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2010-07-01 22:24:50

Top Technology Tools for REALTORS®

A few weeks ago, Saul Klein asked:

Help me out here, if you had to list, in the categories of:

Hardware
Software
Services

What would be your top 12 "Tech Tools", and why?

What are/were any measurable results from the use of the above?

See how your peers answered below.
 

OK...I'll bite...

Hardware:
1) I-phone (and soon, an I-pad)
2) Personal computer (prefer Apple); desktop and/or laptop
3) Digital Camera (from the earliest Mavica to Kodak to Ipix)
4) Video Camera (flip to newest Iphone-G4)
5) Scanner-printer (HP preferred)
6) Wireless reception
7) Website with easy search abilities

Software:
1) GPS/maps
2) Microsoft Office (Word, Power Point, Excell)
3) Quicken
4) Turbo Tax
5) Mozilla's Firefox

Services:
1) Google (all their products: email, search, I-google, Google Reader, Blog, Google Voice)
2) Apple's I-pictures, I-tunes, I-calendar
3) Social Media: Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, U Tube (All FREE)

An interesting observation, all of the above are general purpose items...nothing specifically real estate, yet, they can all be tailored to work with real estate needs.

So, actually, to be in real estate today, the cost is much less than back in the 1990's when many of these tools and software first appeared.

And, I'm sure there are some things that I forgot!


The publisher of my little real estate career book has told me to plan for another edition as soon as the real estate market improves and people actually want to enter the profession again. Likely publication in about two years. My biggest challenge is to include material that does not become obsolete by the time the book comes off the press. Since I'm technologically challenged, information like this is very helpful, since it focuses on the basics. I'll also list web sites which will give readers up to minute information. I'll certainly include RealTalk. I doubt there's an issue that relates in any way to real estate that doesn't get enthusiastically discussed (most of which I more or less understand). Thanks, again.


A few more ideas...

Hardware:
1) Scanner-Printer-Fax (make sure it will scan to your PC) I also use HP products.
2) Desktop for Home. Laptop for office and on the road.

Software:
1) Microsoft Office (add Office Publisher) Make your own flyers.

Services:
1) GoToMyPC - Allows me to access my home computer from anywhere.
2) RingCentral - 800 number, Fax service (from scans, emails or forward a fax), Click to Call buttons for my website. I can fax documents to myself, and then email them to other agents or clients.

Both items are great time savers.


Ok, I'm not a super tech-y person, so this is my basic barebones survival kit for being a mobile professional Bear with me :)

Hardware:
1) Tablet PC (It fits in my purse so I literally carry it everywhere with me and since the screen can also become a signing pad, I can conduct business without paper)
2) Laptop Connect Card ( I used to try to go to places that had free wifi as much as possible, but as I conducted more & more business on the go, it made more sense to just get my own wireless so I can be self-reliant rather than depend on there being a Starbucks nearby!)
3) Camera (I am house hunting right now, so this camera is invaluable. I actually am super extra lazy and use it to take pictures of the addresses so I can just click & store immediately & I'll upload them into my "house file" later...
4) Bluetooth Headset (seriously! With all the time I spend in my car...there is no way I'm not going to spend it talking to someone. And since this is the only legal way to do that...*ahem* ...I got one!)

Software:
1) Obviously Email! I use Microsoft Outlook. Don't have that much to say about it except I like it & it works. The contact card and category features are the main selling point for me
2) Web Browsers: Firefox has proven the most reliable. For some reason IE hates me or something so I refuse to use it anymore. Fool me once...
3) Electronic Signature Software: eSign Online (www.gopaperless.com) . With this software I can upload pdf files and sign directly onto them using my stylus pen. Amazing! Makes my work 100% easier since I'm terrible with losing or forgetting paper files. This way everything I need is stored online for easy access and digital signatures are the future for sure. I mean I haven't been near a fax machine or into a kinko's ever since I loaded this software onto my computer!
4) Google everything. Loves it. Although google map did take me on a little merry go-round ride yesterday when I was trying to find a house...hmm


I've been feeling guilty about being a lurker. I enjoy most of the posts in this forum immensely, and skip over those I don't, and I learn a lot from all of you. I decided I should put some effort into collecting this data for my business so here it is. I should note that I work for a company who doesn't provide anything, and their share of the commission reflects that.

