If you're one of the few real estate agents who doesn't own a smartphone, now is the time to make the conversion. Even if you are one of the more than 75 percent of real estate agents who does own a smartphone, you might not be using it to its fullest. There are plenty of features that directly benefit agents.
What's best is you don't need a fancy iPhone to take advantage. In fact, a 2011 survey suggests that far more agents use Android smartphones than the iPhone. It means you can select from a number of cheap, but effective, T-Mobile cell phones rather than needing the shiny new toy that is the iPhone. (Though the iPhone is still effective, no doubt.)
Looking for ways to incorporation your smartphone into your business? Here are five ways any agent can take advantage.
1. Shoot photo and video
Even if you have a website full of high-resolution photos, keeping a store of images on your smartphone can be a great way to entice potential buyers and renters. After all, the firs step is getting them to see the property in the first place. What better way than by showing them detailed images? Or, better yet, images they haven't yet seen.
Most real estate agents have already adopted smartphones, but are they using them the right way? Any smartphone can help real estate agents with their business, from attracting prospects to helping them choose the perfect property.
CC image courtesy of BENM.AT Live Coverage
There are many areas of homes and properties that are personal to specific buyers. In an effort to save space, many real estate websites don't include these types of photos. But you can keep them on your smartphone, ready for viewing at any prospect's request. Video tours are also helpful.
2. Using apps
There are many apps in every app store that cater to a real estate agent's needs. Perhaps the most helpful is House Hunter for iPhone. It's an app that customers can use on their own, but it's much more effective when used with an agent. The app lets customers rate the household criteria that is important to them, and see listings that correspond with those desires. An agent can help the customer with the entire process, including adding listings that aren't available through the app.
There are plenty of other apps that can help an agent every day. A simple app such as Yelp can help show prospects what kinds of restaurants and businesses are near their homes. Toodledo is a powerful task manager that syncs with a free desktop app. Whatever your specific needs, there is likely an app that can help you along the way.
3. Quick business card
Physical business cards are still necessary, but they're becoming more and more obsolete. Customers surely prefer an easier way to input your contact information into their phones. Every smartphone has an easy method for doing this. They're called vCards, and they make contact information transfer simple and easy.
All you do is go to your own contact entry on your smartphone, and find the option that lets you send that card to a contact. Send it to the customer's number, and she will receive a text (or picture) message. With a single click the customer can add your contact information. It's a painless way to ensure that your customer can reach you at all times.
4. GPS navigation
Chances are you know the locations of most of your listings. If you've been there before, you probably know the best way to get there. But that isn't always the case. And even if it is, if you're driving a customer somewhere you want to give them peace of mind that you're heading straight there. Smartphones come equipped with GPS navigation systems, so you can just pop in the address and start driving. This comes in particularly handy when looking at multiple properties in one session.
5. Your own app
Generating leads means gaining the attention of prospects. Yet the modern web doesn't allow for much attention. Even mobile browsers have tabs and multitasking now, so people are flipping between dozens of different tasks. How can you capture their attentions in that environment? The answer is creating your own app. Many real estate agents have done it already, because it is the best way to gain undivided attention.
When customers download and launch your app, they have chosen you. They have decided that it was worth entering their password and waiting for the app to download. And then they decided to click on your app — not the web, with millions of different destinations, but your app, with its single destination. Even if it just puts you at the front of their minds, it's a winning strategy. App development can cost a few thousand dollars, but it can also repay itself with new leads.
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