Editor’s note: Real estate agents are depending more and more on mobile technology, with many devices and services offering much more than the ability to make a phone call or write an e-mail while out in the field. Agents today can pull up home listings data, store reams of information and even create a listing using a mobile device. In this three-part series, we uncovered new innovation in mobile technologies and services for the real estate industry, as well as new real estate uses for devices that have been around for awhile. (See Part 2: Phoning in your real estate listing and Part 3: Cell phones become maps, info sources for home seekers.)

Gayle Brandt, a Las Vegas Realtor, never has to worry about getting caught outside the office without her files. She has the escrow numbers, names of escrow officers and closing dates for all her properties stored on her Blackberry device.

“You can’t have all that information in your head and you can’t carry it all around in your car,” said Brandt, who has had her Blackberry for almost two years. “This way, if I have to have some information quick and I don’t have my files with me, I can access it right away.”

Real estate agents are depending more and more on mobile technology, and it’s easy to see why. Mobile devices enable agents to take and make phone calls on the run, respond to leads while they’re out in the field, pull up home listings data while driving clients around, and store reams of information, such as names of escrow officers and other contacts, among other things.

Brandt also stores the serial numbers and shackle codes to her 15 key boxes on the Blackberry. She uses the memo pad function to store the information. “If they’re identified as stolen or whatever, I need the serial number,” she said. She also stores clients’ names and information on her device, Brandt said.

Though Blackberries have been around for a while, Brandt’s approach is unique. Most commonly, the mobile device, which has a small keyboard that replicates that of a PC, is used for sending leads to agents in the field.

The Realtor said she also uses her Blackberry to stay in close touch with clients.

“It (the Blackberry) has created a communication that most Realtors don’t have. We can have critical conversations in any scenario without disturbing anybody by e-mailing back and forth,” Brandt said.

Brandt can set the phone to vibrate, notifying her of urgent messages if she is in a meeting. She can also communicate by text messaging her clients – sending text messages that appear on their cell phones, as opposed to e-mails that show up on their PCs.

Surprisingly, Brandt characterizes herself as resistant to change. She wasn’t crazy about the Blackberry at first, the Realtor said, and had expected it to be hard to learn.

The hardest part about learning, she said, is that “the people who sell them don’t have a clue about them.” Luckily, she said, there was a person in the office who understood the devices and helped her learn how to use them. She stuck with it because “I was impressed with the benefits and I was tired of carrying around appointment books and address books,” Brandt said.

Brandt isn’t the only Realtor who taps her Blackberry for this purpose. Eric Stewart, who works with Llewellyn Realtors in Rockville, Md., and has been a Realtor for 18 years, has more than 770 addresses and names stored on his device.

“The address capacity is phenomenal,” said Stewart, who also hosts a radio show, “Pointing You Home,” on 630 WMEL on Sundays.

“I have been putting in those names and addresses since March 2004 when I got the Blackberry,” said Stewart. “I have my Christmas list and all my clients in there. I can put in as much information as I want and never run out of space.”

As far as learning the Blackberry, Stewart acknowledged, “there is a learning curve.” He said at first the obstacle was “learning how to do symbols, how to capitalize names. With Blackberry, you don’t delete or shift in the same way.” Once he “got” the system, though, Stewart said it was useful.

“The system assumes you want to put things in certain places exactly where you want to put them. For example, when I type in an e-mail address, I type in the name, then hit the space key and the system automatically adds the ‘@’ symbol,” Stewart explained.

The Realtor was skeptical about the Blackberry for a year, he said. “What turned the trick was the facility for communication it provides. For example, I was selling a house and had an ad I wanted to go up as soon as possible to facilitate the sale. When I was out jogging with my dog Coco, I was able to shoot two or three time-sensitive e-mails to my team,” Stewart said.

Stewart also uses the system for listings. “When I go on a listing appointment, instead of taking the notes with handwriting, I tell the client I am using this device. I take notes for the fact sheet, then copy the notes, paste them into an e-mail and shoot the information for the fact sheet to my staff using the Blackberry.”

In perhaps the most novel use of all, Stewart spent $16 for an electronic version of the Bible and uploaded it to the device. “Instead of carrying my Bible into church, I carry my Blackberry,” he said.


Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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