Trulia Real Estate Blog

4 Methods for Your Mobile House Hunt Madness

Tara-Nicholle Nelson
December 21, 2013

newsletter-blog-010513Even if it took a few years to truly incorporate smartphone apps into your life, by now one thing is probably clear: there’s no going back. The uber convenience of instant information – anytime, anyplace, at your fingertips – is nothing short of addictive. I know one toddler who is frustrated that her television screen doesn’t respond to her attempts to swipe it, and a number of tweens who don’t get the idea of a phone with a cord that does nothing but let you talk to someone.

For some, mobile real estate apps are the most addictive around. If you simply love to peruse houses, love to see exteriors and interiors, or love to see what homes all over the country are selling for, the Trulia app, for instance, is probably on your home screen. (As far as I’m concerned, if you have to have a vice, an addiction to seeing beautiful homes is not the end of the world!)

But once it’s time to move from house hobbyist to real, live house hunter, things change. It’s very easy to become obsessed with perpetually checking your app, going out on constant scattershot viewings the moment you see things, or tweaking your search price range and geographics without giving it much thought (just to see!). Real talk: you’re trying to use mobile as a tool to solve a problem here – the problem of finding and buying a home. Obsessively clicking search is not the means to that end.

On top of that, you’ll also want to make sure you find the best solution (home), with the most efficiency (time, money, etc.) and strategic smarts (not driving yourself wild with anxiety or overwhelm).  What you need is a little method to avoid the madness that mobile house hunting can bring.  Here are a few methods to try on for size!

1. The Set-it-and-Forget-It Method. If you’ve used a house hunting app like Trulia before, you’ve at least been exposed to one of the most powerful tools it provides: alerts. While it sounds somewhat alarming, the upshot of an alert is that it actually allows you a measure of peace in knowing you can set up some search terms and have Trulia notify you when new listings meeting those criteria come onto the market.

The power of search alerts is that they allow you to set the system up to do the work for you, resting assured that the app will reach out and touch you when it needs to. Having set search alerts that you trust to notify you of suitable new listings can also inject some discipline against price creep and panic-driven home spec changes during your house hunt.

The thing is, it’s not a peaceful arrangement if you’re constantly second-guessing yourself and your search criteria, or you otherwise feel the need to constantly worry about what you might be missing. There’s a calibration period you might need to go through, where you set up search alerts but also do proactive, manual searches to massage your search criteria until you feel confident that your manual searches aren’t finding any listings that your alerts aren’t also serving up. Then, you’ll feel more comfortable setting it and actually forgetting it. (Until the next alert, that is.)

If, later in your house hunt, you do decide to make a strategic change to your search criteria, just remember to go back in and edit your search alerts accordingly – it’ll take you less than 5 minutes.

2.  The Drive-Around Method.  Early in your house hunt, this method rocks. If you don’t know the zip codes you’re looking in, want to make sure you explore new parts of town, or just happen to find yourself in a neighborhood you love – practice the drive-around method. It’s highly sophisticated. When you’re physically in an area you would love to live in, pull out your phone and open your Trulia app.  Better yet, if you happen to find yourself in front of a home with a for sale sign in the yard, you can just go to your app and get the inside information, then send it straight to your agent to get inside.

It’ll automatically surface all the homes for sale and recent sales in the neighborhood, and give you efficient access to details like the zip code, neighborhood name, and even info about local schools, commutes and crime stats. One of my favorite things to do is to use it to find the nuances of neighborhood flavor: what are the hot spots in the area, what are the nearby parks and shops, restaurants and more. If you’re in a new town or neighborhood, it’s not at all bizarre to reach out to an agent you find via the app and connect with them right then and there!

