Real estate is a competitive field, with professionals striving to reach new customers. To keep a competitive advantage, today’s real estate agent must arm his or her office with the latest software and hardware solutions to deal with the daily demands of communicating with clients and reaching prospective home buyers.
While the business world seems inclined toward tablets and smartphones, IT solutions provider Nashville Computer has found that real estate agents find laptops and desktops work best for using the MLS system, especially when navigating online maps. ” iPads are very convenient but browsing through drop-downs can be aggravating,” vice president Charles Henson says. “I recommend slim laptops for Realtors with a MiFi type of wireless connection.”
When used properly, the Internet can be a powerful tool for real estate agents. BoomTown provides leads and helps with converting those leads into sales. Each agent gets a website, complete with tools that help with search engine marketing and networking.
“I’ve had the system fully up and running for 60 days,” Denise Swick, RE/MAX Alliance Realty, says. “We have closed four properties as a direct result, have four more pending and that is just the beginning. I just had to hire two more agents to handle the volume of leads and they love it.”
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are essential to most small businesses. Real estate is no exception. San Diego real estate broker Jeffrey Douglass uses Insightly to manage client and broker listings. According to Douglass, many real estate agents are using CRM to stay organized and track multiple listings at once.
“There are a lot of shiny toys out there for Realtors,” Douglass says. “What we really need is a good CRM that keeps us focused, and keeps us doing the things that we need to do, which is why I’ve found Insightly’s simple solution to be the best way to manage my real estate business.”
While scan-to-email equipment has allowed most businesses to toss fax machines out, many real estates find it’s still an ideal way to communicate with attorneys and clients. The challenge is that real estate agents are rarely chained to an office, becoming increasingly mobile as technology allows them to work from anywhere.
Laura Usher, sales partner at Kiplin Grocer Real Estate, uses eFax for all her faxing needs. “It’s just so much easier using eFax when I’m traveling because I can’t carry around a scanner or traditional fax machine,” Usher says. “Before eFax I had to use traditional fax machines at hotels or mailbox stores, which was always a huge pain and was expensive.”
Real estate agent Jeff Annis, who also uses eFax, points out that the service adds an extra benefit: reducing all that paper is good for the environment. “I noticed in my last two case files I had not printed any of the contract forms because I handled them all electronically and they were already saved by eFax in my smartphone for easy access.”
Video is increasingly becoming an integral part of social media marketing. But creating share-ready videos can be time-consuming and daunting. Animoto Pro lets real estate agents put together and share videos on social media without spending a fortune.
“It is important for agents to promote themselves and their listings through the use of video marketing and social media,” says Kent Corey, Elite Florida Realty. “Animoto provides a quality product which does just that and best of all it’s easy and quick to use.”
Social Media Tools
Social media tools are more important than ever to real estate agents and Stik is custom-made for real estate professionals. The site collects reviews from the public about mortgage, real estate, insurance, and legal professionals.
“Having an excellent reputation both online and in the real world is critical to the success of my business,” said Nick Casteel, real estate agent at Keller Williams. “As an independent agent that is part of a larger organization, Stik is an easy way for me to manage my online reputation and increase customer leads referred by past clients. With Stik I’m able to collect customer reviews and testimonials of my work from my customers and display them across the Internet.”