Top 10 Apps For Real Estate Agents


Picture
Real estate agents are constantly looking for new apps or tools that can help increase their productivity and sales. We have compiled a list of the top 10 apps for real estate agents. Some of these tools can be used by themselves to handle specific tasks while others can be used in conjunction with other apps in order to best achieve the needed efficiency. From document creation, signing and storage, these apps will help real estate agents in their bid to be able to handle their work without unnecessary trips back and forth from the office, unnecessary hardware, software and storage costs and much more.


Top 10 real estate apps

  • Evernote and Dropbox: Evernote is one of the best friends a real estate agent can have. It works best when used with Dropbox as Dropbox provides storage and easy file sharing while Evernote provides document creation and editing. Snapshots can be attached to documents, audio clips as well. The Evernote web clipper easily allows articles or web pages to be saved to Evernote. The tagging feature allows documents and photographs to be tagged with keywords for simple searching. Pretty much all aspects of a transaction can be handled within Evernote and Dropbox

  • Trulia: Trulia is a well-known real estate website and the free mobile app is just as great. It allows real estate agents to search by area, check out detailed listings and monitor the property history. 

  • Docusign: This app can be used to legally sign documents which can help immensely in situations where the real estate agent or client are mobile and can't travel to a specific location to sign documents.

  • NearBuy: This free app allows real estate agents to search listings by area, bookmark listings and even color code listings for easy access at a later time.

  • Dragon Dictation: This app can help when speech is needed and typing is not an option- for instance, when driving in a car. Ideas can be forgotten if not jotted down immediately and this free app provides an option for real estate agents to be able to take notes anytime, anywhere. 

  • Zillow: This free app allows real estate agents to search by location, price information estimates, price changes, sales, tax- all kinds of information is provided by this useful app. 

  • PowerOne Financial Calculator: This app is not free but it provides a valuable service. It allows real estate agents to determine mortgage payments, investment income, mathematical equations and compound interest. 

  • Around Me: This free app provides a wealth of information about local areas. For real estate agents that are creating a listing, this app provides much needed information such as banks, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, etc.

  • Social media apps: Social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to help spread information to multiple people simultaneously. Listings and information about homes for sale can be sent out among many potential clients.



 

Twitter For Real Estate Agents


Picture
In the world of internet marketing tools, one of the most effective is Twitter. One main reason for this is the amount of people in the world that use Twitter. The other is that the Twitter posting process allows for practically an unlimited number of users to see your tweets. When you post a tweet, it is automatically sent to all of your followers. But say a few of them retweet your post. It is then sent to all of their followers. If a few of them retweet it, it is then sent to all of their followers and the process continues. This creates the possibility of hundreds, thousands or even millions of users seeing your tweet. This is the process that makes Twitter one of the most powerful internet marketing tools in the world.


Twitter for real estate is a powerful tool

Twitter can also be used as a powerful resource tool. By following real estate sources, Twitter can be an invaluable database of information that can be used for more efficient productivity in the real estate business. Many large real estate companies post regularly on Twitter, as do many independent real estate agents. The knowledgebase of information that Twitter can be is practically unmatched if you follow the right resources.

Many potential clients post on Twitter when they are searching for a new home. This gives even more options for real estate agents as this gives them information clients that are looking for homes in specific areas.

Continuous posting of real estate material, using good keywords, and providing good information will ensure that your tweets reach the maximum number of people possible and each one of these is a potential client. There are many social networking tools that can help real estate agents in their work, but Twitter may just be the most invaluable tool of all.



 

DwellAgent Offers Real Estate Agents Free Listing


Picture
As a real estate agent, getting your listings out to as many people as possible is one of the strongest options. Listing options can sometimes be expensive, but there is a listing option from dwellagent.com that is completely free. Real estate agents can take advantage of the web-based software that allows real estate agents to publish listings, a blog, website, and more.

The free listing allows real estate agents to publish one property listing at a time. If more than one listing is needed, the agent can always upgrade to a premium account. This allows agents to publish up to 25 listings for under $10 per month with the Basic plan.

The DwellAgent app integrates with Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and more for a complete social networking experience. It also incorporates video integration to listing and agent websites for better visual marketing. Google Analytics provides site statistics. DwellAgent is the complete real estate marketing package.


DwellAgent plans for real estate agents

If you're not sure, try it out. Take advantage of the free listing and see how the service works. If it works for you, you can always upgrade to the Basic plan, the Professional plan or the Enterprise plan. The Basic plan allows real estate agents to post 25 listings for $9.95 per month. The Professional plan integrates a primary website, blog and listing websites into a single website. IDX/property search can be added by signing up for the Enterprise plan which is an additional $39.99 per month.