3.  The Open House Method.  Early-stage house hunters often use Open House window shopping to get acclimated to what they can get for their dollar in their target neighborhoods. But Open Houses also offer powerful opportunities for late-stage house hunters who are ready to make offers: they offer a time slot when you and your agent can meet regularly and predictably to see multiple target properties at once, in their best light, without having to book individual appointments with individual sellers. You can even find other nearby Open Houses or listings that weren’t on your radar so you can visit or drive by them while in the neighborhood.

4.  The Market-Method Match-Up.  Loop your agent into how you plan on using mobile during your house hunt from the very beginning.  It’s essential to match up your strategy with the dynamics of your market. In some markets, as rough as it seems, you might need to be immediately responsive to a new listing that piques your interest. If you’re market is one in which great homes sell at warp speed, you’ll need to send the listing to your agent via your app the moment you get an alert.

In other, more sanely paced markets, you and your agent might simply want to set up a regular check-in once or twice a week to talk through new listings and make plans for viewing them.

In any event, it’s ideal to have a clear understanding of the best way to get your agent briefed on the listings you’ve found via the mobile app – and vice versa. If your app of choice is Trulia, ask your agent if they can send you their suggested listings from Trulia too!

ALL: What are your tricks and tips for using mobile apps in the course of your house hunt?

PS: Remember to follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook!

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Finding A Mountain Escape On Trulia

Kacey Snodgrass
November 21, 2013

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“Trulia made the home buying process straightforward and allowed me to take control of my home buying experience.”

Until he discovered Trulia, Greg wasn’t planning on buying a house. He was spending nearly every weekend away from his home in San Francisco, doing all sorts of fun outdoor activities in Truckee, CA. That’s when he realized he could actually afford a home in the mountains – and he made up his mind to buy one.

Greg always knew that he wanted to make a real estate investment in California, but with astronomical home prices in San Francisco, it was Truckee that seemed to be the perfect place to buy. An avid mountain biker and skier, Greg is now able to do the activities he loves, whenever he wants, without having to crash at a friend’s house or pay for a hotel.

“Trulia helped me see what was on the market. I had no idea that I was going to buy a home, but the information Trulia provided me made it an extremely easy decision.” Trulia made it so easy, in fact, that he didn’t even see the house in person before he made an offer.

And it was only a week after Greg submitted his initial offer that he was a new home owner. He drove up to see his new place and was immediately reassured that he had made the right decision. “Thanks to Trulia, I found a place that is great for me and my friends. We come up here all the time, and it is the perfect getaway.”

When he and his pals aren’t in Truckee, vacationing and taking laps down the mountain, Greg rents it out to fellow outdoor-lovers. “It has been a really great purchase for me,” Greg says. “I can now head up to the mountains whenever I want, and I also have a little extra cash in my pocket by renting it out when we’re not using it.”

Trulia also helped Greg when he was attempting to get a loan. His home, as well as neighboring homes around it, had been appraised incorrectly, so at first, he wasn’t granted a loan.  Greg knew about Trulia’s sale history feature, and after sending the bank several relevant listings on Trulia, they realized what the home and others were worth – and then approved his loan.

Today, Greg is still raving about Trulia and the assistance it provided him. “It is a phenomenal product that’s easy to use and contains incredibly valuable info.”

Share your story with us! Send us an email at mytruliasuccess@trulia.com,and we’ll feature your story, inspiring other house hunters looking for their dream home.

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A Perfect Place To Retire

Kacey Snodgrass
November 13, 2013

Renee always knew she would use Trulia to find the perfect place to retire. She had been an avid user since the beginning, searching for homes weekly until she found the place that lived up to her expectations.

“Trulia gave me great insight into what was on the market. I could see everything that was available, which made it easy to find the house that was right for me.”

Renee had her sights set on Hot Springs Village, AR, the largest gated community in the US, fully stocked with eight lakes and nine golf courses. With a large majority of home sellers in the community using Trulia to sell their homes, it was simple for Renee to see everything on the market. She made a few trips out to Arkansas from Oakland, CA, and saw some places that caught her eye, but she didn’t quite find what she was looking for. Renee continued to look for a long time – constantly checking Trulia – before she had her “this is it” moment.

