“Should I Live Here?” Real Estate Apps to Help You Choose a Neighborhood


If you’re like most home buyers, you agonize over choosing a new neighborhood. This is where you and yours (or your client and his family) are going to live for several years and maybe longer. There are some spiffy new apps on the market that can help you find out what you need to know to make the right decision for you and your family.

WalkScore is an app for your laptop, iPhone or iPad that shows the amenities within “walking distance” of a particular address. Whether you walk, drive or Segway around your neighborhood, WalkScore tells you what’s nearby – restaurants, shops, schools, hospitals, and more – and provides ratings and comments from locals about the quality of each one. It also helps you find apartments for rent in your area, with information about each rental. WalkScore Professional is designed for real estate agents who can use the app to better showcase their individual properties, as well as app developers and even urban planners. Another, similar app, Around Me, is available for the iPad and iPhone, and provides information about businesses in the area around a particular address, from gas stations to supermarkets.

Wikihood Plus is an iPad app that combines mapping and specific information from Wikipedia to help you learn about the area you’re considering. If you’re standing in the front yard of the house you’re looking at, just open the app in your tablet and it will immediately show you, say, the nearest museum and the subway stop you should take to get there. Same for the nearest Italian restaurant or antique outlet. The app gives you information about the particular attraction or business, and directions to get there. There’s also a lighter version for your iPhone. Wikihood is also good for travelers and students.

Everyone has concerns about the safety of their new neighborhood. One of the most uncomfortable concerns is about potential sex offenders living near their children. Safe Neighborhood for Android and iPhone combs through the National Sex Offender Registry to show you if any registered offenders are living near you, what their crimes were, where they live and what they look like. It’s always best to be knowledgeable.

Sitewise for Android and iPhone/iPad uses US and Canadian census data to create a demographic profile of a particular area. Street maps and aerial maps help you find everything that’s in the neighborhood; you can analyze a particular town, county, zip code, or “drive-time circle” (everything within, say, 20 minutes of the given address). You can even run reports for Excel. This is a powerful app for both agents and homebuyers.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect home for your family or your client, these apps can give you the information you need to make well-informed home buying decisions. Information is power. Power up your tablet or smartphone and start hunting!