You’ve just sold the most dilapidated property you have ever seen. Your state requires you to identify all “visible defects” and disclose them in writing to your buyer who is a real estate attorney. After three hours, you have 15 pages of notes. You’re now looking at another three hours of entering all the “defects” on your computer. If you would like to shorten this process by 50 percent, it may be time to upgrade to a “Real Estate Dashboard.”

You’ve just sold the most dilapidated property you have ever seen. Your state requires you to identify all “visible defects” and disclose them in writing to your buyer who is a real estate attorney. After three hours, you have 15 pages of notes. You’re now looking at another three hours of entering all the “defects” on your computer. If you would like to shorten this process by 50 percent, it may be time to upgrade to a “Real Estate Dashboard.”

At Real Estate Connect in July, I came away with more than 50 pages of handwritten notes. When I go home, I have to manually enter my notes into my computer. Consequently, I was intrigued as I watched VREO Software’s Marc Davison take notes during the sessions. Instead of taking notes by hand, Marc was writing on a tablet PC. Since I’m in the market for a new computer, I asked Marc to demonstrate how his system works.

Marc explained he had a tablet computer programmed with R.E.D. software. (R.E.D. stands for “Real Estate Dashboard.”) A Tablet PC is a powerful notebook computer that also doubles as a PDA. Since I’m constantly in meetings, I love the idea of taking handwritten notes on a Tablet PC and having the computer automatically convert those notes into a text document. The new “tablets” have “handwriting” recognition features. For people who are slow typists, you can do all tablet functions without using a keyboard.

I’m also tired of constantly having to sync my PDA and my computer. With a Tablet PC, your computer and PDA are the same machine. Tablet PCs also have built-in support for wireless networking so you can use them in your office or in the field. They are Windows XP-compatible, but require special software to meet the specific needs of the real estate industry.

Enter Criterion’s “Real Estate Dashboard” or “R.E.D.” for short. Much like a GPS system in your car, this powerful software can help you effectively navigate the real estate landscape. “R.E.D.” aims to increase productivity in a variety of ways. First, the mobility features allow you to communicate wirelessly from any place at anytime. This system also allows you to integrate your cell phone and your Internet into one, making it simple to check e-mails, call clients back, and fax forms all from your Tablet PC.

Other functions are equally useful. Instead of shelling out for a GPS system in your car, R.E.D. has a mapping function you can use during showings. The system also allows you to send the map to your clients as well.

Through its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functions, R.E.D. allows you to track all aspects of each individual transaction. The system shows summary statistics and allows you to integrate these as part of your listing presentations. The transaction management functions allow multiple users to track the sales process. When problems occur or new information on a transaction posts, the system can notify you immediately.

Here are just a few ways a Tablet PC with R.E.D. can give you a competitive advantage.

1. Technologically sophisticated

An easy way to show you have technology savvy is to show up with a Tablet PC. Since these computers are still relatively rare, your clients will be curious about how they work. Rather than trying to persuade the client to work with you, show the client how the CRM and Transaction Management functions work. Demonstrating these tools puts you light years ahead of the competition that shows up with a pen and paper.

2. Time is money

Imagine entering all listing information, disclosures and other required documents into your computer as you walk through the property with the seller rather than when you return to your office. This literally cuts your listing process time in half. If you have an assistant, this system allows this person to work on lead generation rather than concentrating on paperwork.

3. “Handwritten notes”

I’m great about responding to e-mail, but do a poor job of tracking down the stationery and envelope to send a handwritten note. The Tablet PC lets you send your own “handwritten note” in e-mail. Even though it’s electronic, it still has a personal touch.

4. Get the edge in hot markets

Have you ever been in a multiple-offer situation where the first one who gets back to the seller wins? With a portable printer and your Tablet PC, you can e-mail the counter to your buyers, have them e-mail you back their signed acceptance, and you win!

This complete “real estate solution” is priced at $3,500 and includes: a Tablet PC from Toshiba or Motion Computing, the R.E.D. software, an HP mobile inkjet printer, a PCMIA wireless modem expansion card for wireless Web access through Sprint or T-Mobile; a case for the computer, and a printer. If you already own a Tablet PC, you can obtain an individual license for R.E.D. software for $495 plus a one-year subscription commitment at $20 per month.

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

***

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