Free listings from a quality service don't come along often. Check out the great service DwellAgent provides and see how well their free listing service will work for you.



 

Recent Evernote Hack Raises Cloud Security Concerns Among Real Estate Agents


Picture
Among the top security concerns of real estate agents is security in the cloud. When dealing with sensitive information, it's important that the data is kept safe. When Evernote was recently hacked this forced over 50 million users’ passwords to be changed. This hack joined a rising number of recent incidents that have included such large corporations as Dropbox, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. For real estate agents, this hack means that strong security measures must be implemented and maintained for complete data protection.


Password strength can determine level of cloud security

You may be surprised that sitting atop the top 25 worst passwords of 2012 is the weakest password of all, "password" and it is still the most commonly used password.

When choosing a strong password, any password on this list is to be avoided, as well as any passowrds on other most commonly used password lists, even up to the 10,000 most common password list. A recent study showed that 91% of all internet users have a password that appears within the top 1000 most common passwords. As there are now computers that can process 348 billion passwords per second, a top 1000 password will not take very long to crack. Another list that can be used as an example of passwords not to use is the list of passwords that Twitter found to be too common and banned them from the service. If you have concerns about your password strength, it can be found at http://howsecureismypassword.net/. This site can also tell you how long it would take a desktop PC  to crack it.

Creating a secure password

In this analysis by Troy Hunt on the science of password selection, a more in-depth look at how the common internet user creates a password is explored. As can be reasonably determined, longer passwords are harder to crack as it takes longer for  desktop computers to process the number of possible passwords before reaching the real password. The truth is, it’s much better to have a long password that you can remember than a shorter password that can be hacked by a powerful computer.

SplashData offers these tips for the creation of secure passwords:

  • Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, “eat cake at 8!” or “car_park_city?”

  • Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.

  • Having trouble remembering all those different passwords? Try using a password manager application such as 1Password that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites. The downside is that using a password manager isn't always possible and it isn't always practical either.

How to enable 2-factor authentication if it's available

Some cloud storage providers such as Google Drive and Dropbox offer extra security measures such as 2-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is a measure which requires the presentation of a minimum of two out of the three authentication factors:

a knowledge factor ("something the user knows"),

a possession factor ("something the user has"),

and an inherence factor ("something the user is").

Here is how it works: Once you enter your password as you normally would, a code is sent to your mobile phone or an app that you have previously approved to be used for this purpose. As soon as the code comes through, you enter it and can access the account.

How does this protect your data?

If your password is accessed by hackers (keylogger, sniffer, steals your laptop, etc.), they will still be unable to access your account because they will need your mobile phone to complete the secondary authentication. Strong password creation and keeping your passwords secure help prevent any unauthorized access to your data and this is important since, as a real estate agent, a lot of your data is confidential and needs to be protected. The 2-factor authentication measure handles this in the majority of situations, keeping your data secure.

Dropbox 2-factor authentication setup instructions: https://www.dropbox.com/help/363/en

Google Drive and other Google services setup instructions: http://support.google.com/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=180744

How to protect your cloud data with a secure backup from cloudHQ

Weak password creations and other poor security measures contribute to the majority of unauthorized accesses. Unfortunately, even with the best security measures in place, circumstances can still happen- for instance, if a hacker steals your laptop and your mobile phone, he will then be able to bypass the secondary 2-factor authentication measure. If the hacker deletes your data, this can be a huge blow to a real estate agent with multiple transactions and contracts stored in the cloud. This data doesn’t have to be lost, it can be securely backed up with one of the leading cloud storage backup services such as cloudHQ.

CloudHQ provides a secure backup of all of your data. The replication process is automatic and operates silently in the background, invisible to the user. It is continuous replication which means it automatically updates in real-time as changes are made to data, so you never have to worry about losing any data.

Let's use an example. You have anEvernote account and want to use cloudHQ to protect your Evernote data. You simply create two Evernote accounts. One is your primary Evernote account and the other is your backup account. CloudHQ provides a continuous replication of all data from the primary Evernote account to the secondary Evernote account. If a hacker gains access to your primary account and deletes your data (including from Evernote trash), the backup account will still hold a complete second copy of all of your data.

Strong passwords and security measures are usually enough to keep your data safe from unauthorized access. But if it does fail, the results can be devastating. You can keep access to your data at all times by utilizing the superior backup methods of cloudHQ.



 

Going Paperless For Real Estate Agents


Picture
Going paperless has many advantages for real estate agents. The paperwork can mound up with long and complex transactions which can lead to long hours spent at the office or at home working overtime. Going paperless eliminates the need for all this paper and the work can be done on the go, from anywhere you have internet access at.


