6 real estate apps that make you look like a genius

Homesnap

Want to look smart in front of your clients? It’s gonna take a lot more than just having a smart phone with access to email and Internet. You need to know what real estate apps can increase your productivity, expand your networks and, well, make you look like a tech genius in front of your clients.

The desire for transparency in the real estate market was brewing long before the housing market collapse, but now more than ever your clients demand access to instant information – so much so that they are sidestepping real estate agents with growing frequency. To stay top of mind and on the cutting edge, check out these awesome apps.

Find homes faster with Homesnap

This innovative – “fast and easy-to-use application,” according to the Los Angeles Times – is probably the coolest way to shop for homes as well as one of the smartest ways real estate agents can market themselves. What’s makes this app so special?

Well, for starters Homesnap can pull up all kinds of information about any house or condo when you snap a picture of the property using the app’s camera. How cool is that? And creating a profile within the app allows you to keep a diary of your snaps in an Instragram-like photo feed.

Beyond the photo feed, real estate agents will also appreciate the client-sync feature. It allows them to import their clients’ contact information then see their snaps in real time while the app adds the agent’s branding to every snap. Clients can reach out to their agent in just one tap to schedule a showing or get more info on the property.

The developers of Homesnap recently launched a Foursquare-esque check-in feature that lets agents “check in” to houses. By having the most check-ins, an agent becomes the neighborhood’s equivalent of the Foursquare “mayor.” Potential buyers see this as they use the app to search for homes, increasing the agent’s credibility and visibility at the same time!

To get the word out about this new feature, the Homesnap team has announced a contest for real estate agents.

Showcase homes in 6 seconds or less with Vine

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? We all know about YouTube and other video sharing services, but if you’ve ever spent time creating video content for those channels you know it’s time consuming and it’s not guaranteed your audience will stick around to absorb your message.

Vine is a social media platform where users record and share 6-second videos. Some say the app came of age on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, when a Vine user captured the first bomb go off near the finish line. What makes Vine different from your typical video recording app is that it only records when you’re touching the screen.

Use the app to capture and highlight a few key features of your listing – a beautiful garden, a picturesque swimming pool, a gorgeous master bedroom retreat, etc. – then post on your Twitter and Facebook pages (assuming you have them) or embed on your website. These videos take hardly any time to make and post just as fast.

Each video is looped and at 6 seconds a pop, it’s likely your novel productions will hypnotize your audience much like this incredible stop-motion depiction of Batman and Robin keeping the bad guys at bay.

(If 6 seconds isn’t enough, Instagram recently announced their competing video feature which records and shares up to 15 seconds of video.)

Always have current sales contracts on hand using DocuSign

It’s the exclusive Esignature provider for the National Association of Realtors, O.K.’d for use on conventional and FHA loans. DocuSign also saves hours of legwork spent delivering contracts to all parties in a real estate transaction and receives rave reviews from the tech savvy and even the not-so-tech-savvy.

“With Docusign, anyone with email can sign without printing the document… so no printer, paper, pen, scanner or fax machine are needed,” writes one Northern Virginia real estate agent. “My clients LOVE it! LOVE, LOVE.”

Not only does DocuSign cut down on paper waste while saving you time, the signatures are legally binding. You can guide your signers by placing “sign here” tags throughout your documents and import documents directly from email. Plus you can store documents in app’s cloud or another cloud service such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Know exactly how much it will cost to close with Close It!

So many apps out there can help you find the perfect home, but very few can tell you exactly how much cash will be left over in your homebuyer’s bank account once the dust settles at the closing table. That’s where Close It! comes in.

A product of the tech savvy minds here at Federal Title, this app factors in every aspect of homebuying to produce a cash-to-close estimate with extreme accuracy. So whether you’re touring homes or drawing up an offer and your homebuyer asks, “Exactly how much will I need to close?” you’ll have the answer, not just a rough estimate.

Close It! takes advantage of a live mortgage interest rate feed and your device’s GPS function, which means users need only enter a purchase price and select the loan type before they are on their way to determining their total cash to close that displays on a fully editable HUD-1. By changing default values on the HUD-1 with the edit feature, you’ll be able to zero in within hundreds of dollars or less in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee.

Save your HUD-1s for future edits or email them as PDF documents. What’s more, this app is intuitive enough (it features info icons throughout that provide further information about the wonky line items on the HUD-1), that agents can feel comfortable asking their clients to download it and create their own homebuying scenarios, saving time for everyone and making you look like a genius.

Corral & monitor your social networks with HootSuite

With so many social networks in use today, it can be downright overwhelming to successfully manage them all. Why not make it easy on yourself by syncing your Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and FourSquare accounts to one social media management platform?

HootSuite’s free service allows you to link up to 5 profiles. Using one app you can post photos, status updates, tweets, check-ins, favorite links and anything else you might share with your social network. You can pick exactly where your posts will wind up, so you’re not obligated to share every post with every network.

One of the greatest features of HootSuite is the scheduling feature that allows you to pick a time when your post will appear. This comes in handy when you want to share a bunch of content but not all at one. Program your posts to broadcast every hour or once per day. Schedule your posts to appear at a regular, daily time – or days in advance so your network isn’t completely lifeless when you take a few days for vacation.

If you have more than 5 social network to manage, HootSuite offers a professional account for a monthly fee that starts around $9 per month.

Stay on top of your professional relationships with Contactually

Now that all these apps have impressed your clients by making you look like the smart, tech-savvy real estate agent you are, you’re going to need a way to follow up regularly and keep in touch with all of them.

If only there was an app service that lets you import all your contacts from your social networks, email lists and address book and then send you reminders to reach out to those contacts. But wait! – there’s Contactually.

The service will run you at least $20 per month, but the return on this investment could be exponentially greater. How many times have you missed out on a deal because a contact slipped through the cracks?

The tracking features in Contactually allow you to see how many follow-ups you’ve sent each week as well as who you’ve been in contact with the most so no more leads get lost in the shuffle of daily business. 

“Does anyone *not* use @Contactually? Such an amazing light CRM tool, it's not even funny,” tweets one happy user. (CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager.)

Do you know of another app that should be included on this list? Submit a comment!

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