Really – I don’t know how you older folks survived the past without… a smartphone.
I mean – having to get from one place to another using a map? How horribly inconvenient! Or having to actually buy a CD (or cassette tape, or 8-track) just to listen to music in your car?! Preposterous!
However, thankfully for us we don’t need to live in the dark ages anymore and most investors carry around iPhones, Androids, or other fancy devices that let us access amazing amounts of information at the tip of our fingers (literally.)
While most people use their phones to send flying birds through the air to knock around cartoon pigs, there are a number of really great business applications available as well and as a real estate professional, there are a number of apps that can come in especially helpful to assist you in your real estate business.
Whether you are an investor like myself, a real estate agent, or someone simply working in the real estate industry – the following are ten apps that a real estate professional can use in their business to make life more productive and easy.
(Feel free to add additional app suggestions in the comments below in the comments, as we’ll be frequently updating this page with new apps!)
10 Smartphone Apps for Real Estate Investor
What Is It: Oh, you knew I was going to start with this one. The BiggerPockets App was just recently introduced, and while there are a lot of awesome updates that will be added over the coming months -it’s already one of the most popular methods people are using to network and learn on the site. Right now the app is only available on the iOS system – which means you need to have an Apple product to use it – but an Android app is being discussed for development in the future as well.
Why Investors Should Use It: The BiggerPockets App allows you to easily engage in the BiggerPockets Forums, asking or answering questions about real estate anytime- anyplace. For example, if you are out “Driving for Dollars” and you stumble across a vacant home with a large, nasty in-ground swimming pool in the front yard – you can easily search the forums for others who have dealt with swimming pools or you can start your own thread, asking about your options. Or, you could also be siting on your couch, watching the latest episode of “Dancing with the Stars,” and be actively answering questions and sharing your real estate experiences with those who have questions. Networking doesn’t get much easier than that.
What Is It: MagicPlan is a really cool app I just recently learned about while attending the Inman Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which allows you to create custom floors plans by just moving your phone or iPad around the room taking pictures. It’s kinda hard to explain here in a blog post, but essentially – you just use the camera to move around the room, and it automatically maps out the room. To see a video of this thing in action, click here.
Why Investors Should Use It: This app is great because you can quickly and easily make floor plans. I see three great uses for this:
- Rehabbers can make house plans to use before a heavy remodel and to help plan for materials
- Landlords can make quick floor plans to include on their Craigslist or website listings.
- When selling a property, you can now include floor plans in your marketing material.
I’m definitely going to start using this app more often, and am excited to add floor plans onto my rental website.
Price: Free for personal use and to make plans on your device, $2.99 to download a “white labled” plan. Subscription plans available.
3.) The MLS Apps: Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Redfin.com, Etc
What Is It: Okay -I’m going to group all these apps together into one listing here because they all essentially do the same thing: help you see what properties are listed for sale on the MLS. Each has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to download all of them and see what suits your needs the best. These apps help you to keep track of the newest listings and all of them use a “Map Feature” to allow you to see what’s for sale (or been sold) in a certain geographical area.
Why Investors Should Use It: I think it’s pretty self explanatory, but I’ll explain my favorite ways to use these apps. First, the map features are extremely helpful when driving around, to be able to see what certain homes are listed at in the neighborhood. It’s a really great way to get a feel for prices and, although obviously not perfect, you can get a good ballpark for what an ARV might be in a neighborhood. Second, most of these Apps allow you to see “sold” properties in the area, which combined with the map feature can be extremely helpful when driving around. The largest complaint with these apps is they may not have all the listings, and many of the listings may be old, expired, or incorrect. But hey -it’s free. Stop complaining!
4.) JotNot Scanner
What Is It: JotNot is an easy to use app that allows you to turn your iPhone into a portable scanner and share your documents via email, Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, and more.
Why Investors Should Use It: Because scanners are annoying! I use JotNot all time time, to scan various hand-signed documents into my phone and upload to my Google Drive account, so I can have copies of everything I need, anywhere I am.
Price: Free for the basic app, $.99 for the PRO version.
What Is It: HammerPoint is an iOS app that allows you to quickly create detailed repair estimates for any job. You can create new reports for each project, and the app will actually walk you through each item that may need repairing, auto filling a description of the work details (fully edit-able) and even offers a suggested cost for that repair. Finally, you can export the list of repairs to yourself and create PDF reports of all the repairs required.
