The way people buy and sell real estate has changed dramatically, even just within the last few years. We can thank the evolution of smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and other recent innovations. Gone are the days of fax machines and xeroxing copious amounts of paperwork (well, almost). Here are some apps that I’ve been using with my clients that have helped make the real estate transaction process more streamlined, while saving a few trees in the process. The best part – these apps are free (for now).
1. Dropbox – cloud storage. A great way for your Realtor to share all the tedious amounts of paperwork from the transaction with you. And you can access it from anywhere with an internet/wifi connection, be it here in SB, vacation in Hawaii, business trip to China, etc. (www.dropbox.com)
2. Docusign – electronic signatures. This allows you to sign forms, disclosures, addenda, with the swipe of your finger. Best advice – set up an account from your desktop and choose one of the suggested fonts. It will look cleaner and neater than trying to do your signature in a tiny space on your phone (www.docusign.net)3. Skype, FaceTime, Google+ Hangout – allows for video chatting. If you cannot be present during an inspection or the final walk thru, this is the next best thing. I’ve used all of these with my remote clients. I just did a FaceTime walk thru with my clients from Seattle; a Skype inspection and walk thru with clients in China; Google Hangout with clients from Houston. Ultimately, it allows you flexibility in your schedule to do the things you need to, while still staying connected to the purchase process (www.skype.com) (FaceTime works only with Apple/Mac products) (www.google.com/hangouts).
4. Evernote – note taking app. Allows you to document all the homes you are seeing, with photos, video, voice memos, etc. And since this also lives on the cloud, you can access these notes from anywhere (www.evernote.com).
5. Mortgage Calculator – allows you to quickly punch in the purchase price and shows you an approximation of your monthly payments. Use this for broad strokes, but consult your lender when you find something you’re really interested in (look in the App Store, or Google Play for Android).
6. Houzz & Pinterest – good for home design/decoration ideas. And highly addictive. Some of my interior designer clients were the first to show Houzz to me, and now it has a huge following (www.houzz.com) (www.pinterest.com).
7. Trulia, Zillow, Realtor – still the best mobile interface for house hunting. Very user friendly and actually fun to use. The main caveat – the info isn’t always up to date and the valuations are only about 50% accurate (it even says so on their site).