Paperless document creation and signing

Documents can be created on your mobile device, shared with the client, signed by the client using signing software such as Docusign, and if a hard copy of the document is needed, a cloud printing service such as Google Cloud Print can be used to print the documents from a mobile device, wherever you have internet access.

Paperless storage saves money

Paper storage fees add up, especially if you are a successful real estate agent with numerous transactions. Records and copies of documents must be kept, but file cabinets get full and then more must be purchased, and eventually larger office space may even be required. The cloud can be the solution to all storage needs as copies of every document can be stored in the cloud. Editing and revisions can be done while the document is stored in the cloud and replication is instant so all changes are automatically saved. Some signing software such as Docusign can be used to sign legal documents so even copies of signed legal documents can be stored in the cloud.

Going paperless saves time and money for real estate agents, especially busy agents on the go. With mobile technology reaching new heights, real estate agents can perform all of their work wherever they wish, you could practically eliminate your office to save money as well. No paper means better organization, better security and more time to concentrate on selling homes instead of the mounds of paperwork and frequent trips to and from the office.



 

How To Move Your Real Estate Brokerage To The Cloud


Picture
The move to the cloud may seem like a daunting task for real estate agents but this can be accomplished much easier than one may think. While it may seem to be a bit overwhelming, just a little simple research will give you all the information you need for making the move to the cloud as effortless as possible.


Why should real estate agents move to the cloud?

Moving to the cloud can make for a paperless office, which means that real estate agents can perform their work from virtually any device (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.), from anywhere that the agent has internet access. This cuts down on trips to and from the office, cuts down on paperwork, and allows agents to concentrate on selling houses instead of wasting time doing unnecessary tasks.

How to move the real estate brokerage to the cloud

There are many cloud storage providers to choose from- Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and more. These services can be used to store all that paperwork that currently flows out of file cabinets, inside (and probably all across) your desk. In the cloud, the documents can be stored, organized and easily searched and found at any time from any device. Paper documents can be scanned to the computer and uploaded to the cloud storage for storage and organizing.

Cloud services such as Evernote and Basecamp can be used to completely manage your documents and transactions. Google Apps has an entire array of document editing software that can help also.

A secure and safe backup is essential to protect data. A cloud backup service such as cloudHQ can protect your data and ensure that there is no data loss.

You must install the cloud services on every device that you plan to use the service on. Most of these services come with apps for tablets and smartphones and software programs for desktop computers and laptops.

The move to the cloud will make work much more efficient in both time and project management. It may seem like a lot but it's actually very simple and the results and benefits are well worth it.



 

Top 10 Reasons To Move Your Real Estate Brokerage To The Cloud


Picture
Everyone has questions and concerns when contemplating moving their business to the cloud. This especially holds true for real estate agents because a lot of the documents and files are sensitive and must be protected by the best security measures possible. 


Here is a list of the top 10 reasons to move your real estate brokerage to the cloud.

  1. Cost-efficient: Yes, the cloud will save money- a lot of it! No need to worry about buying, upgrading and maintaining local storage options, the cloud storage provider will take care of everything for a small monthly fee. If you need to upgrade your storage space, just upgrade your plan and voila! You will instantly be granted more space. No need to buy and install new hardware. Switching to the cloud usually saves between 30-50% on IT costs.
  2. Storage: By moving all of your files to the cloud, you are reducing the need for paper files. You can cut back on office space and eliminate the need for large, bulky file cabinets. No need to worry about buying and installing local servers and hard drives, the cloud is all you need.
  3. Collaboration: The cloud makes it easy for you to collaborate on files and documents with other realtors, clients, lawyers and any other sources you may need input from.
  4. Project management: The cloud has many services that make managing your transactions a breeze. Basecamp is the ultimate organizational project management tool, but there are other such as Evernote, Google Drive and Dropbox that can help your real estate brokerage make the move to the cloud.
  5. Mobile: The cloud allows you to work from anywhere that you have access to the internet, and even offline when you don't have internet access.
  6. Time management: Since agents can perform all of their work in the field without constant trips back and forth from the office, this means a lot more time can be concentrated towards more important work- like showing houses and selling them. Wasted time can potentially slow your sales down, but working in the cloud can make much more efficient use of your time.
  7. Document management: With a variety of cloud tools such as Evernote, Google Drive and Docusign, documents can be accessed, created, edited, shared and legally signed from virtually anywhere.
  8. Flexibility: The cloud has many services and tools available that can help a real estate agent in the workplace. The best part- most of these services and apps have full integration with many of the most popular tools and services.
  9. Security: Cloud security has always been a strong subject of concern, but it doesn't have to be. By implementing strong security measures such as very strong passwords and two-factor authentication, the cloud can be more secure than any local storage you have in the office.
  10. Backup: Manual backup of all your files and data is a pain but if you don't do it you risk the possibility of data loss which can be critical when dealing with sensitive documents and files. Storing files in the office or on local hard drives is not the best solution as they are still susceptible to fire, floods or other disasters. When you move to the cloud your data stays on the cloud so no fire or flood will harm your data. However, it is still important to have a good backup plan in case your account gets hacked or you accidentally delete important files or data. There are many cloud solutions to handle this and you should pick one of the top cloud backup providers such as cloudHQ. The cloudHQ service runs in the background, transparent to you, providing continuous replication of all changes- if you add a file or make changes to a file, this is replicated to the backup immediately. A solid, secure backup plan is critical when dealing with documents of such a sensitive nature as real estate documents and files.



