Apptitude: Tap your way to guidance on real estate

Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Staff Writer

Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 11:02 PM

Looking for a new home, like these in Roxborough? Apps can help. ( Charles Fox / Staff Photographer )

Springtime and a reviving economy may send you house hunting. If they do, there are plenty of smartphone applications to streamline your search.

Looking for a new home, like these in Roxborough? Apps can help. CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Real Estate by Zillow lets one keep track of the worth of one's own property and those nearby.
Photo Gallery: Apptitude: Tap your way to guidance on real estate

The following apps are free, and most will put you directly in touch with listing agents.

The app, by Move Inc. for Android and Apple, is tuned for families in search of homes in a school district of choice, or in an individual school's neighborhood. In the app, select a location, find the school marked on the screen map, and tap to view the school's catchment area so that you'll see the available properties within that area.

A button in this app launches a feature called Area Scout, which identifies homes for sale nearby as you travel around. When the scout is turned on, a warning notice appears and tells the user not to use the feature "while operating a vehicle" and insists it is not a navigational device. Yeah, but -.

If you are thinking of real estate as a commercial investment, try Real Estate Investing Analyst, by Serelyn L.L.C. for the iPhone. It includes a form to request property data from a real estate agent that will load directly into the app.

With listing information on a property's location, asking price, square footage, rents, and so on, you can begin to calculate the value of an investment, costs, and income over time. Every property you're interested in gets a separate listing inside the Analyst app.

If you already own an investment property - or many of them - the data you provide about each will help you see whether you're making money or taking a bath. A "rent roll" keeps track of individual units' rents and expenses, vacancy rates, and other details.

And if you need to sell a property or lure in an investor, the Analyst app is set up to generate pages of data about any property that you can e-mail to the prospective investor.

Real Estate by Trulia, from Trulia Inc. for Apple and Android devices and Windows 8 tablets, has a ton of features, including some surprising "heat map" overlays that show crime activity, floodplains, and even areas of seismic activity that give you plenty to think about.

Some folks like to keep track of their own house's value as estimated by With the app, Real Estate by Zillow, you can keep a constant check on that number, which mercifully has started to inch up for many owners.

From the Zillow menu, tap "For Sale & Pre-market" to enter any address. You'll likely get some basic information about a property - whether it's on the market, including a rough estimate of what the house might sell or rent for, and how those figures stack up against nearby properties. Tap to view the county tax assessor's file on the house, directly from a county website.

Contact Reid Kanaley at, 215-854-5114 or @ReidKan.

Reid Kanaley, Inquirer Staff Writer

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