Smartphone apps making house hunting a snap

May 6, 2013 2:32:59 PM PDT
A good economy, of course, means a good housing market. And in some parts of Houston, homes are selling so fast that they are only on the market for a few days. That means buyers have to act fast.

The latest tools in finding a home is as close as the palm of your hand, and thousands of Houston home buyers are already turning there in there quest for the perfect home.

When Ann Gladstone decided to buy a new home, she turned to her smartphone for help.

"I have been using it on a daily basis for the last couple of months," she said.

Armed with the Houston Association of REALTORS (HAR) smartphone app, Gladstone says she was able to act fast when her dream home finally hit the market.

"Since the market is so crazy right now, the sooner you find out about a property you might be interested in the sooner you can go out and see and make an offer," she said.

Gladstone says the app let her set up an alert when a home in the neighborhoods she liked became available. The app also lets buyers see pictures of a home, contact a Realtor or dates for open houses.

Gladstone says the app lets home buyers know in hours -- what once took days or weeks.

"It also shows you what sold in the area, so you can get an idea of what is available and option pending and I would say in real time information," she said.

Chaille Ralph is the chair-elect for HAR, and she says apps give Realtors the location and information on every home in the listing service. Ralph says some Realtors also use mobile devices to submit bids faster than ever.

"For the month of March, we had nearly 12 million searches performed on the app for HAR.com on the mobile devices," Ralph said.

The HAR app is free and it is not the only one out there. Homesnap is another; it allows you to take a picture of a home and it tells you the price it last sold for, number of bedrooms, school districts, all with a simple picture.

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