pretty and has an easy user interface, like Zillow and
Trulia, but also has underlying
that is accurate and connected to the MLS."
It's a snap
Another app, Homesnap, uses visual input to give you an edge in
your home search. Simply take a picture of a home for sale to learn
all about it. Homesnap, available for the iPhone, iPod or Android
devices, imports both MLS data and various data from public records
to provide detailed information.
You can get access to school district and tax information, input
on when the house last sold, its size, as well as a score valuing
the property for investment potential.
"If I found myself in front of a house that's for sale, I could
get that information," says Lobb. "And if I wanted to see what the
neighbor's house was like, even if it is not for sale, I could get
a quick snapshot, which is a big differentiator since a lot of the
sites won't give you just any house's information."
Neighborhood research apps
If you're looking for apps to help you research neighborhoods,
consider Wikihood, Sitegeist and Walk Score.
Wikihood uses input from Wikipedia to provide information on
nearly any location worldwide. If you want to know, for instance,
what companies are located in a specific area, you could find
"Wikihood is a great application that you can use to analyze an
area, its history, attractions and activities," says Petrey.
Lobb prefers Sitegeist, a newer application that uses publicly
available data to provide demographic information, such as the
average age and income of the residents, how many homes have sold,
weather conditions and more.
Walkscore tells you how walkable the neighborhood is, and its
accessibility to public transportation and other useful
Recent data suggests that homes in very walkable neighborhoods
can command up to $34,000 more than homes in neighborhoods with
The next time you search for homes, take a minute to download
some free mobile apps that can help you get a leg up in today's
increasingly competitive market.