Your phone can do it all these days, thanks to a never-ending supply of apps. In fact, your phone can help you find your dream home in just a few taps and swipes, if you want it to. Real estate apps are a great way for aspiring buyers or just real-estate hobbyists to take a home search on the go—think looking through dream apartment listings while you're waiting in line, scoping out a hot property on your lunch break or even checking out a beach house from the doctor's office waiting room.
For buying a house:
Owners.com is a low-to-no commission brokerage that can help you find (or sell) a home. The app allows you to search for homes in your area, has alerts based on your search preferences, and you can schedule viewings, connect with agents and start the offer process all through your phone. In some states—California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas—users who purchase a home through the service can get a rebate of 50% of the commission.
Trulia's app lets you take video tours of homes and explore the areas around them (you can see crime rates, schools and local amenities all through the app). You can search by location and for specific home preferences like number of bedrooms, price, etc., and save your favorites to boards so you can keep them organized and share them with others. Trulia also has a separate app for house and apartment rentals that you can use if you're looking to move, but not buy.
Zillow is another app that helps you search for your dream home with custom search filters, and with the addition of the ability to search for foreclosures. It's also helpful if you have or are planning on having kids in your new home, as Zillow has detailed information on nearby schools (both public and private) and you can search for homes based on school quality so you know your home is within the district's boundaries. You can also search for rentals on the Zillow app.
Redfin, like most real estate apps, uses a multiple listing service (MLS) so you can search through as many homes as possible through one resource. You can draw your own custom search area to look for homes in the neighborhoods you want, search nearby amenities, search by school, schedule home tours and more all through the app. Redfin also tells you which homes are most likely to sell out fast so you can be prepared. And, if you sell your home with one of Redfin's agents, you might pay less in fees—they charge 1.5%, which is less than the industry average.
Realtor.com's app lets you search by area, view information on the property, open houses, local amenities and points of interest like restaurants and stores, and see photos of listings with just a swipe. You can customize a 3D map of the homes you're looking at and save homes you like for access on any of your devices by signing in through email or connecting your account to Facebook. Like Trulia, Realtor.com also has a separate app for searching for rentals and apartments.
Like many of the other apps on this list, Homesnap lets you search for homes by area and other custom search preferences, but it has an especially interesting feature—you can find out more information about a home you've seen in person (say you've driven by a beautiful house that you're interested in) just by taking a photo of it with the app. And some homes may even have interior photos for you to view before you set up a viewing or go to an open house, so you can see if you're still interested.
Dwellr won't help you actually tour or buy a home, but it can help you in the early stages of searching for your upcoming move—especially if you're not sure where to begin looking for property. The app is from the U.S. Census Bureau, and is full of data that can help you find the area that best fits your lifestyle (like how you commute to work, and information about the population in the area). Through the app, you can create a list of your top 25 places, and if you're on-the-go looking at houses, Dwellr can give you statistics on the neighborhood you're in based on your GPS.
For renting an apartment:
Naked Apartments is currently only available in New York City, but if you're a New Yorker, the app is a great resource for finding your next apartment. You can search by neighborhood, proximity to subway lines, connect with brokers, schedule viewings and find out about open houses. If you need roommates but don't have anyone to live with, you can also search by available rooms for rent. And, if you're new to the apartment hunt in general, the app has a renter guide and a handy checklist so you know what to bring to viewings in case you decide you want the apartment.
Along with letting you search for apartments in many major cities, the HotPads app has search alerts so you can know when a new listing that matches your preferences is available. You can search for everything from student housing to senior communities with the app's advanced filters, find rentals that are pet-friendly and tailored to your needs and price range, and you can easily share listings with others.
Zumper has more than 1 million listings to search from throughout the United States, and you can browse by your preferred neighborhood, budget, number of rooms, pet allowances and more. You can set up neighborhood alerts to find out about new homes, connect directly with landlords and brokers by calling or emailing them through the app, and even apply to rent directly through the app—you can fill out your information and complete an Experian credit check—if you find an apartment you want.