Technology for Real Estate Enthusiasts

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metal gear

Get Crankin’

Let’s grind some gears. After all, it’s a techie world out there, no way around it. I’m sitting here in my neighborhood Kapahulu Starbucks and there are half a dozen Macbook Pros crunching away on the tables in addition to whatever iPhone or Android is in everyone’s pockets (btw, these are consistently some of the nicest folks working here).

Apple, Ice Cream Sandwich, MIFI, Galaxy, Infographics, Google Plus, etc. — even for the tech-inclined it can be hard to keep up with today’s ever-changing digital society. I actually used to work in tech for 8 years back in Washington DC and even I can’t keep up sometimes. However, the real estate industry has, perhaps more than any other except technology itself, embraced this new social fabric. If you’re not ‘tech’ and you’re in real estate, then you really have your work cut out for you.

book cover of Crush It

An amazing book.

While there can definitely be something charming and almost admirable about going ‘old school’, the fact is that the race is on and the pony, no matter how cute and adorable, is not going to win the race against the Clydesdale. This is not to say that technology replaces the value of honest relationship-buiding — far from it — but it does change the landscape on which traditional values are expressed and maintained. To paraphrase Gary Vaynerchuk (one of the tech gurus I admire) in “Crush It”, Sunday mornings of leisurely drinking coffee reading the Sunday paper are a thing of the past.

That being the case, let’s have a look at some of the ways technology is shaping the real estate industry and vice versa from both a pro and consumer perspective.

The Real Estate Professional’s Perspective

Consumer demand for more information, both in detail and sheer volume, has been such a huge catalyst that it’s hard to put into words. People today, both home buyers and home sellers, want to know everything about their local market before making any decisions. No longer can real estate agents and other pros keep local housing and sales data close to their chest and hope to come out ahead. We’re living in the Information Age and the only way to win is to be a treasure trove of that same information.

That does NOT mean that you’ve given up all your power, that you have rendered yourself useless or irrelevant. That’s the loser mentality. Information isn’t the whole enchilada — win with service, win with niche knowledge (ex. coastal erosion and hazards, luxury properties, multi-family, lease options). It’s all about repositioning yourself and the expertise and value you bring.

3 Technologies to Start Using NOW

  • Apple’s iPad 3 just came out. The iPad tablet is one of the real estate industry’s biggest game changers. It lets you pull up housing data, see photos and videos of properties before you get there and even sign purchase contracts while in the field (ex. DocuSign). More apps are developed everyday. If you do one thing listed on this page, it should be this.
    Pinterest for Real Estate

    Start Pinning!

  • Pinterest. The new social media website (yes, another) is one that shows tons of promise of sticking around because it’s based on the visual — images. No reading required, which is a big ticket for success today (what that says about society is another matter). Get a profile and start using it for your listings for maximum exposure — and SEO.
  • And…action! If you don’t have decent video on your smartphone, then you need to pick up a quality camcorder, like this sleek Sony High-Def camcorder here! Post your property videos onto your YouTube channel, metatag it properly and watch the traffic pour in.
BONUS: If you’re a realtor, have a look at these turnkey marketing flyers I just stumbled upon. You may find them useful.

The Consumer’s Perspective

What about the rest of us? The people shopping for a home or selling one? Has technology changed the field for us? Absolutely! In fact, as I stated earlier, it’s the consumer demand for information that continues to be the primary driving force in the industry. For example, buyers AND sellers are increasingly ‘running comps’ at home using free real estate websites before contacting a realtor or investor buyer.

3 Technologies to Start Using NOW

  • Free Websites. All the housing data in the world is out there if you want it. You can educate yourself now in ways you never could have done before. Get on sites like Zillow, Trulia, Cyberhomes and more. Make a list of homes in your area that have sold and are actively on the market. Go drive that list. Take photos. Take videos. Compare features, styles, amenities, conditions, etc.
  • Pinterest. Yes, I mentioned it above but there’s a different way you can use it here. If you’re in the market to buy a house, create a board called “Houses I Like” or “Features of Houses I Like” and start pinning photos of homes that match what you’re looking for. Share this board with agents in your area and let them find you your dream home. This beats the daylight out of daylong Sundays going from house to house — instead you’re making a very visual representation of what you want. Likewise, if you’re selling your house, create a board with photos of your home. Title it with your address and/or contact info and let the viral nature of Pinterest spread the word about your home for sale. Get others working for YOU!

LinkedIn icon

  • LinkedIn. Yes, you probably already know about LinkedIn, but if you’re like most people, you’re not using it properly. I used to think LinkedIn was just Facebook without anything ‘fun’. After all, where are the pet videos, the baby photos and rants about Tom Cruise and Ted Nugent? Yet that’s what makes LinkedIn so impressive. There’s no popularity contest to be won — this is all about getting down to business. Whether selling your house or buying one, check out the professional presence of buyers or agents you’re considering working with. This is about finding out who’s for real and who’s just a business card. CLICK HERE for perhaps the BEST training on LinkedIn (I met the creator, Lewis Howes, a heck of an honest & decent guy).
*Tech tool I’m most excited about: Google Hangouts
*Tech tool I’m tired of hearing about: QR Codes
*Tech you don’t even know you’re using everyday: GIS
*Websites you should be watching: Mashable and GeekEstate

By no means are these lists exhaustive or meant to be the latest and greatest. There’s no shortage of tech tools out there, both good and bad, and there are more coming everyday. Confusing? Potentially. Exciting? I think so!

What tech tools do you like or can’t stand?? SHARE THEM BELOW!!

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  • Gordon MacDonald

    Do you use a iPad3? Is a tablet all you need to run your RE investing business? If you use more than just a tablet, what else do you use?

    • http://bigrockinvestments.com/ Michael Borger

      Hi, Gordon. I actually have an iPad 2 and it serves me quite well. Honestly, I do run more of my business off my MacBook Pro but that’s probably mostly from personal preference. I don’t mind the bigger size of the laptop vs. the iPad, BUT with Cloud & Dropbox for file sharing, and Wi-Fi everywhere (if you get that option), I don’t see any reason why you can’t just use an iPad 3. It’s amazing what you can do on tablets these days. The only drawback might be an inability to use certain programs that don’t run on iOS.