Best Ways to Get Around the Windy City for Your House Hunt

May 10, 2014

Chicago Navigation AppsWhen you’re looking for a new home in Chicago and you’re not quite sure if it’s on the left or right side of the road, or if you’re even in the right area, it used to be that you would either pull out a map or – gasp – ask for directions. Nowadays, though, your smartphone can provide you with directions to where ever you’re headed in your house hunt.

That said, not all tools for finding your next home are created equal and not all are practical for getting around. Here are the findings for some of the ones we downloaded from the app store (tests were done on an Apple iPhone 5S on AT&T networks) to test getting around:

  • Google Maps – Must have, especially if you believe in the power of the almighty Google. With everything from remembering where you have been to previous searches to traffic and nearby search, Google Maps became our top pick, especially if you have integrated your lifestyle into the Google suite of products (contacts, maps, mail, calendar, and even Google Plus) for being able to have everything at your fingertips. The down side is that you have to sign in to get the most information, current traffic results are sometimes sketchy and it has trouble finding new construction at times. The best way to get around that is to put in a cross-street address instead of the model home location in a new community. Google Maps is free.
  • Waze – Very good for everyone, as it requires no login or prior signup to get the most out of it. Waze, which has been acquired by Google but remains its own app, is amazing at keeping track of traffic and alerting you to when you need to reroute to save time. Where Waze falls short is twofold: one, it’s not the friendliest user interface and might take a while to get used to; two, sometimes addresses can be fiddly and require more messing with than you might be able to spare if you are changing an address on the go. Waze is free and features ads which appear when you are stopped.
  • Road Ninja – We’d previously seen billboards for this one and presumed it would teach us to be traffic shin-obi, but instead it’s a little different from Apple Maps, Google Maps or Waze. This is because Road Ninja works like an advance scout to show you what is nearby, generally if you’re on an interstate. Like those signs that come up near an exit to tell you what your roadside stop options are, Road Ninja provides you with all manner of information on what is ahead, from where to eat to gas stations (with prices) and more. The good is that it puts all of this at your fingertips and provides phone number, directions and more. The bad is that it’s all about attractions, so it won’t help you find the home you’re looking for and will only show you what is ahead. Road Ninja is free.
  • Apple Maps – The default map app for the iPhone has gotten better with iOS 7, but we found that it still isn’t great. There are rumors that it’s going to get even better with iOS 8, but until then it’s better to use something else. Apple Maps is free and included on iOS automatically (and you can’t delete it).

Remember that GPS and location services-enabled features use up more data and battery power, so be ready to charge your phone in case you decide to use them when you are getting around.

About The Author

Read All Stories By Mitch Levinson

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales” published by BuilderBooks. He is an Internet marketing expert with expertise in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services. He is known for creating effective programs that can be tracked through analytics to prove effectiveness and ROI. Mitch is founder and president of MLC New Home Marketing and MLC FlatFee Realty, as well as managing partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a Marketing, Communication, Interactive agency with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. He currently leads the Chicago team. A Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer who earned an MBA in Computer Information Systems and eCommerce, he brings a unique perspective and experience to the field of real estate communications. Mitch combines the two interests in order to help home builders and developers gain a competitive advantage through the Internet and technology. When he isn’t behind a computer, he enjoys participating in sports and coaching his kids’ teams. Mitch resides in Arlington Heights, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his family, which includes two rambunctious labs. Visit my Google+ profile.

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