First of all, let me just say the I LOVE MY IPHONE! It has totally changed the way I do business. I take one look at my old TREO phone and wonder…. how on earth did I do anything with that phone! I was reading through my avalanche of emails that I get on a daily basis and I came across a great post by Steve Pacinelli on the Tech Savvy Agent Blog: He wrote a post on some great apps for home buyers that have a smart phone or tablet and in today’s tech market, I find that more and more of my buyers use these tools when searching for their home. It also got me thinking about the apps that I use everyday myself to help me find homes for clients and help make their process a little easier, so I thought I would share Steve’s picks and also add some of my own.
The first one was House Hunter(available on itunes)- The House Hunter scorecard is a simple, but powerful tool to help you track, evaluate, and compare the different homes you are considering for purchase. The scorecard helps to remove the emotional drama and confusion of selecting your next home by providing you relative scores based upon your own unique requirements and priorities. No longer do you need to struggle to remember details of each home you visit. No longer do you need to judge a house solely on feelings, but never quite sure if the home will meet your needs. House Hunter is loaded with features to help you make an informed decision on your next home purchase.
Second was Great Schools: As Real Estate Agents, we cannot comment on schools or offer our opinions but we can definitely send you the right place to gather the right information. With Great Schools you can Locate and map nearby elementary, middle, and high schools or search listings across the U.S. View detailed ratings, reviews, and test scores from GreatSchools – the nation’s most trusted independent source of school performance information for over a decade. Now you can use GreatSchools on the go. Whether you’re a parent, real estate professional, or education researcher, finding great schools is now at your fingertips. For iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
The last one was Houzz: Called the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design” by CNN, Houzz has the largest database of home design ideas on the net, with over 150,000 high resolution photos. Browse photos by style, room and location and save them to your virtual idea book – it’s the equivalent of clipping design magazines to a scrapbook – making ideas easier to search, save, and share. Experience Houzz.com as an iPad app and save your photos locally for offline access. Find everything from local designers to architects and contractors who can help you realize your ideas. The best part is, browsing your idea book, they’ll get exactly what you’re trying to do.
DropBox: This is a must have app for anyone on the go the uses multiple technologies. I sync all my documents between my Laptop, my home desktop, my Ipad and my Iphone. All my information is with me at all times and I can easily access .pdf files and photos. This would be great for buyers to keep saved MLS sheets with home information, photos of homes you have previewed or driven by. Free for a large amount of storage.
Animoto: This is a fun app for creating videos on the fly. Take some photos of your favorite home or videos of “the one” and put them to music with some great animation. I use this one for my new listings and for filming my grand-daughter. Pick out some great music and send a video of your new home to friends and family on the fly. Easy to use and free for the basic account.
Mortgage Calculator: There are many versions of the mortgage calculator, some paid and some free, but this is a must have for home buyers. Quickly calculate what your monthly payment would be for a home with taxes and insurance. This is a good tool to have when deciding on what to offer for a home and for deciding on a loan program.
TourNarrator: I love using this app! I take this along with my buyers and take photos of the homes they really like and then add notes about the rooms, the yard, the condition of the home and anything else that my buyers may need to remember about the homes. I add audio messages and then send it to my clients to help them remember the details or for out of town clients. Great app and one that any buyer can make use of for themselves. $1.99
Zillow: This is a wonderful search app for buyers or those looking to find a rental property. Drive around neighborhoods and pull up all the homes available for sale or rent and get all the details and contact information. Save your favorites, email to friends, check out the “zestimate” of the homes value, review comparable homes and see the price history. FREE
Realtor.com: Another great app to search for homes and the one I use the most other than my local MLS. This one has tons of bells and whistles and is very user friendly. Search homes for sale, open houses and homes for rent. Highlight an area or block to see all listings, Scout an area and map results automatically, contact the agent and see tons of photos. This one is great on the Ipad. Email your favorites to yourself to review later. FREE
HUD Homes: Search area HUD homes and Government Foreclosures for FREE. NOTE: an agent may call you – just be sure to tell them you are already working with an agent if you have a buyers agency agreement with another agent. Map area HUD homes and get all the details. Sign up necessary.
HotPads: Another search app that is visually appealing. Get additional information on Insurance, moving resources and check out the homebuyers guide. Very helpful for first time homebuyers. View the property website and see all the information and photos. Great graphics and easy to use.
Flipper: This one is for the investor out there. Great app for obtaining a flip analysis. Input the numbers plus all costs associated with the property including holding costs to help you arrive at a sales price for the home. Adjust the holding period and see the impact on your expected profit. Great tool when deciding on purchasing a home to flip. Keep photos and notes handy with the FREE app.
WiFi Finder: This is always handy when searching for homes. If you are like me, I have the Ipad with WiFi but don’t currently have a Hot spot to connect all the time (I will fix that shortly!) and am always searching for a WIFI spot to get on my laptop or Ipad. It is nice to know where you can take a break and get connected. FREE
Gas Buddy: There a several of these apps available but you must have at least one of them. Fuel costs in my city vary by as much as 10 cents and in this economy…every cent counts! Why overpay when you have this handy tool. FREE
Yelp: This is a must have for homebuyers that are in areas you are not familiar with. Find restaurants, stores, make reservations, read reviews and find phone numbers to local businesses. I use this all the time when I show homes in other areas.
Evernote: This is a great app for clipping web articles that relate to home buying or record voice notes while you are out searching so that you don’t forget the important details. Sync automatically to all your devices, find items quickly with tags and more. I love that I can just hit the little icon on my browser when I find a webpage I want to save and it just clips it to evernote where I can add comments and more.
My Notebook:This is my favorite Notebook app so far. I have tried several other ones the were ok but this one is so easy to use and allows me to integrate webpages, photos and more right into my notepage. It is colorful and fun and looks great on the Ipad. You can do handwriting and also sync directly with dropbox.
And don’t forget my mobile app from Smarter Agent that you can download at www.SonyaLeonardHomes.com This app is similar to the other search apps except that it is branded to my company and you can call in to my office for additional information. This is your direct contact to me (or just text me!) and it has the pretty EXIT colors. Easy to use and not overwhelming with stuff you don’t use. FREE
Well, that’s my two cents on great buyer apps to help you find the perfect home. As a buyer’s agent, it is my job to help you locate that perfect home but many buyers prefer to search on their own for some time until they are ready to work with an agent and these apps will help keep you organized and on track. Have a great time searching for homes and make it FUN!
If you would like additional tips and resources to help you find a home in Iredell County including Statesville, Troutman and Mooresville, please visit my website and sign up for my FREE weekly distressed property list with market updates or sign up for my monthly newsletter packed with information on the Statesville Market and Community events. If you are social media buff, “like” my community page on facebook – Statesville Real Estate Guide or follow me on twitter @SonyaLeonard for market updates, buyer and seller tips and helpful links. As always, feel free to just pick up the phone and call me at 704-450-0588 or shoot me a text. I am always here to help:-)