New Tools to Power Up Your House Hunt

July 14, 2014
New mobile app

RealtyTrac’s new mobile app for iPhone and iPad. (Handout / July 14, 2014)

If you think real estate is merely about buying and selling houses, you haven’t been paying attention. The industry is engaged in an endless, competitive frenzy of developing apps and website features intended to get you across the threshold of your dream home — or at the very least, to help put you inside the car of your friendly neighborhood real estate agent.

New real estate tools are unveiled almost literally every day. Here are some of the latest offerings.

If you regard yourself as being on the cutting edge and you’re house hunting, real estate listings site Trulia has announced that it’s rolling out an app for Google’s new Android Wear, wristwatch technology that tethers the Internet to your arm.

The app’s features include “Nearby Home Alerts” that offer a first look at homes that come on the market near the wearer. With the swipe of a finger, the user/wearer can see photos and details about the property and save it for viewing on a desktop computer or other device.

And, of course, the wearer also can request an agent who will show the property. The app will be free on Google Play soon, according to the company.

In case you’re a homebuyer and you find yourself standing in front of a home that tantalizes you — or if you’re just nosy — you might acquire an avalanche of information about it via RealtyTrac’s new mobile app for iPhone and iPad.

The real estate data company claims that its app can provide such minutiae as foreclosure status, market value, property characteristics, taxes, sales history, etc., for 100 million residential properties if you merely stand in front of the place and snap a photo.

And, of course, it will offer to connect you with a real estate agent. The app is free from realtytrac.com/pages/mobile.

How much house can you afford? Realtor.com’s new app for iOS and Android devices will offer you its best estimate.

Realtor.com (the listings site of the National Association of Realtors) paired with Bankrate.com to develop a program that offers affordability estimates and then helps the user target homes that fall within the designated affordability range. The free app is available through Android and iOS app stores.

And, of course, it will offer to connect you with a real estate agent.

Even though most of the action in real estate is app-driven, there’s still plenty of tool development for consumers on company websites.

Here are a couple:

Listings site Redfin claims to have developed an algorithm that crunches more than 500 pieces of data to identify listings that are likely to sell within 14 days.

“Hot Homes,” as the algorithm is called, factors together such things as square footage, lot size, typical buyer preferences in an area, and numerous other considerations, then maps the ones that are likely quick sellers — that is, it predicts there’s at least an 80percent chance that the house will get an accepted offer within 14days of its listing. redfin.com

The down stroke: HSH, a publisher of mortgage industry information, has created a “Down Payment Decisioner” so consumers can calculate monthly mortgage costs based on the size of their down payment, particularly in respect to the mortgage insurance premiums that may be required with a smaller down payment.

It’s set up to allow side-by-side comparisons of the effects of larger and smaller down payments. hsh.com/down-payment-calculator.html

Map that meth. This one isn’t from a real estate company, and unfortunately, there’s a need for it.

The Indiana State Police recently created a public website that lists and maps more than 10,000 locations in the state where police have dealt with methamphetamine production or where the toxic remnants of the drug have been found since 2007, according to the Gary Evening News and Tribune, of Jeffersonville-New Albany, Ind.

The site (meth.in.gov) is intended primarily to aid homebuyers who want to avoid contaminated homes or even neighborhoods where meth activity is pronounced, according to news reports.

A state police spokesman told the Evening News and Tribune that legislators and real estate professionals worked with the law enforcement group to develop the site.

In April, Indiana ranked No. 1 among states for police seizures of meth, according to a nationwide report prepared by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

This article originally appeared on ChicagoTribune.com on July 14, 2014.

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