The process of buying a home can be overwhelming–from the growing paperwork to the house-hunting search for a home, buyers sometimes feel a little intimidated.
But today, searching for your perfect home is easier than ever. There are many real estate agents to choose from, a large inventory of homes in many areas, and technology that makes checking out a home as easy as clicking on a few Internet sites. Of course, that's just for a quick look. Getting in the car with an agent and exploring the properties in person will give you better ideas of what you want and, perhaps more importantly, what you don't want.
Now, there are even apps designed to help you keep track of the homes you visit. And there are many to choose from. Take for instance, CrumbTracks, a free app designed by a husband-wife team (Bobby and Eileen Beckmann). It's an iPhone app aimed at helping you stay organized while viewing many different homes. The couple built the app based on their own need to keep information all in one place while house hunting.
"I was looking for an app that would allow me to record things in different homes that I liked and kind of keep a journal," says Eileen.
The app has four different icons that offer a variety of features to assist you with your real estate search. One is a wish list. It lets buyers create a list of what they're looking for in a home. They can choose from items on the list or add their own. The design gallery allows the app to take pictures or video of the home and store it in their design gallery. "They can also share their videos ... via email," says Beckmann. My listing allows buyers to store the physical address and its specifics about the home. The fourth section houses a mortgage calculator to help buyers calculate the cost of buying a home.
Because the market for apps can be stiff competition, the couple decided to offer their app for free to gain consumer interest as they continue to enhance it. "We want to try to get some Realtors involved with it," says Beckmann.
Realtor.com introduced its app, Home Search, earlier this year. The app takes data from about 933 of the nation's Multiple Listing Services, updating the content rapidly for the app. It allows you to make notes inside the app and even give a home you see a "star rating." It then saves the home so that you can refer to it again.
Apps have been around for quite a while now; Trulia launched a real estate app back in 2008 and there are so many more today. Do a search, just on the iPhone, and you'll find plenty.
Beckmann sees the apps as critical to helping with the long, and sometimes tedious, process of finding that perfect home. "It's nice to be able to have a tool to store information in one spot and communicate it with others," says Beckmann.
The average house-hunting process takes about 12 weeks and buyers visit sometimes 20 homes or more before deciding which one is "just right".