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’ signature.
Throughout 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.
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.
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 them.
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.
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 scheme.
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.
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.
Brokers, agents, buyers and sellers: What real estate-related apps do you find indispensable?