April 19, 2005
 



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Posted: 11.03

Keeping it Real

In the hyper-competitive real estate market, mobile tech can mean the difference between old and “sold.”
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By Matt Purdue




In this month’s MobileSales strategy feature on the following pages, you’ll read about Realtor Bruce Frager incorporating mobile technology into his workstyle. Frager recently began using a Palm Zire71 PDA with an integrated digital camera to take photos of homes he’s been contracted to buy and sell.

Digital photography is just one of the technologies transforming real estate. To learn about more, we interviewed Dan Tealdi, president of Criterion (www.ce-re.com), a California company specializing in mobile application development for the real estate industry. Criterion, which recently signed a deal to resell Motion Computing's M1300 Tablet PC, sells REDTablet, a Tablet PC-based wireless application.

Mobile Enterprise: What are the drivers for real estate firms looking at mobility?

Dan Tealdi: Seventy-one percent of Realtors use the Internet and e-mail for business. Realtors look to embrace new technologies that will help them work faster, smarter and stay one step ahead of the competition. Today’s agents and their firms realize that to stand out in this competitive environment, they must be responsive to clients’ expectations, more technology-savvy and offer a wider array of services to build long-lasting client relationships. Technology is their No. 1 expense. In fact, Realtors spent $496 million last year on computer hardware and software.

There are a few key drivers. First is simply matching a Realtor’s inherent occupational patterns. Ninety-five percent of a top agent’s day is spent on the road reviewing houses and meeting with clients. Being able to access e-mail, scheduling third-party orders, taking notes while walking through a house, printing contract copies and accessing Multiple Listing Property data while out in the field are fundamental business requirements.

Second is increased productivity and competitive advantage. In this highly competitive environment there is a need to stand out from the pack and leveraging technology with instant access to property data is just one way. Currently, a top Realtor’s maximum transaction productivity is approximately 50 per year. Leveraging a mobile/wireless solution can enhance their productivity rate by 25 percent.

Third, from a firm’s perspective you have retention and recruitment. Technology tools are becoming a means to attract and retain top-producing agents. If the productivity pressure is going to be part of the job, they want the proper tools to ensure their success. In addition, firms use technology in combination with marketing campaigns to help establish competitive advantage.

Me: How would you characterize the adoption rate in the real estate industry? What must happen for these technologies to continue to grow in popularity?

DT: If we take the Tablet PC as an example, I think we are still in the early days of adoption. My team still walks into presentations where [prospects] have not heard of Tablet PCs. As the Tablet generates broader horizontal reach across the general market, we will see deeper awareness and penetration into real estate verticals. Overall [mobile] adoption in real estate is strong in the markets in which it has been introduced and properly supported.

Awareness is a main factor that will enable these technologies to grow. Growth will continue as firms and agents are introduced to how these technologies can work specifically in their environment, improve their business and enhance their productivity.






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