I was recently asked by a company that builds iPad apps what kind of app I would like to see.
I did not hesitate to suggest an app that I could use to write real estate contracts. No one but agents who use iPads in the field fully understands what I am looking for, and I don’t think the app is being built.
Pen and paper are easier than some of the clunky apps and mobile sites I have used to fill out forms and make offers, and that is just wrong. Some of them can reduce an agent to tears when they crash and the offer vanishes.
I want a single, easy to use app that works on my iPad where I can load or access the entire library of real estate forms, add forms of my own, and write offers for my clients, have them signed on the screen or electronically and manage them from cradle to grave and access them from any device.
I can almost imagine an app that is easy, fun, and intuitive to use. A single app to write an offer for a buyer that doesn’t require additional apps or a computer to get it signed and sent. I want the app to track the contract through the entire process, and I want to be able to access the contract through my computer and my phone too. A stand-alone iPad app just isn’t enough.
Come on people! I have been using my iPad for business since April of 2010, and I have downloaded all sorts of wild and crazy apps. If I develop a workflow using a few of them I can actually write an offer, get it signed and send it along to the listing agent. But it should not have to be so complicated and require multiple apps, mobile websites and a computer.
The process should be at least as fast as using pen and paper to write an offer. I should not have to go to school to learn how to use an app, or pay large monthly fees and completely or revamp my workflow to accommodate it.
I want an experience, and I want it to be a good one for my buyers and for me. I don’t want to have to spend one more second of my life worrying about the mechanics of writing an offer and getting it signed by people I may never see. I want to write it and then able to easily share it all with my office, my clients, the title closer and anyone else I need to share it with.
Don’t give me an app that handles signatures, and another app that fills out forms, and another app that tracks forms, and a separate app for mobile access. I want one app that does it all and works the same way on mobile devices and my computer.
Why can’t I turn on my iPad and tap on the "library tab" and check a box next the form I plan to use instead of having to go to Dropbox to get it? I should have the option of storing forms offline so that I can complete a contract without Internet access when needed.
At some point the app should be connected to the MLS. I would select a house, and then select my forms by clicking on them, and some of the basic information like the address would just magically go into the correct field. A spell checker would be most appreciated. Go ahead and throw in a calculator that I can use while writing the offer.
The date should be filled in all of the fields that need it automatically, unless I change it to another date. Then that date would populate the rest of the fields requiring the offer date. My name and company name should auto populate, and once I put in my buyers name and property address they should also auto populate fields the require the same information.
The contracts themselves should have all neat functions of a well done electronic form. The date boxes should have calendars for selecting dates and one tap should suffice to check a box or select an option. The app should check each form for blank or incorrectly filled in fields and alert the agent but there should also be an over ride button for those times when we want to be cowboys and break some rules and do not want software telling us how to write a contract.
If I am disconnected from the Internet I should not lose my work and I would like to be able to initiate the entire process in the field or in my office from my computer.
Once the offer is written on my iPad, I want the option of emailing it to a client for electronic signature or having it signed right on the iPad. Once the offer is signed I should be able to email, fax or print it and access it from my phone, iPad or computer.
The app should track the offer the same way my current electronic signature software does so I can check my phone and see if the counter offer has been signed or who has it and when it is signed I can send it along for more signatures if needed.
It should be simple to add documents to a transaction and send them out for electronic or in person signatures or any combination of the two. Buyers and sellers should have access to the same documents, and be notified when they need to sign something or that something has been signed. They should have the opportunity to sign on the screen of a mobile device or with an electronic signature.
I know this can all be done, because I have seen existing apps that contain some pretty sophisticated forms, and there is an app for each part of the process. I want an all-in-one, elegant iPad app, and I want to access it all through my computer and my phone.
Is that too much for a mobile professional to ask? Instead of asking for fries with that, I’ll ask that it be made affordable and so easy to use that I don’t have go take a series of classes before I can use it.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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