Gone are the days of searching through local newspapers for listings or driving around for hours looking at homes you would have passed on, only if you saw the photos first! Today there are a huge number of tools for home buyers at our fingertips and from the comforts of our home! From your phone you can now find a home, sign offers, apply for a mortgage, search through local agents, do a virtual walk-through, and a LOT more! So I hope to quickly point you to a few tools that I direct my clients to when they start the home buying process.
1. Karls Mortgage Calculator
This calculator is one of my favorite tools for home buyers, and is my go to calculator for quickly finding out monthly payments for my clients. However, you do need to know the interest rate and down payment for accurate results. But even if you don’t have those specific numbers, you can add in some estimates and use this tool to see what affect the interest rate, down payment, or price can have on your monthly payment. This calculator does not calculate in your insurance and taxes, so your actual payment will be higher. Talk with your agent or lender to get more details on how much these can be in your area. This app and website supports Fixed and Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM) loans, Interest-only mortgages loans and shows you how much you can save by paying off your mortgage early with extra payments. You can also even add one-off, monthly and annual extra payments to see what that will do.
As a real estate agent I can not steer you towards or away from an area or property due my opinion to the racial makeup, political demographics, safety, age, etc. So you’d quickly find me deferring those questions to Niche.com as it would be difficult for me to know the factual, objective information for all of the areas I cover. Nice.com is a great source of information on everything to schools, population, safety, jobs, cost of living, etc.
3. Sex Offender Registry
This is a great tool for home buyers, especially if you have children and want to know if there is any convicted sex offenders living on your block, or on your child’s route to/from school. You can search the National Sex Offender Public Website, but you also have state and private options available. I often direct people to the State or National registry that is maintained by the government and the most up-to-date. You can search on a map, by name, zip code, county, or radius from an address. Then you also have private options such as Family Watch Dog which pulls data from the national website.
4. Simple Scan
This is a great tool for home buyers who want to stay organized and keep all of their documents in an electronic format. With this app you can simply take a photo of the document and it will automatically find the page edges and save as a .pdf file. You can then send that document directly from the app to an email address, messaging app, or your printer. If your agent or lender need a document signed and returned right away, this can really help speed things up if you are on the go and do not have quick access to a personal scanner.
Homesnap is a powerful website and mobile app that allows you to search homes, favorite properties, save searches, view photos and videos, set up showings with an agent, and share with family or friends. There are also some great tools for home buyers within the app as well, such as a mortgage calculator, net sheet calculator, and affordability calculator. It provides up-to-date real time data on the listing and surrounding neighborhood in a easy to use interface whether on your phone or computer. In a neighborhood and want to see what homes are for sale, with one click it will get your location and show you all homes in your area that are for sale! So it is great to use on the go. There is even a “My agent” tab where you can input my name, or your agent’s name, to immediately connect with them on the app. So then when you have a question, you can instantly ask your agent directly from their app or website!