18 August . 2017
Austin’s new Matrix portal leads list of tech tools for home shoppers
Today’s tech tools empower home shoppers to do a lot of their initial legwork for finding their new home in Austin right from their desk or smartphone. Here’s a look at some brand-new real estate tech tools, including some you may not have thought about before.
A “massively updated” local tech tool
At Sweetwater, we think technology is a great assistant for everyone’s new home search, and we also strongly recommend using the invaluable services of a real estate professional. That’s why we’re excited to begin this list with Matrix 7.0, the new consumer portal from the Austin Board of Realtors.
Launched in mid 2017, this most local of real estate tech tools has been massively updated to provide home shoppers with the same enhanced experience on both mobile and desktop platforms.
New search displays include Map View, List View and Gallery View, along with a new and much more user-friendly format for scanning listings. There’s also a new “heart” icon where users can save listings as Favorites or Possibilities.
Because most homebuilders and communities like Sweetwater also list their available new homes on local MLS services, Matrix is a convenient resource for home shoppers wanting to explore both new and resale homes.
Another Austin-based tech resource
One of the nation’s top tech capitals, Austin is also home to BDX, or Builders Digital Experience, which powers NewHomeSource.
This is a great resource for home shoppers wanting to focus exclusively on new homes. Both the mobile and desktop versions feature listings that are updated on a daily basis, from more than 500 homebuilders in more than 8,000 new home communities across the nation. Austin is a top Featured Market.
NewHomeSource also offers lots of good basic info, with videos and articles on topics such as Why Buy New and The Building Process. You can download a free eBook, New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home.
Feel like a real estate insider
Before looking at some well-known national real estate apps, let’s take a look at a few more Austin-centric tech tools.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Austin website has a new-home search page powered by NewHomeSource. The Home Buyers section has lots of useful info, such as a FAQ page with answers to questions like “With so many homebuilders to choose from, how do I decide who to go with?” and “What are some questions I should be asking my homebuilder?”
In addition to the Matrix consumer portal, the Austin Board of Realtors’ primary website offers a treasure trove of info for anyone wanting to deepen their knowledge of real estate. Data-curious home shoppers will love monthly market reports showing price trends, average days on market and other stats. The site also has an extensive glossary of terms that will let you feel like a pro when you hear terms like ADOM, LTV and R Value.
News from some of the most downloaded apps
Now, let’s look at the latest from those well-known national apps.
Zillow, the most downloaded app for Apple and Android phones, has interactive maps and the brand’s signature value estimate for more than 100 million homes. Zillow has been in the news recently for its controversial “Instant Offers” feature, which has been test-marketed in a limited number of U.S. cities.
The official tech tool of the National Association of Realtors, the Realtor.com app makes it easy to shop for homes by school and district, with accurate and frequently updated data. A new feature allows users to easily switch between desktop and mobile devices.
Powered by Realtor.com’s owner, Doorsteps is the Tinder for real estate, or at least a fun way to browse. After getting photos of homes based on your search criteria, you swipe right if you love it, and left if you don’t.
Another one of the most downloaded real estate apps, Real Estate by Trulia gives users the desktop experience in a mobile platform. It opens to packages of photos, rather than a map, to show galleries of features such as kitchens.
Find the best schools and places to live
In addition to tech tools that let you shop for actual homes available for sale, there are also websites that rate schools and places to live, using algorithms that evaluate data such as student test score results, graduation rates, and quality of life factors including cost of living, employment rates and weather. While not the be-all end-all for the ultimate decision of where to live, these sites can provide useful insights.
Niche.com is one the most popular ranking and review websites for both schools and places to live. We’re proud that Niche gives our own Lake Travis Independent School District an overall A+ grade, and ranks LTISD at No. 10 among more than 1,000 school districts in Texas.
As for places, Niche also gives Austin an overall A+ grade.
US News has also evolved into useful rankings and advice site for real estate, high schools and colleges, hospitals and more. We’re thrilled that US News ranked Austin No. 1 in its 2017 100 Best Places to Live in the USA list, citing factors such as Austin’s strong desirability score.
If you’ve already narrowed your new-home search to Austin, the Lake Travis Independent School District, or Sweetwater specifically, our own Sweetwater.com website offers some great ways to explore the wide variety of homebuilders, plans and price ranges in our community.
We’re continually improving our popular Homefinder tool, which already lets you search all quick move-in plans and plans available to be built in Sweetwater. You can refine your search by builder, price range, square footage, number of bedrooms, and even the size of the garage. Search results include interior and exterior photos and renderings, floor plans, and available details on upgrades and homesite features. A mortgage calculator is provided, along with builder contact info.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit Sweetwater in person yet, you can take online photo tours of many of the fully furnished model homes in the community. Our website also has links to the websites of all of our builders, where you can explore virtual tours and interactive floor plans.
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