Home Buying: There Are Apps For That

To gain a competitive advantage in today's market, homebuyers are utilizing mobile applications to instantly learn more about the homes and neighborhoods they're interested in.

According to a recent study by Google and the National Association of Realtors, 68 percent of new home shoppers used mobile applications throughout the process.

Instead of simply driving past a home that's for sale, homebuyers can use mobile apps to educate themselves not only on the home but the neighborhood itself, says Jeff Lobb, vice president of technology and innovation with Exit Realty Corp. in Augusta, N.J.

"While buyers are sitting and looking at a home that might be for sale, they are also getting better educated by looking at what has sold up the road and at what price point they've sold for. And they are outsmarting the neighborhood agents by having more information in many cases."

Home search apps

The most popular home-search apps are from Realtor.com , Zillow and Trulia.

Using the geolocation feature on your smartphone, these apps -- available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices -- display homes for sale, their estimated value, photos, recently sold homes in the surrounding area, and provide additional information about the neighborhood.

"All three of those have maps that show where you are, what homes are for sale, and you can select criteria and go driving," says Bill Petrey, a Dallas Realtor and founder of AgentHarvest, a free real estate agent finder service. "You can see the house from the outside, you can look at the photographs inside. You can also drive around and see where the local shops are, where you can get groceries, and where the banks and restaurants are."

The Trulia app provides an alert for new listings and when the price drops on a property you are interested in.