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by CareyBot

I hate shopping. First of all, I help other people shop for the perfect home for a living, so when I’m done the style muscles are tuckered out and don’t want to be called upon any more. Second, there’s never a good time to do it: when I have just had a closing and I have money in my pocket, I am fired up about my business and don’t have any time; when I am between closings and watching my checkbook balance dwindle, I am reluctant to let go of the money.

I do, however, need a technology makeover. Specifically, I need telephone help: my beloved Nokia 6101, which I bought when I started my business not quite two years ago, is absolutely on its last legs. A piece of the aluminum casing has sproinged out at an angle, ready to tear into whatever silk sweater and Hermès scarf I am wearing for work that day. The phone still works for short conversations, but on long conversations it is like speaking on a ship’s radio, with fuzzy intervals of static coming at just the wrong times.

A client generally sounds something like this: “I’d like to make an offer on {fuzz} and don’t screw things up by {fuzz fuzz} thanks for doing this.” The sound quality has gotten so bad I generally just let it accept incoming messages, and make calls out on my other cell. It’s still capable as a text-messenger, but then of course I do not have backups of any of my negotiations, which someday I’m going to want for my own legal protection.

So it’s time to buy a smart phone, and I swear I would rather be on “Let’s Make a Deal” choosing the curtain or the box. At least I can see the Blackberry Pearl (the model I need since like all agents I sometimes need instant access to a camera.) Typing on it is OK, not really any worse than text messaging on a phone. But what about the Internet access? Could I actually work the stupid thing? A friend of mine from Google was in town, and he had one, and I decided to quiz him.

Me: Do you like your Pearl? I need Internet access.

Him: It’s great. Look, here’s wikipedia. Ask me a question.

Me: Why do we eat dairy on Shavuot? (We had the Hebrew-schooled kids with us, and they were clamoring for blintzes, so this question is not as out of religious-left field as it seems).

Him, peering intently at the phone: Let’s see, here’s wikipedia… Shavuot. He reads, ‘it is traditional to eat dairy meals,’ but it doesn’t say why, he replied.He punches some more buttons. I’m trying to get a cross-reference but it’s kind of small.

Well, I need the Internet so I can read floorplans and listings, so it seems like I’d have to dual-purchase a Blackberry and a magnifying glass. That’ll impress my clients — most of whom are 10 years younger than I am — to no end.

The other option is to buy an iPhone, which is apparently the greatest piece of new technology developed since the Segway. In other words, it’s got great pre-release buzz, but nobody really knows what it does.

How fast will the iPhone’s Internet access be? Will a touchscreen work on my phone even though it’s kludgy on my microwave? No one can say, because no one has one.

I hate this for the same reason I have trouble with new-construction condo sales. Sometimes my customers are willing to jump in, and I’m there to help them, but I have also seen the heartbreak and frustration that come from buying off of a floorplan. Purchase pre-construction, and nothing is guaranteed — not even the things you think are guaranteed. When push comes to shove, the developer figures you’re not going to sue when he substitutes cheaper flooring than he showed in the model, and he’s usually right.

I can try to put off my smartphone decision until the end of June, when the iPhone is released, but even then, who knows how easy it will be to get hold of a unit to test it? Apple is trying hard to get consumers to line up by opening iTunes accounts; I currently use my husband’s to download music, but they want me to open my own, so they can gauge demand. That strategy makes sense; then I’m one step closer to being an ensnared consumer.

So that’s my hesitancy about the iPhone. I have liked Apple’s products before — I am writing this column on an iBook while I’ve got my iPod shuffle playing tunes — but I’m scared that this is going to be the time they don’t deliver and break my heart. Sure, the previous products have been great and the ads are cool. But if I, as a new-condo broker, don’t have sense to be wary of this “buy the product off the ad pitch” school of advertising, who does?

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson, and author of “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie.”