New Kid on the Block? Assess Your Tech Needs
From choosing cell phones to GPS solutions, here’s what you need to know to make wise decisions when outfitting your new business with technology.
March 1, 2007
I often receive requests from readers who are brand new to the real estate field: They’re eager to succeed, and want me to tell them which tech tools they need to start their business on strong footing. Most of these go-getters want a detailed shopping list, right down to the brand and model number.
As a matter of policy, I never say exactly which products you should purchase — after all, the “right” tool is always a subjective decision, and it’s best to investigate several options before making your choice. Instead, I explain what to look for in a product, and how to make the best decision for your needs.
So for all the newbies out there looking for advice, here’s what I recommend you should do to find out what technology services and tools you need.
First, Do the Research
Before spending a dime, take these steps:
- Take inventory of what’s already there. Ask your broker what systems are already in place for practitioners, and check in with your local MLS to find out which tech tools and services work best with its data.
- Survey your peers. Experienced real estate pros, or even practitioners who are still relatively new to the business, will be an excellent source of information. Find out what they’re using, what they need now, and what they like or dislike about tools they’ve tried.
- Read product reviews. With a simple Google search or sites like CNET, you can quickly find detailed reviews of all types of tools. At many retail Web sites like Amazon or Circuit City, you can read reviews posted by consumers, which I find to especially be useful since they reflect real life experiences with the products, including the pros and cons.
- Look for discounts. New technology and upgrades can be pricey. Before purchasing, check with companies that participate in the REALTORS® Benefits program. These vendors have taken the initiative to understand the specialized needs of real estate professionals and may offer you some special deals.
What You Need: The 6 Essentials
To run your office most efficiently, here’s a quick rundown of the technology that’s worth the investment.
Virtual tour solutions simplify the steps involved in showcasing your listings. Real estate software calculators for qualifying buyers and figuring loans and mortgages are available online. Electronic forms provide an electronic archive of all contracts and documents.
One of the challenges with real estate software is simply knowing what’s available. The Real Estate Software Directory, maintained by Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center, is one good resource.
As for other printer considerations, let your budget dictate whether you go with an inkjet or splurge for a laser printer. As a step-up feature, think about fax-to-e-mail or fax-to-PDF conversion capability. These features make it easier to get documents to clients quickly.
These are just some of the basic technology building blocks you’ll need for getting your business running and growing — a business you’ll soon realize is a people business increasingly powered by technology.