The 6 Best Housing Apps of 2018

Looking for a new home? Try one of these.

This screenshot shows a person using a smartphone to snap a photo of a house.

Looking for a home to buy is rarely easy, but it can be fun. These days, mobile house hunting apps are simplifying the process for an increasing number of house hunters, and real estate apps keep adding more listings, plus helpful new features.

Here's are six of the best, free housing apps of 2018 that will hopefully help you find a new home.

01
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Homes.com for Sale, Rent: Most Versatile House Finding App

This screenshot from the Homes.com app shows a feature for finding a lender.

Homes.com's mobile app provides searchable listings for millions of homes for sale or rent. Search filters include price, size, year built, and building types, such as a house, condo, bungalow, or townhome.

Listings are accompanied by interactive maps and high res photos, You can share the houses you like with real estate agents, family, and friends via email, text message, and more.

What we like

  • Homes.com grades nearby schools based on their performance on state tests.

What we don't like: ​

  • As with some other real estate apps, users have complained on both Google Play and the App Store that many listings are out-of-date.
02
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Realtor.com Real Estate: Most Visual Real Estate App

This is a screenshot of Realtor.com's list view.

Realtor.com is a comprehensive and visually compelling app available on iOS and Android. The Android versions support Google Chromecast for streaming pictures from your device to a TV. On both platforms, listings are accompanied by Google Street Views, with some listings offering 3D tours.

The app is also attentive to your search preferences. If you scroll down the listings page after you’ve done a search, you can find suggested listings with similar features in the same neighborhood. Additionally, based on your search criteria, the app sends you alerts about new listings that spring up.  

What we like:

  • Through a new feature called Sign Snap, you can send photos of a home for sale and receive details back.

What we don't like:

  • You need to be a bit careful when using search filters. If you experiment with filtering for price brackets or locations that aren't really what you're looking for, the recommendations you get from the app are bound to be off base.
03
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Trulia Real Estate App: Best for Getting a Feel for the Area

This is a screenshot of Trulia's local info feature.

Like Realtor.com’s app, the Trulia app is available on iOS and Android. Regardless of platform, Trulia allows you to search for amenities by using keywords like "waterfront."

A few additional standout capabilities include customizable email and push notification alerts, school reports by parents, crime statistics for the area, and an open house scheduling tool.

What we like:

  • A recently added Trulia Neighborhoods feature provides virtual neighborhood tours through pictures, local stories, drone footage, and overlay maps. You can find out what local residents say about topics like neighborhood safety, and use maps to explore the neighborhood for restaurants, groceries, and other places.

What we don't like:

  • Trulia isn’t the only app with this issue, but some listings come with sketches of buildings instead of photos, or with interior shots only.
04
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Zillow: Most Filter-Abundant Housing App

This is a screenshot of the filters feature in the Zillow app.

The Zillow app brings some unusual strengths. Aside from the more conventional features found in real estate apps, you can view Zillow's trademarked Zestimate home values for more than 100 million homes across the nation. Zillow also claims to offer many listings unavailable through the MLS, a set of listings from realtors which many apps rely on as a database.

Filters in Zillow are quite abundant for a mobile app, allowing you to search for manufactured homes and lots/land, for example, and by drive time and types of nearby schools. Satellite maps and video tours are available as well.

What we like:

  • You can connect not just with real estate agents but with local lenders who might be able to pre-qualify you for a mortgage.

What we don't like: ​

  • Zillow recently removed a feature that let you “hide” homes of no interest to you.
05
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Homesnap Real Estate and Rentals: Finest House Hunting App for Photos

This is a screenshot of a home listing in the Homesnap app.

Homesnap pioneered the feature of delivering details about properties based on user-submitted photos. These details are gathered from public records, as well as multiple real estate listing services.

As might be expected, the app is extensively photo-driven; you might see dozens of photos for a single listing. Furthermore, listings generally give you in-depth details about the history and features of the property.

What we like: ​

  • Homesnap has received heaps of praise from users about keeping up-to-date with listings.

What we don't like: ​

  • Some listings can be misleading unless you review the details. For example, Homesnap might show an exterior shot of a condo complex while giving the mortgage price for a single condo unit right next to the photo.
06
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Real Estate by Zome: Best Maps in a Housing App

This is a screenshot of the map view in the Zome app.

Zome is an easy-to-use all-in-one app for finding real estate listings and contacting agents. You can either search by current location or specific address or draw in a custom region on the map.

Map overlays make it simple to highlight neighborhoods, subdivisions, school districts, and nearby points of interest. 

A slick built-in mortgage calculator gives you total mortgage figures, along with piecharts showing breakouts for principal and interest payments, as well as taxes and insurance.

What we like: ​

  • Zome's Walk Score and Bike Score can help you to quickly determine how well the community will work for your household. A Walk Score in the "Somewhat Walkable" range, for example, means some errands can be accomplished on foot. 

What we don't like: ​

  • Zome doesn't include a typical list view. To access specific listings, you must tap property icons on the map.
07
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Web-based virtual assistants as alternatives

While it only takes a few minutes to download and install apps, another approach you can try is using a virtual personal assistant like Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, or Microsoft's Cortana.

Your experience with these voice-enabled, browser-based search engines probably won’t be a match for what you’ll get from a mobile app, but here are a few things to know before you choose to use them:

  • By speaking search terms like "houses near me by owners" into Google Assistant, Siri or Cortana, you will receive some search results.
  • Yet most of the links will bring you to either real estate agencies or house-finding websites.
  • Sometimes those websites load decently on mobile devices, but most sites are designed for PC screens, not phones or small tablets.
  • You won't receive the cool bells and whistles that you get from housing apps.