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Apartment hunting? Here's how to turn your phone into a broker

Kristin Maverick uses Nestio.com to find a new

Kristin Maverick uses Nestio.com to find a new apartment in Hell's Kitchen. (RJ Mickelson/amNY) Photo Credit: Kristin Maverick has been using Nestio.com to find a new apartment. (RJ Mickelson/amny)

There are more apps and websites than ever helping people find the perfect pad, from listings sites to interactive neighborhood searches.

The daunting hunt for a home has become as simple as a click on an iPhone.
The number of real estate apps on the market “could be upwards of 6,500 or so,” said Patrick Healy of marketing consultancy firm Phacient. “But that’s just a stab in the dark.”

“That number will change substantially in the next month or so,” Healy added, as the digital market keeps exploding.

So what’s an apartment shopper to do to find the best digital partners? Whether you’re renting or buying, amNewYork has culled some of the smartest websites and apps to ease your search.

One of the people leading the way is Caren Maio, creator of Nestio.com, a site that lets people aggregate their apartment searches in one location.

“We’re seeing a lot of new tech, especially on the mobile side, from which the real estate industry can benefit,” Maio said. “We’re adopting new ways to communicate to our audience and utilize this technology. … It’s a really exciting time.”

Kristin Maverick, 27, is planning to move from her digs in Hell’s Kitchen when her lease ends next month.

She has been using Nestio’s website and its free iPhone app to keep track of all of the apartment listings that she likes.

“Usually the apartment hunt includes the emailing and saving of about 10-plus apartments per day, saved to either one email chain or multiple bookmarks,” Maverick said. “I was so scattered; now I have one place to put everything.”
Plus it helps her save time and money, as Nestio cuts back on the need to go through brokers, she said.

“I’m definitely feeling more confident with my time frame now,” she added.

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Nestio.com

This site is all about organization, making it easier for you to keep track of apartments from several sources.

- Save your favorite listings in one location and update them with notes and pictures.

- Plot the listings that you’ve viewed on a map.

- Use the Nestio iPhone app (free in the App Store) to add new listings on the go.

- Call up broker contact information.

- Use a comparison table to compare listings you’ve saved side by side.

- Collaborate with roommates and friends and share photos via Facebook Connect.

Buyfolio.com

Teri Rogers, founder of the real estate site BrickUnderground, described this site as “the buyer’s version of Nestio,” compiling sales listings for New Yorkers looking to own. You can create your own folio, where you can save your searches.

- Offers an extensive buildings database — mostly Manhattan- and Brooklyn-centric — that culls apartments from the Real Estate Board of New York’s RealPlus database.

- Includes building information, such as whether pets are allowed or whether there is a part-time doorman on hand.

- Organize searches by price per square foot, monthly fees or number of rooms.

- Offers access to floor plans, photos and maps, as well as information on units for sale or recently sold in particular buildings.

- Check price changes, open houses and status changes of listings, which are updated three times a day. Users can receive these updates automatically.

- Communicate with people who have access to a particular listing, such as a broker or family members, in real time by leaving notes in your folio.

- The free iPhone, Android and iPad app put your entire folio on your mobile device.

UrbanDigs.com

Want to know how the market is doing? For a numbers cruncher, this data analysis site — started as a blog — follows the ups and downs of the real estate market in real time.

- Track current neighborhood market supply and demand, instead of waiting for quarterly real estate reports.

- Track the market’s monthly pace of new deals and new supply to come.

- Compare prices to other time periods and other areas of the city.

- Watch a daily ticker of Manhattan inventory.

- Spot under- or overperforming segments of the Manhattan market to adjust your own buying or selling strategy.

- Access real-time property sales.

Rentenna.com’s Social Layers

Rentenna uses categories such as price, amenities, access to transit and housing authority complaints to rate apartment buildings from 0 to 99. Its Social Layer lets users share on Facebook.

- Sign up for alerts on certain buildings, including recent availabilities and friends’ reviews.

- Leave building reviews.

- Use the “lived in” feature to find out which of your friends have lived in certain buildings. (Then get a first-hand review.)

BlockAvenue.com

It’s the Yelp! of apartment hunting. Users can search reviews of neighborhoods right down to the exact address.

- Search block-by-block accounts of the general atmosphere at each intersection in a neighborhood, so you can get a better idea of what you would be dealing with walking to and from home.

- See a street view of the block you’re searching from Google Maps.

StreetEasy.com’s ‘Shop for a Broker’

As a seller, you want to be confident that you’re hiring a broker who won’t play you for a fool, pricing your home too high while your listing gets no action. This tool helps you weed out the “high-ballers.”

- See a list of how many apartments a broker has sold in a given time frame, and the average percentage below or above the initial listing price that the apartment sold for.

- Find out how long a broker’s deals have sat on the market. This way, you can tell which brokers won’t waste your time.

- It’s available to people with insider accounts ($10 a month).

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How one site changed the game

Teri Rogers, founder of real estate site BrickUnderground, pegged the explosion of digital real estate to the creation of StreetEasy.com

“StreetEasy set a new standard for transparency in NYC real estate by making price history easily available rather than something most people had to get from a broker,” Rogers said, “and by making it simple for consumers to conduct their own searches and compare property values. It also awakened a seemingly insatiable hunger ... for more transparency and empowerment.”

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