Joe Houlihan: Tech Tools for Home Buying Print

Written by Joe Houlihan, Managing Partner, Houlihan & O'Malley Real Estate



 

Feb. 25, 2015: We all know the saying "there's an app for that." Technology exists for just about everything today. The question is how useful is it? Even when it comes to purchasing a home, technology can be a real game changer.

Now, you can easily find out about properties and communities by using online tools and apps to help you quickly find the right community or neighborhood, even before you speak to a Realtor.

The buyer pool today tends to be quite educated, and Realtors welcome informed consumers as well as the technology they use, as both help them do their job. Each year, the National Association of Realtors® publishes the results of its research on home buyers and sellers, and its 2014 edition, 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, indicates that 89 percent of home buyers said that they used technology in some form in the home-buying process, and 92 percent of home buyers said that technology helps save them time.

So, which apps and sites are most helpful and for what? Here are a few favorites.

Realtor.com provides up-to-date, community-specific information to buyers. This is a multi-use platform, mainly used for property search, and offers overviews of the real estate market in specific communities. Real estate agents belong to their local real estate board, and most boards have their own Multiple Listing Service (MLS) through which their member Realtors can share listings with each other. Our local association is the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. Realtor.com gets real estate property listings directly from over 800 MLS associations, and the listings are refreshed every 15 minutes. Therefore, information is the most current, which is very important because you can find real-time listing and closing information, sale pricing history, recent sales in the area, and tax information. Sites like Trulia and Zillow are very consumer friendly, too, but are not directly linked to MLS, so the information they carry may not be as up to date.

Mapping services like Google Maps and Apple Maps are invaluable. Not only do they help Realtors and buyers get from one listing to the next quickly and efficiently, but they allow buyers to plot a geographic area and then research the amount of time to get to a train station or highway from multiple places to determine their ideal location for a home.

Neighborhood Navigator:  One of the most frequently used tools by clients is the Neighborhood Navigator. By using the Navigator, you can drill down to specific data that define a neighborhood and paint a more accurate picture. You can see how many households have children, how many residences are owned or rented, how rapidly the population is growing, the median age of residents, and more.

Mortgage Calculator:  Financing apps are another important tool. Programs like Mortgage Calculator help homebuyers to figure out the price range they can afford and to understand the repayment requirements that a mortgage will require. Additionally, they prompt buyers to review their other monthly costs, which include real estate taxes and homeowners insurance. When factored in, these can make a big difference in determining what you can afford to purchase. Therefore, it is important to complete a mortgage worksheet before you set a price range.

Information available to buyers is only going to improve over time, and using technology in the future is going to become a universal experience. That said, technology will never be a substitute for a Realtor, but it can enhance and streamline the process for all parties involved.

Pictured here: Joseph Houlihan, managing partner at Houlihan & O'Malley, 133 Parkway Road, Bronxville. He can be reached in his office at 914-337-7888 or on his cell at 914-645-6640 or by email at CLOAKING .

Photo by Laura Mogil