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TheStreet Open House

6 Best Smartphone Apps for House-Hunters

Zillow (Z)
This app is best known for providing mobile access to website Zillow.com's popular "Zestimates" -- projected current market values for virtually every home in America.

Zillow calculates Zestimates using special algorithms that compare each property's square footage and other characteristics to those of recently sold nearby homes.

Using your smartphone's GPS, the Zillow app will automatically give you Zestimates for all residences near your current location or any other area you select. (You pick areas other than your present position by plugging a ZIP code or city name into the app, or by simply drawing a circle with your finger on the included map.)

In addition to providing Zestimates for nearby homes, the Zillow app will also show you details about all area properties for sale or rent. You'll also get data on houses that have recently sold, as well as estimated values of homes in the foreclosure process but not yet on the market.

The app also includes calculators to help estimate whether you can afford a given house or whether refinancing your existing mortgage makes sense. You can even get rates from Zillow's mortgage advertisers and initiate contact with a lender if you like what you see.

HomeSnap
A relative newcomer among house-hunting apps, HomeSnap is getting rave reviews for its ability to let you take a snapshot of a home using your smartphone's camera and instantly get information about the property.

You can find out the home's estimated value, along with whether it's for sale and how many bedrooms, bathrooms and other amenities it has. Even if the home isn't available, HomeSnap will show you other nearby listings that are.

That said, the app's ability to find homes using your smartphone's camera is something of a gimmick.

While you can store snapshots you take or even share them with friends, HomeSnap doesn't actually use photo-recognition software to figure out what house you're looking at.

Instead, the app uses your phone's GPS to determine where you are and what property you've just photographed.

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