The 7 Best Real Estate Apps of 2020

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Real estate apps get millions of monthly visits thanks to the convenience they create with an on-the-go search. According to the 2019 National Association of Realtors® Real Estate Report, 80% of millennials searched for homes on a mobile device, and 52% of house hunters and renters of all ages found their home by beginning with an online search.

Many real estate apps are beneficial to prospective homebuyers, renters, and investors because they can search by geography and filter by specific requirements, such as number of bedrooms or square footage, for example. The power of a mobile real estate app is that it puts a massive database of houses, apartments, and commercial buildings in the palm of your hand. 

We analyzed 15 real estate apps based on their user interface, search efficiency, inventory size and accuracy, customer support, and reliability. We've chosen the best real estate apps to cover all your property-hunting needs.

The 7 Best Real Estate Apps of 2020

Best Overall: Zillow

Zillow

 Zillow

Zillow’s app wins best overall because of its massive scope. It has the largest property inventory, including its own Zillow-owned homes, with one of the largest filter lists. Its efficient features include sharing a prospective property with your partner or roommate as well as the ability for renters to begin the application process quickly. The app covers virtually every need the user could want.

Pros
  • Users have access to over 110 million homes

  • Zillow-owned houses can be toured by interested parties without an agent or without an appointment because the houses can be unlocked through the app

  • Detailed search and filter criteria

  • Coordinate your search with a partner or roommate by tagging home features and sharing your favorites

  • Personal rental profile that makes engaging with potential landlords and property managers efficient

Cons
  • The Zestimate® algorithm uses tax records to produce results, which sometimes are inaccurate

  • Properties feature several agents. Only one of these is the actual lister. The others pay a premium amount to be featured and are often uninformed about the property

  • Sometimes filters have bugs that allow search results to appear that are outside the user’s parameters

Zillow, founded in 2006 by two former Microsoft executives, is one of the leading apps in the Android and Apple stores with 4.5 out of five stars in Google Play and 4.8 in the Apple Store. It has over 10 million app downloads on Google Play and has earned its Editor’s Choice badge.

The app constantly updates its database. When a realtor or seller changes their property status, from “for sale” to “pending and under contract,” for example, you’ll see that change in the app within 24 hours. Some minor changes made by sellers appear within a few minutes on the app.

Zillow offers you the option to list apartments for sale, rent, or lease as well as virtually tour properties and contact agents. Properties on Zillow can also be viewed through video tours and photographs. Users can even receive update notifications about selected properties from the app.

Property listings come from one or more of the multiple listing services, as well as third-party providers, agents, partners, and brokers. It does not source from other platforms.

Zillow is free of cost for buyers and sellers. The primary source of revenue for the app comes from advertising and lead generation costs from realtors. Zillow’s scale earns it the title of best overall because it boasts the largest inventory, many ways to search and sort for both home buyers and apartment renters, and convenient features like sharing favorites and built-in applications.

Best for Auctions: Xome Auctions

Xome

 Xome

Xome Auctions is the best app for buying a property through an auction because of its comprehensive online bid listings. Like other apps, property details, photos, and map locations are shown, but Xome Auctions is the best because it also states whether the property is financeable or if it needs to be paid for in cash. 

Pros
  • One of the largest databases of auction properties

  • Access to pre-auction properties

  • The app has the same full suite of features available on the website

  • Push notifications alert you when a competitive bid happens

  • Contract e-signing within the app

Cons
  • The app suffered from lots of bugs in 2018 and 2019 which hurt its ratings, but in 2020 it has become more stable

  • The app is relatively new and does not feature a very large client base yet

The Xome Auctions app is available on both Android and Apple app stores. On Google Play, it has a rating of four stars, while the Apple Store rates it five stars (but that includes only one user rating). The app is free and provides a user-friendly platform.

Xome has one of the largest collections of exclusive properties. Users can also use Xome’s pre-auction feature to bid on properties early. Xome delivers transparent bidding and fast closing.

