A decade ago, technology had very little to do with a Realtorâ€™sÂ® business. Today, however, technology is essential to an agent or brokerâ€™s success.
How does one go about choosing the right technology tools?
Without over-paying for the latest trendy gadget, below is a list of 10 devices that all 21st century real estate professionals should use. Based on feedback from HomeGain agents, these devices will help increase your businessâ€™ effectiveness, efficiency and competitiveness.
Top 10 Technology Tools for REALTORSÂ®
Website is one of the most important marketing tools an agent can have. Itâ€™s not just a way to tell potential homebuyers and sellers who you are and what you offer, but it essential for lead generation. How so? If you set up a form on our site, most likely on your home page, the more motivated consumers will provide you with their contact information. And voila, you have a new lead. Set up auto-responder emails to thank a person for visiting your site, give your contact info, and tell them a realistic amount of time when they should expect a return call or email from you.
A laptop allows you to take your office with you anywhere you go. It is a terrific way to give a listing presentation to a seller. You can bring it with you for a flashy PowerPoint presentation, delve into MLS stats right there at the home of the seller, and dial up the MLS either to help price a property or locate a new one. A wireless connection is a must.
3. Mobile Phone & Accessories
Consumers prefer to have instant contact, and a mobile phone is the answer to having them reach you at their convenience. Most have a built-in camera, Internet access, text messaging option. The Blackberryâ„˘ or TREOâ„˘ and even the latest iPhoneâ„˘ are more powerful alternatives to the more standard cellular phone. There are real estate applications made for TREO, and other benefits include using the device as a â€śkeyâ€ť for secure access to listings or providing on-the-fly calculations for mortgages or seller net sheets. Donâ€™t forget a Bluetooth headset so you can talk on the phone while driving and keep both hands on the wheel. Some vehicles nowadays are equipped with Bluetooth technology through the stereo system.
4. GPS Navigation System
Although the majority of homebuyers use the Internet to find homes, you still need to do a lot of traveling to walk clients through homes, to transport documents, and to meet people face-to-face. Unless you only sell in one area, which you know like the back of your hand, you will need to navigate your way to unfamiliar areas. With the costs of gas remaining high, and with little time in your busy schedule, a GPS navigation system in your vehicle will get you where you need to be quickly and efficiently.
5. Automated Marketing & Lead Generation Solutions
Some of the larger brokers or top producing agents have people who can monitor new business in the office while they are out. Most real estate agents still need to do both â€“ drumming up new business while attending to active clients. There are companies that provide lead generation and marketing services for agents and brokers for this reason. HomeGain is a good example.
- The AgentEvaluator program connects agents with homebuyers and sellers in specific ZIP codes.
- BuyerLinkâ„˘ increases traffic to your website.
- AgentView features exclusive agents in one area through HomeGainâ€™s instant home valuation tool.
- AIMSâ„˘delivers you a free website and 20 guaranteed buyer leads per month.
All of these programs allow you to focus on closing business, while generating new business specific to your market areas to build into your long-term pipeline.
6. Zipformsâ„˘ and DocuSignÂ®
If you have gotten away from all the paper and are doing contracts online, Zipforms will enable you to write and email contracts online. Contracts get automatically updated and you can type on it like a writable PDF. Itâ€™s easy to use, avoids the messy look of a fax. Using DocuSign in conjunction with Zipforms enables you to insert electronic signatures. Combined, it can be a convenience for clients who are more tech savvy and donâ€™t have fax machines.
7. Digital Camera
A digital camera can be used to take photos of the inside and outside of homes, the surrounding area, and anything else that could help sell a home or purchase one. Photos can be placed on your website, posted on listing sites or MLS, used to build a virtual tour, or emailed to clients. As a HomeGain member, you can post your listings for free at www.homegain.com/homescout/mylistings.
Homefeedback.com is a service that efficiently automates feedback from buyer showings on your hard-won listings. It makes it easy for the buyerâ€™s agent to communicate their results faster, and helps you respond more quickly to your sellers, keeping communication lines open. Armed with information from this site, you can easily present your seller with showing results on a regular basis while helping you bypass the fear of contacting your seller with little or no good information. When used consistently, it can help you win listings, go for and get price reductions, and keep your listings until you get them sold.
9. Instant Neighborhood Services
Finding the right neighborhood is at the top of the list for most buyers. There are numerous sites that allow you and your clients to search for neighborhood characteristics, schools, demographics, statistics, resources, and more. HomeGain offers an instant home valuation service, and then lists additional neighborhood information in the results. Once you find the site you prefer most, keep it handy so that you can pull it up on your laptop or handheld device to quickly show your clients information about the homes for sale you are showing them.
10. USB Flash Drive
This handy little device is more powerful than it looks. For any large files, images, documents that you need to back up (to ensure that you never lose the file) or transfer to another computer, simply plug the USB drive into your computer and download/upload it. Some files are too large to email, and sometimes you donâ€™t want to bring your whole computer with you. Opt for the 1GB versions to ensure that you have plenty of room for all your files. Oh, and you can even hang it on your keychain for convenience.
For more information about RealtorÂ® marketing solutions, visit www.homegain.com/realestateagent.
REALTORÂ® Magazine Online recently posted â€śYour Best $1000 Investmentâ€ť.
Founded in 1999, HomeGain is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in Emeryville, California and has a nationwide following of real estate agents, real estate brokers, and real estate professionals.