How to Choose and Use Home Inventory Apps

Using home inventory apps or software to track all of your personal belongings and property can be much more convenient, secure, and flexible than creating a hand-written inventory. Although many of them have similar features, all home inventory apps are not the same. It will pay off to identify what you'll primarily be using the app for and figure out which features might support that type of use. Start by reviewing the uses and features below, and then read some reviews of the best home inventory apps to use for different needs. 

Uses for Home Inventory Apps

Hispanic business owner taking inventory with digital tablet in home office

Marc Romanelli / Getty Images

Get organized. Home inventory apps can categorize or tag items in each room. For example, in the master bedroom, you might inventory furniture, jewelry, and antiques. You can run a report on the master bedroom for just the jewelry you own or just the antiques. In other words, you can break down reports by property, room, or item classifications.

Establish resale value. Redecorating and replacing systems such as central air conditioning adds to the value of your home. Making permanent changes also adds to the cost basis of your home, which can reduce capital gains taxes when you sell. You'll need documented proof of these expenses to take advantage of this, and home inventory apps can come in handy for that.

Create moving checklists. Take inventory while you pack, then check items off as you unpack the boxes to ensure that the movers delivered everything you own.

Substantiate insurance claims or tax losses. Home inventory apps usually store digital images of paper documents like receipts and warranties, as well as photos of your belongings. This information can be used for insurance claims or to claim income tax losses should you suffer a loss.

Ensure accurate insurance coverage. Assign a value to items entered into a home inventory app and get a total value of all your belongings to determine how much home owner's insurance you need for adequate coverage.

Calculate your net worth. Having your belongings cataloged with values gives you a more accurate assessment of your net worth.


Some Helpful Features

Free versions: Many home inventory apps offer a free basic version, so use it to find out how it generally performs before you upgrade to a paid version. Look for an easy-to-use interface, and make sure it does not slow down significantly as you enter more items.

Backup capabilities: Some apps have an export feature that allows you to manually back up or transfer your inventory to another storage location, and others automatically back up your data to the cloud so it's not stored directly on your device. Some apps also give you the ability to access your inventory offline so you don't have to worry about losing it if you lose your internet connection.

Detailed sorting capabilities: The amount of information you want to store about each item in your home inventory is an important consideration. Be sure the software lets you record all needed information easily. To record items in more than one home or to designate items in storage, choose an application that supports multiple properties or locations. Also consider choosing apps that let you name your own categories or tags if you're looking for the flexibility to set up your home inventory in a way that is the most meaningful to you.

Photo storage: It's important to have image storage capabilities in your home inventory app so you can save pictures of your items and important documents like insurance policies and wills. Some apps have photo storage limits, so make sure you're choosing one with enough storage for your needs. 

Updating Your Inventory

Using a home inventory application is pointless if you don't update the inventory when you buy new items of value. Taking time to enter updates is much easier than attempting to remember everything you own should you experience a theft or damage or loss of your home. This sounds rudimentary, but remembering to do so isn't always easy because these purchases are made infrequently. Try holding on to receipts and scheduling monthly or quarterly home inventory updates on your calendar. Also, remember to back up data after you add or remove items from your home inventory.