You can search for residential or commercial auctions by location, status, and auction asset type, such as bank-owned, short sale, or newly foreclosed. Sort properties by price, beds, baths, square feet, auctions starting soon, or by auctions ending soon. The app includes a walk, commute, and bike score along with listing and sales history so you can see the historical value for the property over time. 

The listings on the app come from multiple listing services as well as from exclusive Xome sources. The app wins best for auctions because of the comprehensive features available to the bidder. Details like financing, property and neighborhood statistics, alerts when someone else bids on a property you are watching, and property price history all keep the bidder well-informed. Xome Auctions further exceeds its competitors with an efficient e-signing capability for contracts.

Best for Home Purchase: Redfin

Redfin

 Redfin

Redfin is an actual real estate brokerage firm that has created an app to take them to a national scale and revolutionize the buying and selling processes. The app is our choice as best for home purchases because it combines cutting-edge technology with actual Redfin real estate agents and customer service employees that keep the human element in the process.

Pros
  • The app allows you to customize your house search and draw a radius on the platform's map

  • Accurate estimation of home values because much of the data is driven by realtor listings

  • Buy with a Redfin agent and Redfin will give you a percentage of their commission from the seller

  • The application has a feature to customize and calculate mortgage, property tax, and insurance

Cons
  • No feature to sort by last-updated like you can on the website

  • Less detail on the home’s surrounding neighborhood than other apps

Founded in 2004, Redfin allows the user to search for nearby houses, condos, and townhouses that are for sale or hosting an open house. You can book a home tour within the app. For sellers, the platform allows you to list your property for sale. It charges sellers who use the app a listing fee of 1.5%, which is lower than traditional listing broker fees. It also pays a commission rebate to the buyer if the buyer uses a Redfin agent. That potential dollar figure is shown in the app listing.

Redfin’s app interface is simple and easy to use. Users can review some neighborhood details and learn the process of home-buying with free classes within the app. Notifications alert you to every house that becomes available and meets your criteria.

Google Play has rated Redfin at 4.7 out of five stars with over 45,000 reviews on the platform. The Apple Store has rated the Redfin app at 4.8 stars with over 600,000 reviews.

Redfin earns its revenue through listing fees, commissions, and advertising fees. It earns best for home purchases because of its clever blend of innovative technology balanced by timely and customized human interaction to help the deal close swiftly and keep the buyer’s and seller’s stress levels to a minimum.

Best for Home Values: Trulia

Trulia

 Trulia

We awarded Trulia the best for home values because it provides more information about what goes into a home value than any other app. Fifty percent of Trulia home values were within 5% of the selling price, and more than eight out of 10 were within 20% of the selling price.

Pros
  • Trulia app displays local info such as neighborhoods, schools, and shopping

  • The app notifications alert you to new homes added to the market that fit your criteria

  • The platform provides pre-qualified financing and calculators

  • You can draw with your finger on the map to customize your geographic search

  • There is a link to the listing agent in each property listing for direct contact

Cons
  • There are no "for sale by owner" listings

  • The crime map is the best around, but users complain that the map should be easier to read

Trulia, which launched in 2005 and was acquired by Zillow Group in 2015, has high reviews in the two major app stores. Google Play has rated the app at 4.6 out of five stars with over 200,000 reviews. On the Apple Store, Trulia is rated at 4.8 stars with 800,000 reviews.

Trulia allows the user to view a property in multiple ways. For instance, you can view the property itself, localized crime information, shopping, eating establishments, schools, commute times, and neighborhood demographic stats. You can search for apartments as well as homes with two different apps, Find Homes and Trulia Renters, for more personalized searches.

Regarding demographics, the app can show you the number of single people or people who have graduated from college living around the neighborhood, as two examples. Trulia is the best for home values because they build their home value estimates from more factors than any other app, such as city and county assessments, local comparative sales of similar homes, and price history trends. Eight out of 10 times they are within 20% of the sales price.

