10 Programs REALTORS® Must Know

 Joe Leschisin and Rob Uhrina  |    October 05, 2011

1. Google

Have you heard of it? Of course you have – but do you use it to the fullest extent? Google provides endless tools that will keep your work and personal life organized.

Gmail: Gmail interacts with mobile phones better than any other email service on the market. It is simple to set up and easy to feed any current email account through Google. Constantly improving, Gmail allows for less spam, quicker search results, and is even smart enough to put priority emails at the top of your inbox without being flagged.

Calendar: Google Calendar is a great way to organize your professional and personal life and share your schedule with your office and family. Your calendar can automatically sync with email, send reminders and provide a great way to keep track of the task at hand.

Documents: If you want a simple solution to having documents at your fingertips, Google Docs is outstanding. Unlike other cloud document storage sites, Google Docs allows users to update Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files on the fly without having the program installed on your computer.

Analytics: If you have a REALTOR® website and don’t have Google Analytics installed, you are far behind your competition. You should be monitoring your traffic monthly and taking the necessary steps to improve traffic to your website. Analytics provides tools to monitor every inch of your website and it also sends you reports and provides you with information needed to enhance your site.

For more information on Google’s tools, visit www.google.com/services

2. Outright

Outright is an easy-to-use online accounting and bookkeeping system that is designed specifically for small business owners. There is no need for data entry as Outright does the work for you by automatically pulling in transactions from your bank account, credit cards and even Paypal. Outright not only is a great tool to keep your finances organized, but it also prepares you for taxes. All reports are organized according to IRS standards and will give you quarterly alerts on what you owe the IRS. This helps in planning for what to set aside, or make quarterly payments, when taxes are due.

Thinking about giving Outright a try? Sign up now for a free 30-day trial at no risk and pay just $9.95 per month after that if you choose to keep it. Learn more at www.outright.com.

3. Facebook Marketplace

What many agents don’t know about the number one website in the world is that agents can post listings of their real estate properties in what’s known as the Facebook Marketplace. The Facebook Marketplace is a great resource to sell anything from cars to rentals to, yes, houses and apartments. First visit facebook.com/marketplace, click “real estate” and press “post.” Here you can add details about your listing, including photos, property descriptions, listing price, contact info, website links, maps and more. New listings show up on both your personal profile and your Facebook friends’ newsfeeds. Engaging in the marketplace is a soft-sell approach because it’s where people on Facebook expect to find items for sale. Your real estate listings on Facebook won’t make you look like an overly ambitious sales professional. Best of all, your listings are exposed to a large audience of friends, friends of friends and their networks. For example, if the average Facebook user has 130 friends and they have at least 130 more friends, your listing has a reach of nearly 17,000 registered Facebook users. Marketplace listings can be shared from profile to profile and through Facebook emails and will not only help market your property — but yourself.

4. Phonebooth

Phonebooth offers a cost-effective, full-featured VoiP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system that will make your life easier. Phonebooth is a perfect match for a single REALTOR® or even a broker running a small office. The system will integrate your office, home and mobile phones while providing unlimited local and long distance minutes for only $20 per month. Not sold yet? Every voicemail is sent to your email inbox as an audio file with a written transcription of the message, phone number and caller information. Still not sold? You can set up auto-attendants with a customizable menu system, specific extensions for employees, conference calling and 24/7 support. Duplicating the features offered by Phonebooth would cost thousands of dollars.

No contract and no set-up fees are required, and users can cancel at any time. There is also a Free Beta Version you can try to sample all of the features offered. Visit www.phonebooth.com.

5. Vegas Movie Studio HD

With growing demand for listing videos, how do you choose which client gets a listing video and which doesn’t? Listing videos have traditionally had “big ticket" prices through production houses. However, today you can produce them rather economically with equipment you may already own. While pressing the record button comes naturally for most of us, how do you edit it up in post-production? Meet Vegas Movie Studio HD. Modestly priced at $44.95, Vegas Movie Studio HD makes video editing a breeze. With drag-and-drop operations, you can add photos, videos, music, audio and narrations to a project and arrange them on a timeline exactly how you want. Apply effects, transitions, titles and music. Zoom, rotate and pan across photos to animate still images. And share your listing videos on YouTube and Facebook. Download a demo today at www.sonycreativesoftware.com.

