The Power of Gifts
A lot of real estate agents greet a new client with questions like “Are you qualified?” and “Are you working with another Realtor?”. Imagine a world where you greeted a buyer with some tools and resources that they could use to better work through the buying process? Gifts are a great way to build loyalty quickly. Who doesn’t like getting a gift? Over the past few years I have been adding to the list of things I email my potential client before our meeting. I have an email template saved in “signatures” to my email client, as well as note in Evernote that provides the buyers a variety of resources, including a few mobile apps. You can also have an iPad in the car that is preloaded with these apps so that if a buyer is riding with you, you can simply give them the iPad to do their research in between showings. The following is a summary of the most common apps I recommend to clients. They are not listed in any particular order.
This isn’t intended to be an all-inclusive or even exhaustive list, so if you have a better app or others that you’d like to share, please contribute to the community and share about it in the comments section below.
Mobile Apps for Home Buyers
Your Mobile App
We know that buyers are typically looking online at houses for about 51 weeks prior to buying. A few years ago Google offered a report and said that about 65% of buyers searched primarily by a mobile app. Zillow seems to be the overwhelming choice for the client’s mobile app looking for a new home, but it may not be the best. You want to carefully migrate your new client to your app so that they can easily search and communicate with you. There are a number of providers of personal apps available to the agent to offer to their buyer. SmarterAgent is one of my favorites and the one I use personally. I like it because it includes lifestyle searches that show more than just the home. It could be places of worship, bars, restaurants, golf course, etc… It helps me keep the client on my app and not wondering off to look at others. If you don’t have your own app already, get one…
AroundMe is a fantastic app among a number of similar apps in this class. AroundMe allows the user to quickly find the closest business of a certain type. Restaurants, medical care facilities, gas stations, hotels, theaters, coffee shops and much more are easy to search and get information on with this handy little app.
Zillow Mortgage App
The Zillow Mortgage App has a beautiful and simple design, but the simplicity of the interface shouldn’t fool you. There are a lot of online mortgage calculators, but most of them simply give the user the principal and interest rate, which is misleading to the actual monthly cost of a home. The Zillow Mortgage App is my go-to app for clients. When we’re negotiating an offer and they want to quickly know what a $10,000 counter means over a monthly basis they can quickly tap the screen and get an answer. You can also include HOA insurance, HOA fees and other loan types to get an accurate estimate. The app provides an amortization chart, affordability and refinance calculator and an indicator for interest paid which helps buyers realize that tax benefits of homeownership.
Yelp is the most popular resource for offering and seeking feedback of various businesses, with an emphasis on restaurants. It’s a great resource for home buyers to be able to get acclimated to the area they are moving into and to find what others people like them have to say about the various businesses.
One of the largest concerns from a homebuyer is the safety of the area in which they are moving their family. Because of Fair Housing restrictions and other liabilities we cannot give our clients our opinions about the safety of the neighborhood. CrimeMapping offers statistics and types of crimes as reported by the local law enforcement agency, as well as Sex Offender Registry information.
HomeFacts tag line is “Make Better Real Estate Decisions with HomeFacts” and that’s what they aim to do. HomeFacts gives you property information, crime statistics, offender info, school info, drug lab addresses, real estate stats and more.
Church Finder is just what the name of the app implies… It’s a list of area churches that can be sorted by denomination, church names and reviews.
Unisys USDA Loan Eligibility Checker
If you’re looking to use USDA as a loan option, the buyer will need to know if the house qualifies by location. The Unisys USDA app is a handy little app that tells you if the home address qualifies. It can be used by searching the address of providing the GPS location.
BrightNest is the best in it’s class. It has a great user interface and tons of features. In essence its an app that is the LifeHacker of homeownership. Full of posts, how-to’s and solutions for common household repairs and upgrades this is a great app for not only buyers, but home owners. Users can keep track of pending projects and those underway. I also love the schedule that I can enter into the app to keep me on track for changing filters and other routine household tasks. There are a lot of home decor and hacks that make it a great app for routinely reviewing.
Imagine that you and your client are walking through a house and you hear “I just love this color!”, that’s your cue to break out the ColorSnap app from Sherwin-Williams and take a picture of the wall. The app will tell you what color and what companion colors can be used from Sherwin-Williams. If your client is more of a Behr paint company person, then they have a similar app and of course there’s always Pantone if you just want to know the color and companion colors.
Lets face it… some yards are just badly maintained and the buyer doesn’t always have the ability to see what the potential can be. Enter iScape. This handy app allows the user to take a picture of the house and then use a series of graphics to design their yard by adding grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and more.
Houzz is a great app for finding inspiration for your next house or room design, renovation or remodel. Buyers who are walking through a home can quickly pull up the app, enter in some basic information and see what it’ll look like with a little effort. Great app with great user-interface.
Last, but not least is AutoDesk’s HomeStyler app. This is one of my favorites. It has a smart design, lots of options and gives you some great ideas. HomeStyler allows the user to take a photo of any given room and add furniture or appliances to the room. You can use the tools to paint the room a different color or arrange virtual furniture. It’s a fantastic free app that is well worth the time to download and play with.
If you have a favorite app, feel free to share it in the comments below!