Has anyone else noticed that the price of everything except housing has gone up?

Even during a housing crash, real estate agents need to spend money to make money. In addition to our business bills, we buy stuff for our business — not just gasoline and paper clips. Money is tighter for most of us this year, so we need to make each purchase count.

There are plenty of companies trying to sell products and services to Realtors. The inbox spam, invites to free webinars, and unwanted phone calls are at an all-time high. Did you know that just by writing that sentence I will likely get at least one call from someone trying to sell me something that I don’t want?

The problem with most of the stuff that is being pitched to people like me is that it is fairly useless. When I had more money to spend it did not matter if I occasionally spent it on something useless.

Today, I have to be strategic and I need a business reason for paying another software subscription, advertising on a third-party website, or buying more hardware or software.

I have been told that real estate agents are hard to sell to — especially when it comes to selling technology. As I look at the products I can buy, I understand why they would be hard to sell to in a recessionary industry.

I can understand why a real estate brokerage executive, or someone who coaches agents, or someone who works for a multiple listing service or board of Realtors would see a product as a good thing when I see it as a waste of money.

There is a need for products and services for real estate agents. We have unmet needs and we have to spend money.

I reject products that are hard to use or overly complicated. Maybe they were never tested in the field by real estate pros. If I have to take classes just to get started, the product probably isn’t right for me.

My favorite business apps, software and software subscriptions are inexpensive and easy to use. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Often, products that are aimed at small businesses are less expensive and work better than the specialized products made just for us.

Over the last decade there has been little improvement in electronic forms. Purchase agreements and listing contracts are all electronic, but they are still are not very user-friendly.

Some electronic contracts only work in one browser and others require the purchase of additional and expensive software to work correctly. Forms are such a basic thing in our business, yet we don’t have many choices when it comes to creating and using electronic contracts.

It took me many hours and a few apps to figure out how to write real estate contracts on my iPad and have them signed on the iPad. I can do it fairly easily now and my clients like it, but getting the forms onto the iPad can be cumbersome, to say the least.

I have a couple of blank sets stored in Dropbox and will have to keep them up-to-date myself. I would love to see an iPad app that is designed to handle real estate contracts.

Electronic signatures are now legal in many states. There are products for the real estate industry that use electronic signatures, but there is room for more.

I am using an electronic signature system designed for small businesses because it is one of the least expensive and easiest-to-use systems I can find. My clients like it, too, and that is very important.

Why is it that the data in the local MLS and on national real estate portal sites is all nicely geocoded but there doesn’t seem to be any way to get that information imported into the GPS on my phone or the GPS in my car?

I would like to be able to set up appointments to show houses and then have the addresses go to my GPS instead of having to input them manually, one at a time. There are many opportunities to innovate and create products for real estate agents.

When I read the technology-type news for the real estate industry I encounter product reviews and recommendations for products written by smart people who have never tried the product and who don’t sell real estate professionally.

There are days it seems like everyone is an expert, or at least they think they are, yet the real innovation starts in the field, at the agent level.

Instead of reading what the experts are saying about what real estate professionals need, ask a real estate agent — or better yet, a group of real estate agents. Then make a product that will make us all rich.

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