Just over a year ago, homes on the market in Austin were available for only 19 days. Even in 2023, as the market starts to return to normal, many homes across Texas are on the market for less than two months before they find a new owner. Real estate investors who want to stay nimble in this market (especially as inventory stays low and prices stay meteorically high) need to adopt every tool at their disposal to stay informed and to quickly assess homes just entering the marketplace.
One way to do precisely that is to identify the best apps for real estate investors, clear out your current catalog of apps, and intentionally build out your processes to include more up-to-the-minute insights.
Real estate investors need to have immediate access to both information and actionable steps. If you’re a buy-and-hold investor who wants a portfolio of rental properties, you might prioritize apps that streamline tenant communication and the discovery of FSBOs. If you’re a flipper, real-time calculations and access to contractors might be the priority. Whatever your unique profile as a real estate investor is, schedule an hour to go through these best apps for real estate investors. Decide which ones fill gaps in your current processes, which ones are better alternatives to your default tools, and how you can continually streamline your real estate investment workflow—so you can focus on more (and better) deals.
The Best Apps for Real Estate Investors Support Every Aspect of Your Business
Before downloading any promising apps, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate what will be useful for each leg of your business. Don’t look at it as downloading apps to your personal phone—instead, view this process as building a real estate investment tech stack. Otherwise, new apps may fall through the cracks or off of your home screen. After all, Americans have an average of 80 apps on their phones, but they only use a core nine or ten each day, and they only use 30 of those 80 each month. See what you need in each of these core areas.
If you’re an experienced real estate investor, you already know the importance of keeping your real estate and personal expenses separate and never ‘piercing the veil’ between the two. But the importance of this practice cannot be overstated. Come tax time, you want to have a clear record of your real estate expenses and losses so they can offset your tax burden. The best business finance apps for real estate investors will help you manage this task. For example, you need:
- Separate apps for your business and personal bank accounts, if not separate business and personal digital wallets
- An app specifically built to track common expenses, such as mileage
- Apps that help you track ongoing payments and bills, such as property management services, contractors, and subscriptions
We started this article with a brief glance at how long properties stay on the market in key Texas markets because one of the most important parts of successful real estate investing is the ability to act quickly.
The best apps for real estate investors will give you real-time or near-real-time insights into the available inventory, pricing trends in your market for both sales and rentals, drops in mortgage interest rates, and more. The better you curate your exposure to news based on what truly matters for your style of investing, the faster you can make an offer on a new property or ensure your pricing strategies are still effective.
Real Estate Listings
This part of your business is simultaneously the most obvious and the most opaque. Many consumer-facing apps like Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia are used by your target markets, so it’s important to know what they know. At the same time, the information on those apps isn’t always accurate or up-to-date; you need MLS access to see properties that are coming soon. You need an app library that provides both market context and advanced notice about promising properties.
Property Management Apps
Whether you manage properties yourself or hire a service, it’s just as helpful to have a collection of tools for your acquired properties as it is for the properties you hope to acquire. Your preferred property management company may have an app or dashboard where you can monitor expenses and activity. You may also need a local business directory app or apps for specific repair and maintenance services so you can resolve tenant problems (for buy-and-hold-investors) or remodeling emergencies (for fix-and-flippers) as quickly as possible.
You likely also need a suite of tools for managing your real estate transactions. This includes document management tools, dashboards with preferred lenders, e-signing tools, and more. Traditionally these steps would involve swinging by an office or, more recently, managing a lot of PDFs on your desktop. But the proliferation of mobile tools, especially during the pandemic, means most real estate processes can be handled from your phone while on the go. The best apps for real estate investors in the middle of a transaction will ensure you can stay on track with pending properties, even while you’re out searching for new ones—or on vacation in another state.
Breaking down the needs of each part of your business is more than just an exercise to ensure you have the right apps for each process. You can also organize your phone so the apps for each category are in separate folders, making them easy to access. Alternatively, you can reorganize your interface to have a “personal” phone and a “business” phone on one device.
