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.
There are both a website and phone app versions available, in both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.
As a real estate agent I can not steer you towards or away from an area or property based protected classes. So in order to avoid potential issues here, you’ll quickly find me deferring those questions to Niche.com. Niche.com is a great source of information on everything to schools, demographics, 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.
National Sex Offender Public Website
Colorado Bureau of Investigations – Convicted Sex Offender Search
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. This app is great for if you are on the go and do not have quick access to a personal scanner. My clients often use it when sending me or their lender documents.
Available in both the Apple Store or Google Play Store
Homesnap is a powerful website and mobile app with an easy to use interface. It 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. Within the app there are also other tools, such as a mortgage calculator, net sheet calculator, and affordability calculator. This app provides up-to-date real time data on listings and surrounding neighborhoods. There is even a “My agent” tab where you can input my name (or your agent’s name) to immediately connect with us on the app. So then when you have a question, you can instantly ask your agent directly from their app or website!
Visit Homesnap.com, or download their app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
6. Nerdwallet.com’s Down Payment Calculator
Using a down payment calculator, such as this one by nerdwallet.com, can be incredibly beneficial when starting to plan and budget for buying a home. These online tools can help you determine how much you’ll need to save for a down payment based on the price of the home, how much you already have saved, and your timeline. By inputting different scenarios and down payment amounts, you can get a better idea of how much money you’ll need to save and how long it will take you to reach your savings goal. This information can be incredibly helpful in creating a budget and making a plan for achieving your dream of homeownership.