Caruso’s Must-Have iPhone Apps for Real Estate Agents!


You finally caved. You just bought your new iPhone or iPad or BOTH! But wait, now what? How can this magical device help me in my business? I’ve put together a list of what I consider the iPhone/iPad apps you shouldn’t be without. If you feel adventurous, install them all at once. Or if you need to get used to them first, find one at a time.

Evernote: 

From Evernote’s website: Use Evernote to save your ideas, things you see, and things you like. Then find them all on any computer or device you use. For free. So what is Evernote good for? Simply put: everything. If you see it, you can organize it and file it away. Two months and another few hundred notes down the line, you can search for and find it. Save something on your iPhone, get it on the web later.

For example, you could use your iPhone to take a picture of every card in your old, falling-apart Rolodex. Or when you’re at a trade show, save some paper – grab the business card from the vendors and contacts you’re even remotely interested in, snap a photo, and file it away. Later you can take your time entering your new contacts into your CMS (contact manager software) of choice. (Or better yet, delegate the task to your assistant!)

You can also use Evernote to capture voice memos and type in text notes. Once you’ve done so, you can use tags to organize your notes, and even separate them into different notebooks. Everything you enter is automatically made searchable – even photos and handwritten notes!

Some of the other wonderful uses listed on Evernote’s website are:

  • Snap a photo of a business card with your phone, and have an easy way to store and access contacts.
  • Capture plane tickets and confirmation numbers, hotel invoices, and receipts for your expense reports.
  • Get inspired. Keep a file of anything cool you want to buy for yourself or as a gift, whether it’s online or out in the real world.
  • Keep notes from your meetings all in one place. Take a picture of a whiteboard and you’ll be able to find it later.
  • Plan your next trip. Clip web pages, maps, and itineraries. Capture sights, sounds, tastes, and anything else.
  • Research web sites and clip pages directly from your browser.
  • Keep a record of your favorite wines by snapping a photo of the label when you find one you like.
  • Remember the things you were supposed to remember. Create to-do lists, jot down random thoughts, leave a voice memo, and more.
  • Create notes right from Twitter and save tweets that you like by following @myEN on Twitter.

Dropbox:

If you’re not already using Dropbox to back up your data and transfer important documents from your home computer to your work, or share documents with clients and coworkers, you should be. You can store up to 2 GB of data for free in your Dropbox file, which acts like any other folder on your computer. But when you save a file in your Dropbox folder, it is automatically synchronized online on the Dropbox website. When you have Dropbox installed on multiple computers, those files are then synced to those computers, so the most up to date version of your files are always at your fingertips.

When you download the free Dropbox iPhone app, you have access to all your computer files on your iPhone. You can view your files, save them to your iPhone, and even take photos and videos (iPhone 3GS only) that will sync online and to your other computers. You can even listen to music and watch videos that you have saved in Dropbox on your computer.

Sharing your files is easy, too. If you’re out with a client and want to share the reports on all the properties you’ve shown them today, don’t bring a paper copy with you. Save them in your Dropbox before you leave, then email them a link to the files at the end of your tour. They’ll be able to access the files on their computer, and print only what they need.

 REALTOR.com® Real Estate Search:

I don’t think this app needs much introduction. Just like on the web, you can search for nearby homes for sale, nearby open houses, and nearby rentals. You can save listings, and see the listings you’ve recently viewed.

Another cool feature is revealed when you sign in to your REALTOR.com account (you can sign in or register in the app itself). If you’re out with clients and you’ve got all of your listings for the day saved in your REALTOR.com app, you can add notes to the listings.

After registering, you can also email the listings to someone else. Encourage your clients to use the app and send you the homes they like best. Then you can create a saved list, and map out the homes they’re most interested to schedule your next appointments.

If you’re in a market like ours where all MLS listings are pulled into REALTOR.com, this could be the most valuable tool in your arsenal.

Open Houses by HomeFinder.com:

On the home screen you have three very simple options – look at open houses coming up this weekend, look at open houses going on today, or look at homes for sale. If you aren’t getting results with the default options of 5 miles surrounding your current location, then you can hit the Refine Search button to expand your search radius, or choose a different location by entering a city and state or ZIP code.

You can mark your favorites with this app, and view your history to see what you searched for last time.

Home Tracker:

There is one unique feature with Home Tracker that you don’t get in an app such as REALTOR.com Real Estate Search or Open Houses by HomeFinder.com. With Home Tracker you can group properties you’ve viewed in a particular area, or homes you’ve visited with your client (or they with you), into a Tour.

