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Real Estate

Four cool apps for homebuyers in 2013

By - Last modified: January 10, 2013 at 5:03 PM

There are more mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in the hands of homebuyers than ever, and the app stores of the world are filling up with nifty tools to make all sorts of things easier for them.

I thought I'd devote a column to some of my favoritess above the standard "home search" apps.

1) Homesnap — This app allows you to stand in front of any property, take its picture and get all sorts of relevant data: Bedrooms, baths, most recent sale, school information … you name it. The app uses the GPS coordinates to generate the information; the photo is just so you can remember what it looked like when you get home to explain it your significant other.

2) Magicplan — Something I've always thought was very helpful to share with buyers of my listings were floor plans … when I could get them, which wasn't often. Now, you can build your own using just your phone! By simply pointing it into the corners and adding in windows, doors, etc, you can get a nice-looking and useful floorplan to take with you when you go shopping for new carpeting or whatever.

3) AirBnb — Giving up on buying for while? Just interested in staying for a bit to "get a feel for the area?" AirBnb is a listing service for folks renting out all or part of their house, everything from a "private room to a private island." Hmm. The company seems to handle the security and safety issues by using a robust profiles section and ratings systems. If I was single, I think I'd try Paris.

4) Shoeboxed — Back in reality, the bills and receipts keep piling up. Shoeboxed is pretty cool; it allows you to scan and send your docs to a secure cloud-based account where the company uses OCR to convert your names and numbers into actionable spreadsheets and contact lists, ready for tax season! The app is free, but the service costs money, with service plans starting at $10 per month. Still, the idea is phenomenal — if you have an actual shoebox full of receipts.

Another thing to remember with mobile is that many websites are now mobile-enabled, which means they detect whether you're visiting them from a phone or tablet. If so, the site presents you with an easy-to-navigate site fitted to the device you're using.

Mobile-enabled sites will replace most apps over time, but for now, enjoy the variety in the app store or Google Play when you're shopping for and getting settled in your new home.

Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services, based in Lancaster City, with 10 offices in eight Central Pennsylvania counties. Jeff lives in East Petersburg where he also serves as mayor. Jeff has been actively involved in local government and business and has been used as a source by local, regional and national publications.

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