The holiday season has officially begun! There were some great deals during Black Friday, with plenty of cool gadgets and high-tech electronics for sale — especially if you were willing to brave the elements and wait in line outside of a retail store at 2 a.m. Personally, I prefer to do my shopping on Cyber Monday from the comforts of my warm home.
Real estate agents do a lot of driving. They tour properties and communities, accompany clients to showings, and travel from open house to open house. It’s a profession that requires some real quality time in one’s vehicle. Fortunately, there is some great high-tech gear available for your car this season that can help keep you productive while away from the office and safe behind the wheel.
I recently read in RealtorMag that real estate agents rank "fourth on a list of top 10 vehicle crashers by profession, and experts attribute their high number of accidents to the fact that they are always on the road and frequently talk on the phone while driving." Installing hands-free calling with Bluetooth in your vehicle is a safer way to chat with clients.
Bluetooth is easy to configure in a vehicle and there are many different products available. You have the option of replacing the factory stereo in your car with a robust receiver system that comes loaded with options such as: Bluetooth, GPS, sync, MP3 player, etc. You can also purchase "add-on" items to work with the vehicle’s factory hardware.
For example, the Parrot MKi9200 is a Bluetooth system dedicated to in-car calls and digital music. It is compatible with most phones and music players. Features include:
- 2.4-inch screen;
- Contact management;
- Automatic phonebook synchronization;
- IPod compatibility.
Such a tool can give you the benefits of Bluetooth without replacing your existing stereo.
GPS is great when showing houses
GPS has certainly made everyday driving easier. It can save you time, gas and even provide traffic reports. GPS is also great when out showing houses. Sure, the GPS on your iPhone or Droid is really cool. However, if you’re spending half the day touring communities and houses with clients, you need a reliable navigational system that allows you to plot multiple locations, is fully charged and has a decent-size screen.
Not all GPS devices are created equal — they vary in price and features. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has some serious technology upfront. Its SYNC system allows you to pair your devices via Bluetooth, download destinations from Google Maps, and read your text messages to you while you drive.
What portable GPS unit is right for you?
There are many portable GPS navigators available on the market. They all come with the basic features: preloaded maps, points of interest, turn-by-turn directions, etc. I suggest looking beyond the basics. Is the unit Bluetooth-enabled? Does it incorporate 3-D maps?
Some devices by TomTom offer local search powered by Google. This allows you to search phrases just like you would in a Web browser. But some advanced GPS options require a subscription fee, so it will take some research to identify the features that are essential to you and best suited to your vehicle.
USB power adapter
Portable add-ons and mobile devices are wonderful tools. However, they are completely useless uncharged. Every real estate agent should have a USB power adapter in his or her car. They are fairly inexpensive, typically ranging from $25 to $50, and will keep all of your devices charged throughout the day. A power adapter can usually charge two to three devices simultaneously — perfect for a smart phone or iPad! Griffin’s PowerJolt Car Charger works great with the iPhone, iPod and iPad.
Whether you are buying a stereo with a robust system or just in the market for a new fangled add-on for your vehicle, you certainly have a lot of choices. Satellite radio, GPS, hard drives, Bluetooth devices — there is a ton of fantastic high-tech car gear available today that can help real estate agents be safer and more productive.