The app is free for users, and Trulia earns its revenue mainly through advertising.

Best for Rentals: Realtor

Realtor

 Realtor

Realtor.com is associated with the National Association of Realtors and 800 regional multiple listing services. Realtors can update their listings daily for free, making it a winner for the best for rentals. By having human agents update their listings, landlords benefit from finding qualified prospective tenants faster.

Pros
  • Users can hide a listing from their search results

  • Search other rentals in the same area with a touch of a button

  • Shows when listing was last updated 

  • Property listings include neighborhood noise level assessments

Cons
  • Clicking on “Contact Agent” will not go to the listing agent but instead to local agents who have paid for this lead service

  • Users have asked for even more search criteria such as “master bedroom on first floor” and “three car garage”

Realtor.com was founded in 1996 and is currently owned by Move, Inc., a branch of News Corporation (NWS). The Realtor app is the best for rental unit owners because it shows when the rental listing was last updated, which is one of the top demands by renters in the app feedback comments. It provides surrounding area information on schools, crime, and noise—another primary interest. An app that caters to its target market as Realtor does enjoys lots of views. Combine all of that renter traffic with the fact that landlords can list their property and accept applications for free, and you can see why Realtor earned our nod for best app for rentals.

In Google Play, nearly 240,000 users have rated the Realtor app with an average of 4.6 stars, while in the Apple Store, it’s average rating is 4.7 stars after more than 195,000 reviews.

The app shows properties through pictures and sometimes video tours, making it easy for a rental property owner to highlight the best features of the home and give prospective tenants a good feel for the property before they ever walk in the door. Realtor’s app is free to use and earns its revenue mainly through advertising.

Best for Renters: Apartments.com

Apartments.com

 Apartments.com

Apartments.com is a renters favorite place thanks to the biggest inventory of rentals on the market combined with amazing imagery to show prospective tenants what the property offers. Prospective tenants can apply directly through the app.

Pros
  • Largest inventory updated daily by an in-house research team

  • Apartments.com not only features apartments, but also houses, townhouses, studio homes, and condos

  • Within the app, you can send your application to the landlord or property manager through the "Apply now" feature

  • Search filters include wheelchair access, air conditioning, dishwasher, and whether the unit has a washer/dryer or just a hookup

Cons
  • The app is rated well across platforms, but users sometimes face problems with sorting and updates

  • Apartments.com does a good job of showing what's nearby; however, it lacks in displaying the crime stats of the neighborhoods

  • The in-app application feature is convenient, but there is a cost of $25 in order to apply to up to 10 properties in a month

Apartments.com, founded in 1992, has been owned by the CoStar Group (CSGP) since 2014. CoStar researches the best commercial real estate companies in the United States. It has helped Apartments.com by providing them with a large research crew providing attractive listings through its professional photography and videography.

Apartments.com has over five million downloads and 25,000 reviews in Google Play. The website has a rating of four out of five stars on the platform. In the Apple Store, the website is ranked at the 24th place of the Lifestyle category, and it is rated at 4.7 stars with approximately 15,000 reviews.

The app’s revenue comes mostly from advertising fees as well as the application fees that cost up to $25 for every 10 applications in a 30-day period. Apartments.com won best for renters because of its large inventory of not only apartments but also rental houses, condos, and townhomes combined with its convenient “apply now” feature within the app. It has extensive search and sort capabilities that we found to be more hearty than other apps.

Best for Entrepreneurs: LoopNet.com

LoopNet

 LoopNet

LoopNet.com is the best real estate app for entrepreneurs because it only lists commercial properties. This saves investors time and frustration because they do not have to sort and filter through homes and individual apartments for sale and rent.

