There was once a time when you had to have access to the multiple listing service, also known as the MLS, in order to view properties for sale. Today, anyone with access to the Internet can go through thousands of properties and information with the click of a button or a swipe of a finger. One increasingly popular way to sort through listings has become smart phone applications. There are many so many of them I am here to help you chose the best one.
These applications all have relatively similar formatting. I will critique five of the applications available on the App Store: Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Homesnap, and Redfin. These are all available free of charge by the way.
You need your thumbs to snap, and Homesnap is a thumbs down. This app has a great name, making it seem as though you download it and- SNAP- you can look through as many houses as you wish. This is unfortunately not the case. Once you download the app, you have to create a profile with your name, email address, some other basic information. Right off the bat I can tell this app is geared towards agents finding clients, rather than people finding houses. They are not requesting this information for their own health, that’s for sure. Even after filling out this information, you have to confirm your email address. I tried to make up a fake email address in my endless pursuit of avoiding junk mail, but had to backtrack, put in my actual email, and proceed to gain entry into this un-snappy Homesnap. Once in the app, you are greeted by the classic map with pins locating homes for sale in the area. The map is far too small for successful exploration and irrelevant large pictures of random homes take up half of the screen upon entry. There is an option to add friends on Homesnap, which I find kind of strange. It seems as though their goal is to bring home buyers together and create a community, which is all well and good, but I think people’s goals who download these apps is to find a home, not a friend.
Redfin is the primary application that I use. While it is by far my most favorite when it comes to searching through listings, it lacks some extra features that are incorporated into the big guys such as Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow. But still, Redfin has much to offer. First of all, their map is rock solid and easy to maneuver. It is a clean layout that lets you travel miles of property with great ease. After clicking on a listing, a small picture, with very basic information pops up on the bottom of the screen, giving the searcher enough information to decide whether or not to view more details. It is kind of like a cover letter of a resume. After deciding to keep reading, by simply swiping upwards, Redfin offers great information such as the property history, and the ever-popular description that was discussed in my last post. Also listed is the necessary contact information to pursue the potential purchase of a home. The biggest plus of this app is the maneuverability, and it gets the job done just fine for me. To get other features, such as personalized home searches and planning home tours through the app, one has to create a profile. None of these features are necessary for just taking a look at the market.
Trulia is arguably the most well known name in real estate searches, but seems to fall short when it comes to the overall user friendliness and likability of their mobile application. Upon entering the app, random homes are on the homepage which appear cluttered. This app offers a cool feature where you can submit a search which evaluates the potential value of your own home. Are you an agent? There is also an agent application, which helps agents similarly view properties and get leads on potential sales and clients. This subset of the app helps agents make money!
Zillow is a great comprehensive app that allows for home search, agent search, and mortgage tools. This app allows for the user to save homes that they have looked through and compile lists of potential homes. There is also an option to search for homes for rent within Zillow. One drawback of this app however is that there are advertisements within it and I find the map somewhat difficult to maneuver. One cool feature is that you can draw a circle around an area, or any shape really, and listings will appear within that boundary.
This application has literally everything you could imagine, and if i were ranking these apps, it would be number one. But, I will still continue to use Redfin! This app has everything the above-mentioned apps have, but presented in an easy to maneuver format.
The map is arguably just as easy to use as Red Fin. You can also look at comparable properties that have been sold in the past in order to better educated yourself on the real estate market.
These apps are extremely similar, and my way of ranking them has only been done by going through and actually using them and experimenting with them. Download them all, and decide for yourself. Who knows what you will find, maybe your way home!