Home Tracker lists the following features:

  • Store property information such as: Address, City, Zip Code, Price, Size.
  • Rate the Condition, Location, and Overall appeal of each property.
  • Add your own property information and rating items.
  • Add custom notes about the details of a property.
  • Star your Favorites – View your favorite properties with the “My Favorites” tour.
  • Easily Map a property without leaving the app.
  • Email a property or an entire tour with a single click.
  • Use a Google search to find comps, previous sale prices and MLS listings without leaving the app.
  • Take photos of each property as you visit it or add them from your Photo Albums later.

If the ability to set up a “Tour” of your homes is important to you, this looks like a good app choice.

CalcsFree – Mortgage Calculator:

Basically, CalcsFree is a free mortgage calculator that lets you enter a variety of variables to estimate what your client’s payment will be. More than just entering the loan amount, rate, and term, you can also enter the following:

  • First Payment Date
  • Federal, State and Local Tax Rates
  • Tax Status (“Married Filing Separate”)
  • Annual Property Tax, Hazard Insurance, and Earthquake Insurance
  • Monthly Mortgage Insurance
  • Monthly HOA/Condo Fees
  • Other Monthly Expenses

Once you’ve entered all this information, you are given a breakdown of the fees and payments you’ve entered in a monthly breakdown. You can view as a whole how your monthly payment will be divided, but also see the total costs over 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, or 25 years, or the entire life of the loan.

You are also presented with a simple amortization calculation as well as an extended version with payment breakdowns either just with numbers, or graphs. You can then send the reports to an email address using your iPhone’s email.

 Just Light Flashlight:

Just Light Flashlight is the most basic of apps. It’s icon, a solid white block but what does it do? It gives your iPhone a white background so you can see things better in the dark. It doesn’t time out and it has no other features – just white light.

It’s not a million watts, but imagine you’re on a showing and you find out the basement lights have burned out. Your flashlight is in the car, and your client is in a hurry. Just turn up the brightness on your iPhone to its brightest setting and you’ve got yourself a decent, in-a-pinch flashlight.

Photoshop.com Mobile:

Photoshop.com Mobile is a program by Adobe that gives you basic image editing abilities from your iPhone.

Imagine being out on a listing appointment. You get the listing based on your amazing marketing skills, and your client is very eager to get their home advertised. Based on your fabulous marketing presentation, they know you have Facebook. How soon can you display their home?

You snap a photo of the front of the house, but it’s impossible to get the whole house without a whole lot of street along with it. Or the sky is overcast. Or the yard ends up looking not green enough. Go ahead and get the photo, then open up Photoshop.com Mobile. You can crop out the extra street, or the car driving by, or your yard sign. You can enhance the lighting, color saturation, or change the contrast. Sharpen the photo, or soften it a bit. Even add a frame.

Now you’re ready to upload the photo – but to where? If you have a Photoshop.com account, you could put it there. But you have your Facebook connections! Once your photo is saved, you can log into Facebook – or even Twitter – and choose a photo to upload. Once it’s on Facebook, it is placed in its own Photoshop.com Mobile photo gallery.

That photo you just snapped now can have comments added to it, like rooms and special features, price, address, marketing remarks, and it’s all there for your Facebook connections to see and pass along to someone who might be the perfect fit for that home.

Real estate agents don’t have a lot of time these days. Clients want everything Right Now. This is a great way to give them what they want and need, while you don’t have to put an entire day of effort.

Sketches 2:

What makes Sketches 2 worth your time? That you can take a photo and draw on it.

You could draw directions on a map, or take a photo of a house you’re previewing and write right on it what you feel is a fabulous feature, then send it to your clients. It’s not free, and that’s the only downfall. But of all the options I could find in the App Store, this is by far the best, and the only one that currently lets you draw right on a photo

Yelp:
How does this affect you as a real estate agent? If you are on your way to becoming your neighborhood’s expert, you are making it your job to know all the best places to do everything in your area. You can use Yelp to discover new things, and report on the things you know are awesome. Set up your profile in Yelp so when you write your reviews your face is out there for people to see and get to recognize you.

You can take photos of local shops/bars/restaurants/etc and upload them. You can add your Facebook contacts as friends in Yelp and see what they’re up to. You can check in at a location, and your friends will see you there, too.

Some of the other wonderful uses listed on Yelp’s website are:

  • Search for businesses near you using the iPhone’s built-in location finder
  • Tap quick links to find nearby bars, restaurants, cafes and more
  • Narrow your searches by ‘hood, distance, price, and what’s open now
  • Browse reviews to read what’s great (and not so great) in your city
  • Add Quick Tips, photos, and draft reviews for your favorite businesses
  • Look up addresses and phone numbers for thousands of businesses, then call or map them from your iPhone
  • For 3GS owners: Yelp does augmented reality with the Yelp Monocle. Overlay business information onto the world around you

AroundMe:

If you’re out with clients and ready to give them all the local information about what’s near a home, you can either drive around the neighborhood taking meticulous notes about every gas station and grocery store you see (while wasting your gas and getting writer’s cramp), or you can whip out your iPhone. Pull up your AboutMe app, and scroll through the basic list of things you might be searching for.

