Top Apps & Online Tools for Simplifying Your Next Move
There’s nothing easy about moving, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made easier. In 2014, we use technology to ease almost every challenging aspect of our lives, and why should relocation be any different? While modern science hasn’t advanced to the point where robots can come and do the whole move for you, there are plenty of apps and online tools out there to simplify the process. Here are 13 great tools to make your next move a breeze.
Finding Your New Home
Of course, the first part of the moving process is figuring out where you’re going to go. Since timing is everything in the real estate and rental markets, there’s nothing better than having the most up-to-date listings right at your fingertips. Zillow Real Estate & Rentals gives you all the information you need, including foreclosure listings and multiple search options. Best of all, once you give Zillow your preferences, you can get automatic notifications as soon as new homes are listed.
If you’re just looking to rent, another great tool is PadMapper, a tool that collects thousands of housing listings and displays them on a fully interactive map. As with Zillow, PadMapper also provides automatic notifications to keep helping your search after you’ve closed the app.
Selling, Keeping and Donating Possessions
Inevitably, when you move, you’ll have to evaluate which of your belongings you want to take with you and which you want to clear out. After all, each item you keep is one more thing you have to pack, transport, unpack and store in your new home. To make informed decisions, you need to know how much each item is worth.
One of the simplest ways to assess the value of your possessions is to compare prices using the eBay app. Remember to search for successful listings to find comparable items that have actually sold. Once you know what various items are worth, you can decide whether to sell or donate them. If you choose to donate, this will give you a good estimation of how much you can write off at the end of the year.
If you’re buying a home, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of financial implications. Check out Karl’s Mortgage Calculator, a simple tool that helps your account for expenses to understand how changing different variables will affect your monthly payment. That way, you’ll be well-positioned to understand your price range and your future mortgage.
Changing Your Address
Moving means you’ll have to notify just about everyone who uses your address of the change, from the postal service to friends and family. You’re on your own when it comes to personal acquaintances, but for just about everything else, there’s updater.com. Forward mail, transfer utilities and update your accounts with just a few clicks.
You’re going to be trusting your movers with many if not all of your valuable possessions, so it’s important to find a good, reliable moving company. Enter Yelp, an online resource designed to connect you with the most trusted companies in your area, including quality estate shipping companies. In addition to ratings, reviews and licensing information, you can search for movers who provide specific services like custom packing.
Planning the Move
Packing up your entire home is a monumental task, but while apps can’t do the heavy lifting for you, they can help you keep it all organized. The Moving Planner app gives you a pre-populated packing and reminder checklist to help you stay on top of all the little tasks that come in the weeks leading up to a move. As a bonus, you can easily email the entire list to anyone who wants to help out.
Once you’re in your new house, the final challenge will be to fill it with furniture and decorations. With the Autodesk Homestyler, it’s easy to envision your new living space and come up with a floor plan before you’ve even moved. With a floor plan in hand, you can direct the movers and any additional helpers exactly where they need to go, saving both time and money.
Once you’ve located the right place, handy calculators offered by the apps can help you determine whether or not you can actually afford it. Some platforms have gone so far as to fully digitize the mortgage financing application, or oversee the entire process on behalf of owners, from initial listing to lease-signing.
So which fits your needs best? Here’s a list of industry leaders, arranged in alphabetical order.
Powered by Realtor.com, Doorsteps is navigated via a nifty “Swipe” selection tool. Swipe left to pass on a property and swipe right to save it for later. All of your saved listings, garnished with a little badge, get synched with your Doorsteps.com account, so you can share it with your friends and co-searchers, along with notes. Aside from being super-streamlined, this platform injects actual fun into the search experience for properties to purchase. (There is a Doorsteps Rent, but just for Austin, Texas – so far.)
Lovely is just that – a beautifully designed product that makes home-hunting a truly seamless (and aesthetically refreshing) experience. Exclusively devoted to residential rental properties, the real-time listings gathered from across the web are visually displayed on a map, so you can track them “on the fly,” and you can even keep your favorite listings, messages and history organized from your inbox.
The Bottom Line
Other popular platforms include Hotpads, Homes.com, Redfin, etc. The list goes on, and it’s only likely to grow as technology continues to transform the real estate landscape. (See Best Apps for Buying a Home for more thoughts.) What it boils down to is that all real estate bases are covered. Best of all, all property apps are free.
Finding a new home can be a daunting process. Thankfully, the Internet has revolutionized the real estate industry with powerful search engines that can filter housing options in seemingly endless ways. Regardless of your taste, budget, preferred neighborhood or search criteria, there is an impressive lineup of apps designed to take hassle out of house hunting. Now you can stay on top of your search with your smartphone or tablet, perusing listings at your convenience and finding the ultimate abode in record time.