Searching for a new home can be difficult, and if it is your first time, the process is incredibly intimidating. Thankfully, there are a number of free tools that can simplify things, making you feel more confident that you have found the right home. Whether you are just starting your search or you are ready to make a move, check out these useful free tools and apps for home buyers.

See What Is Out There

Once upon a time, homebuyers had to keep an eye on local classifieds or simply drive around looking for open houses and for sale signs. Nowadays, you can do all of that from the comfort of your couch, or even on the go. Popular home search sites Trulia, Zillow, and are searchable on computers and all have their own handy apps so you can take your search with you anywhere.

Not sure what you’re looking for? The U.S. Census Bureau has an app, dwellr, which allows you to survey cities throughout the country based on your preferences. The app is also useful for finding out more detailed information on these locations, such as commuting options, safety, education, and more.

Go The Distance (Or Not)

Walkscore’s handy app allows buyers (and renters too!) to look up commute options and the walkability of prospective neighborhoods. If you need a conveniently located house, just check out potential addresses and see what is nearby and how long you’ll have to travel to get there.

Play It Safe

If safety is a concern, check out Neighborhood Scout, which allows you to check out crime in your prospective neighborhood, including types of crimes and frequency. Family Watchdog is another available resource that lets you check for registered sex offenders in the area.

Survey Local Schools

Whether you have children in schools or you think it is a possibility down the road, surveying local school choices is always a good idea for new home buyers. Great Schools is an easy tool that allows you to search by address, zip code, or even city, which means you can find the perfect home in an area that has the educational programs you want.

Get The Help You Need

Buying a new home isn’t just about the search — you’ll want to know what your rights are as a buyer and as a homeowner. Check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s site that offers a host of free tools and resources to help you stay informed throughout the process.

Buying a home is exciting, and with these free tools and resources, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Remember that a crucial part of your home search will be based on the financing options available to you, so before you start looking, get pre-approved by mortgage lenders to find out what you can afford. To begin, answer a few questions here and a home lending expert will contact you about the financing options available for you.

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