Pros
  • Users can receive in-depth looks at the available properties with pictures, videos, neighborhood stats, street views, investment highlights from the broker, and extensive property facts

  • Robust filter criteria to search properties for sale or for lease

  • Alerts tell you when your favorite properties have been updated

  • You can contact the listing broker with one click

Cons
  • Some reported bugs with the available space search function

  • The app inventory lags the online website inventory

LoopNet was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The platform is owned by the CoStar Group, which owns several other information and marketplace websites. LoopNet is solely for commercial property investors. This is not an app to search for a home to buy and live in, nor to seek an apartment to rent. It provides exposure to the largest active searching tenant community. 

Search by location, and whether you want a property to buy or lease. There are 12 property types to search, such as retail, healthcare, office, restaurant, and multifamily apartment buildings, for example. Filter by price, size, year built, and capitalization rate. Further sort by listing date or whether the listing includes a video or a 3D tour as well.

The app has an average of 4.6 stars with 4,908 reviews in Google Play. The Apple Store users have rated the app 4.8 stars with 15,000 reviews.

LoopNet’s app excels at efficiently connecting app users to commercial listing brokers, which is why it wins the best app for entrepreneurs. Investors and listing brokers can swiftly exchange information and schedule tours all from within the app. Since timing can be a critical factor when closing on an investment property, the app notifications, convenient communication, and streamlined listing inventory are important assets.

The platform earns its revenue through commissions, listing fees, and advertising fees.

What Are Real Estate Apps?

Real estate apps are mobile applications aimed at making the process of property transactions easy. These apps are designed in a way that makes it easy for buyers, sellers, realtors, landlords, and investors to find each other quickly and conveniently.

Real estate apps consist of vast databases with hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of properties listed in them. This helps buyers look for their ideal home within the comfort of their homes, cars, or even from across the country. Sellers, landlords, and property managers also benefit from these apps as they can post details of their listings on multiple channels.

Real estate apps also offer a convenient advertising platform for realtors and agents who are looking to build their client base and acquire leads. In a few years, these apps may drastically shrink the size of in-person brokerages. 

How Do Real Estate Apps Determine Home Value?

Real estate apps perform a comparative market analysis to determine the value of a property. These apps use cutting-edge technology to track and import market trends, location, neighborhood, property condition, tax records, and nearby sales.

Following this step, the app analyses property details like the number of rooms, bathrooms, the size of the porch, the availability of parking spaces, gardens, and swimming pools, to name a few. The app will then study previous sales in the neighborhood with similar specifications.

Even though recent sales are an effective method of setting a valuation, real estate apps also look at current listings, pending sales, as well as the available inventory to determine more accurate results. All of these steps contribute to property valuation. 

Are Real Estate Apps Accurate?

Real estate apps have faced accuracy issues from the start. One of the reasons real estate apps are so powerful and have overtaken older forms of property searching, such as newspapers and realtor-led home visits, is also the same reason the apps have fought accuracy challenges. Apps deliver exponentially more properties to buyers, renters, and investors because they scrape established databases on the internet for this information. If there is inaccurate information in one of those databases, it will translate that inaccuracy to the app as well.

The process is not foolproof, but app users can minimize this by cross-checking information across other apps and with actual human realtors. The real estate app companies are also trying to make up for the inaccuracies in their databases by employing researchers to verify information in their property records.

How We Chose The Best Real Estate Apps

To select the best seven apps, we reviewed 15 different real estate apps. We analyzed their features, read their customer reviews, and tested the searching criteria they offer.

Special emphasis was given to app reviews, bug fixes, search and filter criteria, intuitive functions, and the amount of neighborhood research. We compared these apps to see the quality provided, then checked the user interface, details, and notification features of each app.

Lastly, we looked into the source of the listings. We checked if the sources were exclusive or borrowed and whether the information was credible. Our main goal was to check if there were any discrepancies in the sources. After extensive research, the above-mentioned apps were chosen as the best options for those looking for buying, renting, selling, or investing in real estate property.

Article Sources

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  1. National Association of Realtors®. “Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019 Report.” Accessed July 12, 2020.