Best Homebuying Apps for 2024

Finding the right home isn’t always fun. According to research from Redfin, more than half of recent homebuyers said that buying a home was more stressful than dating or planning a wedding. 

Mobile house-hunting apps make the homebuying search a whole lot easier. If you’re planning to start checking out homes from your smartphone, here are some smart options to consider. Use them to familiarize yourself with the local market trends and get a sense of what you can afford. Then, find an agent who can listen to your needs and help you sort out the real gems versus the listings that should be overlooked.

Best homebuying apps

Redfin

Redfin has all the standard features you should expect in a homebuying app — great photographs, calculators to estimate your monthly payments and the ability to schedule a tour. 

It also has a unique tool: a comprehensive risk factor report. In collaboration with First Street Foundation, Redfin helps buyers understand flooding potential, air quality in the area, excessive heat and potential threats from wind. As more homeowners weigh weather-related concerns, this can be a helpful gauge of whether your investment will come with high insurance costs and maintenance expenses to protect your property.

There aren’t really any drawbacks to Redfin, although it’s important to note that the app’s “Start an offer” tool doesn’t help you submit an offer instantly. Instead, it will send your note to the Redfin agent listed on the same page.

Listings: 5 out of 5 for urban areas (the data covers approximately 80% of the country, so you will be out of luck in certain parts of the country)

Photos: 5 out of 5 (also includes video tours for some properties)

Map: 5 out of 5

Calculator: 5 out of 5

Historical information: 4 out of 5

Future forecast: 5 out of 5 (risk Factor report for climate-related issues)

Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5

Google Play: 4.6 out of 5

Zillow

Zillow

Best for finding down-payment assistance

Zillow’s listings have everything you’ll want to know: how long the home has been on the market, how its estimated value has fluctuated over the past few years, how the area’s schools stack up and how long it’ll take you to get to work each day. The feature we really love here, though, is a quick way to check if you might be eligible for down-payment assistance programs by answering questions about your income, profession, etc. 

One notable drawback is a lack of public tax history. Our review of a number of listings on Zillow had a “tax history is unavailable” disclaimer, while property tax estimates were included on Redfin and a number of other apps on this list.

Listings: 5 out of 5(more than 135 million homes)

Photos: 5 out of 5

Map: 5 out of 5

Calculator: 5 out of 5

Historical information: 2 out of 5 (no public tax history on many listings)

Future forecast: 1 out of 5 (Zillow’s Zestimate tool is a helpful tracker on market value trending patterns, but there is no data about climate-related issues)

Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5

Google Play: 4.7 out of 5

Realtor.com

Realtor.com

Best for understanding noise levels

Home isn’t just where the heart is: It’s also where you sleep. Realtor.com’s noise map feature will help you get a sense of whether your family will need earplugs. It’s a unique tool that sets this apart from most of the other homebuying apps on our list (Homes.com has a “Sound Score” tool but not a map). Realtor.com’s app also includes a flood risk tool similar to part of Redfin’s report, although it’s not as robust. One big selling point of Realtor.com is a combination of three different property value estimates, which provides a holistic look at how different providers view fair market value.

Listings: 5 out of 5 (no data available on overall database size, but performs well in urban areas)

Photos: 5 out of 5

Map: 5 out of 5

Calculator: 3 out of 5 (“What can you buy?” takes you to a web-based lender inquiry)

Historical information: 4 out of 5

Future forecast: 4 out of 5

Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5

Google Play: 4.6 out of 5

Trulia

Trulia

Best for getting to know the neighborhood

Most homebuying apps include some data on how easy it is to access public transit and how walkable/bikeable a neighborhood is, but Trulia takes that local expertise to a new level. How dog-friendly is the area? Are the streets well-lit? Will you feel safe walking alone after dark? Do people decorate for the holidays? These are just a few of the questions you’ll know based on other Trulia users’ feedback. If part of your home search involves knowing how friendly your neighbors are, this is a good place to start.

Listings: 5 out of 5 (Trulia is owned by Zillow, so the database should be identical)

Photos: 5 out of 5

Map: 5 out of 5 (also links to a “shop and eat” map that displays retail and dining in the area)

Calculator: 5 out of 5

Historical information: 3 out of 5

Future forecast: 1 out of 5

Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5

Google Play: 4.7 out of 5

Homes.com

Homes.com

Best for behind-the-scenes information

Homes.com has a mile-long list of details about the property and its history. Listings include deed history and mortgage history (what a current owner still owes and the rate they’re paying). There’s also a combination of information about schools in the area from Niche and GreatSchools that helps you understand how much teachers earn, where most high school graduates go on to college and more.

One note: If you’re an Android user, you’re likely better off with another option on this list. While we found the iOs experience good (minus the lack of pictures), Android users have shared a lot of complaints about the app.

