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By Kathryn Pins
Whether you’re a curious browser or a serious buyer, home buying apps and sites can be incredibly useful tools. You can approach your next real estate purchase with a ton of knowledge about what’s out there thanks to these apps. So where should you spend your time? Here are some of the most popular sites and how they can help you with your search.
Zillow is a hugely popular app for home buying and rentals. Its mission is to empower customers with data and knowledge so they can be confident in their home buying decision.
If you have a question about a certain property’s neighborhood or value, Zillow probably has the answer. You can do a virtual tour of a home, see your potential HOA fees and local schools, and so much more. It is easy to browse and refine your search. Zillow really likes to tout their “Zestimate,” which is a home’s estimated market value based on their algorithm. There is some debate on how accurate it is but it may be a good jumping off point in negotiations. When you are ready to buy or tour in person, you can contact the listing agent right away.
Redfin really seems to have it all. It’s an app and a brokerage firm. Similar to Zillow, it offers estimated home values based on an algorithm. Redfin is fun and easy to browse, with listings updated every 10 minutes, according to their site. Their search filter is very accurate and encompassing. You can see almost anything about a property, including nearby school ratings, sale history and potential taxes.
Once you’re ready to buy, you can meet with a Redfin agent who can help you find the right home. Having access to all the listings right on your phone lets you find open houses and book tours online, sometimes even that day. The site also claims that their agents are paid based on your satisfaction, so they’ll give you their honest opinions. When you close, your agent is still with you, helping you with all the details.
The Alliant Home Rewards site helps make the home buying experience personal and easy. On the site, you can get paired with a local real estate agent and a mortgage loan officer who will guide you throughout the process. The home search and market research tools can help you sort through the clutter and find the right home for you. When you click on a property, you get a lot of information, including comparisons to similar homes. You can compare price, square footage and bedrooms. It’s helpful because you don’t have to keep your own mental list of similar homes and how they compare.
The best part is once you’re ready to buy, you could receive a significant cash back bonus for using their service.88 Its nice to know you are working with some of the top agents and loan officers out there. Alliant Home Rewards is particular about the real estate agents that are offered through this service. They all have at least five years of experience and maintain a 90 percent or higher satisfaction rating.
Realtor.com’s self-proclaimed claim to fame is that it is the most comprehensive database of for-sale properties. Realtor.com also has an app that is easy to use and allows you to browse properties. It offers many of the same filter and data options as other listing apps.
It may be obvious but Realtor.com is the official portal for the National Association of Realtors. It pulls from the Multiple Listing System (MLS) that Realtors use. So if you find a property you like, your Realtor can jump on it for you. It has homes for sale as well as rental properties.
If you don’t have a real estate agent, you can shop around for one. When you do a search you can see the homes they have recently sold, how many years of experience they have, reviews and areas served. It is a very helpful tool if you want to work through a real estate agent.
Trulia is all about the location as well as the actual home. On their website, they proudly state, “we believe that when it comes to finding a home, what’s outside the front door is just as important as what’s behind it.” They have all the standard information about the home with nearby landmarks, grocery stores and airport.
A virtual walk around the neighborhood, schools, crime statistics and local eateries are placed right at the top of each home’s page in an easy to follow format. You can really get a feel for a place and its community before even visiting. It’s great if you are relocating and want to narrow down the number of tours you do. When you’re ready to make a purchase or take a tour, you can schedule right on the page.
The biggest difference between Xome and other home buying apps is its auction feature. It claims to have one of the largest selections of auction properties and allows you to make pre-auction offers on a place. You can bid on a property in real time or take a serious plunge and use their “Own it Now” feature to take a property off the market and claim it as your own. Bidding is easy and can be done right at your desk. Xome also has VIP reps that are just a call, email or chat message away. They will help you close on a property quickly and efficiently. All of these auction features can really help you make a profit with your real estate investment.
If auctions are not for you, you can simply use the buy option to search for places in your desired location. Like the other apps, there are plenty of pictures available and information about the property. Xome offers price estimates and allows you to filter search results by price, square footage, nearby schools, property type, and many more criteria.
Even if you’re not interested in purchasing a home soon, all of these apps are honestly fun to browse. Each is organized in its own way and will help you become informed about what is out there. I found reviewing these apps enjoyable and motivating for when I buy my next home. If you know buying a home is in your very near future, get preapproved so you can refine your search even more. Start a conversation with a mortgage broker so you can know if you need a jumbo mortgage or private mortgage insurance. Good luck hunting! In the meantime, here are some helpful tips for home buyers.
Kathryn Pins is a marketing content specialist at Alliant. She’s passionate about finding and communicating meaningful financial information with Money Mentor readers. Kathryn is a saver who gets more excited about certificates and her Roth IRA than shopping. When she does spend her earnings, it’s on furthering her education, travel, unique experiences, and loved ones.