The World of Mac: Apple Shines in Real Estate

Apple products have made significant gains in real estate over the past few years, but practitioners who use these solutions are still more the exception than rule.

September 1, 2010

One of the fastest-growing groups among real estate professionals is the Apple aficionado. Whether they’re using a MacBook Pro notebook, the new iPad  tablet, the newer iPhone 4, or any other combination of Apple solutions, the number of practitioners using these products keeps going up, and will likely continue to do so for a long time to come.

The iPad, with its large screen and portability for mobile Web access, tops many wish lists this year. With all its hype, Apple’s touch-screen computer has piqued consumer interest and generated excitement in ways Windows XP for Tablets and its successors never have. The iPad also benefits from the positive introduction to Apple products many users first had with the iPod music player or its iPhone smartphone.

Macs on More Desktops

Impressed with those initial experiences, some real estate professionals are now more receptive to the entire Apple line, including its iMac computer for the desktop. Reinforcing that trend are those who are new to real estate but who worked with Macs in prior jobs or at school. So in real estate, Apple’s products are now more popular than ever.

That’s a dramatic break with the past, when Mac addicts were an isolated group, stubbornly loyal to the platform in the PC-heavy world of real estate. For most users, software dictates their choice of hardware; working on the Mac inevitably involved workarounds. Software publishers focused their efforts on the large installed base of PCs running Windows.

It’s still true to some degree. What’s different now, though, is that a properly configured Mac can run Windows software as well as applications written for its own OS X operating system. When Alan Krohn works in real estate, he launches the Boot Camp utility and selects Windows XP on his MacBook. “Call me a frustrated Mac user, working in Windows for real estate, waiting for my MLS to support [Apple’s Web browser] Safari,” says Krohn, a sales associate with Crossroads Realty in Toms River, N.J.

“It really surprised me when I started in real estate and met agents who considered themselves tech savvy that they weren’t using Macs,” he says. “I was way ahead of the curve, and am still waiting.”

Apps Add Appeal

Today, the very issue that plagued the Mac computer for so long in real estate — software selection — is now building a strong case for Apple’s latest mobile hardware in real estate.

There’s more software available for the iPhone than any other smartphone, more than 200,000 apps and counting. A spot check at the iTunes store finds 175 real estate apps. Some may be marginal, but there are practical real estate tools for property searches, mortgage and loan calculators, and contact management. Apple’s decision earlier this year to unify its iPod Touch handhelds, the iPhone, and iPad on the same iOS operating system means much of the software written for the iPhone will run on all. Users of these devices will have access to the most breadth and depth in mobile software, a lead that other platforms will be chasing for the foreseeable future.

Consequently, more real estate professionals can at least consider joining the ranks of Apple fans, like Ed Neuhaus, GREEN, GRI, owner of Neuhaus Realty Group in Austin, Texas. In the office, he runs an iMac. “Everything I do is on the Mac until I want to check the MLS; then I have to launch Windows,” he says.

In the field he relies on his iPhone 4 as his communications platform, GPS navigator, and property search tool with the iPhone app. He’s considering an iPad as his mobile PC. “I think it would be neat to carry an iPad with me for listing presentations,” Neuhaus says. “My goal is to figure out how to do everything related to real estate on the Mac and completely forget about Windows.”

An Apple for You?

For those intrigued with the possibilities of Apple’s products, the best place to begin may be Apple’s page on real estate solutions.

PC users should consider the software they use and look for Apple-compatible alternatives. For basic productivity, there's a Mac version of the Microsoft Office suite, and Apple offers its own productivity packages in its iWork and iLife suites.

While there is specialty real estate software for Mac — Real Estate Success TrackerZip Form, andRealtyJuggler, for example — remember the latest Macs can also be set up to run Windows applications.

With Apple’s Boot Camp, included with OS X, Mac users can choose to use their computers in either OS X or Windows. Software emulators like Parallels or VMWare’s FusionWare allow users to run Mac and Windows applications simultaneously. Whether you choose Boot Camp or an emulator, you’ll need an authorized version of Windows. If you’re primarily interested in Apple’s mobile iPhone smartphone or iPad, check the selection of apps.

Contact your MLS and the providers of the Web-based applications you use to find out how you can access them with an Mac, iPhone, or iPad. If they don’t already support the SafariFirefox, or Chrome Web browsers on the Mac, find out when they will.

Also, talk to real estate professionals who have always used Apple products or made the switch. Ask about the challenges they've faced and how they resolved them. They’ll provide the best insight about any Apple products in your future.