Amy Chorew and Ginger Wilcox led a great session at this year’s National Association of Realtors Conference & Expo on how to capitalize on the latest apps and strategies for your mobile real estate presence. If you have a case of "shiny app syndrome," here are some great tools and strategies to add to your app toolbox for 2012.
As more people acquire smartphones, it’s time for Realtors to give serious thought to how their listings, blogs and websites display not only online, but specifically on mobile devices. If you want to convert more leads from the next generation of mobile buyers and sellers, here are some of the basic guidelines to follow as well as some great apps to help you get there.
1. Rules of the road
The first generation of Web marketing (Web 1.0) relied primarily on long paragraphs. The next generation of websites used Flash and other fancy "bling" to make sites more attractive. Unfortunately, these features often slowed load time to a painful crawl.
Flash, slow load times, and "bling" are not acceptable on mobile devices. To make sure that your site loads quickly and looks good on mobile devices, eliminate Flash and any other enhancements that slow load time.
Furthermore, to make your website copy more appealing to today’s mobile consumer, focus on creating intriguing headlines followed up with concise bullet points. Keep in mind, however, that grammar still applies. Your goal is to make your website or blog load quickly while providing your Web visitors what they’re looking for in as a few words as possible.
This Google initiative gives you a quick check on how well your website or blog displays on mobile devices. It also provides suggestions on how you can improve your site’s appearance to provide a more mobile-friendly presence. Important points to evaluate include determining whether your page is visible without zooming or scrolling, whether the links and buttons are big enough that they can be clicked with a thumb, and whether your site is searchable.
3. Real Alert
This app is great if you find yourself in a risky situation. Designed by Michelle Jones, Real Alert gives you five different options if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. You can sound an alarm or dial 911 with a single click. You can also notify your friends that you are in a risky situation while simultaneously triggering your phone to provide your GPS location.
If you are injured, the system will locate the nearest hospital. The final option is to "save creep data," which allows you to record as much detail about who the creep is while the event and the person are still fresh in your memory.
This a great app that allows you to take pictures of your receipts and store them on your cell phone or computer. Rather than copying all the information down by hand as to where you ate, the purpose, the date, and the amount, Expensify boils this process down to a simple point and snap to capture an image.
Are you tracking your business and medical miles separately? Did you know that they are both deductible, but at different rates? Even if you are tracking your miles, are you still using a pen and a paper notebook? An app called MileBug that is available on Apple, Android and Nokia products makes tracking your mileage and expenses very easy.
Use MileBug to track mileage for multiple vehicles, including customizing whether the trip was for business, charity, medical or personal. You can email or import your records to your home computer for easy use at tax time.
Although this app is available only for Apple products, it has a wide variety of uses. MagicPlan measures, draws and publishes an interactive floor plan on the Web merely by shooting a few pictures.
For example, if you’re out showing property and your buyers would like to know if the dining room is big enough to accommodate their dining room table, use MagicPlan to estimate the room size.
7. Open Home Pro
This app is available for the iPad and the iPhone and is a great lead conversion tool at an open house. When a visitor walks in to your open house, you can ask him to sign in and then hand him your iPad. While you may still get some "Mickey Mouse" responses, it’s much less likely because you’re right there looking the client in the eye.
Once you have the person’s email, the system automatically sends them a "thank you" email for stopping by the open house as well as a map and a link to the online listing information. Open Home Pro also will notify everyone who has seen the home when there is a price reduction. Furthermore, the system allows you to post up to five pictures plus indexing the listing on Google.
8. What buyers don’t want
When given a choice between a website address (a "www") vs. a QR code (a "quick response" code is a type of bar code that can be scanned with a smartphone camea), mobile buyers want the website. While you can use a QR code, always be sure to have a Web address available as well.
The number of people using mobile devices in their home search process will continue to increase. If you haven’t climbed on the mobile bandwagon, there’s no better time to do so than right now.