Listings: 5 out of 5

Photos: 5 out of 5 (just swipe or click; there isn’t a call-out on the number of photos that you’ll see on other apps, which can make you assume there is only one image)

Map: 5 out of 5

Calculator: 3 out of 5 (some other apps have a simple bar to adjust your down payment and other variables, but this app requires specific inputs)

Historical information: 5 out of 5

Future forecast: 1 out of 5

Apple Store: 4.6 out of 5

Google Play: 3.9 out of 5

Auction.com

Auction.com

Best for finding fixer-uppers

If you’re looking to find a deal, one of the best places to start is with bank-owned and foreclosure listings. While they won’t all be in rough shape, it’s safe to assume that someone who stopped paying the mortgage also stopped caring for the home the way they should. 

Auction.com’s app is solely geared toward helping you find upcoming auctions so you can add them to your calendar. There’s also a remote bid tool if you create an account (you can start to browse listings without sharing any of your data, which we think is a big perk). If you’re interested in turning the property into a rental for some passive income, the app offers rental estimates, too.

Listings/database size: N/A (More than 15,000 auctions per year in all 50 states)

Photos: 2 out of 5 (although, it’s important to note that most distressed property listings don’t have many photos)

Map: 5 out of 5

Calculator: N/A (most listings are cash only)

Historical information: 5 out of 5

Future forecast: 5 out of 5 (includes rental estimates)

Apple Store: 4.6 out of 5

Google Play: 4.4 out of 5

Zenlist

Zenlist

Best for collaborating with your agent

Zenlist doesn’t have the mass brand awareness of Zillow or Redfin, and that’s because it’s not available to everyone. This is an invite-only app, so you’ll need to be working with an agent who uses it first. If you do, though, this is a fantastic tool for someone who is a bit further along in the home search process. Instead of just browsing, you and your agent can trade notes in the app, and you can flag listings you really love. Plus, you’ll be one of the first to know when a new home hits the market, as Zenlist’s systems update every 2 minutes.

The only drawback is that Zenlist is currently limited to just under 20 metro areas. So, if you’re looking outside of those locations, this app probably isn’t your best bet.

This tool is unique due to its closed-door, invitation-only model. Given its limited availability, we are not evaluating it in comparison with other apps. However, those who use it rate it highly.

Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5

Google Play: 4.6 out of 5

Opendoor

Opendoor

Best for buying without an agent

If you want to do more than browse for homes on your phone, your best bet is Opendoor. The company is an iBuyer, meaning it buys homes from sellers to resell them for a profit to individuals. If Opendoor has bought the property, you can schedule a self-tour and access the property without the help of an agent. And while most homebuying apps are designed to connect you with an agent, Opendoor’s listings include a “Buy Now” button that allows you to submit an offer straight from your phone.

The biggest drawback for Opendoor is the small selection. The company only operates in select metro areas, though you’ll still be able to view other properties that are listed on the MLS (multiple listing service). You can get preapproved for a mortgage via a program that automatically syncs with the lending company, Lower, but the app is limited if you’re looking to take the DIY route. Another downside: You have to create an account to browse listings, so you’ll need to remember to delete your account if you don’t want your data floating around.

Overall, Opendoor performs considerably worse than other apps, but the self-tour and ability to buy within the app make this uniquely positioned for certain types of buyers.

Listings: 2 out of 5

Photos: 3 out of 5

Map: 5 out of 5

Calculator: 1 out of 5 (all figures are prepopulated examples of financing with Lower)

Historical information: 1 out of 5

Future forecast: 1 out of 5

Apple Store: 4.8 out of 5

Google Play: 4.3 out of 5

FAQs

Yes. Some apps like Opendoor will allow you to submit an offer directly within the app, but there are some limitations. Most homebuying apps are designed to help you browse, not buy. 

Buying a home is one of the biggest transactions you’ll make. A real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the market can help you navigate the complexities of contracts, home inspections and closing dates.

The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings true with homebuying apps: 85% of buyers say that photos are the most useful feature for browsing homes. It’s the easiest way to tell if you should invest the time and energy to go see the property in person.

Yes. It’s called buying a house “sight unseen,” and it happens a lot when a market is especially competitive. According to Redfin, 63% of buyers made offers sight unseen in 2020. However, there are plenty of risks involved. Online photos can mask issues lurking beneath the surface. Make sure you hire a professional home inspector to take a look at the property.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the number of homes you should see before submitting an offer to buy one. You might stumble upon your dream home with the first property you see, or you might browse online and attend dozens of open houses over multiple months. According to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors, most buyers see five homes before buying one.

How we test homebuying apps

We used these apps just like you would as a prospective homebuyer. We scoured listings, scrolled through photos, zoomed in and out on their maps and crunched the numbers on their calculators to determine how helpful homebuying apps really can be. Since a lot of homebuying apps run together, we paid extra attention to unique features that set them apart for specific goals of gathering information about properties. We also considered reviews from customers on both the Apple and Google Play stores for mobile phone versions. It’s important to note that some of these apps didn’t fare that well for their tablet version, although you’re likely better off using your phone anyway. Some homebuying apps include augmented reality location-based tools to help as you’re walking neighborhoods.


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