Hardware

  • Laptop - not a tablet. I tried that and found that I didn't like the idea of trying to get people to sign documents as critical as real estate transactions in this way. I'm not old fashioned (as you'll see by my tech list) but this didn't feel right to me.
  • Verizon Wireless Mifi. This allows me to conduct business almost anywhere.
  • Cell Phone. I have a smart phone but don't have the integrated lockbox key and MLS data on my phone. I did have this but I've been in transition and eliminating this allowed me to reduce cost in a manner that didn't much matter to my clients. I have a Blackberry because I need Verizon and I love the way it handles email (better than any other smart phone).
  • Digital Camera. I have a Canon Rebel DSLR. It's a fine choice but if money were no object I'd get something else.
  • Color Laser Printer / scanner I just replaced my old HP because the driver didn't work properly with Windows 7, and because it was time to buy cartridges. For the same price as replacement cartridges I got a new Brother DCP-9040 that is better.
  • Comb Binder I use this to nicely bind my market analysis for listing presentations, as well as misc. other things. I got a great GBC CombBind C110 (new) on Ebay for $100 including shipping.
  • Brother Laser Fax Machine I have this because I had it before efax. It's surprising how often it comes in handy.
  • GPS I have a Garmin Nuvi. When I'm showing a lot of properties I put them in the order I plan to show. At home, I input the address, let it calculate, then press stop, for each of the listings. Then, while we're out, I go to recently found addresses and select the next one. The other thing I do is input the address of the clients office, or school, or church, or whatever they want to live near. As we're sitting in front of a house under consideration I select that address and we are able to know the distance and travel time to that place. If anyone has found a more effective way of doing all this I'd love to hear it.

Software

  • Website I use Superlative and GoDaddy. I wouldn't necessarily use either of these if I were choosing today but they work.
  • Virtual Tour I use Visual Tour. I am very pleased with the product and the service, and I'm good at producing them.
  • Realtor.com I pay the $20 extortion fee to enhance my listings on Realtor.com, that I already paid to put into the MLS (OFF the soapbox, Marsha)
  • Irfanview I use this free and simple photo editing software.
  • Postlets I did use this free software to make my listings on Craigslist look nicer. However, I've decided that Craigslist is a thing of the past. If you do post there this is a great tool.
  • YouCheckCredit This is a non-subscription, pay as you go, way to check credit for rentals. It takes a little bit of setup (as it should, since you're getting very confidential information on tenant candidates).
  • Microsoft Office I use Powerpoint for my signpost flyers, Word and Publisher for my listing presentation
  • Metrofax Sends faxes as PDF to email

Systems

  • Because I think it's critical to have a process for everything I do, so I don't have to think it out every time I do it, I have developed documented systems for things that I regularly do.
  • Checklist for the listing presentation marketing analysis. My listing presentation is in two parts. One is the market analysis about their house and their market competition. The other is information about me, my process and my company. I leave them with a nicely bound (see comb binder in hardware) copy of my market analysis. I DO NOT leave them the information about me and my process. I consider this to be my intellectual property. It reflects what I've learned about effectively conducting a real estate transaction - about what sets me apart.
  • Checklist for Tuesday listing updates; I set the expectation that my lister will hear from me every Tuesday via email, unless something comes up that requires immediate communication. This ensures that sellers aren't wondering when they'll hear from me, eliminates a lot of phone calls, and sets the stage for a transaction with less drama (if such a thing exists!)
  • Checklist for features book that goes inside listings

There are probably some other things but this hits the high spots.


Love all the discussion and have one comment and pet pieve that runs rampant in home offices. The all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machines are a burden unless you pay thousands of dollars. It is better to utilize a good separate scanner, several printers - laser b&w and color and utilize your scanner thru the computer as a fax. So many agents get a cheap all-in-one, never figure out all the features and each is done with marginal compromising of the whole.


Hardware
1. PC- obviously essential! -
2. Droid- Incredible smart phone- not only a fun gadget...it is very uselful as well. Also takes great photos- 8 megapixel.
3. lock box key- unitl our MLS switches to bluetooth lock boxes, this is an obvious tool
4. Electronic lock boxes
5. Ulta-portable laptop- 13" supper light, long battery
6. Camera

Software/ Online services
1. Internet Explorer- what can't you do on the internet now?
2. Microsoft office- outlook is key for me
3. Hosted exchange account- access contacts, email , calender anywhere, and keep everything synced.
4. MLS
5. E-Fax
6. Docusign


I love www.websitemagazine.com for fresh new ideas on technology. They apply to real estate and give you an inside view on what's happening with social marketing, gadgets and seo tips.


