Top Ten Gadgets for Real Estate Agents

It’s nearly xmas so I thought I would create a list of the top 10 Gadgets for real estate agents. Some of them you would expect but others might be a surprise.

Tablet PC

Tablet PC’s are starting to become very popular in the US amongst real estate agents but have yet to take off here in Australia because of the lack of wireless broadband till recently.. but as we finally get easy access to wireless broadband their popularity will rise dramatically. Tablets are the real portable computer that laptops want to be. Try to open up a laptop behind the steering wheel of your car or maybe taking notes as the seller gives you tour throughout the house.

A tablet PC handles that easily and using the same programs available on your desktop pc, not expensive cut down versions available on handheld pc’s. With wireless broadband and a VPN connection you can even have access to your office from anywhere. When you take it back to your desk you have a normal keyboard and mouse so it looks and acts like a normal pc.

Forget the Laptop.. next time try a tablet pc. A true tablet pc, often called a slate tablet, has no keyboard at all and you use a stylus or your finger as the mouse. If you cant fully make the break from the keyboard there are models available that convert from a laptop to a tablet and back to a laptop again. They are not as light as a true tablet but are worth considering.

Smart Phones

Smart Phones are becoming smarter and smarter with many just handheld computers with a phone built in. Still there are a stack of other different styles and flavours that should fit any request.

The Blackberry and their clones should satisfy the email warriors amongst us whilst the trendy iPhone will keep the video, photo and web junkies sated. Nokia’s high end Symbian powered phones like the N95 pack a powerful package in a normal phone form factor and to top if off you have rumours continuing to run rampant on the net about a soon to be released Google Phone.

USB Flash Drives

As memory costs drop the size of USB flash drives are increasing at a rapid rate. You can buy 4gb and 8gb versions for $50 to $75 allowing you to carry around your office in your pocket. Whether you use it for immediate access to all your documents, photos and files or just use it to back up your office data every day your information is immediately at hand right on your keyring.

In fact many programs are now made portable to install specifically on your memory stick so you can run them on whatever computer you plug it into.

Wireless Broadband

Wireless broadband solutions until recently were a dismal failure however with the mobile phone companies 3G networks opening up fast access on the move wireless broadband become a reality.

Whether you own a laptop or a tablet pc you can supercharge it by giving it wireless broadband access allowing you to connect to the internet and even to your office through a VPN connection no matter where you are. Vodafone has just released a 5GB per month plan for just $39 per month so expect to see the other big players to react shortly.

GPS

Having driven the same streets over and over again you might know your way around your local neighbourhood but quite often your buyers don’t. You can use your GPS as a map to show local services, schools and business to potential buyers. High end units like the TomTom Go 720 even have bluetooth speakerphone built in so you can answer your phone without risking a fine.

Laser Measurer

Forget pacing out a room with one of these Laser Distance Measurer in your pocket. At the press of a button it will tell you the distances between two walls. Another press and you have the other measurement of the room and it will even calculate the total area of your room, quickly and accurately. There are cheaper ultrasonic versions around, but any true gadget guy would insist on the ultra accurate laser versions.

Digital Voice Recorder

Tape recorders are a thing of the past. Digital recorders give you clear recording without handling and erasing messy tapes. Throw it in your pocket or briefcase on your next presentation and then review your performance when you get home.

Digital Camera

Digital cameras have been popular in real estate for quite a while but recent advances have allowed easy access to wide angle cameras now. Next time your buy a camera insist on at least a 28mm lens equivalent such as the Fuji Finepix 480.

If the salesperson does not understand that just walk away and deal with a specialist camera dealer like Teds. The other options is the Digital SLR Camera which use to have an entry price of $3000 but you can now buy a great digital slr for around $1000. Wide angle lenses are the norm for slr cameras but you can still get ultra wide angle lens as an add on that will capture even the smallest room in just one shot with an equivalent 16mm lens.

MP3 Players

I bet this one got you thinking,,,. What would an agent do with an iPod? You have probably got a stack of training cd’s in the cupboard you never get out and listen to because in this day and age CD’s just are not portable enough. It takes just a few minutes to rip them to your computer and upload them to your mp3 player.

Most mp3 players have an FM Transmitter accessory that will output the sound to an FM radio signal so you can tune your car, home or work radio into so you can now listen to your training cd’s wherever you are without carrying around bulky cds.

Listening to the latest training cd’s will be a lot more productive of your time than some talk back radio discussion with your training library in your pocket. With the latest video models like the iPod touch you could even have training videos in your pocket.

Digital Photo Frames

They start at small desktop units like the Phillips Photo Frame and go right up to my personal favourite, the 22inch widescreen units that hang on the wall like a piece of artwork such as the models from Photovu which will display photos from USB flash drives, portable hard drives, wired and wireless networks and even the internet. Load up the desktop versions with inspirational photos, messages and pictures from home.

The larger units are perfect to hang in your reception serving up those hundreds of happy client photos you have amassed and are doing nothing with. They will be the talking point of the office and your clients will love them.

christmas, gadgets, Xmas

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About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

11 Responses to Top Ten Gadgets for Real Estate Agents

  1. Peter Ricci December 14, 2007 at 11:53 am #

    Not to mention that iPods are great for storing data such as photos and movies. They can also be used as voice recorders!

