5 Best Apps to Find Your Next Home in 2021
Updated: Apr 16
For homebuyers and real estate investors, just figuring out where to start the process of finding your next home can be overwhelming. With so many house-hunting apps and websites out there, how do you know which one to use for your home search?
Our 2021 Best Apps list is here to make it simple. We took opinions from real estate experts to help you access the best technology to secure your next place to live.
Before we start, we can’t stress enough: No app is going to be an ideal substitute for working with a local real estate professional. But they can be great tools to supplement your home buying experience.
Here are the top apps to use when looking for your next house or investment:
1. Local MLS app (best app for the most accurate info)
Why we love it: Gaining access to the local MLS (multiple listing service) through a real estate professional is by far the best way to be the first to know when a great property hits the market. The information on there will be the most accurate, up-to-date, and will come with the extra support of a personal agent or real estate consultant.
A drawback: MLS access is not always as feature-packed as some third-party apps, and may require some communication with a real estate professional. Also, as they are run by a local service provider, not all MLS systems are created equally (though we love ours in Hampton Roads, Virginia.)
A unique feature: Because you typically need a local real estate professional to grant you access to the local MLS, the agent you collaborate with can use your profile and preferences to give you a completely customized house-hunting experience and let you know as soon as the home for you hits the market.
Struggling to find a home in Hampton Roads’ busy market? It’s imperative to be connected to the MLS here. Almost all listings go there first, while these other apps pull their data from the MLS and local tax records.
2. Homesnap (best app for the on-the-go house hunter)
Why we love it: Aside from the local MLS, this app provides the most accurate information of all third-party apps we explored. It is continually refreshing data from the MLS, whereas some of the leading competitors can take up to 3 days to update their info! Homesnap will even mark listings as “Under Contract” as soon as that information is available.
A drawback: Though it’s one of the more quickly-updated apps out there, Homesnap is still not the MLS. We highly recommend pairing this app with your local MLS app and agent who can help you identify properties and craft the perfect offer.
A unique feature: This app’s name refers to the fact that you can simply snap a picture of a house, and Homesnap will provide you with its details like home value, sales history, school district ratings, interior photos and more!
Did you know that using a real estate agent usually costs the house-buyer nothing? So don’t be afraid to reach out to get your local MLS access!
3. Roofstock (best app for the single-family investor)
Why we love it: With Roofstock, you can search, analyze, and purchase rent-ready residential investment properties in 31 different markets. Designed to help you find a home to serve as rental property, this app features houses that are already being rented out, so you can dive right into making a passive income.
A drawback: As the iBuying fad continues, it’s relatively easy to purchase an investment property online and start renting it out - all without ever laying your eyes on it. While that can be an immediate perk, the entire process can leave much room for error and uncertainty not far down the road.
A unique feature: Not only does Roofstock provide a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and refund on home purchases, but they also guarantee to secure a lease within 45 days of closing on a vacant, rent-ready property (as long as you use their preferred property manager). If it doesn’t rent quickly, they will cover your rent for up to a year.
4. LoopNet.Com (best app for the commercial investor)
Why we love it: Loopnet.com our favorite third-party app for those looking to invest in commercial real estate. Loopnet.com only lists commercial properties for sale or for rent across the country and provides detailed information to make prospecting different locations easy.
A drawback: A common sticking point in the commercial real estate investing game is the difficulty in finding complete, up-to-date information - a complaint seen fairly often with LoopNet. Often, commercial listings aren’t updated as often on the MLS itself (which causes the issue), but it’s worth noting. Agents and brokers can typically assist in bridging this information gap.
A unique feature: Not only can you search for commercial properties for sale or rent on LoopNet, you can also search for cash-flowing businesses up for sale in a specific location across the USA.
5. Realtor.com (best app for the renter)
Why we love it: This is our favorite website and app for families or individuals looking to rent a home. Realtor.com rental listings are funneled in from the MLS for free - whereas other big-name apps charge agents to list rentals, and therefore have limited info. Realtor also provides detailed neighborhood information including school ratings, noise levels, and even FEMA flood zone overlay maps.
A drawback: If looking to buy a home, keep in mind that Realtor.com does not indicate that listings are under contract or contingent. This could lead you to think your dream home is still available when really, it’s been under contract for a week.
A Unique Feature: Realtor.com is built to empower homebuyers with a wealth of resources, including a mortgage calculator to help you figure out your budget and articles on the home buying or renting process.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Especially in a limited-supply market like that of 2021, using the most accurate and helpful apps and websites can be imperative to your house-hunting process - especially when combined with the local expertise of a real estate agent or broker.
Though it may not have the most fancy features, access to your local MLS app is a must-have for first-to-know access to new listings that meet your criteria. Combined with the features that caught your eye on one of our other real-estate-professional-approved choices, you’ll have the best app set-up to help you find your next home.
About the Author & CGP Real Estate
Scott Westfall of CGP Real Estate is an associate broker with Broadsight Realty in Hampton Roads and a local real estate consultant. He helps home-buyers of all types secure their next property in Virginia Beach and the surrounding area. His website gives you free customized access to the Hampton Roads MLS to find your dream home in Hampton Roads - try it today!