After another trip to Hot Springs Village, Renee’s accompanying best friend noticed her entire demeanor change when they walked in the door of a house they were visiting. That’s when she knew she’d really found the home for her. On Super Bowl Sunday, which also happened to be Renee’s birthday, while still standing inside her future home, she submitted an offer.  And soon after, a deal was made.

“Thanks to Trulia, I already had all the information I needed to decide that this was the home for me. All I had to do was see it in person, and once I did, I was ready to make my offer.”

Because of Trulia, Renee was able to decide what style of home she wanted: all of the photos helped her to be certain that the home she purchased was just her taste, and she knew she would easily be able to make it hers.

“Without Trulia, I would not have known what I liked or didn’t like. Being able to go through hundreds of photos made it extremely easy to know that this house was ‘the one.’”

Renee can’t wait to get settled in her new, wonderful home where she’ll enjoy a fun-filled retirement.  “Anyone can find their dream home on Trulia,” she says. “I sure did.”

Do you want to share your story? We would love to hear from you! Email us at mytruliasuccess@trulia.com and we’ll feature your story.

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New Trulia For Agents Mobile App Launches On iOS And Android

Trulia has released version 2.0 of its popular, free app for real estate agents on both iOS and Android. The Trulia for Agents App is one of the leading mobile apps built specifically for real estate agents, enabling them to convert more leads and better serve existing clients while they’re on-the-go.

Today’s upgrade features an all-new design that puts leads front and center. The new app includes improved navigation and search capabilities, as well as seamless access to helpful real estate news, coaching and tips from Trulia’s Pro Blog.

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Agents everywhere love using the Trulia for Agents app. “I get outstanding leads from Trulia,” said Stacey Feltman of Ebby Halliday Realtors. “Trulia’s mobile app is great because it’s easy to use and it helps me manage leads and stay on top of my business no matter where I am. The entire system is the very best out there.”

As real estate agents know, quick responses to new leads greatly increase the chance of converting them into clients. Recent research proves it, indicating that responding to leads within minutes doubles the chance of conversion1. If agents respond to a lead within 5 minutes, they’re 100 times more likely to make contact with that lead than if responding in an hour2.

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That’s why the Trulia for Agents App is designed first and foremost to help agents respond to quickly and manage leads from anywhere on their mobile device. As leads come in, alerts are pushed to the agent’s mobile phone, enabling them to respond immediately and make a connection to a new client. The app lets agents search and prioritize leads by centralizing all Trulia leads into one inbox. Each lead is than organized by conversation, providing context and easier access to a history of communication.

Agents can also easily access a list of personal contacts, browse Trulia’s Agent directory and search listings with Trulia’s advanced neighborhood information and map functionality. Agents can use Trulia for Agents to check-in to listings they tour and display these check-ins on their Trulia profile. It’s a great way for agents to demonstrate familiarity with specific properties and expertise in particular areas, creating opportunities to connect with prospective clients.

The free Trulia for Agents app version 2.0 is available today in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.

  1. Research from Leads360, 2013
  2. Lead Response Study
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Battling The Bay Area Competition

“Our agent felt really tech savvy and knew what was doing. We were impressed with his willingness and ready to help. He seemed to be knowledgeable around the neighborhoods we were looking at and provided great context."

“Our agent felt really tech savvy and knew what was doing. We were impressed with his willingness and ready to help. He seemed to be knowledgeable around the neighborhoods we were looking at and provided great context.”

Battling The Bay Area Competition

Most people look to investing as a way to preserve and grow their assets. Heather and her husband were no exception. They knew they wanted to invest in something, but weren’t sure what. They talked it over with their family and initially toyed around with the idea of buying a rental property. But the duo had lived in San Francisco for about eight years, and with Heather’s husband working from home, they were ready for more space.

