Three days ago, a friend of mine told me that she and her husband are finally considering moving to a new home. I was initially saddened as this could mean that I’d be away from her but I was eventually relieved when I found out that their target location is just a 20-minute drive away from our home.

A day after that, she phoned me and asked if I could accompany her “home shopping”. I chuckled at the term she used and we eventually agreed to meet up at a coffee shop after lunch. After we bought some coffee, I asked her if which among the locations she’s considering should we visit first. Instead of answering my question, she gestured that we occupy a nearby table for two. She opened her iPad, had it connected to the coffee shop wifi, and so began our “home shopping”.

What my best friend actually did was to download some apps related to home buying. She told me that to save time and gas, instead of going from place to place, she’d be able to narrow down her choices by using those home-buying apps. After getting the info she needed through those, that’s the time we’ll visit the properties she’s considering. At first I was hesitant about the idea. For me, nothing is comparable to having the actual property before your eyes- being able to check the safety of the surroundings, giving the floor a good test to see if it’s sturdy enough, or checking if the window locks really worked, those kinds of things. But seeing how the details provided by those apps, I was actually impressed. 

After the initial phase of “home shopping” and two cup refills, we eventually decided to call it a day. Also, we agreed to visit her top picks the following weekend. Back at home, I wanted to know more about the apps she used so I tried them myself.  Realtor.com allowed users to look for houses or properties based on their location. In addition, the site also enabled users to check on the listings and have them categorized according to property area, type of construction materials or house build, number of floors, number of rooms and floor area, price, and other house features. Aside from Realtor.com, other apps or sites that had this feature include Zillow.com and Redfin.com. By looking at these apps’ features, the basic conclusion that I can draw is that they actually allow the users to explore a lot of options without the buyers leaving their homes. Because of this, a buyer need not spend a lot of time travelling and money on gas only to find out that the property she happened to arrived at is not something she hoped for. Their main disadvantage however is that those putting the properties on listings may actually tailor the details to make them more appealing to potential buyers, leaving some details altered. With this, the app users may actually be deceived. 

Another app which attracted me was AroundMe. While Zillow.com and Redfin.com focused on the property listings, AroundMe is more concentrated on the establishments, institutions, and recreational areas around a property’s location. These include schools or universities, hotels, banks, local businesses, government institutions, and restaurants among others. 

Other apps that can be useful to home buyers include Mortgage calculators for those who prefer to rent properties, interior design apps for those who intend to refurbish their newly-bought homes to the smallest details, Safe Neighborhood to check on the property’s security before purchase and or visit, and I.D. Wood for those who love, well woods.

Personally speaking, I love how useful the apps were but I think their use should be limited only to the preliminary stages of home or property purchase. As mentioned earlier, nothing beats evaluating a property you intend to purchase closely. This would enable you to check even the smallest detail and ask some questions should the caretaker or real estate agent is available. But nonetheless, these apps are worth trying for.

Sarah Davis enjoys coffee, sofas, and comfy pillows. Check out more of her home-prepping articles at essayhunters.com.

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