Looking to buy a home this spring? There are plenty of new real estate search tools designed to make your home search a whole lot easier. In the old days, house hunters relied on newspaper classified listings and brokers to hone in on properties that fit their criteria. These days, smartphones, tablets and PCs do all the heavy lifting for you. AOL Real Estate test-drove a few of the latest real estate apps, and here’s what we found.
Realtor.com, the listings site of the National Association of Realtors, just introduced its new iPad app. Among the cool features included in the free download is a function that lets you select an area to target in your search just by drawing a line around it on a map. The app also allows you to highlight properties of interest, as well as rate them and post your comments in real time as you’re looking at them.
Keeping tabs on all the properties you’re considering is probably one of the most difficult aspects of house hunting. Buyfolio.com, which came out last year, attempts to gather all that data in an organized fashion on its iPhone app (which also works on iPads). The agent or buyer simply drags the property listing into one of the following categories: “To See,” “Saw and Liked,” or “Didn’t Like.” The program allows you to post your own comments next to each listing. Brokers are using the site to share listings and comments with house hunters. The site even remembers if you’ve considered a house before, with a “you already rejected this” message.
Nestio.com, while currently only available to shoppers in New York City, uses comparison tools to streamline apartment rentals in a similar fashion. Particularly impressive is the site’s ability to seamlessly integrate a listings from Craigslist and automatically organize them for you to better contemplate your options. An iPad app is expected to be released shortly.
ZipRealty.com has a handy free app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices that finds your location and magically populates a map with all of the recent sales in the immediate area. It also automatically links to home valuation sites Zillow.com and HomeGain, giving you an instant dossier on what you should realistically pay for the house of your dreams.
For those who have already purchased a home or are considering a fixer-upper, Houzz.com is an interior-design aggregator that allows you to flip through countless idea books on its user-friendly iPad app. Each portfolio of photos, which can be accessed through room categories or geographical areas, is linked to detailed contact information for the firm responsible for the space. You can even upload your own idea book.
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