If you visit MyTechOpinon often you’ll know that we stick very closely to our niche—Technology for Real Estate. So when we recently learned of Microsoft’s new “Surface” device, we automatically started thinking how this revolutionary new “coffee table computer” could affect real estate agents. With this device comes a change from the way we have historically done computing through standard keyboard and mouse. Surface allows the users to navigate the computer by figure touch. It has a similar look to the iPhone screen but in a full table computer. Amazing! The unit will wirelessly sync devices, thumb through media, zoom and view photos; the list goes on and on. Since we focus on Real Estate Technology lets take a few guesses at how this could help real estate agents:
- Dynamically zoom in and out of neighborhoods using your finger tips to point out neighborhoods and close parks for interested buyers
- Video home tours navigated with the touch and drag of a finger. Want to zoom-in and stretch a room to see it in a bigger scale? The consumer will interact with the home.
- With Surface integrated into a conference room table, an agent could set their camera on the screen and have their new listing photos effortlessly appear. The real estate agent could stretch and zoom the photos for impact while he/she highlights the properties for fellow agents.
The list goes on and on…how do you think real estate agents will utilize the Surface?
Take a look at this video from Popular Mechanics on the Microsoft Surface:
Real Estate agents benefit from real estate technology aimed at increasing transparency. Well today is a big day for that as Google Maps has released their new 360-degree ground level view in major metropolitan areas. Now potential buyers can see real estate before you take the photo.
To access these new street-level maps simply search Google local in select major areas and look for the new “Street-Level Views” icon in the top right corner. Once clicked you will notice the streets turn purple. Then simply move the “stick figure” to a purple area and watch street-level views appear. Real Estate agents and others will notice arrows on the street-level graphics for navigating you through local streets. You can also make these new street-level view full screen, and you can spin the angle of the photo 360 degrees. Have fun with this new piece of technology and enjoy this breif video on the new features.
Acme Made also takes the guesswork out of “Will my laptop fit?” by providing a sizing chart for all items. Additionally, their customer service is superb if you have any questions that require a timely response before purchasing.
To be effective, the mobile real estate agent should incorporate many different technology tools into his/her business. But what technology is best? What is really going to make you more efficient in the field? Below I have listed my favorite technologies for mobile Real Estate agents on the go:
Tablet PC **Updated 6/2008**
Real Estate agents will find that Tablet PC’s have many advantages over the traditional laptop. Most notably the ability to reduce the amount of paper you burn through. With a tablet PC, Real Estate agents can sign important documents such as listing and purchase contracts, emails, and notes onscreen in their own handwriting. This often times eliminates the need for printing entirely. Simply email or fax the document directly to the party in question. In regards to brand and model, I like the convertible HP tc4400 (Core Duo) and Lenovo ThinkPad X61. Both models are ultra-lightweight, provide outdoor viewable displays and manage to provide long battery life. They also have strong wireless and Bluetooth capabilities. The X61 is slightly lighter and also comes with Active Rotate which uses an internal accelerometer to dynamically determine the tablet’s angle and adjust the screen position. This may prove useful when handing your PC over to those buyers in your next contract signing.
VREO Real Estate Dashboard
Real Estate Dashboard is a critical component to truly going paperless. Sure there are tools such as Microsoft Journal that can be used, but they fail when it comes to security. With VREO Real Estate Dashboard, the Real Estate agent must use a password, and all files are created in a proprietary file format. Signatures are then flattened onto their corresponding document, and then allowed to be sent via integrated email or fax technology. Read our previous post here.
TransactionPoint is the ultimate piece of Real Estate technology for automating the entire real estate transaction from listing a property to closing the deal. TransactionPoint is integrated with ZipForms for easy form creation. TransactionPoint will also store other transaction related documents for easy retrieval. You may also benefit from reduced liability for E&O (Errors and Omissions) insurance, as TransactionPoint saves a permanent record of emails and other communication in the communication log
Digital Camera with Wide Angle Lens **Updated 6/2008**
homes they sell. So why use a marginal camera for those photos that help sell the home? Real Estate agents should look for a quality digital camera. I recommend the incredibly light Canon Rebel XTi with wide-angle lens. The camera takes great high-quality photos. The Rebel boasts a huge amount of features, but presents them in a very easy to understand interface. Works with PictBridge compatible printers such as the i80 referenced below.
SmartPhone **Updated 6/2008**
With the Blackberry, Treo or Windows Mobile device Real Estate agents can streamline their business greatly by taking advantage of wireless MLS capabilities, free business and local search tools, mobile calendar & email, calculators, etc. Personally I’m a fan of the Blackberry Curve 8310. Mainly because of overall size, full QWERTY keyboard and outstanding email capabilities. The 8310 also includes GPS capabilities and 2 mega-pixel camera with flash. If you’re looking for a 3G network…you’ve still got a few more months for the Blackberry Bold. Needless to say Treo and Windows Devices are also very popular. I really believe you should hold each of the phones before you purchase.
3G Wireless Access
Real Estate agents spend a great deal of time accessing online information via MLS, CMA utilities, buyers tours, email, door-to-door directions, fax to email solutions and more. So why wait until you get back to the office. Real Estate Agents who embrace this technology will uncover many time benefits. Read our article here for items to consider when selecting a service.
Mobile GPS **Updated 6/2008**
As the mobile real estate professional you need to know where you are going 100% of the time. That’s why a mobile GPS utility may prove useful. I recommend the Garmin Nuvi 880. With this unit you’ll surely get from point A to point B, but you may also save time with its integrated traffic tuner capabilities. You can even keep both hands on the steering wheel with the Hands-free feature for Bluetooth phones, and text-to-speech control.
Mobile Printer **Updated 6/2008**
This piece of real estate technology will surely impress real estate agent’s on-the-go that require a printer for photos and more. I recommend the Canon PIXMA ip100, as it comes with the ability to print high-resolution at up to 9600 x 2400. Speeds are around 20 pages per minute b/w and 14 color. You may want to connect using the IrDA port from your tablet pc…at a range of up to 10 feet. Even print directly from your PictBridge compatible digital camera. The Canon ip100 can also accommodate a car adaptor for power or take advantage of the portable kit which includes rechargeable Li-On battery and holder.
Cyberhomes, by Fidelity National Finance, has been upgraded with tons of new features. Now a user can search out a home on Cyberhomes, make refinements in value, custom select comparables and save those changes. It’s then easy to recall those saved properties or neighborhoods for easy access later. Real Estate Agents, you may appreciate that feature if you utilize Cyberhomes to educate the consumer on their homes price.
Cyberhomes also now includes the ability print a detailed summary report. The printed report displays the Cyberhomes estimate, estimate ranges, changes over the last 2 months, neighborhood values, physical characteristics and assessed values. If it’s not print you’re looking for, maybe you would like to email the property. Or possibly take advantage of the new alerting feature which allows a user to receive monthly updates about a property.
Cyberhomes has also been updating their Charts & Graphs starting with adding 3 new revolutionary heat maps in their Market Maps section. These new visuals display Home Value Estimates, Changes in Estimated Value and Housing Density. These heat maps are keeping with the Cyberhomes theme and utilizing Microsoft Virtual Earth for the clean and smooth look and feel.