Smart Tools for Success: Top Apps for Real Estate Investors

Smart Tools for Success: Top Apps for Real Estate Investors

Flipping homes is as popular as ever. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, real estate investors flipped 72,960 homes. In the real estate investment market overall, activity remains high and profitable—even reaching measurably above pre-pandemic levels. For both new and experienced real estate investors, this bodes well for the 2024 market.

Investors are thriving by finding properties with a lot of potential as both rentals and flips—and then being able to sell them quickly at the right price. However, that also means the market is incredibly competitive and requires the latest tools to keep one step ahead.

Modern real estate investment apps allow you to assess the market in real time, communicate at lightning-fast speeds with other parties in your organization, and get business done faster than ever right from your phone. Evaluate where there’s room in your business processes for more apps and technology so you can work faster and have all the information you need to make sound investments. 

Why Every Real Estate Investor Needs Technology

Decades ago, real estate investment was a very manual and slow-moving process. Investors would look for ‘For Sale’ signs around town or rely on a network of local associates to refer properties their way. Once they located a property, they had to move through paper-based lending, title search, and closing processes that added weeks to the project. 

Over time, things became more streamlined. With the popular advent of the MLS in the 1990s, incorporation of websites into most processes, and electronic signature options throughout the 2000s and 2010s, things have picked up.

Mobile apps represent the next transformation in how real estate investors work. By adding the right collection of apps to your personal or business phone, you can stay aware of any shifts in the market and monitor progress on properties moment by moment. Some of the biggest advantages real estate investor apps bring to the table are:

  • Speed: Texas homes are popular and can be sold in a matter of days. With market analysis and property search apps on your phone, you can stay ready for any new property that hits the market. You can even set up searches that send you push notifications when a qualifying property appears. You can also quickly coordinate closing costs, manage repairs and renovations, and put flips back on the market quickly.
  • Up-to-the-minute knowledge: Because the real estate market is so turbulent, trends are changing every day. The last few months of 2023 saw a dramatic turnaround in interest rates, which had been climbing steeply only to fall into the 6% range. Know the strength of the market, changes in the Fed and lender rates, and the availability of your favorite repair services.
  • You’re not tied to a desk: Previous digital conveniences still meant you needed a computer to get work done. With apps, you can manage most of your tasks from your phone. This includes assessing properties, scheduling repair services, reviewing and signing documents, and more. You can even do it while visiting new potential properties. 

Related: Unlocking Investment Opportunities: Exploring MLS Access for Investors

Whether you choose to add only the essentials to your phone or try and make your entire business operation go mobile, the right stack of apps makes all the difference.

Top Apps for Real Estate Investors in 2024

Creating the perfect real estate investor tech stack requires a careful balance of choosing the right apps for each function and not picking too many or too few. Start by identifying the key ‘hats’ you wear in your business, often including searching for properties, managing finances, managing the properties (for rentals) or repairs (for flips), and understanding the market. 

Each of these categories may require just one app to manage all your tasks, or you might need several apps in each bucket. Consider these highly effective apps.

Property Search and Analysis

The old saying goes that you make money when you buy a property, not when you sell it. So a significant amount of your time, attention, and effort should go toward finding prospective properties, evaluating them, and making an offer as soon as you see the right one. Look for property search apps that pull directly from the MLS while including FSBOs and non-MLS properties. Look for apps that offer critical functions like:

  • Personalizable searches: Every investor has specific criteria regarding size, location, price, and other factors. Choose an app that lets you search based on these criteria—and then save that search so it automatically populates with new listings.
  • Detailed listing information: Your ideal app will tell you all the information about a property with as little searching and DIY research as possible. While most consumer-facing sites don’t include all the information available on MLS, it’s nice to have one that includes as many details as possible.
  • Speedy uploads: App performance is a must-have, even if it doesn’t seem like it initially. Real estate listings are bulky, especially if they include documents, images, and videos. But if your app takes a long time to load, it won’t be easy to use, and you might start skipping over slowly loading pages that may have otherwise been the next property in your portfolio.

Major consumer-facing real estate sites like Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow each have apps. Other apps can offer you similar insights into properties. While you should explore each one to find the best fit, three popular choices are:

  • Auction.com: This app focuses on short sales, foreclosed properties, and REOs rather than typical homes on the market. Because of this unique focus, it’s a great fit for all-cash investors looking for properties that need extra attention but face far less competition.
  • HAR: The Houston Association of Realtors maintains HAR.com, a website and app focused on local listings. It ties much closer to the general MLS, so you can easily find near-real-time insights. If you’re in the Houston area, this is a must-have app. If you focus on other Texas real estate regions, look for a similarly robust and localized resource.
  • Homesnap: You can snap a picture of a prospective property, and the app will find it on the MLS. Not only does this let you quickly learn more about FSBOs and surprise findings, but you can easily do a bit of market research on neighboring properties.

These apps don’t just grant you insight into specific properties. You can also monitor trends in the market and historical growth.

Financial Management

Every business owner should have excellent financial management. But when you’re a real estate investor, everything is about money. Knowledge includes what the current interest rates are, how much money you have available for an investment property, and how much cash flow you’re making across your portfolio.

Related: Crunching Numbers: Using an Investment Property Closing Costs Calculator

Simultaneously, it’s important to keep an eye on the costs for individual properties undergoing repairs or maintenance projects. On top of all that, make sure you’re paying yourself enough for the business to be worth it. 

Four apps we recommend are:

  • Credit Karma (formerly Mint): Organize your budget, track and categorize business expenses, and make sure all of the different bills you’re responsible for get paid on time.
  • Dotloop: Dotloop is a payment management app. If you want to make sure all of your transactions are well-categorized for tax time, working through this app makes it easy to stay organized.
  • Repair Estimator Plus: This spreadsheet-based app gives you the tools and framework to quickly estimate the necessary repairs to make a property ready for rent or resale. You can use this to predict costs before going officially under contract and to present figures to potential investor partners or lenders.
  • Zelle: Zelle is the new checkbook for many investors, contractors, and repair businesses. Instead of trying to track paper checks or paying invoices over a credit card, you can pay through the Zelle app. This is convenient—and it creates a detailed record of expenses.

Project Management

Every property has its own complex project. Whether you hold one property or several, make sure you have the tools to manage negotiations, closing, property management, and profits. Three choice apps are:

  • DealCheck: Both a project management app and a financial management app, DealCheck gives users a lot of information for pricing flips, rental properties, and multi-family units. You can look up current market data and forecast reasonable prices for sales and rentals.
  • DocuSign: This is a general business app—but a handy one. Keep track of all the documents you sign as well as documents pending signature. It’s useful for new property acquisitions, rental agreements, and more.
  • FlipperForce: This app is built to help you organize all your efforts to make a property market-ready. You can use it to estimate repairs, track project expenses and repair schedules, and estimate timelines.

Use Real Estate Software to Manage Your Business Operations in One Powerful App

Many apps only operate in one category, such as managing documents or letting you analyze activity in a specific neighborhood. But it’s even more useful to have apps that operate across multiple functions at once. ListingSpark’s platform is built for real estate investors who want just a handful of apps to handle all of their operations. Through our software, you can search for properties on the market, forecast the right sales price for properties in your portfolio, manage all the tasks of putting your home on the market and closing the deal, and keep track of all of your properties as they transition into sold assets. Get started to see how one single app can power your investment business

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