Apps of the Week: House Hunting Apps

I currently have nine apps on my iPad and iPhone that I have been using (a lot!) in this process of looking for where we want to live in Portland. Rather than highlight each of them separately in their own weekly reviews, I decided to combine them all into one here today. Even if you aren’t looking at buying or selling a home, some of these are good for gathering information if you are considering refinancing your home (Speaking of which, I have a great contact we used for refinancing last year and who we are using again now for our new home mortgage; let me know if you want the guy’s name and contact info. We’ve been really impressed.). Oops. Tangent.

So, the apps I am including today are listed below. Many of these also are websites, but I felt most had better interfaces as apps. I listed next to each whether it is available as an iPhone or iPad app or both. Also, the links below take you to the website rather than the app link so those of you who don’t want to use it as an app can still take a look; those of you who are looking for the link to the app, it typically appears when you click on the site link from your iPad or iPhone (and Android, I assume?).

1. Zillow (both)

2. Trulia (both)

3. Realtor.com (both)

4. Redfin (both)

5. PadMapper (both)

6. Craigslist (both)

7. HomeSnap (iPhone)

8. WalkScore (iPhone)

9. GreatSchools (iPhone)

The first four listed (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Redfin) are all house hunting apps. They all allow you to search for homes and filter your results based on specifications you provide, including: price range, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, lot size, square feet, etc. There is an awful lot of overlap between the apps as far as houses listed, but every now and then we’d find a house listed on one that wasn’t on another. That kept us using all of the apps instead of limiting ourselves to just one or two.

Both Zillow and Trulia allow you to search both homes for sale and rentals in the area you specify; whereas Realtor.com and Redfin only provide information for homes for sale, not rentals. Like I said, we used all of the apps so we would be sure not to miss any listings, but if I had to choose just one it would be Zillow. I felt it was the the easiest to use, provided the most information, and did so very cleanly.

Looking for rentals, I found PadMapper to be the most up to date of the bunch. As far as I can tell, it pulls a lot of its rentals from Craigslist, but allows you to search using a map and a variety of filters rather than the typical Craigslist format. For me that was better since we cared very much about location. That being said, I also used the Craigslist app because I could search for what was added new that day. or hour. or minute. It got a bit compulsive there at the end when we had nowhere to live.

We also used HomeSnap a fair bit at the beginning when we were just trying to get a sense of prices in a neighborhood. The beauty of HomeSnap is that it uses public records to give you information (square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, lot size, previous sales, etc.) about most any house whether it’s for sale or not. I reviewed this app a few weeks ago when we went up to Portland before we knew for sure we were moving. You can find that review here.

The next app I have listed is WalkScore, which I have mentioned repeatedly in the past few posts. One of the big things that our family likes about being in a larger city, is walkability. So, I used WalkScore to learn just how easy it would be to get by without using a car. The app (and the website) rates each address based on its proximity to schools, grocery stores, parks, libraries, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. It provides a list of many of the closest of these and tells you how far it is from your address to them. I LOVE this. It made it really easy for me to locate the closest grocery stores and also to know the exact distance to the boys’ schools. Because location was such a big deal in our family’s decision, this app was great.

Finally, I have listed GreatSchools. Before heading up to Portland to look at neighborhoods, we asked around to learn which high schools were the most recommended. Then I looked them up on Great Schools to get a bit more information. I liked it that I could use GPS to have it locate schools near me, which I could then click on to get more information. It seemed to me that some of the information was somewhat dated, but at least I was able to find out enrollment, grades, contact information, and some ratings. It also provided links to the schools’ websites.

So, those are the apps we’ve been glued to for the past few weeks… you know, during my sabbatical.

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