 

Best Options Now That Google Reader Is Shutting Down


Picture
For some, it comes as a shock; for others, it's a little surprising; but one thing is for certain, no one was expecting the announcement from Google that they would be shutting down their extremely popular RSS reader, Google Reader, in July, 2013. That gives us only a few short months to find a replacement.

RSS feeds are like a daily news source for many real estate agents- perhaps you follow the National Association of Realtors RSS feeds, the AOL real estate RSS feeds, or the Wall Street Journal's real estate RSS feed. No matter what RSS feeds you follow, if you are using Google Reader, you will have to find an alternative. If you want to keep your old feeds from Google, you can download and transfer your data to ensure you don't lose any of your data.


The best Google Reader alternatives

While there are many Reader alternatives, Feedly seems to be the preeminent successor to Google Reader's demise as the company saw Google Reader users flock to their service- an influx of over 500,000 users within 48 hours.

Other alternatives include Fever, The Old Reader, Netvibes, Pulse, Tiny Tiny RSS and NewsBlur. Each reader has its own unique features, and Google Reader's D-Day is still some months away, so you can take your time and try out different readers, analyze their features and go with the one that best suits your needs. I would not be surprised if we see some companies release clones of Google Reader in efforts to woo some of the current Google Reader users. We hate to see Google Reader go, but it's happening and you should take the steps to move your feed soon.



 

Top 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Going Paperless


Picture
Going paperless holds many benefits for real estate agents on the go. Paperwork, files and important documents take up a lot of time, it's much better when they can be accessed, created, edited and shared from virtually anywhere. The move to the cloud is full of benefits and is very cost-effective but mistakes can be made.


Here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid when going paperless

Here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid when going paperless

1.      Disorganization: Stay organized no matter what cloud service you are using. Dropbox has great file/folder organization much the same as Windows folder and file system. Evernote has incredible organization for documents and small files and the best search features. Basecamp is the best project management tool available. Google Drive has a complete set of tools and services to meet any of your organizational needs.

2.      Permissions: Different cloud services have different options for setting permissions. Be sure to set permissions and monitor which users and apps can access your documents and files.

3.      Poor security: Make sure you create strong passwords, guard your passwords securely and enable any additional security features that your cloud service provider allows such as two-step authentication.

4.      Improper training: Don't allow untrained employees to access your files stored in the cloud. If the files get accidentally deleted, misplaced or corrupted, this can have serious consequences for your brokerage.

5.      Backup plan: A secure backup plan is the best service you can get when going paperless. A prominent cloud data backup service such as cloudHQ will keep your data safe by backing it up to a separate cloud storage account. This way, in case data loss were to occur (from accidental or malicious deletion, server corruption, or even if a server just goes offline for awhile) you will still have access to your data exactly as it was before the loss occurred. This can be a huge lifesaver in the real estate business as most documents are sensitive and extremely important.



 

Using Dropbox And Docusign To Quickly Sign Documents


Picture
Docusign is an easy and efficient way to sign documents including legal documents from anywhere. For the real estate agent on the go this can make life much easier as it eliminates costly, time-consuming trips back and forth from the office to do paperwork. You can even save your signature in your account so you can sign even faster. No need to fax, print, scan or perform any other inefficient methods of getting paperwork signed.

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage providers and its drag-and-drop file feature makes it perfect to integrate with Docusign as it is designed to be efficient for quick access. 


Using Dropbox and Docusign in real estate

As a real estate agent, it seems there is never enough time during the day to get everything done anyways. By integrating Dropbox and Docusign together you can at least stop worrying about how documents will get signed as it can be done in seconds from anywhere.

When a contract needs to be signed, it can be sent to them through Docusign. All transactions are encrypted so security is not an issue either. Documents can be stored in Dropbox and signed through Docusign. The process is pretty simple, you just have to import your Dropbox (or Evernote, Google Drive, or Box) account into Docusign and follow the on-screen prompts. Here is a detailed page that explains the process.

Real estate agents can take advantage of this great combination of apps that can make life easier; just one less thing to worry about during the hectic work day.