Banks and ATM machines, bars, coffee shops, gas stations, hospitals, hotels, movie theaters, parking, pharmacies, pubs, restaurants, grocery stores, taxis, and theater.

But what if you need a nearby tattoo parlor? Or a pilates studio? Or even a stationery store or pet hospital – just tap the magnifying glass and type in what you need. You’re shown a list of businesses matching what you searched for and the distances from where you are.
You’ve gotta love the GPS. Once you select one of the listings, you’ll get a map of where you are and where what you’re looking for is. You can also get the address and phone number of the listing, see the route to the location, add the listing to your contacts, or to your favorites.

Facebook

If you aren’t on Facebook, you need to be. From Facebook’s App page: Facebook for iPhone makes it easy to stay connected and share information with friends. Use your iPhone to start a conversation with Facebook Chat, check your friends’ latest photos and status updates, look up a phone number, or upload your own mobile photos to Facebook while on the go.

If you are using Facebook as a serious networking and real estate tool, having this app to update your status and keep up to date with those in your network is vital. There isn’t much you can’t do with the app that you can do on your computer – send messages, view your news feed, access your photos, chat with your friends, view requests, upcoming events, and more.

Echofon:

Echofon is a Twitter app. It lets you view your time line, messages, replies, lists and favorites. Basically, everything you do with Twitter in your web browser.

But what else? What makes this app special?

It’s easy to use. It’s free. And, from Echofon’s Apple App page:
When another Echofon user (iPhone or desktop) sends you a Direct Message or @reply, you can be notified instantly via push notification. Get your friends to use Echofon and you can send Twitter messages instead of SMS!

The pro version appears without advertisements, and you can get push notifications on mentions and messages sent from non-Echofon users. It’s not worth the extra $5 to me, but if you have clients with other Twitter apps on their smart phones, it could be a good investment, to be able to text your clients if they don’t have text service on their own phones.

Google:

Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Buzz, Tasks, Reader, News, Books, Photos, orkut, Translate, Maps, YouTube, and Earth, enough said.

Mint.com Personal Finance:

If you’re using Mint.com to manage your finances, it makes sense to install this iPhone app to view your balances, income, budgets, and spending on your iPhone. Mint automatically syncs all your online banking accounts to get your balances and transactions.

Are you worried about security? What if your iPhone gets stolen, or just misplaced? On Mint.com’s profile page you can deactivate iPhone access to your Mint account to prevent unauthorized access to your account.

For me, and many others, the best part about Mint is that it keeps on top of my accounts for me. Mint lets you know:

  • if you are low on available credit or cash
  • if you go over budget or over your credit limit
  • when a large purchase is made
  • when your paycheck clears the bank
  • if we detect unusual spending activity

Mint.com is a great tool, but isn’t for everyone. Many people are concerned that if Mint.com gets hacked, that all of their information would be vulnerable, and it’s just asking for trouble. That’s a valid concern. If the benefits outweigh the potential downfalls to you, then this is a great tool.

Pandora Internet Radio & Slacker Radio:

As far as Internet radio stations go, these are both pretty cool. You give it a song to start with or a band, or genre etc- a favorite that you’d like to hear more songs like it. They will play another song by the same artist, and then start pulling more songs to play from its libraries, matching by song types, rhythms, and genres.

Intuition:

This last app I debated about entering. It touts itself as “Mom’s Personal Assistant”, but after using it for a week, I think there is much more potential here than just as “my” personal assistant.

Intuition is a task list, but it is more than that, too. You can list your items to do, and tell Intuition where you’re going to do it. You’ll assign the task a category, and then let the calendar know when the task (or event) is going to happen. You can set alerts, and tell the task to repeat. Even add the notes to the task or event that you will need to get things done.

Once you have your tasks and events entered, save it, and it’s added to your list, you can view your tasks by their location, by calendar, or by categories. You can map your tasks out, or see them in a list. You can even view only the tasks you have to do, or see the ones you’ve already gotten done for a sense of accomplishment.

There are limitless possibilities with this app. While the program comes with some basic categories, you can add and color code your own. As a real estate agent, it would make sense to create a category for each transaction you have currently going on with the showings, settlement dates, and tasks listed that need to be accomplished. You could set up your upcoming showings, and then add notes about how your clients liked the properties as you go along.

There’s only one con to this app, if you could consider it that, and that is that the app is very pretty, with bright, vibrant colors and glossy effects everywhere. It’s designed to be aesthetically pleasing to women, and not really made up of neutral colors. But as long as you don’t mind that, it’s a great app to have. Hopefully soon they’ll offer different themes to allow a person to choose how the app appears

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

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