“We had been talking about living abroad, and that’s why we were thinking of buying a rental. But when we decided we couldn’t live overseas, the next plan was to buy a home. We were prepared financially and ready for the next step.”

Heather and her husband started their house hunting journey back in May, looking at homes and different real estate websites online when they had a chance.

“We found that Trulia had the best interface and was the easiest to use. We really enjoyed the user experience.”

After about a month of casually looking, they found a property on Trulia that didn’t have any pictures, but the details of the house interested them. Heather’s husband contacted the agent who responded to his inquiry within minutes.

“Our agent was really tech savvy, and we were impressed with his eagerness to help. He seemed to know a lot about the neighborhoods we were looking at and provided great context. We hit the ground running and saw about 8-10 places at a time.”

Along the way, the couple felt the pressure of the intense Bay Area real estate market, and at times, would get competitive as they looked at homes.

“There’s this competition where – even if you aren’t initially interested in a house – you see someone else looking at it, and you think ‘What are you doing here? I was here first!’ There’s pressure to move really quickly. You see a house over the weekend, then the offer is due the next day, and you have this short period of time to make the biggest decision of your life. That was stressful.”

The two saw more than 70 houses during their journey, and after their first offer wasn’t accepted, they knew they had to change things up in order to be contenders.

“When our first offer wasn’t accepted, we thought this wasn’t going to work out. We didn’t know how we were going to compete with other buyers who had all cash offers and were bidding above the asking price. Then our agent refined our strategy, and we looked at houses that were on the market for a while.”

In addition to finding places that were on the market longer, their agent Brian Pugh narrowed the search to focus on certain neighborhoods just south of San Francisco in Redwood City and San Mateo. Brian understood what the couple wanted, so he helped guide them in the right direction.

After putting in three offers and getting outbid on the first two, Heather and her husband found the perfect home. It had been on the market for a while, and the neighborhood was just what they’d envisioned.

“The neighborhood was the biggest draw for us: a cute area of Redwood City with tree-lined streets. During the buying process, we got to meet with some of the neighbors and see kids playing around. We really loved the backyard as well. It’s a huge piece of property. It felt like our home and what we’ve been looking for.”

Their offer was accepted, and they recently moved in. They credit all their success to their agent.

“I don’t think we would’ve found something this fast if our agent wasn’t there helping us along the way. From the time we really started looking, it only took about three months to find our house. The agent we found on Trulia really helped expedite the home shopping process. One of the great things about him is that he’s continuing to work with us and help us with the long-term value of the property now that we own the house.”

Share your story with us! Send us an email at mytruliasuccess@trulia.com,and we’ll feature your story, inspiring other house hunters looking for their dream home.

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Market Leader Open Platform Now Accepts Leads From More Than 8 National Sources

This summer, Market Leader announced major additions to the company’s Smart Lead Technology including the ability to accept leads from Trulia, Zillow, HouseValues.com, RealEstate.com, JustListed.com and Realtor.com, as well as from major franchise websites. Now, the company is further expanding its Site Stream feature, making leads available from 2 additional sources, including RealtyNow and Active Rain, expanding the utility of Market Leader’s open platform.

In addition, Trulia and Market Leader have been working together to provide additional value to real estate professionals using the combined company’s products. Beginning this week, leads from either the Trulia Local Ads product or Trulia Mobile Ads product, will be captured in Market Leader’s leading customer relationship management (CRM) software with even more data, automatically triggering real-time alerts for the agent.

Market Leader Professional and Business Suite feature Smart Lead Technology, which is designed to help agents generate, engage and manage all of their leads. Site Stream is just one part of Smart Lead Technology, and its enhancements are making it easier for agents to receive all of their Trulia leads in the Market Leader CRM, enabling agents to quickly and intelligently engage and convert more of them into clients.