  2. Glenn Batten December 14, 2007 at 4:51 pm #

    There are literally thousands of add-ons for the different iPod versions that you could probably get them to do everything but get you a beer whilst watching the cricket.

  3. Paul Devine January 2, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Glenn, I don’t know if you have had the pleasure of playing with an iPhone or the iPod touch (Basically the iPhone without the phone part) The interface is incredible. I would love to see that implemented into a tablet like PC. I’m not a fan of Microsoft’s Tablet solution but that is just me, but the multi touch interface of the iPhone all I can think is I want one!

  4. Craig Clark January 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    I have an iPhone and love it.. despite the slow Internet until Australia has an officially supported version.

    And I have a Tablet PC as well and agree that Microsoft could have done it better.. perhaps we won’t have to wait long for <a href=http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/upgrade/4243000.html?series=48″ title=”Apple to do it right.”

  5. Glenn Batten January 8, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    Paul,
    Yes I have played with the touch. This sort of technology shows some exciting times are ahead of us.

    Craig,

    The iPhone should come in a 3G flavour when it hits Australia which should help your internet speeds.

    If you are an Aussie, you have obviously imported and cracked the iPhone you are obviously a gadget lover. Assuming your an agent, whats your experience been like with the tablet. How do you use it in your everyday work ??

  6. Craig Clark January 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

    Glenn,

    Broker actually, but I have an IT background so yes I do love my gadgets.

  7. snoop January 9, 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    I am interested obviously sites like this have mainly early adopters.
    Whats the view on pda/mobile technology amongst the greater agent population.
    Would they find being able to access info on the fly useful?
    Would they make the investment in time to learn and use it??

  8. Glenn Batten January 10, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    Snoop,

    Interesting comment about the early adopters.. I would have agreed with you, especially as it comes to those that post and comment on the site however I happen to know the traffic that Peter achieves here and without releasing that information (thats Peter’s decision not mine, although I have suggested it as the numbers are impressive) I would suggest that the site achieves a good range of readers both inside and associated with the industry. I don’t believe there is enough early adopters in the industry to generate the sort of traffic he achieves. Obviously the other indicator of the general “exposure” of the site is the quick input from companies that are mentioned both in a positive and not so positive light.

    From my experience PDA and Smartphones have had minimal impact on the industry as a whole.

    I believe that there are a number of reasons for this but some of the major ones are :-

    1/ Too Big – Smartphones are just to big for the average agent to use as a primary phone for everyday use.

    2/ Too Small – PDA’s and Smartphones generally are just too small to act as a mobile computer. Their screens are far too small to

    3/ Unfamiliar data entry – Most salespeople are just learning a full size keyboard let alone handwriting recognition, tiny virtual keyboards or T9 input.

    4/Unfamiliar Operating Systems – Again, salespeople are use to good old windows whilst there are a number of mobile operating systems including a few different versions of windows mobile, linux, Apple, palm, plus symbian and more…

    5/ Restricted programs – The number and range of software solutions is very restrictive and what is out there is generally expensive and underpowered.

    There are of course individuals that still gain great benefit out of a PDA/Smartphone in our industry but for the masses I think they miss the mark by a long shot. If you take out the phones like the Nokia N95 which is technically a smartphone but 99.9% would use it as a normal phone and I reckon the saturation of PDA’s and Smartphones would be under 1%.

    IMHO a better solution would be a Slate Tablet (with docking stand, mouse and full size keyboard for use in the office). It’s an operating system salespeople are familiar with and there is no restrictions on what programs they can run. Combine this with a small mobile phone and you have the best of both worlds. Tablets and particularly slate tablets have come of age but unfortunately the major retailers don’t seem to be interested in stocking them as their appeal to consumers in general is low. Those that are stocked are the laptops that convert to tablets. These are still very heavy and expensive and thus some of their portability is sacrificed. We like to have a feel and play with something that is new and unfamiliar before we buy it.

    A true Slate Tablet weighs around 1.2 to 1.5kg and can pack up to a Core Duo processor. The Convertible Tablets weigh significantly more, normally between 2 and 3kg. All tablets are primarily aimed at the business user and since they are unfamiliar to most people this will hamper their takeup.

    Another option would be the UMPC (Ultra Mobile Portable Computer) that are starting to appear. The issue I have with them is they have much smaller screens and are normally underpowered so struggle with anything other than web browsing or email.

  9. snoop January 14, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    yes I know friends in the US using tablets etc.
    They get lost/stole often.
    Also they dont have the hygeine practises of backing up etc as their offices are too mean to provide it support.

    btw
    Peter
    What is the traffic regd users of this site???
    Mr Platter shares his incessantly.

  10. Glenn Batten January 14, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    Snoop,

    Why would an office not support a tablet…They run XP or Vista the same as a desktop or laptop?

    I could imagine them getting lost more than a laptop simply because they are portable whereas for most people a laptop rarely leaves their desk, and if it does it is to take it home to the kitchen table. I would guess the loss/stolen rates probably approach that of a Smart Phone.

  11. snoop January 15, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    IT support in any agency unless a larger more organised one is pretty scarce.
    Data backups are they done prob not.
    Training limited?
    I loved the lady poster from sydneys comment last year about the franchise office principal whose receptionist still printed out his emails!!!
    Could see him wandering around with a tablet or buying them for his team!!
    I think the culture and efficiency changes will come once the older boomers retire.

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