Why Investors Should Use It: Cost overruns are one of the largest reasons investors lose money on real estate deals. Using an App like HammerPoint, you can be sure to add up all the repairs needed for a rehab job and avoid those deadly cost overruns. This can be especially helpful for house flippers who are about to embark on a large remodel. This app is a great resource to be used in conjunction with the new BiggerPockets investment calculators!
6.) Digital Receipts By Proximiant
What Is It: Digital Receipts allow you to snap quick photos of your receipts and email yourself expense reports, helping you to make your business even more “paperless.”
Why Investors Should Use It: One of the benefits of being a real estate investor is the many tax-write offs you can use on a daily basis, but keeping receipts is vital to making sure you get all those deductions; and I don’t know about you – but it seems every few days my wallet get’s too fat to even sit on- because of all the receipts (not the money!) I have stored, and many get destroyed or faded before I can properly file them at home. Digital Receipts by Proxomiant is an awesome tool for any investor, because you can store all those receipts directly on your phone and toss the paper ones in the garbage right after getting them.
What Is It: LoopNet is about the closest thing to the MLS for commercial real estate, so the App is helpful for searching for the latest and greatest commercial properties listed for sale. This could include multifamily properties, restaurants, shopping malls, or more. This app is an extension of the LoopNet Website, and runs pretty much the same way.
Why Investors Should Use It: Investors who are interested in Commercial real estate or multifamily properties should definitely use this app to keep tabs on the commercial properties listed nearby. A quick search on the app this morning revealed there is a 10-unit apartment building in my town for sale for $320,000 that I didn’t know about – so take a minute to search in your area. Keep in mind, however, that in order to access all the listings on LoopNet, you have to have a premium LoopNet membership. Free users can only see listings posted by Premium members, but Premium members can see all listings.
Price: Free, but to see all the listings you need a Premium account, starting around $70 a month.
8.) Google Drive and DropBox
What Is It: I’m going to group these two apps together as well, since they both do similar jobs: cloud storage of files. Both Google Drive and DropBox allow you to sync the documents from your home computer onto other devices, like your phone, tablet, or other computers.
Why Investors Should Use It: Real estate investors seem to always be on the move – or at least it feels that way. Whether you are out driving for dollars, signing a lease, checking up on a rehab, or one of a million other tasks, having convenient access to your files is immensely helpful. I keep all my legal documents in my Google Drive, such as my “3-Day Pay or Quit Notice” so that if I’m out and about, and need a quick form printed, I can simply log onto my phone and email the form to my local Staples to print. I also save other important documents, like my tenant phone directory, leases, and more so I have convenient access anywhere.
Price: Free (for up to 5GB on Google, 2GB on DropBox, and cheap to upgrade to more storage.)
9.) Houzz Interior Design Ideas
What Is It: Houzz is a really fun app which allows you to quickly navigate through over a million high quality photos of properties to get ideas and inspirations for your own properties. Be careful- scanning through these photos can be addicting and make you want to spend a whole lot more money on a remodeling job than you planned!
Why Investors Should Use It: Inspiration. Just yesterday I was picking out paint colors, and pulled out the Houzz app to flip through exterior photos, looking for designs that I liked. For those who are slightly designed challenged, like me, it’s an excellent way to get ideas for your properties and for your own house. Most of the designs are going to be a lot “higher end” than you will probably use for your properties, but sometimes you can get some great ideas and motivation from looking at how the professionals design things.
What Is It: Last on this list but not least is an app from the folks at LinkedIn called CardMunch. CardMunch allows you to snap photos of business cards and send them for processing, where actual humans transcribe the cards and send them back to you in a detailed contact list. You can even send LinkedIn contact request using the information provided. This is a really slick app.
Why Investors Should Use It: Networking! Networking is vital if you want to grow your business and, like it or not, business cards are still the primary way people keep in touch from networking events. Next time you attend a networking event, like a REIA or a real estate conference, get as many cards as possible and scan them into CardMunch, so you can connect with those individuals on LinkedIn and start building relationships online.
Conclusion: Do You Know Any More Real Estate Apps?
Those are my top 10 Apps that every real estate professional should use! I use all these apps on a semi-regular basis, and they have definitely helped make my real estate business more streamlined and efficient.
Do you know of any other apps that are “must have” real estate apps for investors? Add your favorite with a comment below!
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