I’m a renter. I live in an apartment, and for now, I’m totally okay with that. However, the idea of being a homeowner is an ultimate goal. Although I know I am not in a financial situation to start dropping a down payment on a home and start paying a mortgage and mowing a lawn, I do know that being prepared for the purchase and knowing a thing or two about the local housing market will do me some good.
The best house-hunting app that I have run across (and perhaps the most fun to use!) is Zillow. Zillow.com is a website that helps you value houses, check out houses for sale and rent in your area, and also has a number of other beneficial features such as finding a mortgage, mortgage calculators, and other realty-friendly bonuses. But the transition from website to iPhone app is amazing, and I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed using my Zillow app.
Where I live, there are a ton of suburb areas. You might spend more for one home in one area because of where it’s at, but you could get more for your money elsewhere in the neighborhood for the same amount of home. My favorite feature of Zillow is the mapping app. You can allow Zillow to determine where you are with GPS based on your location, and it can give you a birds-eye view of the street your on and the houses around you. For each house, it shows it’s last sale value, a picture, and other pertinent information. The app will give you a “Zestimate” of a home’s value, so that you know the standard price range in the neighborhood you are scouting. You can also check out homes for sale and view pictures, bedroom and bathroom count, square footage, and other pertinent buying information quickly and at a glance. I have even used Zillow before while garage saling–I’ve stopped at a house for a sale, seen a for sale sign on a home a few doors down, and was able to load up Zillow to learn more about the house and it’s sale price. Short of knocking on the neighbor’s door, I don’t think I could have obtained this information faster by any other means.
A few other things that make it great is that it gives you an average monthly payment figure with each home, as well as when it was built, property taxes, and it’s square footage, along with photos if available through a realty site. There is a lot of “at a glance” info shown, which makes it a quick and easy way to get information about a prospective home purchase.
What’s great is that the Zillow app is absolutely free. And really, when you start utilizing it, you might find it kind of fun to play around with. It’s always interesting to compare house sizes and prices between neighborhoods, and gives you a good idea of the housing market in a certain area or community. The functionality makes it worth paying for, but the fact that it’s free should encourage you to give it a shot, anyway!