Todd Carpenter is the Director of Strategic Investments for the National Association of REALTORS®.
Beyond Angry Birds
Smartphone and tablet users are discovering there’s an app for almost everything, from managing leads to annotating contracts. Take a closer look at 10 of the most useful mobile apps for real estate pros.
July 18, 2012
iPhone, iPad, Android
Among all the to-do applications out there, Wunderlist stands out for its ability to sync across multiple platforms and with multiple people. Tasks you enter using Windows or Mac OS X programs can be checked off on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device, or vice versa. Everything syncs in the cloud. Create a list of properties for a client to view, or share sales meeting updates with your agent team. Since the app works across many different platforms, everyone can easily participate.
For a real estate team, the ability to assign items to specific team members would make the app even better.
iPhone, iPad, Android
While DocuSign (a Realtor Benefits® Program Partner) has a robust subscription service for generating and managing contracts, this simple app is a great solution for signing almost anything from a smartphone or tablet. Using an iPhone, you click on the attached PDF in your e-mail. Select Open In… and choose DocuSign Ink. Then, touch spots on the contract that need to be signed. DocuSign Ink adds your signature.
During setup, the app asks you to draw your signature with your finger. It’s a little cumbersome. It would be nice to have the option to provide a scanned copy of your signature instead.
Open Home Pro
Open Home Pro gives you an elegant way to let open house visitors sign in and view listing details, while providing you with convenient lead-management tools. The app automatically sends an electronic thank-you note with details on the home and can send follow-up e-mails when there are price reductions and other changes to the listing.
Open Home Pro would be even more effective if you could add custom fields on the sign-in screen pertaining to consumers’ interests or at least select from a list of fields that might include a desired price range or number of bathrooms. Such data could enhance your relationship with consumers.
Trulia for Agents
This agent-specific app allows you to manage incoming leads from Trulia and to have your contacts accessible wherever you are. The ability to check into a listing and share your observations with clients offers a great branding opportunity for agents seeking to become a local neighborhood expert. Consumers can view the listings an agent has checked into from that agent’s profile on Trulia.
The app could benefit from a sharing feature that ties to broader networks, such as Facebook and Foursquare, so agents could show their business-related check-ins as well as their stops at Starbucks or the golf course.
iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows 7
Data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® show that nine out of 10 buyers use the Internet in their home search. About the same percentage use a real estate pro. So it’s vital to find ways to connect with buyers as they search. REALTOR.com’s robust consumer app includes helpful communication tools that let you collaborate with prospects and customers. Consumers can send listings they like and share comments with you directly from the app.
Further enhancement of these tools would be terrific. Think Evernote. Give consumers and real estate pros the ability to share notes, pictures, and video.
A superb tool for editing, highlighting, organizing, and sending PDF files, iAnnotate makes it easy to work with contracts and other documents in the field. This easy-to-navigate iPad app lets you scroll continuously through a document. Choose from a plethora of functions: pen, highlighter, typewriter, notes, underline, strikethrough, photography, voice recording, and date stamps.
More platforms. The biggest downside is that it’s available only on the iPad for now. Similar solutions for Android are much less versatile.
iPhone, Android, BlackBerry
Expensify is great for tracking expenses on the fly. Use your phone’s camera to snap a photo of a receipt and upload it to your account. You’ll never lose a receipt again. The app can generate a new expense report or match it to imported credit card expenditures. These reports can easily be imported to QuickBooks and other systems.
The app can track mileage, but the process is far from intuitive. Users must manually add mileage as a new expense, switching dollars to miles in the currency selector. At a time when apps have check-in tools and route tracking, this feature should be more automatic.
Virtual Office MLS
Not long ago, most MLSs permitted online access only via the Internet Explorer browser. This made it especially difficult for iPad and iPhone users. Hillside Software’s app changes this. For Denver practitioners, the full MLS is now available on the iPad.
Broader availability. Virtual Office MLS is accessible only to members of the Metrolist MLS in Denver at present.
(Other MLSs have opted to develop mobile web browsers, rather than platform-specific apps, Listings can be searched from any Web-enabled device.)
iPhone, Android, Windows 7, Blackberry
Showing empty homes to strangers can put sales associates in potential danger. Glympse lets you share your location while away from the office. Using the smartphone’s GPS feature, Glympse tracks and broadcasts your location in real time. The app allows you to choose who sees the information and for how long.
A panic button feature would be an important addition. It would be valuable if users could discreetly alert authorities or team members if an emergency arises.
iPhone, iPad, Android
Never again forget an important computer file on the road. LogMeIn’s app allows you to log into a Web-connected computer from your mobile device. You can manage files and otherwise control the computer from anywhere. Use this app in a pinch to access your Internet Explorer-only MLS. It’s not lightning-fast, but it’s certainly faster than driving back to the office.
Affordability. The app economy has changed people’s expectations about paying for software. Unfortunately, many agents will pass on this app based on its annual cost.