IPads and mobile apps are not just for Realtors, real estate brokerages and real estate teams. They are also very useful for homebuyers. So are the real estate and neighborhood type apps for devices running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system.
Buyers use a combination of websites and mobile apps for their home search in conjunction with my services. Which is why my iPad is loaded with apps and shortcuts to websites that I can show home buyers.
When I search for real estate apps in the Apple app store I get 1,489 results. When I search Google Play for Android apps, there are more than 1,000 results.
Some of those apps are for agents, others are aimed at investors, and some are intended to be used by homebuyers. There are too many choices. For buyers in my market, there are maybe four apps that are worth downloading.
Technology really has changed my role as a real estate agent. I can add value by giving my buyers advice about which apps and which websites to use for their home search.
It doesn’t bother me at all that I am showing people how to use an app that is built by a competing brand. Homebuyers just want information. There are many, many branded home search apps. They will soon be as ubiquitous as listings websites.
When Edina Realty, a local real estate brokerage, rolled out an iPad app for house hunting I immediately put it on my iPad and started testing it.
When I test a new home search app, I compare the data it provides with the data in our MLS for accuracy. I want to know whether an app really delivers useful information, or if it just serves up pretty pictures. Does it crash? Does it work on Android devices? Does it work in the field, or just on wifi in my office?
I consider it part of my job to educate buyers on the best sources of information for their home search. When I meet with buyers in person the first time, I ask them if they plan to use mobile devices in their home search. Most have no idea what is available, and appreciate the demonstrations and advice.
I also write reviews for real estate apps and websites on my real estate blog.
If my buyers are interested, I show them ways they can use Evernote to keep their house hunt organized. I always ask them if they use DropBox, and I show them how we can have a paperless transaction.
Our city website has useful information for homebuyers. I show them how to use it, give them links to the property look-up page, and explain how code compliance works. We also discuss the value of the county website, the accuracy of Zillow’s home price "Zestimates," and why some of the homes listed on Realtor.com have many photos and others only a few.
Home buyers today need to know how to sift through the tsunami of information they are bombarded with, in order to pick out the good stuff and throw out the inaccurate stuff. I can help them with that, because I really am an expert on the local real estate market and I keep up on technology.
I ask my clients what kind of real estate apps they use, and I learn what I can from them so that I can share it with the next buyer.
There is too much information out there for buyers, and they are telling me that it is overwhelming. I can add value by helping them find accurate information, and by being an expert on information sources, whether they be mobile apps or websites.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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