“It’s easy to increase productivity and income with one system that engages thousands of local leads at once” said Andrew Johnson, REALTOR® from Touchstone Realty in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

With Market Leader, agents have access to sophisticated follow-up tools to manage engagement with leads while they establish a relationship. For example, agents can share relevant content with prospective clients, such as custom listing alerts, based on their unique home search criteria, and send them polished email and print campaigns.

Look for the combined Trulia and Market Leader team in booth 719 in the South Hall at Moscone Center for the REALTORS® Conference and Expo, in San Francisco from November 8- 11. Visitors will have a chance to meet the Altman Brothers and also learn how Trulia and Market Leader branded products and services complement each other.

Agents interested in more information, please contact your Trulia and Market Leader sales teams.

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Searching For Homes Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

Mobile phones are crucial to our lives – and to the role real estate plays in our lives, too. When searching for their dream home, buyers rely on Trulia mobile apps for instant notifications and saved search results. That’s why we’re always looking for ways to strengthen our mobile app experience.  Last year, we implemented Google maps on the Trulia Android app – allowing consumers to see 3D images of properties along with a crime map overlays and school attendance zone boundaries. Today, we’re thrilled to announce we’ve worked with Google again to make the search process even more seamless for home buyers and sellers.

Starting in mid-November, when house hunters use Google to find a home on their mobile web browser, they’ll be given the option to open the Trulia Android app directly from the Google search page. Once they click on the ‘Open in App’ button the app will immediately launch and take them directly to the content they need.

New way for users to open up the Trulia Android app

New way for users to open up the Trulia Android app

Stay tuned, and watch for this new feature in the next couple of weeks. And, as always please email us with any questions or feedback at android@trulia.com

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Looking For A Place To Live Is Fun And Easy (Really!)

“Trulia had the best Android app and website out of all the services I looked at. It also had the top user interface by far, which was very important to me, considering my line of work.”

Shopping for a home can be a daunting process. There are plenty of sites out there, but some are easier to use than others. For Christopher, the house hunting experience needed to be easy and seamless, whether he was searching from home or on the go. And as a user experience designer at a startup based in San Francisco, he knew just where to look when he started his home search.

“Trulia had the best Android app and website out of all the services I looked at.  It also had the top user interface by far, which was very important to me, considering my line of work.”

Christopher moved to San Francisco intending to buy, but quickly realized that it would be a much more difficult task than he originally anticipated.  He decided to rent until he found the perfect place.

He explored many San Francisco neighborhoods, and after eight months of looking high and low for a suitable place, Chris found his home in San Francisco’s up and coming South of Market district (SOMA).  During his search, he used Trulia Local to learn about the neighborhoods he was interested in, and decided SOMA would be a perfect fit for him, with new office buildings and startups on nearly every corner.

“There were several features on Trulia that really helped me with my home search.  The way I could interact with the maps was huge. The crime maps especially were a big help, since there are several pockets of San Francisco that have much higher crime rates than others.”

Another tool Chris utilized was the open house organizer. After being alerted when there were new open houses in the area, and all he had to do was open the app, tap the photo, and Trulia automatically added the open houses to his Google calendar.  He really appreciated this organizational tool and highlighted it as one of the most useful features that Trulia has to offer.

With the real estate market as competitive as it is, Christopher ended up making three different offers – and finally landed an awesome home. He plans on staying there for at least four years, and when the time comes to move again, he says he will most definitely use Trulia.

“Trulia was a huge help in my search for the perfect place to live, and the app itself surpassed any other home search app I had ever used before.  I would recommend Trulia to anyone looking for a home.”

Although Christopher’s home search is now over, he still uses Trulia regularly, just to stay informed.

“I enjoyed the daily emails Trulia sent me during my home search so much; I didn’t want to stop reading them once I found my house. I really like looking at all of the properties and seeing what’s out there, and Trulia makes that incredibly easy.”

We want to hear from you! Email us at MyTruliaSuccess@trulia.comto share your story!

