When we bought our first house, we still used classifieds, fax machines, and lots of word of mouth. Today's experience of buying a home is entirely different. Whether it's a home, or even an office, there's a lot more information available to help you out. Here are five tech tools to help you in your house hunt.
SEE: Top 5 smartphone photo tips (TechRepublic)
- Can you afford it? Trulia has one of many excellent calculators for figuring out if it makes more sense to rent vs. buy. While there are endless decent mortgage calculators to help you figure out payments, I quite like the simple sophistication of the one at drcalculator.com/mortgage.
- Where to look? While Zillow is the most popular site to check, Redfin does a great job of mapping out what's available too, and can hook you up with an agent. ZipRealty's mobile app even uses a little AR—just point your phone camera at a house, and it will tell you which nearby homes are for sale.
- What's the neighborhood like? Open houses are a blur. Spend some time on Google Maps looking at the nearby businesses and amenities and use "street view" to supplement your sense of the neighborhood.
- Propertyshark.com. This website can give you neighborhood demographics, tax info, and even stats on neighboring houses. With a free account, you can get even more detailed stats on individual houses, like title docs, ownership info, and more.
- Your phone's camera. If it's allowed (be nice and ask), take lots of pictures of the properties you are interested in. It will definitely help you keep different houses straight, if you see a lot of them.
Nothing can replace the feeling that the house you want to buy is "home," but these tools can certainly help you make your decision.
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Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, covering the most important tech issues of the day with the smartest minds in technology.