12 cool apps for homebuyers

By: Jeff Collins and Kevin Sablan

House hunting

App: Zillow
Cost: free
Websites: Zillow.com
Download: Apple — Android
Features: Search results show sale and tax histories, estimated values, rent estimates and data on nearby homes. Information also is available for homes not on the market and homes for sale by owners. App also includes mortgage rates with links to lenders and a mortgage calculator.
Limitations: Value “Zestimates” can be sketchy, and listings aren’t always up to date. Links are provided to agents who advertise, but not to listing agents, though agent names or numbers sometimes are provided.

App: Realtor.com
Cost: free
Website: Realtor.com
Download: Apple — Android
Features: Offers comprehensive listing data, with searches that include open houses and links to listing agents, as well as rentals. Shoppers can draw a circle on a map with their fingertips to see all listings in an area.
Limitations: Doesn’t include tax or sale histories.

App: Trulia
Cost: free
Website: Trulia.com
Download: Apple — Android
Features: Searches include rentals and open houses, with links to listing agents, homes with price reductions and homes in the foreclosure process. You’ll also find links to nearby restaurants, shopping, banks and schools. The iPhone app has price history data. The Android has a cool mortgage calculator with sliders to adjust factors such as price, interest rate and down payment.
Limitations: Sometimes incomplete or out of date. Does not include sales histories.

App: Redfin
Cost: free
Website: Redfin.com
Download: Apple – Android
Features: Searches include open houses. Results include sales and listing histories, property tax data and directions to the home. App also provides notifications of new listings and price changes.
Limitations: Data for limited geographic areas. Links are provided to Redfin agents only, although names of listing agents are provided. The map doesn’t automatically update when you drag it to a new area.

App: ZipRealty
Cost: free
Website: ZipRealty.com
Download: Apple – Android
Features: The iPhone app includes an “augmented reality” feature that displays listings and recent sales for homes viewed through the phone’s camera. But that feature isn’t available on Android versions. The app offers `walk scores,” which grade a property’s walking-friendly features, along with “transit scores” that measuring access to public transportation.
Limitations: No price or sales histories. Listing agent information is limited to their names and license number.

App: Century 21
Cost: free
Website: Century21.com
Download: Apple – Android
Features: Searches include rentals, and results Include comparable sales for each listing. The app also lets you explore an area’s history, climate and demographic information. And it lets you add an open house to your calendar with the touch of a button.
Limitations: App can be slow, with loading screens appearing between searches. Android version requires either a phone number or email address to enroll.
More tech tools

App: Docusign
Cost: free
Website: Docusign.com
Download: Apple — Android
Features: Allows users to sign documents and get signatures via iPhone, iPad or Android devices. Users can send contracts, real estate offers or other documents to clients, who then can sign and return them electronically.

App: Dropbox
Cost: free
Website: Dropbox.com
Download: Dropbox.com/mobile
Features: Allows users to share documents, photos and videos, automatically saving files simultaneously on your phone, tablet, computer and the Dropbox website.

App: AroundMe
Cost: free
Website: Aroundmeapp.com
Download: Apple — Android — Windows Phone
Features: Allows users to quickly find information about their surroundings, locating the nearest banks, bars, gas stations and other amenities in a neighborhood.

App: GreatSchools Finder
Cost: free
Website: GreatSchools.org
Download: Apple
Features: This app maps and ranks schools based on standardized test scores, providing links to test results and parent reviews. Available on Apple devices only.

App: Wikihood
Cost: free
Website: Wikihood.com
Download: Apple — Android
Features: This travel app displays information about any given location. Some real estate agents see it as a useful tool to learn more about neighborhoods home shoppers are considering.

App: Home Buying Power
Cost: $1.99
Website: NotTooShabbySoftware.com
Download: Apple
Features: Based on monthly payments, the app calculates how much home you can afford. It includes a mortgage calculator and a detailed table that tallies the amount due at closing escrow. iPhone only.

Kevin Hartmann