Apps for House Hunters

The once-funny statement that “there’s an app for that”  is now true much more
often than not. With close to 1 million mobile apps available for download, it can
be an overwhelming task to sort out the truly useful from those that are simply
entertaining - not to mention those that are just plain silly.

1. Genius Scan
What it does: Puts
a document scanner in your pocket. Enables you to use your phone’s
camera to take a picture of a document, then email it to anyone in PDF
or JPEG format.

Why it’s useful: Many
real estate agents now use digital document signature software which
allow you to sign with a click and, more importantly, without faxing
documents back and forth. But some don’t - and some mortgage lenders
will simply not accept anything but a copy or scan of your ‘wet ink’

your transaction, you might find yourself needing to scan and email
your contract documents with your original signature, a copy of your
deposit check, new payroll check stubs as you receive them, your
driver’s license, a gift letter from your Auntie Grace or any of a
number of other documents you’ll need to get to your agent or mortgage
pro across town - or across the country. Having the ability to scan
documents and checks and email them right from your phone can save you a
lot of time and hassle - not to mention gas and cash.

Works with: iOS
Price: Free
Android Alternative: Document Scanner (Free 7-day trial/$3.98 for full version.)

2. Dictionary of Real Estate Terms
What it does: Translates
the vast universe of real estate jargon and acronyms into plain
English, putting a decoder at your fingertips for easy reference any
time you need it during your house hunt or transaction. The Dictionary
includes over 3,000 real estate terms, charts and graphs. You can save
your searches and email terms to others. Your phone does not have to be
connected to the Internet to use the Dictionary, which can be useful if
you need to look up a term on an inspection or appraisal report while
you’re in a home or office where you don’t have a great connection.

Why it’s useful:  I can guarantee few things in life, but one thing I do
feel comfortable assuring you is that home buying will expose you to
terms you have never heard before. You need to know what the terms used
in your inspection, disclosure, contract and loan documents mean, and
sometimes looking them up is the best way to do that.

Works with: iOS and Android
Price: $1.99 (iOS) and 99 cents (Android)

3. House Hunter
What it does:
Helps you organize your house-hunting notes and priorities so you can
more easily remember and compare the homes you’ve seen. The app also
helps you evaluate the homes you’ve seen by providing a scorecard that
weighs features against what you’ve identified as requirements and
priorities. It includes a mortgage calculator, photo storage, and a
feature that allows you to share your notes with your agent, among other
bells and whistles.

Why it’s useful: After
you see about five houses, they can all blend together. This app helps
you keep it all straight, while also keeping you mindful of what your
original priorities were and how the homes you see measure up against

Works with: iOS
Price: $3.99

4. SpringPad
What it does:
Helps you keep track of any and every thing you want to remember in a
digital notebook you can access from anywhere, on any device. You can:
  • scan barcodes of home furnishings, appliances and other items you want to buy after you move;
  • save
    ideas, property addresses, online clippings from design and news sites,
    photos from decor mags and to do lists from your mortgage broker;
  • categorize all these things - and more - by house hunt, mortgage and escrow, moving, and decorating; and
  • set reminders, share your notes with your agent or even get an email alert when the duvet you want goes on sale.

All without a single scrap of paper!

Why it’s useful: Empowers
you to organize the hundreds of elements of your home buying adventure
into a single spot and access it wherever you are - without carrying a
bulky, messy binder or folder around.

Works with: iOS and Android
Price: Free

5. ColorSnap
What it does:
Allows you to take a picture with your phone’s camera from anything in
the world that inspires you, then discover the corresponding
Sherwin-Williams paint color.

Why it’s useful:
If you see a wall color you love in a home you, well, don’t like too
much otherwise, you can capture the color and replicate that once you do
find your dream home. Same goes for if you come across any other item
in a color you love and would like to incorporate into your design

Works with: iOS and Android
Price: Free

6. Karl’s Mortgage Calculator
What it does:
Calculates mortgage payments using the principal loan amount, interest
and term (and can solve for any of these if you input the other three
variables). This app also gives you a more precise idea of what your
total monthly expenses will be on a given home by factoring in line
items other calculators leave out, like mortgage insurance, homeowners
association dues, property taxes and homeowners’ insurance. You can also
see what kind of savings you might be able to achieve - and how early
you can pay your mortgage off - by running scenarios that add in extra
loan payments.

Why it’s useful:
Having this mortgage calculator handy during your house-hunting
adventures will enable you to quickly calculate how a given increase in
your offer price will change your monthly payment.

Works with: Android
Price: Free
iOS alternative: Mortgage Calculator Pro (99 cents)

7. Trulia Real Estate App
What it does:
SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT. Seriously, no mobile app list for home buyers
would be complete without the Trulia app. It uses your phone’s GPS
function to serve you up nearby listings and their details if you happen
to find yourself in a neighborhood you love, or in front of a home with
a for sale sign - but no flyers! The Trulia app also finds the banks,
restaurants and gas stations near any given listing, and can even create
instant heat maps showing neighborhood differences in prices.

Why it’s useful:
You may find that you like a particular neighborhood, but not the
individual home you came to see. Or you might visit a friend and fall in
love with their street, but have no idea what homes in the area go for.
Having an easy-to-use mobile app that helps you discover more nearby
homes for sale, wherever you are, is actually quite indispensable. It
eliminates the need to scrawl down numbers on scraps of paper or squint
to see the faded numbers on the curb then wait until you’re in front of
the computer to try to match an online listing to a real-world house.

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Jim Cramer
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