Real estate apps make home shopping easier

Close up of app icons on a smartphone

If you've ever shopped for a home, you know the prep work that goes into house-hunting.

It used to be that you had to look up properties for sale, decide which ones you wanted to see, organize them by location and print up directions to each one. You also needed to bring a camera and a notepad to help you remember each home.

Not anymore.

Now, if you have a smartphone, you can skip most of this planning by downloading a handful of real estate apps.

Here are five app ideas that will help you get the information you need fast and make better decisions when shopping for a home.

Suburb Scout. This $1.99 Android app locates nuisances that can hurt property values.

If you’re looking at a gorgeous home that appears to be underpriced, Suburb Scout can tell you if there’s a landfill around the corner or if there are no obvious problems. The app only locates sewage plants, airports, nuclear plants, landfills, prisons and railroad crossings, however, so you’ll still want to do a bit of research on your own by driving around the neighborhood and looking at a satellite map of the area.

Dictionary of Real Estate Terms. For $1.99, this iPhone app can help you understand the paperwork you're filling out when you apply for or close a loan. It can also help you comprehend a listing that's written in real-estate-agent-speak.

Zillow Real Estate. Zillow has a free real estate app for just about any device, including the iPhone, Blackberry, iPad and Android.

While you’re out looking at homes, this app can help you search for properties and get fair market value estimates of properties you’re looking at. It can also show you values for other properties in a neighborhood you’re considering, the sales history of a home, recent nearby sales and much more.

Real estate search apps. No matter what your favorite real estate listing website is, it probably has a corresponding free app for your device.

Redfin,, Trulia, ZipRealty, and many other sites have apps that can save time when you're out shopping by accessing listings on the go. Some programs also let you record private notes on listings you’ve viewed.

iHandy Carpenter. For $1.99, this highly rated iPhone app can tell you if there are any settling, sloping or leaning problems with a home by measuring the angle of walls and the levelness of surfaces like floors and countertops.

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