As a real estate professional, the reality is that you are conducting most of your business on the go rather than from an office or from home.
As you head from appointment to appointment, there are several apps and online tools you can take advantage of to help you keep up-to-date and make your life a little easier.
Recently, I spoke with Austin, Texas, Realtor Sumina Bhatti and Nicole Boynton, director of training and social media at Gracy Title in Austin, regarding social media tips for real estate professionals. I also asked them for their favorite apps and cloud-based tools that they regularly use on the job. Below are their suggestions, as well as a few other suggestions we came up with, that can help you to best serve your clients.
All-Around Apps and Tools
Both Bhatti and Boynton recommended Evernote. This multipurpose app can help you keep all of those scraps of paper, notes, research and websites that you need to remember in one place and organized. Evernote can be downloaded for free and synced to all of your mobile devices, tablets and computer so you can access what you need wherever you happen to be. “Personally, I use Evernote 10 times a day,” Boynton said.
Dropbox, another tool that both Bhatti and Boynton use often, allows you to store and organize large files, such as photos of houses, and share the images with clients or colleagues without worrying about clogging up someone’s email inbox.
You can easily transfer the files you need to your computer and to your mobile devices (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and tablets). The basic service is free, though you can upgrade to the Pro level to gain additional space for a fee ($9.99/month).
Hootsuite is a web-based tool and app for social media organization, management and marketing across multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+. “Hootsuite can help you maximize your time on social media,” Boynton said. “You can schedule posts for a later time. For example, I sit down on a Sunday and schedule posts for the week or month.”
You can choose from several plans, ranging from free to “enterprise” level, which is geared to corporations. The Pro or business level is $8.99/month.
DocuSign eSignature allows you and your clients to sign documents electronically, making for more efficient transactions, right from your mobile devices. DocuSign also offers real estate-specific tools, including DocuSign for Realtors® Plus and DocuSign for Realtors® Plus, Broker Edition.
Google Maps is a good tool for plotting out your day, according to Boynton, especially if you’re visiting home sites in areas of town that you’re not familiar with. You can also send directions to your clients so they don’t have to worry about finding the homes you’re showing them. The Google Maps app is available for free for Android phones and tablets, as well as for the iPhone and iPad.
JotNot Scanner is a free app that allows you to scan documents, such as contracts or offers, right from your iPhone or iPad and then converts them to PDFs. You can then upload the PDFs to Dropbox, Evernote or Google Docs to share with colleagues or clients. You can also download the JotNot Pro app for $2.99.
Real Estate Apps and Tools
NuOffer was created by real estate agents as an offer- and contract-writing app that you can write on the go, especially important in a competitive real estate market. “It is a well-thought-out app and helps make my life easier,” Boynton said.
It’s just available for the iPad right now and you can choose from several subscription levels depending on your needs.
Open Home Pro
Open Home Pro is an app that assists real estate pros in organizing open houses for their listings and following up on their leads. Available for the iPad and Android tablets, Open Home Pro allows an agent to post recent price changes to listings and collect pertinent information on open house attendees. The app costs $14.99 for the iPad, while the Android version is free.
Realtor.com Real Estate app
The Realtor.com Real Estate app provides accurate MLS listings for both agents and their clients and is available for free for the iPhone, Android and Windows devices. “I use it a lot,” Bhatti said. “I tell my clients to download it too. You can see nearby ‘for sale’ if the GPS is turned on.”
Bhatti also likes the feature that allows users to draw a grid around where you are looking to see all of the homes for sale in that area. Clients can also link with their agent and if they like a listing, they can email it to the agent.
Realtors Property Resource
Realtors Property Resource (RPR) from Realtor.com is a web-based tool for Realtors only and provides resources for agents, brokers and other real estate professionals as part of their National Association of Realtors membership. For example, for agents, features include nationwide property searches, mapping tools, comps analysis tools, etc.
“You can layer on a map of places of interest to show clients as you go. It’s especially helping if your clients are from out of town,” Boynton said.
New Home Source New Home Search app
It’d be silly to not include our own app, which was developed to help make it easier for homebuyers to search for newly built homes and new home communities.
With the New Home Source New Home Search app, you can search an extensive selection of new homes, home builders and new-home communities for clients who are interested in building a home or buying new. This free app for the iPhone and iPad provides searchable features, maps, photos, videos and floor plans.
Judy L. Marchman is a freelance writer and editor who, during her 20-year career, has written on a diverse number of topics, from horses to lawyers to home building and design.
She currently writes for NewHomeSource, and, in a nod to her equestrian background, copyedits for Southern Racehorse magazine and The Horsemen’s Journal. Judy is also the proud owner of a newly built home and has gained plenty of story inspiration from her home ownership experiences.