Just the Basics – Know What Apps to Use and When

by Tiffany Kjellander

A basic understanding of what apps perform what duties in real estate is essential in today’s business climate.


You are an agent. You have clients. And you need to be prepared for anything they might need. So in order to provide the world class service you are known for, you’re going to need to start with the basics to make sure that your agent toolbox is well equipped.

Real Estate Tech Basics

Start off by filling up on the essentials. You will need your search apps – Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia. Why? Because your clients are using them, and so should you. And, don’t forget, both Zillow and Trulia have rental apps, and the Trulia agent app alerts you when you’ve gotten an inquiry so you can respond quickly.

And, both Realtor.com and Zillow have a fun feature where you can “draw” a circle around a geographic neighborhood and will let you know everything available for sale in that neighborhood. Zillow will also let you know if there are any possible foreclosures, courtesy of their RealtyTrac info, as well as homeowner listings, and all homes that have any public record info to share. All are available for iOS and Android Operating Systems.

Don’t forget to download HomeSnap by Sawbuck if you have an iPhone; you can snap a photo of any home, listed or not, and the app will return with recent listing or sold data and/or an estimated home value and tax data. The majority of data comes from public sources, but, Sawbuck does have brokerage licenses, so they do have some IDX feeds.

Deal with commercial clients or properties? Loopnet Commercial Real Estate Search by Loopnet.com is the app to have a huge portal for investors. Do you have a large rental market? Trulia and Zillow both have dedicated rental apps, but Hotpads does a nice job of making the search easy.

If you use a tablet in your business, you’ll want Evernote, which is available for nearly every device, mobile or otherwise. Your account will sync across all platforms and includes a note taking app called Penultimate and the Evernote annotation app called Skitch to markup documents. Take photos, record video or audio of a home inspection and immediately share it with clients. You can create buyer and seller packages in Evernote, import PDFs of the MLS sheets for showings, and create a Notebook of each showing appointment to share with your buyers. There are unlimited uses for Evernote, but start by sharing a login with your team and use the app to run your operations. The sky’s the limit!

Also, you’ll want a PDF writer for digital signatures on the fly. My favorite is iAnnotate PDF, available on iOS and Droid. With the latest update, it integrates directly with Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and SkyDrive. You can set any of these cloud storage solutions to sync instantly when you annotate a document in iAnnotate.

You will need a good mortgage calculator, but one that’s not too complicated. I suggest one that considers length of mortgage, insurance, PMI, HOA, Property Taxes, and of course, interest rates. Mortgage Payment Calculator Free by Null Technologies LLC on iOS or Karl’s Mortgage Calculator on Android are both free, and fit the bill.

To round out the basics for your toolbox, make sure to snag OpenHome Pro, an iOS-only app for your iPad. If you love open houses and broker opens, you need it. Use this app to get more client registrations, better data and have your open house registrants answer specific questions for feedback purchases. Basics are a great beginning.

Make sure to check out these apps, see what works for you and keep them around if they suit your needs. Ask your clients what they are using, and then use those apps too.  If I missed one of your favorites, comment below or tweet @tkjellander. Stay Productive!

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  • Jeff Lasky says:

    Any analysis of the basic real estate apps in Chicagoland and the surrounding counties in incomplete without mentioning that customers of MRED all have access to a free app called Midwest Homes, which has the most complete and timely data, i.e. MLS listing content. It has fun map search capability and a whole lot more. You can also hand your clients a version of Midwest Homes sub-branded to you. Good idea to be familiar with the third party apps, but you shouldn’t ignore the tools right at your fingertips already. Check out the Midwest Homes product page on MREDLLC.com.

  • Tiffany Kjellander says:

    Jeff – Thanks for reading & your comments. The article is geared towards agents in several markets. Folks in Houston & MIami & elsewhere can’t access Midwest Homes – so we didn’t cover it. Having said that, it is always an excellent idea for any agent, in any market, to utilize apps & resources specific to their local market.

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