Real estate agents love apps, no doubt. But when it comes down to it, there’s more to a successful career than technology.

Teresa Boardman is a long-time columnist with 400-plus Inman columns under her belt. She writes about her real estate observations and experiences as an officeless indie broker in Minnesota.

Real estate classes and seminars that include information about “must-have” apps for real estate are a hit with real estate agents. That type of content is a real crowd pleaser.

The presenters usually decide what real estate agents need based on what they want to present or what sounds cool.

Sometimes apps are called “technology,” and learning all about them is “technology training.” Usually, the session is presented by a young(ish) man who hops onto the stage like Mick Jagger and then paces like a caged animal as he shouts at the audience.

Unfortunately, apps are not a business strategy, and there is no one-size-fits-all app for real estate practitioners. In fact, some apps are local just like real estate.

There isn’t room on most phones for all of the real estate apps, and even if there was, there wouldn’t be time to use them all. It seems like the electric utility, my wireless provider, banks and even the grocery store want me to download an app.

If apps are not technology, and they are not a business strategy, then what are they? They are tools plain and simple. Tools like a flashlight or a compass, and there are apps for both.

You might never need to know where North is, but for me, the compass app is a must-have, and it never gets mentioned in presentations. When a client asks me which direction we are facing, I always have the answer, which improves my homebuyer clients’ experience.

You can’t beat a good flashlight either, even if there is one built into your phone. Nothing says “I care” like handing young homebuyers a real flashlight so that they can poke around in the corners of an old basement. There is almost a 100 percent chance your clients will be able to use their own phone as a flashlight and a zero percent chance that they are carrying a real flashlight.

I have been to a few “educational” events where the presenter mentions 20 apps. It’s likely that someone who can present 50 apps is more desirable as a speaker than someone who only mentions 10.

Attention-grabbing course titles like “30 apps you never heard of that will change your life” or “15 game-changing technologies for your business” are common. Introducing a mind-numbing number of useless apps is a staple for real estate conventions and seminars.

It’s important to have a business plan and a strategy and to use technology tools whenever available, affordable and applicable if they help get the job done.

Most of us have downloaded many apps that someone recommended, but that we never use. Sure, they work fine, and they are a lot of fun, but we don’t have any need or reason to use them.

When I talk with agents after they have been presented with a seminar, they will talk excitedly about all the apps they are going to try. Real estate agents, in general, seem to love it when presenters talk apps.

People who organize events for Realtors and are in charge of agent training and education know that presentations about apps are real crowd pleasers, which is why they keep hiring the app presenters.

Real estate writers who write about the top apps will get clicks, and clicks are good. The right headline helps too. Clickbait headlines only work if people click on them, and you can count on getting a lot of clicks on your article about the top apps used by top agents.

When you boil it all down, there are tens of thousands of real estate apps, productivity apps and utility apps to choose from. Most of those apps are a complete waste of time, and a few of them might make your job easier, but if you are looking for a “game changer,” I recommend business planning, budgeting and goal-setting, followed by prospecting and following-up. Then rinse, and repeat.

Audiences want easy answers and a little magic. Real estate event organizers like to have happy audiences. We are drawn to the speakers, books and articles that make it all so easy and so simple. They provide easy answers to and the promise of great success.

Agents will leave the seminar feeling positive about the future and their ability to make more money than ever before. Some will attend the same presentation over and over and others will recommend the speaker for future events.

If only there was a magical technology that would make it possible to make a lot of money without having to work very hard. If only I could just tap the screen on my phone and someone would jump out and ask me to sell their house.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of

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