I love my iPad. Thinking back to when I bought it, I hadn’t even seen one and wasn’t sure exactly what I would use it for. I had read several articles about limitations, but those seem irrelevant now.
I have been using it for six months and I can’t imagine business without it. I am happy that I took a chance on an untested piece of hardware. It has already paid for itself.
When I go on a listing appointment, all I bring with me is my iPad. I can e-mail information to sellers as I am discussing it with them. To date, no one has taken me up on my offer to provide printed materials, but I make the offer just in case.
My listing presentation has never been formal. I use a consultative approach, and my goal is to determine the sellers’ needs and to demonstrate how I can serve them before asking for their business.
How I use the iPad on listing appointments:
1. Before the appointment I prepare a digital "notebook" using the PaperDesk app with the address of the home and all of the details that I have about it. I use the same notebook during the appointment and while the home is on the market so that I can keep all relevant notes in one place.
The notebooks are backed up and synchronized over the Internet and can be e-mailed if needed. Notes can be typed, or handwritten using stylus or fingers, and voice notes can be stored in the same notebook.
2. During the appointment I go through the comps with the sellers on my iPad, allowing them to view all of the photos and details that are available. I do my research before the appointment and store the comps in a shopping cart available through our multiple listing services so that I can find them quickly. When I am done showing the comps I e-mail them to the sellers.
3. I use the Walk Score app to show them what the "walkability" of their home is and how I will use the Walk Score rating to market their home. In the neighborhoods where I work, the Walk Score is relevant and has proven to be a great marketing tool. I use this tool to start the conversation about marketing a property.
4. Sellers need to be aware of competing homes that are on the market. I use the Realtor.com app and let the homeowners draw a circle on the map around their home so we can see how other homes in the area are priced. I can refine the search to show only similar properties.
5. Sellers want to see examples of my marketing. I have copies of printed marketing materials stored in my iPad that I show them, and a photo album that has property photos of my current listings and of listings that I have sold.
6. Each month I publish charts and graphs on my blog that show local real estate statistics such as average home prices and absorption rates. I put copies of the charts and graphs on my iPad and show the numbers to sellers to educate them on home-price trends in the area.
7. My listing presentation is in the Keynote app. I show the presentation on the screen, and answer questions as I go.
8. If the sellers decide that they want to list their home on the spot, I have the listing contracts in my iPad and they can be signed on the screen. I can e-mail them a copy of everything they signed so that they immediately have their own copy.
I use iAnnotate to fill out much of the contract ahead of time. The process is still a bit cumbersome. There is an opportunity here for an app developer to create an application that handles contracts more elegantly.
The tool I use the most on any appointment is wireless Internet access: it is the iPad’s killer technology.
The iPad beats laptops because it is lighter and it is ready to go as soon as I turn it on. It does not come between me and the people I am meeting with. It is easier to share and pass around the table and yet large enough so that the information can easily be viewed.
I believe that my iPad has helped me to get listings. I leave sellers with a good impression, as I demonstrate my knowledge of the market and at the same time show that I am willing to invest in cutting-edge technology for my business.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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