Real estate and the mobile market

Special to the Packet and GazetteJanuary 13, 2013 

The rate of growth for accessing the Internet on mobile devices is staggering. So much so that Google predicts that by 2015, mobile users will take over desktop users in Internet access. According to Pew Internet and the latest census, more Americans now own a smart phone than have a 4-year college degree. Microsoft reports there are more than 1 billion smartphones activated worldwide.

We have all heard these statistics about the rise in mobile device use the use of applications that help us communicate, keep us informed, entertained and socially engaged. "There's an app for that" has become the catch phrase of today. Indeed, there are many great apps that can benefit real estate buyers, sellers and agents.

  • According to Inman research, Zillow is the No. 1 app in the real estate market with more than 5 million downloads. Zillow uses your phones' GPS technology to display estimated values of homes (Zestimates) as you walk or drive through neighborhoods for nearly every home in the U.S. The app also has voice search technology to allow for hands-free functioning.

  • The mobile app from Realtor.com features large photos, detailed home listings, information on which properties recently sold and how much they sold for. The app also has an interactive map that allows users to draw a custom search area. Data on Realtor.com's app is updated every 15 minutes instead of once a day from most other apps.

  • With the Trulia.com real estate app, users can save properties and Trulia will track the status of a home, indicating any price or listing changes. Users also can access statistics like crime rates, amenities and school quality for the neighborhoods. Real estate agents can benefit from the Trulia for Agents app and use it to take their business on the go and track their leads and contacts. Agents can even leave a marker on the Trulia map indicating which properties they have listed or shown.

  • The HomeSnap app for the iPhone is from Sawbuck Realty. It allows users to take a picture of a home and learn about the listing. Sawbuck also will give users an estimate on the home's value. The app uses GPS and other technologies to determine which house a user is photographing and the app then accesses a database of more than 90 million homes to provide information specific to that property.

  • As technology evolves, there is bound to be more exciting tools and resources to offer the most up-to-date real estate information. However, with all the gadgets out there now, remember that nothing can replace the information and services an experienced local Realtor can provide.

    Robert Stenhammer has been a resort executive for more than 15 years. He is the president of Hilton Head Accommodations.

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