How do you go about looking for the perfect home? Long gone are the days when house hunting meant sifting through stacks of newspapers with your trusty highlighter. So what’s the latest and greatest way to buy a home?
Ever heard someone say there’s an app for that? Well, there definitely are some great apps for perspective home buyers.
Your smartphone has the ability to lead you right to the home of your dreams. From three-bedroom ranches to grandiose mansions, here are the best home buying apps to help you find your perfect place and then make it yours, and all of them are available on iOS and Android.
How Much Can You Afford?
Before you go and look at just any home, you’re going to want to know your exact budget. This will prevent you from looking at $400,000 houses when realistically, your budget is $250,000.
Here are a couple of Quicken Loans apps that can help with that.
Mortgage Calculator App
Are you looking to buy a home, but you’re not sure whether you can afford it yet? Check out the Mortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans app. The cool thing is, it’s actually several calculators combined into a larger app.
The home affordability section of the app will let you input your debts and your income along with an interest rate to get an idea of what you can afford. If you’re not sure what a realistic rate would be, you can view our current rates within the app. Once you input all of your information, it’ll let you know how much you might be able to be preapproved for based on your estimates.
The purchase calculator works similarly. But once the process is completed, it will show you what you can expect your monthly payment to be.
In addition to these resources for home buyers, existing homeowners can see how much they would save by refinancing. Our Amortization Calculator will also show you how much interest you can save over time by making extra payments toward the principal of your loan.
If the Mortgage Calculator is a hypothetical, the Rocket Mortgage app is what you use to get an official preapproval regarding how much you can borrow for a home.
Whereas the calculator app inputs your debt and income, you can use the Rocket Mortgage app in order to actually import your tax information and bank statements so we can see your income and assets. Pulling your credit with the app allows us to see all the existing debts you have, calculate your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and check your credit score. This helps us determine what loans you qualify for as well as how much you can afford.
Getting a preapproval is the single most important thing a home buyer can do to show a seller they’re serious. It shows you worked to secure financing for the offer you’re making. You can even get a rock solid preapproval in minutes* if you want.
House Hunting Apps
Once you have your financing in place, the fun part starts. Now you get to shop. All of the following apps will help in your home search.
The Redfin app says its listings are updated every 15 – 30 minutes. The app enables you to draw a map around the area you’re looking and only see homes in that area. Areas are also rated on how walkable they are.
The nice thing about The Realtor.com app is that it’s backed by the National Association of REALTORS®. This means that it will have all the listings in your local area that are handled by members of that organization. It’s a pretty big nationwide organization of real estate professionals. There is a large variety of houses on this app.
Zillow and Trulia
Then in 2015, these competitors in the real estate space turned friends in a merger, and they’re now owned by the same parent company. As a result, this section is a two-for-one.
Zillow and Trulia both offer listings for both purchase and rent. Because these companies have been the big names in the online listings game for a while, they have many listings, including those that aren’t necessarily listed by a real estate agent because the general public can list their own properties. Having a cross section of these two apps will enable you to have the best overall picture of your local market.
Help with Your Homeowners Claim
When you’re about to close on your home, you’ll have to get homeowners insurance in case your home needs to be rebuilt or renovated in the event of damage.
One of the things covered by most homeowners insurance policies is personal property protection. If your property is stolen or damaged in a disaster, your homeowners insurance policy can help you replace your belongings up to a certain amount.
However, you’ll need proof of ownership for the items you want replaced when you make a claim. That’s where the Encircle app comes in.
Even available for BlackBerry, Encircle allows you to take pictures of all of your stuff. As you buy things, you can put in the receipts and document the purchase price. Filing a claim is much easier with documented evidence.
Home Decor Apps
The final three items on this list are great apps for decorating your home. This is the part where you get to make your space truly yours.
Have you ever wondered whether that leather couch you’ve got your eye on will fit in the space you want to put it, let alone look good there? Homestyler can help you answer these questions.
The Homestyler app will let you take a picture of your room, choose color and flooring options and get a good idea of how different types of furniture would look in the space. It’s a design playground without any commitment.
Houzz, also available on the Windows Phone, allows you to get design ideas and helps provide you with the resources you need for completing a remodel or decor project. Not only can you share ideas and shop for products, but you can also get advice and find professionals who can help you with anything that goes beyond DIY.
Benjamin Moore Color Capture
The Color Capture app from Benjamin Moore takes a simple concept and executes it well. If you see a paint color you like, take a picture with your smartphone or tablet. With this app, you can find out what the color is so you can re-create the effect in your home.
It’s worth noting that all the major paint manufacturers have an app like this, so for the most variety in color palettes, you might check out multiple apps.
Do you see any apps we missed? Go ahead and share them with us in the comments below!
* Based on a sample of Rocket Mortgage clients who met qualifying approval criteria based on specific loan requirements and appropriate documentation available at the time of application.
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