There are many who are sitting on the fence over the iPad. I get questions about my iPad from Realtors who would like to have one but can’t justify buying it for their business or who just bought one and are not sure what to do with it.
I can help with that because I use mine directly in my real estate business every day. When I buy something for my business I like to get the most out of it.
Here are 10 ways to get the most from an iPad, or at least justify a new toy.
1. Get a case for it. The iPad is easier to use and you can do more with it by investing in a case. Choose one that supports the iPad so that it can stand up or at least be at an angle instead of flat. The iPad will be easier to use and it will be protected well enough so that it is easy to take along.
2. Buy the 3G model if you don’t have some type of portable mobile hotspot. It can be very useful when you’re out with clients, and to get the most of it you need Internet access.
3. Keep a piece of microfiber cloth with the iPad. The cloth is available at most drugs stores and is designed for cleaning eye glasses. A couple of swipes with the cloth will take the fingerprints off that fingerprint-resistant screen that is usually a smudged-up mess.
4. Bring the iPad with you whenever you go to a meeting. If there is no wireless you will be very popular. If you don’t need to use it you will still be popular, as people want to see what the iPad looks like and want to try it out.
5. Put pictures of your listings in photo albums and keep them on the iPad. They can be used to show buyers the properties and to show sellers how their home will be marketed.
6. Download the Realtor.com app or any app that shows all of the listings in your area. There are several pretty apps for this but many lack accurate data. You can show buyers nearby homes for sale while you are out with them. Some buyers ask for advice about real estate apps so test as many as you can and keep the good ones.
7. Try the following apps for working with clients:
- A mortgage calculator. Most are free.
- Standard calculator. You will love working with it on the big screen and so will your clients.
- My Local is an app that shows what is nearby. Out-of-town buyers, and buyers who don’t yet know the neighborhood, love it.
- The Walk Score app is an elegant little app that gives a walk score and lists what is nearby any address and it also taps the device’s location-aware technology.
- Keynote is presentation software. Put your listing presentation in it, and examples of how you market homes. Pictures look amazing on the iPad so use as many as you can. This is a vast improvement over the three-ring presentation binder or even a laptop.
8. Bookmark the following types of sites in the Web browser so you can quickly access them on the go:
- Your multiple listing service — if it works on a Web browser it may work on the iPad. Some MLSs have mobile versions, too.
- County tax record sites.
- City or local sites that have property information.
- Transit system maps.
- Park and trail system maps.
9. If you are a note-taker, use the built-in Notes app to take notes as you go. You can e-mail them and store them on your computer. I e-mail notes to clients on the spot, such as a list of things that need to be done to get a home ready to sell.
10. Use Dropbox and the Dropbox app for a quick, easy way to share files between computers and the iPad. There are documents that cannot be edited on the iPad but are nice to have access to, like purchase agreements, listing contracts and inspection reports.
Check the app store at least three times a week for new releases. You never know what you might find or how it could be used for your business unless you try it.
Apps are inexpensive or free, and can be easily deleted if space is a concern. My current fave is an app called popplet. I don’t know its intended use, but I am using it to create short presentations on the spot, as I give them.
I have not been able to calculate the return on my investment yet, but I am working on it. There are personal productivity tools that I use on it everyday, and books, manuals, social networking applications, news aggregators and entertainment, but they are all available on other devices.
The "killer app" is the Web browser. Having instant-on Internet access, and being able to use it to find answers to my clients’ questions on that beautiful big screen, is priceless in the field and in the local coffee shops where I often meet with clients.