Do you remember The Jetsons? If so, you’re probably old like me. If not, let me give you a quick overview. It was a weekly Hanna-Barbera cartoon that had its debut in 1962. It was the daily doings of a space-age family living in Orbit City and traveling about in flying cars, space packs and even transport tubes. (Can you name all of the family members? How about their dog? Check your answers at the bottom to see how you did.)
The Jetsons had robots and all kinds of labor-saving devices. But to me the coolest of the gizmos was the two-way television. You could see and be seen. I remember thinking, “That would be so cool!” I also remember thinking, “There’s no way that would ever be possible.”
Wrong. We now have Skype, WhatsApp, Tango and WeChat just to mention a few that allow us to communicate ‘face-to-face’. Technology continues to amaze.
So this week’s column takes a peek at technology designed for real estate. We’re going to take a look at some of the cool apps that can be helpful to the home buyer. (If you’re not sure what an app is, ask your 10 year old granddaughter.)
Most of these apps are available in both iOS (Apple) and Android formats: Realtor.com, Redfin.com, Trulia.com, Zillow.com – All of these apps are free and accomplish basically the same thing. They allow you to search the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to find homes you might be interested in. You can set your desired parameters by adding price, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square feet, lot size, age of the house, etc. Each of these apps vary somewhat. Since they are free you may want to try out several to see which one matches your style and approach. All have versions for iPhone and Android phones.
HomeSnap – This app allows you to use your smartphone camera to take a photo of a home you would like more information about. HomeSnap then retrieves all available info about the home and pops it onto your smartphone screen: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, when it last sold, taxes, etc.
If the home is currently listed on the MLS you will see a listing price and possibly interiors of the home. It’s an amazing app. I’m not a Trekkie but I’m pretty sure Captain James T. Kirk did not have access to this kind of technology.
CreditKarma – Credit scores are a critical factor in whether you get a loan and how much interest you will pay. This app offers:
- Truly free credit scores
- Free on-the-go credit monitoring
Notifications when something important changes in your credit scoreAroundMe – Let’s say you’ve visited a home. You like it. But you also want to know how close the home is to grocery stores, banks, schools, restaurants and even movie theaters. This app provides you all of that info in seconds. It’s also a great app for people who travel.
GreatSchools – Parents who are seriously considering a home almost always want to know the quality of schools their children will be attending. This is a helpful app for that.
Mortgage Calculator Free – So you’ve found a home you’re falling in love with. But you’re not sure what your monthly payments will be. There’s an app for that. This particular app is for the Android family but there are several in both formats. This app not only helps you get a feel of what you would be paying each month but also provides a real time look at interest and re-finance rate. My son, a loan officer, cautions that some of these apps do not provide a full look at all of the costs (private mortgage insurance, home insurance, taxes, etc.) associated with a mortgage. He reminds me that the best way to get a very accurate look at your monthly payment is to contact a loan officer.
All of these apps work well with an iPad or an Android tablet. Several, Realtor for example, can be used with a computer. You can find these apps in the iTune Store or the Google Play Store. You can also find them (and several additional apps) by clicking here.
So give the apps a try. They’re helpful, free and fairly easy to learn. And before long you’ll have mastered this technology in a way that would have impressed even the Jetsons (George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and their dog Astro).