Archive for the ‘real estate apps’ Category
If you love real estate technology – whether you are in the industry, or whether you are a buyer or seller – click here to read my latest blog post on MoneyPress. I discuss some of the newer apps, websites, tools and technology that make our lives a little bit easier. In our fast-paced world, it is nice to keep up with the latest tools and gadgets.
Being a home buyer these days sure is easier. For starters, there is so much information at your fingertips that once was available only to real estate agents. I think this is great, as it allows those who wish the ability to do some research on their own and feel more comfortable going into the buying process. It still does not replace the Realtor, as s/he is there to help you not only get into homes, but also with legalities and paperwork, negotiations and disclosures, as well as having someone on your side to exclusively look out for your interests.
Here are some of my favorite real estate websites:
1. Zillow.com. Zillow is a comprehensive site because it provides so much information beyond just the listing. Zillow will show you all the photos and information contained in the MLS, as well as comparable sold properties, neighborhood information, walk scores and a “Zestimate.” ** see below for caution on the Zestimate.**
2. Realtor.com. This is another site that is well-endowed. You can search for properties and also link to great current real estate information, trends and mortgage calculators.
3. Trulia.com. While also a great home searching site, I love Trulia because of the personal touches. If you are searching for an agent, you can get a lot of great information about area agents here. Also, you can ask questions – any real estate related questions you might have – and Realtors will answer them. It is a great way to gain different perspectives when you do not have an agent and do not understand something. You can read agent blogs and get an idea of how they work, before you even contact them. It is a great way for agents to connect with the public as well.
Some great real estate applications for smart phones:
1. Zillow. I like Zillow’s mobile app the most, as it is easy to use.
2. Realtor.com. (Most devices)
3. Trulia. (Most devices)
4. Wikihood (for iPhone and iPad). This free app for the iPhone/iPad (possibly other devices too) provides a wealth of information about any neighborhood you choose. It truly is amazing – you instantly get information on the area, including nearby beaches, shopping, dining, schools, transportation, entertainment, industry…the list is endless. This is especially helpful for those moving to new areas.
5. Essential Real Estate Dictionary (iPhone and iPad). $9.99. This app is great if you either have no knowledge of the real estate process or if you buy property for investment purposes, or for anyone who wants a more in-depth understanding of real estate terms. Of course, if you have a terrific agent you can save the $9.99 and have your agent explain everything, but some people like to do their own research.
6. ZipRealty. (iPhone, iPad and Android). Free. This app is helpful in that it has a great feature called “House Scan” that will show you what is for sale in the area you are located, and guide you to those homes. You are also able to schedule a showing appointment from your mobile device. There are many other helpful features within the app that will provide you with home and neighborhood information.
7. Mortgage Calculator Pro. (iPhone) $.99. While there are many mortgage calculator apps out there, and many free tools on sites (ZipRealty, Trulia, Realtor.com, Zillow and most agent websites offer them for free), this app goes a step further and allows you to add HOA fees and property taxes to your payment analysis. You can also compare different loans and save them to your desktop.
8. Suburb Scout (Android) $1.99. This app allows a buyer to search for those factors that may not be so appealing, like airports, landfills, prisons and other potentially undesirable neighborhood turn-off.
9. Google Maps. (Available on most devices). Free. Google Maps is a great way to help navigate neighborhoods, get routes and driving distances to work, schools, etc. Street View is a fantastic way to explore any area at street level.
One caveat must be pointed out: when using many of these sites and apps to search for property information, you have to keep in mind that some of the information you read may be incorrect. For example, Zillow is one of my favorite sites for many reasons. It showcases properties and provides so much more, like area data, comps and “Zestimates.” But more often than not the Zestimates do not ring true – this is a big cause of problems with some buyers, who believe that what Zillow estimates the value to be is the gospel.
My advice when using sites to find value is to do so and gather as much information as you can, and to then have your real estate agent do a full comparative market analysis. Zillow cannot account for upgrades, condition, or take into consideration distressed properties. An appraiser definitely will not be using Zillow to appraise your new home. So it is still very important to have your agent run the comps and fully discuss them with you, before making an offer.
With all the great tools out there for today’s buyers, getting informed and finding the right property is fun and easy.
The iPad has become an incomparable tool in my business, by enabling me to work smarter for my clients. To see how it can help you, please read my newest blog on MoneyPress.com about how the iPad can help you and your clients. http://www.moneypress.com/can-ipads-really-help-realtors.htm
With all the technology available to Realtors these days it is easy to get caught up in the tech spiral–Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, mobile apps, texting, e-signatures, videos, blogs, websites…the list is endless. But the result of all this technology, while helping provide customers with relevant and instant information about the community and real estate in general, is that it becomes easy to forget that the real estate business is all about PEOPLE. Once you lose touch with the people, well, you simply lose touch.
I believe there are four things that need to happen in order for a Realtor to provide the best service possible to the client and the community in which s/he works. It is a balance of these that will make one not only a community expert and good salesperson, but also a real person who truly cares about the client.
