Smartphone apps have become both social phenomena and useful tools with immediate accessibility. Apps aren't all fun and games, and Snapchat isn't the highest tier of smartphone apps.
What's particularly unique about smartphones over other online devices is their effective use of geolocation, which allows for the targeting and tracking of your location through your phone. Your phone knows where you are, so you don't have to tell it.
While the technology may seem a little creepy, companies are using it in awesome ways. They're finding creative ways to help you find, evaluate, track and buy homes. And, as a bonus, most of these apps are free.
With over 31 million unique users visiting their site each month, Trulia is a major player in the online real estate world.
Their real estate app uses GPS tracking to determine what houses are for sale in whatever area you might be in, and it offers photo galleries of those houses. You can track houses and receive alerts when those houses drop in price. It's a great app that also alerts you when there are new listings in your area.
Zillow is a competitor of Trulia, and both offer exceptional services. Many features are similar; you'll see houses in your area that are on the market, receive "Zestimates" of their prices and check out photo galleries. Zillow also offers direct sharing of photos through Twitter and Facebook, adding a personal touch to the homebuying process.
The Realtor.com app completes the big-name online real estate trifecta.
Realtor.com has a leg up on the competition, because it provides a direct feed to multiple-listing-service (MLS) data. The MLS data provides insight into underlying market data, making it the most accurate of the three apps mentioned so far.
Driving through a neighborhood and find your dream home?
By simply taking a picture of the house, Homesnap gives you a vast amount of information about the home and surrounding area. This creative app is a fun alternative to typing in an address to receive information about a home. Homesnap works for any home, letting you compare the value of homes in your neighborhood. To boot, it gives you MLS data.
Using geolocation and data mined from Wikipedia, Wikihood allows you to analyze an area, researching its history, attractions, activities and culture. Finding sights to see and places to go makes the home buying game a little more fun. Smart home buyers do their homework, and you can finally use Wikipedia as a source.
While not specific to the home buying process, Houzz allows users to see what their home could look like.
Houzz is perfect for home buyers with a flair for design, as it provides millions of photos of well-designed rooms. There's a huge variety of styles and designs. If you're using a Realtor to help your search, show them pictures to help clarify what style of home you're interested in buying.
The House Hunter app allows you to narrow your search down through specific qualifications a house must meet. Narrowing the playing field optimizes your search. House Hunter also allows you to organize your top picks, adding some structure to the hectic home buying process. It received favorable reviews from Business Insider, and costs $3.99.
"Walkability" is a term that's probably new to you, but good walkability can increase the value of your property according to HSH.com. Walkscore evaluates your home's proximity to schools, parks, libraries, restaurants, bars, grocery stores and more to determine your walkability rating.
The closer you are to these locations, the better your home's score. Whether it's being close to the bars or being able to have the kids walk to school, Walkscore provides home buyers with tons of useful information.