Update – CBC’s The National asked me if I thought the iPad was an essential business tool – watch below to find out what I said! Let me know if you agree or think I’m wrong
Last month I bought my first apple computer, a 32gb wifi iPad. I mention this so you know that I’m not some “apple fanboy” who has the latest and greatest toy – for example, I’m not sure what decade my ipod is from.
Many people have said the iPad sucks, or that it’s the greatest invention since running water, sliced bread and chips&dip.
I want to give you my perspective, show you what iPad apps I use most often, and tell you whether or not I think a real estate agent should buy one.
Sure, the iPad is great for consuming content like video (youtube and other html5 enabled video sites, as well as movies you transfer from your computer), music, podcasts, magazine, books and websites. Everyone knows that.
What I want to know is whether or not it is useful for a real estate agent running around dealing with clients? For me, it sure is.
A quick example:
A few days ago, I was out with a client looking at a development opportunity in Kitchener. Normally, I would have printed out the listing, historical data on the property, information about the tax assessment and lot boundaries from the province of Ontario’s online system, zoning by-laws, my notes etc. However now, post-iPad, I’m able to save everything as PDFs and view them all effortlessly on the iPad.
(note: I said useful, not fiscally sound!)
What apps am I using?
GoodReader for iPad – $0.99
I use Goodreader to read PDFs. I understand that iBooks handles PDFs as of the most recent update, but goodreader has worked flawlessly for me so far. If it aint broke…
It allows me to read PDFs on the iPad, and import files from a variety of sources (google docs, dropbox, mobileMe, iDisk etc. See below), making it really easy for me to keep all sorts of digital documents in one place.
I view and manage listings, offers, presentations, books, articles and more from this app.
note: buy the iPad specific version, not the iPhone one.
We now know how I read a PDF, but what if I want to make notes on a document, or even sign something?
iAnnotate allows me to highlight, markup and draw on (and more, actually) PDFs, and then save or email the document. I use this a lot.
For example, I was taking a look at a commercial property last week – right before the we felt the earthquake in Kitchener– and I had the floorplans saved as a PDF.
I was able to pull up the plans, and mark out where each tenant was located along with their effective rental rates, giving my client a visual display of the quality and quantity of the property’s revenue.
This is a big help if your client’s learn best by looking at visuals.
The screenshot below shows how I mark up listing sheets, as an example.
Dropbox is my type of app: Simple to use, free, and it works.
I save a file to folder on my computer. Presto, it’s on my iPad (syncs via wifi). Try it out. Awesome sauce, to quote Scott Stratten (@unmarketing)
Vooks – I love to read, and I love interaction with authors. A ‘Vook’ gives me that.
A vook is a book with video enhancements. A well done Vook can really make a subject come alive.
One of my favorite’s so far is Gary Vaynerchuk’s CRUSH IT, enhanced with videos from Gary (@garyvee) throughout. If you know Gary, you know the value that can add. I think I paid $3 for this vook (it’s back up to $7, still a great deal in my opinion), and it contains the whole book, plus video. Good deal, no?
Pretty good app, I use it to moderate comments, edit posts, occasionally add content (I’m writing this on a laptop with an extra screen…. I wouldn’t choose to type this out on an iPad!!)
Isn’t this gorgeous? free, from AccuWeather
Other iPad apps I like
PhotoPad (free picture editing)
Adobe Ideas (terrific free hand note taking application)
1000 Experiences (beautiful travel app)
Read It Later(insanely useful for saving websites to read while you’re offline. Syncs between computer and iPad. I use the free version and there is also a paid version)
The iPad and Clients
“is that an Ipad?”
“Can I try it?”
“Oh you got one of those?”
They love it. They really, really love it.
My client’s appreciate being able to view floorplans, zoning by-laws, financial figures, video tours, HD images and more all on one device. I load it up, hand it to them and show them where to look.
I recommend you load up all the listings you’re showing, complete with photos and videos if available (save as PDFs, save video in an iPad compatible format – mp4?). Give it to your clients to make notes on the listings, circle pictures for future reference, and show them how to email it to themselves when they’re done – so they have all their notes and can recall with ease which property they loved.
I’ve used it at listing presentations, on site visits, while viewing property, having lunch with investors – you name it.
Typing on the screen is good, but for any content creation longer than an email, get a keyboard (available for the iPad), or use your laptop. That being said, my wife uses the iPad almost exclusively (over a laptop and a desktop). On most days she consumes more content than she creates, so this doesn’t present an issue for her.
note to non techies: My wife didn’t think she would like it, and she is very impressed with it. She doesn’t have a lot of patience for tech that doesn’t work as advertised, so that’s a good endorsement for apple.
That’s about it… The iPad doesn’t do it all, but it never said it did.
So… should a Realtor get an iPad?
Would I buy one again?
Yes – the iPad does what I want it to do (and what I thought it would do)
I’ve wanted a tablet computer for a while – 10 years probably, and I’ve always loved touch technology. I had a touchscreen PDA in University, and I’ve almost bought a tablet several times. What always stopped me is that they never quite worked like they were supposed to. Slow. Crappy pen input. Heavy. Bad battery life. Pricey. (much of this has been corrected now, I imagine)
When I first played with the iPad, I knew that apple had resolved those issues, and they managed to do it with a product starting at $550 Canadian. not bad!
For me, it lives up to the promise.
It does not replace a laptop, and it doesn’t do it all.
But what it does, it does really really well.
Should you buy one?
That really depends. I’ve recommended them to many, and I’ve also recommended friends of mine not buy one.
Why? Well, let’s look at why you would want an iPad
- You want a cool way to carry around a lot of information
- You appreciate the mobility of accessing documents, information, media and more from anywhere you are (wifi or 3G dependant, of course)
- You want to make your presentations and interactions with clients more memorable
- You want to differentiate the experience of dealing with you vs a normal agent who still has one of those tiny iPhone things
- You already have a computer that you use to create content, write offers etc.
Why would you not buy one?
- You create more content than you consume, and it’s not in the budget
That’s about it, but it’s a serious one. A friend of mine who just started in the real estate biz asked me if he should get one.
I’ve seen his laptop, it’s at least 8 years old. He needs a new computer, preferably one that is mobile. One that he can use to type offers, compose blog posts, and edit videos for that vlog I keep telling him to start.
I told him to buy a $500 laptop, and save the iPad for when the toy or gadget budget allowed.
At the end of the day, it’s a toy.
A very cool , shiny, useful toy that I’m happy I have.
Other great articles on the iPad and real estate (via @professionalone):