Jul 3, 2019
If you’re looking for a new home this season, why not start your search from the comfort of your living room couch?
Thanks to the many real estate apps and websites, searching for a new home in 2019 is worlds away from what it was just a couple decades back. You can now use your computer or phone to look up for-sale homes in the neighborhood of your choice, see an aerial view of a house, take a video tour of your potential new home and so much more.
Most real estate agencies have their own websites and apps for hopeful house-hunters, and there are loads of other third-party services, too. Each offers similar features, but there are important distinctions setting them apart. Using several different apps can get confusing fast, so do your research well. This way, you can choose the one app that best suits your needs.
We’ve made it easy for you! Read on for a quick look at the three most popular house-hunting apps on the market.
Zillow is easily the most used real estate app on the market. As of May 2018, the site was seeing an average of 36 million monthly visitors. In 2015, the company acquired Trulia, which sees 23 million visitors of its own.
Zillow cornered the market with a clear, easy-to-use site, providing users with dozens of listings in the location of their choice. Homes can be filtered according to price, number of rooms, square footage, specific amenities, structural styles and more. You can also look up recent home sales in a neighborhood and see homes that are already under contract. Additionally, the site allows you to take a virtual tour of many homes, though you’ll have to load each picture separately.
Zillow allows users to check out the final cost of living in the home of their choice. All you need to do is input your down payment amount and estimated interest rate into the app’s mortgage calculator, and then let it factor in other costs like taxes, homeowner’s insurance and mortgage insurance. This way, you can get a realistic picture of what your monthly payments might look like if you end up purchasing the home.
Zillow also has a tool that allows homebuyers to find top-rated agents in their area. Most of these agents operate at the average commission rate of 6% of the final sale price of the home, though some may take a higher cut.
Zillow’s most distinctive feature is its Zestimate, which appears as soon as you pull up a listing.
The Zestimate is the app’s determined value of a home, which is calculated using a formula that is based on public and user-submitted data.
While the Zestimate may or may not be fully accurate, it can be useful as a negotiating tool for buyers. Users also find it to be an easy way to get an idea of a property’s potential value before they get serious about a house.
Zillow’s main drag is its timeliness—or lack, thereof. Zillow listings are notorious for being outdated. You might find that as many as 30 percent of the listings on Zillow are already under contract or sold. This can be super-frustrating for house-hunters.
Another downside of Zillow, which the company claims to be trying to fix, is the inaccuracy of its Zestimates. While the accuracy seems to vary by user, many house-hunters complain that the estimate was nowhere near the actual number reached by an authentic appraisal service.
Trulia offers nearly everything you’ll find on Zillow, with some slight distinctions. You can find a “Trulia Estimate” on a home, which is usually similar to a Zestimate but carries less weight with home owners. Photos of a potential home can all be viewed in one screen, making it less cumbersome than Zillow’s photo-viewing. You can also look up the selling prices for an area, and check out local real estate trends, which can help you determine whether an asking price is decent, above-market, or below-market for a given area.
Trulia excels in one crucial area: providing viewers with a complete picture of a neighborhood. Trulia’s local map view data allows house-hunters to check out comparable sales in the area, the schools in the district, local amenities, public transportation, crime rate and more – and it’s all on one simple-to-use map. This feature can save users the hassle of driving out to a neighborhood to check out a few homes, only to find that the neighborhood is mostly neglected and the closest supermarket is a full 30-minute drive away.
Though Trulia’s photo-viewing feature is easier to use than Zillow’s, a lot of users find the app to be more difficult to use than its competitors. Homes can be slow to load, filtering can take a while and learning to navigate the app can take time.
Also, because the listings are the same as those you’ll find on Zillow, they can be similarly outdated.
Redfin stands apart for the tremendous amount of information it provides for each listing. You can look up the square footage of each room in a house on Redfin, read notes left by Realtors who’ve seen the property and review the HOA dues that may be attached to a home.
Redfin does not have its own estimating system like Zillow, but it’ll show you Zillow’s Zestimate at the bottom of each listing, along with another appraisal from eappraisal.com.
You can also set automatic alerts for new listings that match your criteria so you know about new homes as soon as they hit the market. This will give you your best shot at putting an offer on dream homes that might be snatched up by other eager buyers.
Redfin prides itself on the timeliness of its listings. The company refreshes its listings every 30 minutes to ensure they are as up-to-date as possible. If you’re looking for an app that will provide you with loads of listings that are all still active, Redfin is likely to be your best bet.
Redfin is more than just a house-hunting app—it’s an actual real estate brokerage firm. If you choose to use the app to buy your home, you’ll automatically be using one of its agents, often at a higher working commission than that of your average broker.
Whichever app you choose to use for finding your new home, don’t forget to call or stop by Texoma Community Credit Union for a pre-approval and details about our fantastic home loan options!
How they stack up
|App||Own Appraisal||Timely Listings||Local Map Data||Automatic Alerts|