NORTHERN COLORADO – Searching for a home or apartment to rent or buy can be stressful for many reasons. But recent advances in technology leave some of the guessing behind, and offers consumers the chance to search online before contacting a Realtor or even before going and exploring a home. From descriptions and photos you can practically already tell what a home is going to offer you inside and out. Recently, more Real Estate companies are going beyond what was once offered simply as an online tool, and are offering those hunting for a home or apartment a mobile Web-based application that makes searching on-the-go easy and insightful. In fact, some of these apps offer GPS-enabled phones the option to link directly to their location, allowing consumers instantaneous information on homes they may just happen to be driving by.
“The Internet and these mobile Web-based apps offer empowerment for the consumer,” says Todd Fields, broker and sales associate for The Group Real Estate, which serves Northern Colorado with offices in Fort Collins and Loveland. “These apps are about whatever is important to the buyer and seller.”
The Group’s mobile app is a free download and offers Android and iPhone users the chance to search for homes on-the-go in Northern Colorado. While the app allows you to customize your search with specific filters, Fields says there are several reasons customers like what it has to offer and one of them is that it is very tech savvy and still easy to use.
“When you are driving down the street and see a home you might be interested in, you can bring up the price and whether or not it is under contract,” Fields says. “This is a huge feature because it has those that have been sold, recent sales and those that are under contract. It is a virtual 24-hour Multiple Listing Service (MLS) right on your phone.”
According to Fields, buyers and sellers can take The Group’s mobile app and customize it with price, area or zip code. It can be as easy as plugging in the information in the search engine and pressing the icon or drawing a map right on the screen with your finger. Another handy function that The Group’s mobile app provides is its GPS function. Fields says it can be as simple as pointing a phone at the house you are interested in and it will pull up the information. “The app takes care of it all,” Fields says. “Except it cannot tell you what is wrong with it, you are almost seeing the same thing the Realtors are looking at.”
While The Group offers those searching in Northern Colorado a great option while on the go, many national companies offer comparable applications in the same or even different markets. Zillow, which offers data on more than 100 million U.S. homes, took its unique tools such as Zestimate and Rent Zestimate to mobile because they wanted shoppers to have access to its database while on-location touring a house or driving through a neighborhood – they wanted them to have it when they needed it the most.
“Mobile has reinvented the home shopping experience, making it easy and interactive to browse, compare, and shop for homes for sale, homes for rent, recently sold homes, and homes that aren’t on the market,” says Jeremy Wacksman, VP of consumer marketing and Mobile for Zillow. “We’re giving users access to data they would have previously only had access to if they were sitting behind a desktop computer screen.”
According to Wacksman, taking the Real Estate search option mobile was a natural step. “Real Estate is inherently mobile, with more homes now viewed via Zillow from a mobile device than on a desktop, and the mobile experience will continue to grow and be a bigger part of the Zillow business.”
Zillow even has the numbers to back up its claim. In July, 168 million homes were viewed on Zillow from a mobile device – that’s 63 homes per second.
While consumers are obviously using the mobile apps offered to help in their shopping experience, by finding information on all homes in the area and even saving their favorite homes and saved searches, real estate professionals can also use the apps to bring along as a useful tool to listings presentations or client meetings. It can also be used while out searching for homes with clients to preview properties or to pull up information the client can look at while exploring the property.
Zillow launched its first Zillow iPhone app in April 2009, and currently operates a total of 13 separate apps, the most popular suite of mobile real estate apps across all major platforms.
So in the end, going mobile helps you not only search in advance, but find information on-the-go when you need it the most. Whether you are searching on a tablet, smartphone or computer the information can be found, pulled up and even saved. And if you are feeling unsure if it is the right mobile app for you, Fields says to contact your real estate advisor. “Ask them what is great about the app and how to use it,” Fields says. “There’s a ton of these apps out there and a Realtor can give you suggestions of how to make it work better for you, or even if there is a better site or app out there.”
By Summer Stair, At Home Colorado