Chances are you’ve heard of just a few of the latest and greatest mobile apps designed to help home buyers make their next big purchase. Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia have all gotten quite a bit of attention over the past few years for designing slick mobile interfaces that literally put MLS listings right at your fingertips.
As great as it is to have an MLS aggregate in your pocket, the purpose and function of these kinds of apps is so similar that you’ll likely only have one on your smart device at any particular time. There are, however, some other apps worth checking out that provide a little more information to help you. Here are 5 different mobile apps home buyers should check out.
Walk Score–Getting Off Your Butt and Onto the Streets
Maximizing the old adage of location, location, location, Walk Score’s strength lies in categorizing everything around you in a nice and neat, walkable package. Walk Score lays everything out using the now familiar smart phone mobile map, complete with restaurants, bars, shopping, cultural centers, and other local features dotting the streets.
This is what most smartphone users have come to expect these days, but what makes Walk Score so invaluable is their neighborhood data and ranking system. Imagine this: you’re looking your potential new home and want an instant representation of how walkable the neighborhood is. Walk score gives you a walking, biking, and public transit score, as well as an estimate of how many restaurants, bars and coffee shops you can get to on foot within five minutes. It’s highly suggested to look up a neighborhood score while you attend your next open house.
AroundMe–Your Guide to Everything…Around You
Although AroundMe is almost one of those apps that tries to do too many things at once, it is nevertheless an extremely powerful app for getting the low down on almost anything happening in your general vicinity. I was even able to pull up concert listings, which should give you an idea of how robust the information is from this app.
Say you’re moving to a new city and want to know not only what’s close by, but also what events are taking place locally. Rather than use Google to search for a potentially convoluted local event website, AroundMe will serve up all of the above information and even give you a map and directions on how to get there. It’s not perfect, but it is pretty handy.
HomeSnap–The Kinda Creepy App That Gives You Tons of Home Info
This one has been getting a bit of attention lately–possibly more for its creepiness factor than anything else. HomeSnap allows you to snap a photo of a property and pull up real estate information about it, including Realtor information, interior photos, neighborhood insights, property taxes, and average estimated price. I even tried it with my own home and, yes, it is pretty accurate. I’m sure that gives everyone a very Big Brother sort of feeling in our super-modern information age. Despite the gimmicky feeling of taking a photo and getting all that information, HomeSnap is pretty cool in that it presents a thorough conduit of information right at your fingertips.
Houzz–Gorgeous Photos to Inspire and Waste Time
Houzz is essentially a gallery of gorgeous interior design photos meant to inspire and stimulate your decorating sensibilities. Gone are the days of hunting store-to-store for the perfect furniture and accessories for your new living room, because with Houzz the inspiration is right on your smartphone—along with links to where you can purchase. It’s addictive, and honestly could become a bit of a time waster. Houzz also contains a nifty database of interior designers, landscapers and contractors, along with reviews and pictures of their work–all standard things you’d want before hiring someone. Houzz can make finding the right inspiration, and the right person for realizing that inspiration, pretty easy.
Bankrate Mortgage–Good as a Guide, but No Professional
Bankrate Mortgage is one of those apps that, while incredibly handy, is really only meant to be used as a guide. With so much information in the palm of our hands, there is definitely a false sense of thinking that one can know as much about the mortgage industry in 20 minutes as a Loan Officer has learned over 20 years. That being said, Bankrate Mortgage is a handy tool for researching interest rates in your area, as well as what you can expect to qualify for in terms of financing. There’s even an option to search for homeowners insurance. While no substitute for a real-live Loan Officer (it’s not going to qualify you), Bankrate Mortgage is a good way to start visualizing your initial financial picture as a homeowner.