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A New School And A New Home

"Trulia was better than anything else I had seen. I knew it was going to be the site to help us make the move."

“Trulia was better than anything else I had seen. I knew it was going to be the site to help us make the move.”

 

When David decided to go back to school to complete his master’s degree at Virginia Tech, he knew he might need to move to Christiansburg, VA, to be closer to campus.  Travelling from the home he shared with his family in Richmond, VA, to his new school meant a daunting three-hour trip, so David needed to find a great home with a much smaller commute – fast.  David had already been using online real estate sites for more than a decade, and he knew that Trulia would be the ultimate tool for him during his home search.

“Trulia was better than anything else I had seen. I knew it was going to be the site to help us make the move,” David says. His daughter had also used Trulia avidly throughout her rental search process the previous year in Columbus, OH, and highly recommended the site to her parents.

One of the criteria David was looking for in a new home was a location on a quiet street.  Trulia’s maps and street view features helped him find what he was looking for and proved to be one of his favorite aspects of the site.  “It made it very easy to see which homes were located on busy streets, and we knew right away which ones we didn’t even want to visit based on that.” On top of that, David loved being able to survey the whole area and get a feel for his surroundings, without even having to step foot outside his house.

After a few months with his old home on the market, David finally found a house that would work for his family.  The new home in Christiansburg was only eight miles away from school, which turned his painful three-hour drive into a short bike ride each day.  Trulia also helped David find the perfect neighborhood, despite knowing very little about the area. Since David’s son is homeschooled, finding the right school district wasn’t an issue – it was all about location and proximity to Virginia Tech.  “Trulia provided us with all the information we needed on each neighborhood, making it very easy to decide where we wanted to be.”

And since the family moved to Christiansburg solely to be closer to David’s school, they knew the move would only be temporary. David says, “This brought on a whole other interesting perspective during the house hunting process.”  They opted for a smaller place since it would not be a permanent home, and Trulia made it extremely easy for them to see the square footage of each potential property.

In addition to all the other tools David utilized on Trulia, the walk score feature was one more that really gave him the inside scoop.  It was important to find a place centrally located to everything that his family needed, and this additional property detail made it easy to see which shops, restaurants, and amenities were nearby.

Once David finishes school, he plans to move his family back to Richmond where they can live in a bigger home again, and he told us when the time comes, he’ll be turning to Trulia once more.

We want to hear from you! Email us at MyTruliaSuccess@trulia.comto share your story!

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Where The Price Is Right On Trulia Local

It’s important for serious home buyers to understand everything they can about the houses and neighborhoods they’re looking at during their home search. We often hear from users who love our Trulia Local maps, which can help identify everything from the crime in a particular area to where natural hazards are prone to strike. Today, we’re thrilled to announce three new maps to help engaged home shoppers with their house hunting journey: median sales prices, median listing prices, and price per square foot.

This trio of new maps will inform buyers what homes cost across the country – green means it’s cheaper to live, while red indicates that an area is more expensive. Additionally, depending on the zoom level, users can easily view data by county, zip code, and block group (a Census geography suited for high zoom levels). Check out the images below to see how the map works.

Image of Median Sale Price in San Francisco

Image of Median Sale Price in San Francisco

Image of Median listing price in San Francisco

Image of Median listing price in San Francisco

Image of median price per square feet in San Francisco

Image of median price per square feet in San Francisco

You can see from these maps that it’s rather pricey to live in San Francisco! In fact, the latest housing study from Trulia Trends shows that only 14% of the homes for sale in the San Francisco metro area are within reach of the middle class. This is why location is so important.

All in all, homeownership affordability ranges widely both within and between metros. More than 80% of the for-sale homes in the MidWest are within reach of the middle class, but in parts of New York and California, less than 20% of the for-sale homes would be considered affordable. To find a neighborhood that fits your budget, check out the latest maps in Trulia Local under Home Prices.

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