Apple’s Top Free Real Estate Related iphone apps for Realtors and home buyers in Sonoma County Wine Country
This Christmas, Santa was very generous and gave me an iphone 3G from Apple. Ever since I got the iphone, I’ve been glued to the screen learning about its features and its many applications. My wife is probably going to take the iphone away from me soon if I don’t stop looking at it every 5 minutes! Anyway, in the interest of the real estate world that I’m a part of, I thought it would be appropriate to see what kind of apps are available for the home buyer and real estate agent to use in their search for real property. There were many to choose from that would help the Realtor in other ways, but I chose to focus on the ones that help in the home search process. I’ve sorted these apps in alphabetical order based on their short title on the iphone. Most of these applications can be found under the lifestyle category on Apple’s online itunes application library. You can also find them easily by typing “real estate” or "realtor" in itune’s online search field.
ActiveRain – Yes, Activerain has an app! And you get to see Brad Andersohn’s great profile photo on the splash page! It’s a very basic app that showcases Activerain’s website, and it’s a good illustration of a personalized app. MobileAppLoader, the company that created this, can create a real estate themed app for you with a simple point and click system. Brad wrote about it on his post called, “iPhone APPS for Real Estate Professionals” What a cool way for Realtors to stay connected to your clients! Build your application and put it on your website to distribute to anyone using the iphone. Hmm, maybe I'll build one called,"Sonoma County Wine CountryS Mortgage information by Anthony Ebright, your amazing local lender who originates loans nationwide" LOL!
Blue Atlas 3 – I really like this app because it’s visually appealing to me (I love the color blue!) and it’s fast. The app uses the iphone’s built-in map and google’s real estate database to speed up it’s performance. You get a live location of yourself and all of the properties for sale around you. If you like something, you can send an email from the app itself. It’s very nice. Also, important, the program gives you the name of the listing real estate agent or Realtor to contact, not just a general number for the company. I think it is important for the listing real estate agent or Realtor to get this kind of exposure.
Home Finder – This app allows you to use either Google base or Trulia’s real estate database. It also finds your location automatically if you allow it. If you like the property and want to see more, you will be taken to the website the property is posted on. The process is a bit cumbersome, but not bad. I would rather go online (on my computer) if I wanted to see a website. Again, you see the listing real estate agent’s or Realtor's information on the website.
HomeSelect by Better Homes and Garden - The app provides the home buyer with the ability to photograph the home you’re looking through and categorizing the features that stand out in that home. You can share the photos with your friends and family and even showcase your favorite homes on facebook. It also provides you with some basic data of the neighborhoood you are in. Like the magazine that sponsors this app, you get a nice collection of educational articles that may help you with your home shopping efforts. Not much for the Realtor though. It’s a good app for the Realtor to share with his/ or her iphone using home buyer.
Home Value – This is a nice app. Again, they designed it in blue, which is my favorite color, so, I automatically liked the app. ;-) I wouldn’t use it to establish a true value on a home, but it serves as a good reference point for someone who might want to see what’s going on with the Sonoma County neighborhood. The real estate trend charts are clear and the housing activity gives you a clean list of homes in pre-foreclosure, ready for auction or bank owned. I love the satellite map view!
My Agent IDX – Dave Roberts, a Realtor in Healdsburg, reviewed this application on his blog called, "Iphone Real Estate Search Tool for Sonoma County" I reread his post and entered a code that gives me a search result with Dave's contact information on the top to the search for Sonoma County Wine Country real estate. That's cool! I can see why Dave recommends this program for Realtors! Thanks Dave!
Nearbuy – I like this app even though it’s not blue! The developers were students from the University of Missouri. The app was chosen by the Reynolds Journalism Institute as the judge’s choice award overall winner. The property finder pins on the map are color coded by price point and the app is quick. I’m a bit concerned about the app because their website doesn’t look like it’s been updated since June of 2009 and some of the features are not working. I hope the developers come back online soon. This was one of my favorite real estate search apps.
PMZ – This app lets you search for homes for sale and for rent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me here in Sonoma County Wine Country, because it’s designed for home buyer’s in the real estate market in Central California. I didn’t realize this until I went back to see why no homes showed up on my search. Nice design, simple to use.
Puluwai – This app is very simple interface with a straight forward listing of search results. You can map your property of interest and see more details of the listing via an online link to their website. The advertising takes up space from the screen and is a bit distracting, but that’s the price you pay for freeware.
Real Estate – Smarter Agent Real Estate Browser – This is probably the most comprehensive real estate app that I’ve used so far. And, it’s blue! LOL! The app has a lot to offer both real estate agent and home buyer. The app provides you with a nice selection of apartments for sale, homes for sale, recently sold homes, mortgage options and realtor locators. Although, the get a mortgage and find a realtor options didn’t seem to work for me. I really like the broker showcase and recently sold menu. It looks like the app provides you with data from the MLS, but it doesn’t let you call the listing real estate agent. You end up calling an 800 number. I still like the program, but, as a realtor, would remind my home buyer to call me and not the 800 number.
Redfin – This app has a very nice interface. A map lumps the homes together in each region so you can see how many homes are selling in that particular area. The photos load up fast and are very clear. The app is geared towards directing you to a Redfin Real Estate Agent. You also have to sign up for a free account on their website to use all of the features. As a home buyer searching in Sonoma County Wine Country, I like this app a lot, but I wouldn’t want my clients using this app if I were a non-Redfin Agent!
Open Houses by Home Finder.com -The open house for Sonoma County Wine Country part of this app doesn’t work, so the home buyer has to look them up in the local paper. The listing of homes for sale is very basic and is geared towards steering the client towards RealtyTrac. It looks like you can have your real estate listing on their app, but you would have to set it up on their website.
Trulia - This app also has an open house search feature, but doesn’t seem to list any homes in my area. Not sure if the Realtor have to register the open house with Trulia.com or if this is just not a functioning feature yet. The interface is easy to maneuver and the app response is quick. It has a nice price reduction search and a popular homes option to show the home buyer which homes are getting the most traffic. You can see the pictures in the app, but you will have to go through Truilia’s website to get more details of the property. Looks like this app only shows the properties that are registered with them, not everything on MLS in the Sonoma County Wine Country. Realtors, please correct me if I’m wrong. That’s just my impression as a consumer. Seems realtor friendly.
Zillow – According to the Apple’s App store, Zillow is the most downloaded real estate related app and I can see why. This app shows you homes for sale, homes sold and zestimates of every home in the neighborhood. As you zoom further into a neighborhood, you are able to see Zillow’s data on each home. I really like the Hybrid map view! The app seems Realtor friendly as long as you have a posting on zillow.com As a home buyer, I’m not a big fan of reading from the website on my iphone, but I did appreciate all the information provided. I can also bookmark the page for viewing later on my computer.
In summary, my list of Apple’s top free real estate related iphone apps for Realtors and home buyers in Sonoma County Wine Country is a nice collection of apps that both consumers and professionals in the industry can use to augment their normal home search efforts anywhere in the US. Sorry for the long title. I made specifically stating Sonoma County Wine Country to optimize my google search results. I spite of these new tools for the iphone, I still think working with a good Realtor or real estate agent is the best way to go for home buyers and home sellers. However, I can see how a consumer could also participate more actively with their agent by using these apps. I personally, use them just because they are cool and I’m a big Apple fan! I hope this posting was helpful and am happy to answer any questions you might have about the iphone or about these real estate related apps. Thanks for stopping by!