New digital tools can help homebuyers verify square footage, uncover big-ticket problems and envision how to transform a space — all before they sign an offer and send a deposit.
A slew of new digital tools can increase your homebuying savvy, allowing you to verify square footage, uncover big-ticket problems and envision how you would transform a space before you sign an offer and send a deposit.
One of the newest and most helpful devices around is the Flir One, a lightweight thermal-imaging camera that attaches to your Apple or Android phone and displays what the naked eye can’t see: overheated or overloaded circuits, leaking pipes, wall studs and faulty windows that are expensive to replace.
When a house hits the market, it’s often undergone a thorough surface makeover to hide any imperfections, with clever staging, decorating and painting, to name a few common patch jobs. The Flir can allow you to see through the facade. It’s priced between $199 and $250, which can prove to be a small price to pay to support a six- or-seven-figure investment.
The Flir uses two cameras: a thermal sensor, which creates images that merge with those from the visible camera. The result is a high-resolution image or video that imposes thermal readings on top of real physical detail.
But even if you know what’s inside the walls and you’re zeroing in on finalists, it’s helpful to have a handle on the floor plan, which is where the MagicPlan app comes in handy.
The MagicPlan app, available for iPhone and Android, allows you to easily create professional and accurate floor plans on the fly with your tablet or smartphone. It offers a variety of in-app purchases, but even the most basic, free version of the app is extremely valuable. Just aim at floor and ceiling corners, and click to create perfect floor plans of an entire house in no time. File backup and sharing are free.
Having done my share of house-hunting, I know that the square footage on a listing sheet can be wrong. That detail is just about as important as it gets in figuring out what you’re willing to pay.
MagicPlan does more than spit out floor plans. It allows you to reimagine the spaces you may want to renovate. With this app, you can place furniture or export the whole thing to the 3-D rendering program Floorplanner so you can be real estate visionaries like the “Property Brothers” on HGTV.
When it comes to finding professionals, Angie’s List is still the top choice of many consumers because everything is so thoroughly vetted. Angie’s List now offers an app for Apple and Android. Whether it’s a home inspector or contractor, there’s no need to take someone’s word for it when it comes to the biggest investment you’ll ever make.