1. Keep it real: your client is you number one priority and your best bet for future business. You might think “duh,” but believe it or not this is easy to forget in these technologically savvy times. It used to be we picked up a phone to check in with our client and discuss the market, their home search, or even just chat. But it is so easy nowadays to send a text or email instead. Most Realtor websites have back offices that send out automatically generated messages to our clients. Knowing that we are “staying in touch” with our clients may make us feel we are covered, leaving more time to focus on technology to build our businesses. But the client is, and always will be, the pulse of our business.
I suggest that we all make it a New Year’s resolution to return to basics: CALL our clients, take them to lunch, stop by their houses and say hello. Honestly, there is no better way to generate business. Your past and current clients are the ones who will come back to you and send you referrals, but not if you don’t stay in touch. I know it is hard, especially if you have a big client database. But you can always pick up the phone and make a call just to say hello. Make it a part of every day by setting a goal for yourself. You can start out simply by making a goal to call two or three people a day. Make sure to set a time to do this, and put it in your schedule. Eventually it will become a routine.
2. Blog. I know you have heard this before, but I can assure you that there is NO better way to help people in your community. By providing content about community issues and real estate issues in general, you become an expert in your community. This makes it easy for your clients and others to keep up with community news. I love blogging. I write about all kinds of things I find will interest people. My clients love it, and I also get emails from others asking questions, seeking further information, or wanting my assistance with real estate needs.
The most important thing to remember with blogging is that you want to develop your own style. Don’t worry about blog length: there is no rule as to how long your blog needs to be, what content you need to discuss, or what style of writing you should use. You just have to be yourself–as if you were speaking with a client about the issue. For some writing comes easier (ok, I am a writer so blogging is fun and easy for me), but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Use bullet points or numbers, and bold your sub-topics. This way the reader can skim through your information easier.
Setting up a blog is a no-brainer. Personally I use WordPress. Just go to WordPress.com and you will be walked through setting up your blog. Have an interesting name, OR you can tie your blog into your website (which I highly recommend). Remember to POST TAGS on every blog. These are words or short groups of words that will drive people to your blog on the web. For example, if you are writing a blog about Carlsbad’s newest shopping center you may want to use tags such as “Carlsbad new shopping center,” “Carlsbad shopping,” etc. You also want to categorize your blog. On WordPress the categories are on the right side of your post area, right above Post Tags. Choose categories under which your blog fits. This way when a reader comes to your blog and you have many blogs, he or she can go through the categories to find exactly what they are looking for. You can see an example of this on the home page of my website. Scroll down a bit and you will see the categories on the right, next to my blog section. Finally, you need to give each blog a catchy name, one that will entice people to read it once they find it. If your title is “Carlsbad’s New Restaurant,” it may be less exciting than “Hungry For a Delicious Lunch in Carlsbad?” You get the idea.
It may sound like a lot to remember, but I simply suggest you just start writing. In time you will get the hang of all the categories and tags. I also suggest you post links to your blog on Twitter, your business Facebook page, Trulia, LinkedIn, and any other places you like. You can send an email out to your clients with a link, telling them about your blog and asking them to please check back periodically.
3. Use technology, but use it wisely. Here is the most important thing you need to know about using technology in real estate: it is necessary BUT it cannot be your main focus. Use it in conjunction with 1 and 2, above. IF you haven’t already, create LinkedIn, Twitter, Trulia and Facebook business page accounts. Use these social media sites to post links to your blogs, interesting articles you find online, books you have read, or to re-post information you find others have posted. Because it is so easy to sit on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn all day if you could, set times during your day where you check these sites and post information.
4. Connect with industry leaders. Make sure to follow industry leaders on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. You will get a lot of great information from these people, and you will learn a lot in the process. Connect with them, comment on their tweets, read their blogs and post interesting comments there. It is incredible what is out there for you if you just spend a bit of time each day on these sites.
The real estate field has come so far in such a short time, and there is so much more we can provide our clients. Gone are the days of huge notebooks stuffed with listings. Clients can get a lot of information on the internet, it’s true, but you have to make yourself stand out as the community expert. Keep in mind that there can be many community experts–I personally don’t understand agents (and there are quite a few) who think this business is all about competition. I believe that all of us have different skills and ways of doing things, and we all should be able to learn from each other. Whom a client clicks with is up to the client. We can all offer the best information we can and if the client wants to take it a step further, that is terrific; if they choose another agent then that is their prerogative. We all need to support each other, because we all have (or should have) the same goal: to make sure our clients have the best information, the best service, and the most positive experience they can in buying or selling real estate. That is how we will continue to keep real estate “real.”
I just posted a new blog on MoneyPress.com for the Realtor/agent who has not yet embraced social media and smart phones. Here is a basic list of some apps you should have on your smart phone to streamline your business and provide your clients with the most current data and information. Many of these apps are great for buyers and sellers too, so check it out: http://www.moneypress.com/the-best-apps-for-real-estate.htm