I find Docusign a fabulous software tool for my clients and for me. The only drawback is when the underwriter won't accept the signatures, but I think that it is changing. Just this past week Wells Fargo changed their position on requiring that I have original signatures after the fact that electronic signatures were already submitted.


Hardware
In order of use Blackberry, pc, netbook (that is next on my list to buy instead of what I have now) laptop, Olympus Digital Camera, Kindle for down time

Software
Outlook (I like better than Top Producer), MS Word, Quickbooks, Adobe, iTunes for down time (gotta get that down time!)

Services
DocuSign, IDX on personal website, Market Trend Report (like IDX for sellers) through my MLS, Verizon Laptop Internet Anywhere, soon to get G3 Blackberry (yes, I know 4G is around the corner, but from what I'm reading...I'll wait)


Hardware- Tablet Computer, HTC (I like the stylus, touch screen & full keyboard- not into the roller ball), 25 MM lens digital camera camera, pocket video (AKA "flip")
Software- Nitro PDF Writer Professional, Microsoft Office
Services- Metro Fax online faxing services

**i used to use Adobe Professional but it has glitches with tablet computers. Other faxing companies are too expensive or don't allow you to send, as well as the common receive.


Hardware: Notebook Computer, All in one printer for scanning, faxing and printing, smart phone, digital camera

Software: Microsoft Office Suite, MS Publisher, PrimoPDF, Adobe Elements, Adobe Reader, Movie Maker of Photo Story 2

Services: Internet, e-mail, MLS, cell phone, Document Management like Zipforms online (I actually use my company provided version) 

Some of these services seem to fall in both service and software. I couldn't do my job without US Post Office and great lenders, title companies, appraisers, insurance companies etc. Of course my most important hardware is still my car. We still can't do this job without leaving home.


Hardware -
Palm Pre Smartphone
Laptop
Xerox Phaser Color Laser Printer
External hard drive for backups
Digital Camera

Software -
MS Office Suite, including Outlook
Adobe Professional
Agent Office
Digsby chat program

Services -
Client Portal through my local MLS
UnityFax (electronic fax)

You'll notice that one thing I am missing is my website. Still working on that one. Haven't quite come up with the right domain name yet.


Let's see .. top 12 tech tools

* Hardware
o 2 year-old Toshiba laptop at home (wireless)
o 2 year-old desktop at the office - just the basics - do most work at home
o HP All-in-One 8500 (I use the scanner practically daily). Great machine! I love the new 'xl' ink cartridges that last forever!
o Separate hard drive for backups (Backup Star)
o Older HP All-in-One at the office just for printing and copying
o 6 year old Kodak digital (nice pics but want a better one)

* Software
o Microsoft Office (I use Outlook for email)
o IRIS for bringing up plats

* Services
o MyFAX - I use this to receive fax'd documents and to send fax'd documents (don't need a separate fax line) - LOVE this service! Thanks, ePRO
o Full page ad in the local real estate magazine - use the 800 Call 24/7 for free info) - works wonders! $300/month, and worth every penny
o Proquest (800 number with free recorded info - works like a charm) - LOVE this
o Point2Agent website (thanks, ePRO) - I have the url with Go Daddy and a permanent email (thanks, ePRO)

I guess that does it. I’ve been living on a tight budget so I’ve been making do with what I have. I’d like to upgrade my two machines, get a new camera (wide angle capability), have online backups and a ZIPScan or Scanzip??. I’d also like some good software to work with photography. Just waiting for some nice big fat paychecks .. :-) I have a nice one coming in late August. I hate to do this, but I’ll probably sign on with Realtytrac at $50/month. Everyone and his uncle wants foreclosures. I know most of the REO’s around here, but some are listed by agents out of my MLS reach.  There are particular properties around here that are super hot and they want to get their foot in the door before everyone else. There’s one condo development that’s so hot that people literally walk around the complex looking for the bank papers or those little combo boxes. I need more than the two week lead in the newspapers legal notices section. I’d like to upgrade my bare-bones website. Right now I only use it for people to search the MLS. It’s in poor shape but at least I have it and it’s cheap ..  $15/month.

I appreciate all the great ideas I’ve gotten from ePRO. I know what I want to do next. Just need to budget it in.



 

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