9 free Google tools to use for real estate

Realtor Notebook

I thought it would be fun to do something a little different this week: I am writing about some online tools that I use in my business.

My primary occupation is selling real estate. These tools work for me but I am not a guru, coach or expert — just a geeky Realtor who likes to explore and exploit.

All things Google

Yes, Google isn’t just a search engine. The company offers a range of free products and services that have become mission-critical applications for my business. These are just a few of the offerings that can be found through Google.

1. Google Bookmarks. Bookmarks don’t sound very exciting but when they can be stored in my Google account and access from anywhere they are a big deal. It doesn’t matter which computer I am using I can sign into my Google account and my bookmarks are all there.

2. Google docs. I keep copies of my Inman columns in Google docs and sometimes I write them in Google docs. It is a great way to store a document so that it can be assessed from anywhere. If I am away from my computer and they didn’t get my article I can send a link to it or e-mail it through my BlackBerry or any computer.

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I use Google docs to store some documents that I use over and over so that I can grab them when I need to. I share folders with clients and other businesses, too. Any document created on your hard drive can be uploaded to Google docs and documents such as spreadsheets, presentations, word documents and more can be created with Google docs. Documents can be made public or private or can be shared just with the people who you choose.

3. Google Maps. Google Maps is not just for getting directions. You can make your own Google maps and the possibilities are endless. In my market, neighborhood and multiple listing service boundaries are not an exact match. I have used Google Maps to draw in boundaries of neighborhoods and MLS districts so that buyers understand the boundaries.

Here is a link to a simple map that I made for one listing that shows neighborhood boundaries. Maps can be linked to or embedded in blogs or websites, and printed.

4. Google Sidewiki. At this point I don’t think there are many who understand Sidewiki. It allows the user to have some control over what comes up in a Google search and to leave notes right on the search page for future reference. Here is a video from Google that explains how to use it. I just started using it a few weeks ago and now I can’t imagine not having it.

5. Gmail. I have a Gmail account but it isn’t my primary e-mail account. It has a feature that I just love. I can sync the contacts and calendar appointments from my BlackBerry wirelessly and automatically over the Internet. That means that no matter where I am, as long as I have Internet access, I can always find my appointments and contacts. And each time I add information it is immediately backed up in the "cloud." …CONTINUED


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