The Best Apps for House Hunting

These apps will have you scrolling and swiping listings to your heart’s content.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |Dec. 12, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.

The Best Apps for House Hunting

Slideshow

Browse for homes – and maybe even close a deal.

Woman on smartphone

(Getty Images)

The days of picking up a real estate book at your local grocery store are long gone, and house hunting apps are growing in number and sophistication. As the online real estate marketing industry becomes increasingly competitive, mobile tools are getting better at helping consumers find accurate housing information. Check out some of the most popular and helpful apps to use when searching for your next house.

Updated on Dec. 12, 2018: This slideshow was originally published on Dec. 9, 2015, and has been updated with new information.

Zillow: Houses for Sale & Rent

Zillow: Houses for Sale & Rent

(Courtesy of Zillow)

The most downloaded real estate app for both Apple and Android phones, Zillow’s app includes an interactive map and home value estimate that are signature features offered by the brand. With more than 100 million homes in its database, Zillow's app is the most popular method by far. In fact, Zillow reports that more than two-thirds of its usage takes place on a mobile device, jumping to more than three-quarters of traffic on weekends.

Pro: The app’s dashboard includes a Your Home tab that allows you to store your property’s information and see how its value estimate changes over time.

Con: As much as you may want it to be, the Zillow Zestimate isn’t a guarantee of what your home will sell for.

Realtor.com Real Estate Search

Realtor.com Real Estate Search

(Courtesy of Realtor.com)

Filters on the search function in the Realtor.com app allow you to include some of the more specific details on your must-have list, such as multiple floors, fireplace, central air and even community swimming pools or security features.

Pro: With the Sign Snap feature, you can take a photo of a real estate sign you see in a neighborhood and get details about the property right away.

Con: The more specific filters rely on listing agents using all the right keywords, so if you’re struggling to find everything you want in a house, you may have to widen your search and keep an eye out for the details you want in listing photos.

Trulia

Trulia

(Courtesy of Trulia)

Another of the most downloaded offerings, Trulia's app gives users the desktop site experience in a mobile platform, with a focus on design that makes it easy to use for everyone.

Pros: On each property profile, Trulia lists local legal protections, noting whether there is legislation in the area to protect against discrimination for gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, housing or public accommodations.

Cons: On any property profile, you’re prompted to call or email an agent about the property. While this is convenient if you’re serious about buying but don’t have an agent, it can get in the way if you’re just browsing.

Redfin Real Estate

Redfin Real Estate

Stock image of someone holding a smart phone.

(Getty Images)

Since Redfin utilizes an out-of-the-box business model with agents and professionals specializing in different steps of the process, the company's app serves as a way for users and Redfin agents to communicate. In addition to indicating which properties are listed by Redfin or another broker, the map feature will also note homes that are likely to sell fast through its Hot Homes feature.

Pro: You can schedule a tour with a Redfin agent directly through the app. The app even lists the next available tour time, so if you’re crunched for time, you know what’s available.

Con: If you don’t live in one of the 80 markets Redfin has agents located in, the app simply serves as available listing information.

Homesnap Real Estate & Rentals

Homesnap Real Estate & Rentals

(Courtesy of Homesnap)

Homesnap gives house hunters the reins on its app, especially with its signature feature where you can take a photo of a home and the app will identify the property and provide details about it from the local multiple listing service or public records.

Pro: The start of each property profile includes a property history, including previous sale prices and when it last went on market.

Con: The property details come in list form, which you can expand to see everything from the architectural style to number of bathrooms to homeowners association fees. The amount of information is helpful, but the long list can make it easy to lose focus and miss key criteria you’re looking for.

Homes.com For Sale & Rent

Homes.com For Sale & Rent

(Courtesy of Homes.com)

Through the Homes.com app, you have multiple options for searching based on your needs and desires, including buying versus renting, home value information for properties on the market and what neighborhoods work based on your preferred commute time.

Pro: Sometimes you just want to see what houses are for sale in a completely different city – and Homes.com gets that. When you open the app, it asks where you want to search, with the option to search based on your location, where the weather is nice or even a random destination.

Con: While the app offers property profiles with ads to get prequalified for a mortgage, which may be helpful to some, mortgages are best shopped for separately.

Estately Real Estate

Estately Real Estate

Upscale modern house for sale

(Getty Images)

Estately markets itself as a service that's focused on connecting consumers with the right local real estate agent, and its app follows that mission with multiple ways to get in touch with agents, whether it’s scheduling a showing or reaching out to Estately-affiliated agents listed at the bottom of property information.

Pro: The app has icons on the property profiles for information on taxes, utilities, appliances, schools and more regarding the property, making it easy to look at the details you consider most important without having to scroll.

Con: Estately only covers markets in 39 states, and while the most populous places are taken care of, residents looking for homes in Iowa, Kentucky or Maine, among others, are out of luck.

Century 21 Local

Century 21 Local

(Courtesy of Century 21)

As a longstanding national brokerage, Century 21 is in the app game by providing consumers with access to home listing information pulled from local multiple listing services. The tool can particularly come in handy if you plan to use a Century 21 agent, as that’s who you’re put in touch with if you would like to inquire more about a property.

Pro: If you start searching for homes in a different city, information about the local Century 21 brokerage you should contact changes accordingly.

Con: Photos and property information load slower than many other house hunting apps.

Read More

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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