By Ian McKendry
According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 50 percent of all homebuyers use open houses as part of their search, and a new wave of apps for the iPad are taking advantage of leads that can be generated by replacing sign-in sheets at open houses.
“The iPad is specifically great when working with buyers,” Bob Satawake, managing partner of the Chicago Luxury Group at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “It keeps us completely mobile with complete access.”
Agents can use iPads to connect to the Internet during open houses without a wireless code and give them instant MLS access for buyers who may be interested in other properties in the area who are not represented by an agent.
Two of the most downloaded apps for open house help are Open Home Pro and Open House Manager. These apps let agents ask questions like, “are you pre-approved for a mortgage?” or “do you have a home to sell?” And this is where an agent is able to turn the sign-in sheet into a customer relationship management system.
Using an app like these, agents can aggregate contact information and instantly send potential leads a thank you note and update them if a listing price is reduced.
Open Home Pro lets agents easily market an open house via email or social media such as Twitter or Facebook, and Open House Manager is able to export contact information to more powerful client management systems, like Salesforce.com.
The iPad also stores property pictures and legal documents through apps like Dropbox, which offers up to 3GB of free storage in the “cloud,” and DocuSign, which lets clients sign documents electronically.
Satawake said he also likes the iPad because the screen is large enough to effectively take virtual tours.
“There are occasions when you are on tour with a buyer and a property of interest has become available that is not on your scheduled tour; iPad makes it easy to instantly preview the property together,” Satawake said.
While the iPad is currently dominating the tablet market, it is not the only option, with other world-class manufactures taking aim at the technology giant. In fact, Microsoft plans to release its own tablet called the Surface by the 2012 holiday season.