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TheStreet Open House

6 Best Smartphone Apps for House-Hunters

Stocks in this article: RATE TRLA Z

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- That cool new smartphone you got this holiday season can help you find a cool new place to live if you're planning on going house-hunting in 2013.

That's because real estate firms, listing services, mortgage companies and more have thousands of free smartphone apps available to help you find your piece of the American Dream.

"There are a number of different apps that can show you what houses are for sale or what's previously sold near wherever you happen to be," says Daniel Terdiman, a senior writer at electronics-review site CNET.com who's using mobile apps in his family's search for a San Francisco-area home.

Terdiman says good house-hunting apps use your smartphone's global-positioning system to figure out where you are, then provide a wealth of information about nearby listings.

"These apps are definitely a good thing to have when we're out and about looking at houses," he says. "It's like filling in the gaps of things you can't know about a listing because you're not near a computer."

Here's a look at six free smartphone apps that anyone who's looking for a new pad should definitely check out:

Redfin
This property-listing app from Web-based real estate firm Redfin is Terdiman's favorite.

"The interface is very intuitive, and they've really spent a lot of time thinking about what people looking for houses actually need," he says.

Redfin's app uses your choice of a touchscreen map or a powerful search engine to look up current listings, recent sales or upcoming open houses anywhere in America.

Simply enter a ZIP code or the name of a city or neighborhood you want to check out, or type in "Current Location" to see listings near your present position.

Terdiman says Redfin does a better job than other property-listing apps in indicating whether a home for sale is already "under agreement." That's where someone has signed a contract to buy the place but hasn't yet closed on a deal.

Homes under agreement are still technically for sale, but not worth spending much time on unless the pending sale falls through.

"I've found that with some of the other apps, you'll say: 'This place looks great!" -- and then you realize the home is already under agreement ," Terdiman says.

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