By Stephanie Sims
Barbara Kleban, Realtor and marketing and transition coordinator with Coldwell Banker North Shore and City Regions, gives presentations showing agents why it’s important to learn to use the iPad, and more importantly, teaches them how exactly they can use an iPad. And like most agents, Kleban didn’t start out an expert – she needed to learn how to navigate and use an iPad, too. She says the average learning curve for agents (herself included) is about two weeks, but after that, agents won’t know why they waited to invest in one. “I haven’t yet had an agent tell me they wish they hadn’t gotten it,” she says.
Some apps might be easier to learn how to use than others, but don’t get discouraged. Even if it takes time to learn, the end result – getting business done faster – is worth it. And, Kleban says, if you’re really stuck with an app or have a question, most apps have great help sections that users can click on for info, and nine times out of 10, if you Google your question, the answer will come up within the first page of results.
When you’re new to an iPad, you might make the mistake of downloading tons of apps and not knowing which ones to use. To make sure you’re getting the most from your iPad, download or buy apps you know you’ll use often. “I choose my apps based on which ones let me do business in the shortest amount of time,” Kleban says.
Here are the apps she recommends every agent downloads:
Keynote: This is one of Kleban’s favorite apps for presentations because it allows agents to put together an interactive presentation the client can partake in, too. “The agent can hand them the iPad and they can flip it around and play with it themselves,” she says. Agents can also click out of the presentation and go to an Internet browser or another app and let them see the marketing for their home; there’s no moving over to a computer for that. “The iPad sells itself when agents use this app,” Kleban adds, “because they look tapped into technology, and that gets clients excited.”
SignMyPad: Agents and clients can use either a stylus or their finger to sign a doc on the iPad, and in one click, the signed document can get emailed to the office, client and attorneys.
Dropbox: Agents can save their PDF files, listings, contracts, documents, even music files, to this app, and it automatically syncs their iPad to their home computer. “It can be so frustrating when you’re out with a client and you have your Blackberry, but you didn’t save a file to your Blackberry and have to wait to get it,” Kleban says. “This program syncs all an agent’s devices so they’re never caught without a contract or something they’ll need when with a client.”
Evernote: This is a great app for people who keep to-do lists. More visual people might want to use this app on the iPad 2, which has a camera (the first iPad does not). Agents can use this when out on broker tours and want to share photos of a listing with a client right away.
Google Maps: Kleban says this app is still the best app for maps, mainly due to the “walk around” feature. “If you pull up an address, on the left hand side of the screen, a guy in orange walks around,” she says. “When you click him, it will show the street view of what you’re looking at. It’s a great buyer tool for when you want to show the neighborhood and what’s near the house without physically going there.”
Pulse: The No. 1 iPad question Kleban says she gets from agents is how they can use the iPad to make their social media efforts quicker. Many agents know about HootSuite, which can schedule posts across Twitter and Facebook, but Pulse is for agents who are at a loss for what to tweet about. Pulse pulls information from sources the agent chooses – Mashable.com, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune – and presents the top stories from all sources up front. This way, agents can quickly see what the top stories are and can tweet about them.
iCloud: Meant to replace MobileMe, the iCloud, similar to the Drop Box app, will sync iTunes, iPhoto and all Mac computer accounts, so no files are lost. Why get iCloud over MobileMe? MobileMe costs $99 a year to use; iCloud is free.
These are Kleban’s top app picks for the iPad, but maybe you’d rather get a Kindle Fire or Samsung Galaxy (check our tablet comparison chart on the opposite page). That’s fine, too, but Kleban advises finding out which apps you’ll want to use the most and making sure those aren’t exclusive to the iPad. “Do your homework and make sure what you would use most often will be available to use on that different tablet,” she says.