Top 7 Best Apps for Real Estate Investors in Texas
You will need more than seven apps to run your real estate business. But this list of essentials can fill out holes in your processes, give you more insights, and help you work faster. See where they can fit into your day-to-day operations:
- Best for Understanding Your Audience: Zillow
- Best for Rental Property Investors: Apartments.com
- Best for Investors Who Want More Properties: Your Lender’s App
- Best for Active Transactions: DocuSign
- Best for Everyone: Zelle
- Best for All Investors: HAR.com (or Area-Equivalent)
- Best for Managing Money: Mint
1. Zillow: Know What the Buyers and Sellers Are Thinking
Zillow is an industry staple. Prospective homebuyers, prospective renters, and potential sellers all turn to Zillow to learn more about the market. In particular, the Zestimate is a popular data point people use to understand the market. While you may use more sophisticated market tools or look in the MLS directly, knowing what everyone else in the marketplace sees to understand their perspective during a potential transaction is essential.
2. Apartments.com: See Comparable Rental Rates or Stay on Top of Listings
If you prefer to invest in multi-family properties or manage your own rentals, never operate in a vacuum. Stay aware of what other properties are listing for and how they’re describing themselves. You’ll see trends regarding rental prices, time on the market, amenities, and more. You can also use this app to ensure your listings look as appealing as possible.
3. Your Lender’s App
Many lenders offer full services online through a dashboard or—even better—an app. Downloading it to your phone gives you more secure and convenient access to the documents and action items throughout your transaction. Along with a hub for uploading and downloading documents, signing documents, and viewing approval status, many of these apps will have a calculator to easily gauge the profitability of different scenarios.
If you want to do business on the go, become familiar with the DocuSign app. E-signatures are almost always a valid alternative to wet signatures, and having the app means you can sign a wide variety of documents on the road. However, the desktop and mobile interfaces have different organizational styles. It’s well worth your time to sit down and become familiar with how the mobile app works and where everything is located.
Venmo and Zelle are staples in the real estate investment world, but businesses are increasingly preferring Zelle. Download the app (and connect it to your business account!) so you can easily pay repair companies, maintenance teams, and contractors. Many title companies accept Zelle payments instead of traditional paper checks and wires, as well.
6. Area-Specific Real Estate Apps Like HAR.com
While broad nation- or state-wide real estate apps like Zillow can be useful, highly localized apps can be even better. HAR.com has several different apps designed for real estate agents and investors that make it easier to find open houses, local trends, and new properties on the market.
Related: The Impact of the Banking Industry on Commercial and Residential Real Estate Markets – Real Estate Real Fast EP19
You can search or filter the app based on county, city, or even zip code. Crucially, it doesn’t have the penchant for crashing that many apps have when trying to handle the large load of information that real estate apps often involve. However, HAR focuses solely on the Houston region, so you may need to look around for the equivalent app for your area.
Whether you’re a novice investor looking for your first property or an experienced investor refining your portfolio, managing your money is essential to investing. An app like Mint doesn’t directly help you move money or reduce expenses. Instead, it gives you a detailed overview of your accounts, credit cards, properties, and costs. This app will help you keep an eye on spending in different categories and can help you ensure the cash flow for each property is transparent. Mint puts all of your accounts in one place, so nothing slips through the cracks.
Add ListingSpark to Your List of Business Apps
The best apps for real estate investors are the ones you use regularly—and which bring actual value to your business processes. Even better, they can reduce the total number of apps you need. At ListingSpark, we’ve developed a suite of mobile and desktop tools that are designed to help you manage listings and reduce expenses. With our comprehensive app, you can get your properties listed on MLS, manage marketing, and easily navigate negotiations. Get advice, signatures, photos, and more—all in one place. Learn more today and see how much time and money you can save with ListingSpark and our real estate listing app.
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