Writers Note: Also be on the lookout for Jaycut, a video editing app that is both free and online. Currently in beta, it offers a wide breadth of features and an easy-to-use interface that doesn’t require a local software installation. It’s hailed as one of the best upcoming online video editing apps for 2012.

6. Dropbox

Dropbox is a free cloud computing document service that lets you bring your photos, docs and videos anywhere you go and share them easily. In less than a few minutes, you can set up an account, upload files and have them instantly at your fingertips on your computer, phone or the Dropbox website. Designed for simplicity, Dropbox has apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and even Blackberry. Dropbox also takes the necessary steps to ensure your files are safe and secure. On top of that, changes can be undone and files can be un-deleted.

Dropbox allows 2GB of space for free and up to 100GB of virtual space with certain subscriptions. Learn more at www.dropbox.com.

7.  Jing

Many consumers prefer electronic communication, but sometimes using just words in an email may not be self-explanatory, especially when you are trying to point out something on the screen. Need a fun and fast way to capture images and videos? Look no further than Jing. Snap a screenshot and even add your own arrows, text, highlights and explanations with that screenshot. Jing allows you to explain ideas, collaborate and share ideas with ease. Can’t explain something easily in a few screenshots? Jing even allows you to create a short narrated video. The Pro version adds the ability to capture your message with a webcam and upload it to Flickr or YouTube. Jing’s minimal feature set keeps the focus on instant sharing. Jing is the perfect companion to the casual, fast-paced online conversations we all have every day. Jing is free for everyone and includes 2GB of free storage and bandwidth at www.screencast.com.

For more information, visit www.techsmith.com.

8. Photoshop Express

Adobe products are typically high quality at a high cost, but with Photoshop Express, you have access to a free mobile app that can enhance photos quickly and make them easy to share. With cameras becoming better each day on mobile devices, this can be a great tool for take listing pictures if you don’t have a high-powered SLR camera handy. The mobile market is flooded with photo editing tools, but none that are this fast and provide the proper tools to make your photos look professional. Users can quickly crop, straighten, rotate, flip and adjust color on images to ensure the best quality.

Photoshop Express is available on the iPhone and Android Market when you sign up for a free account at www.photoshop.com.

9. Vlingo

How much of your business is conducted over your cell phone while you’re driving or running to and from listings? Do you ever just wish you could tell your phone what to do? Vlingo combines voice-to-text recognition to help you complete actions on your mobile phone. Simply speak to your phone to accomplish whatever you need to. Looking for directions to a client’s house? Need to perform a quick mobile search for information on a listing? Can’t find the number of your favorite home stager? Want to update your social status on Facebook? Do you want to send a text message to a colleague? Or perhaps you’re simply looking for a safer alternative to texting while driving? You can perform all of these functions without typing a keystroke with Vlingo. Vlingo is available for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Nokia phones. Search your phone’s app store for a test drive today.

10. zipForm Mobile Web Edition

Today’s real estate professional can take care of business wherever they go, and zipForm Mobile Web Edition just made it easier. Stay connected to your business – whenever and wherever you are – right from your tablet or smartphone! Connect directly to your zipForm online account from your Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry and Android. Draft contracts, attach addenda, edit transactions and email PDF files — with notes. The new mobile web edition gives you access to 200 of your most recent transactions in one scrollable list. Email forms directly from your phone, perform mortgage calculations, view and fill out forms, and even draw attention to language inside transaction documents with highlighting and strikeout tools. Order the Mobile Web Edition from zipForm for $9.95 a year. A zipForm 6 professional account is required.

Joe Leschisin is the Senior Designer and Rob Uhrina is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the WRA.

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