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Top 5 Tech Tools for Savvy Brokers

October 09 2017

The new iPhone X is building quite a buzz in real estate circles, in particular because of its Augmented Reality Kit. Some reviews have been so bold to call it "the future of the smartphone." It's not surprising because future technology always draws strong interest from brokers and agents. We saw this at the technology sessions at our recent Florida Realtors® Convention, which were packed.

There was a plethora of new tech and future tech talked about at the convention. Let's take a look at some of the hottest tech tools today for savvy brokers. They're designed to help them better organize their lives, increase productivity, and improve their work/life balance:

1. AirBar: Bringing touchscreen to MacBook Air

If you are a Mac user and also have an iPad, how many times have you touched your Mac screen? Almost everyone has, and that's a problem solved for MacBook Air 13.3" users by AirBar. For $99, this USB plugin attaches to the bottom of your MacBook Air. It gives it a touchscreen, working just like an iPad (or similar to a Microsoft Surface Pro). Check out the video demo here:

2. BeLive: Facebook Live broadcasting organized

Real estate firms are scrambling to figure out how to get engagement through video. And they are now turning to Facebook Live, which is rapidly growing in popularity. But how do you best use this new video, too? Savvy brokers are turning to BeLiveBeLive as a more organized way to create a Facebook Live broadcast with a lot more features. BeLive allows you to do a solo broadcast or conduct a split screen interview with another person. You can even host a "Talk Show" with up to three people live at one time with a total of 10 guests, the rest waiting in your virtual "lobby."

Most important are some powerful extra features. You can embed Screen Comments to interact with your audience, it provides an Agenda feature that helps you organize your Facebook Live broadcast and screen, and it offers photo share capabilities. There's a free level, then prices ranges from about $12-$20 a month for more frequent users. Remember: the key to Facebook Live is all broadcasts are recorded. Then you can share that link with others to see your Facebook Live broadcast anytime in replay.

3. Receipt scanner app

You may never have to touch a copy machine or separate scanner again. You can now collect, copy and process receipts for an expense report with an app. Smartphone camera technology today is so wickedly smart; scanning is now actually easier with your phone than with a machine. Apps allow you to straighten out a crooked document, change the brightness, turn a color document to black and white, and instantly convert the image into a PDF or CSV file and email it to yourself and more. Use an expense report app like Smart Receipts, and your phone becomes a receipt scanner, mileage tracker and expense report generator all in one. Smart Receipts is available in both in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

4. Amazon Echo or Google Home

You can discover the awesome power of voice control and use it to help organize your life and your home. Just purchase the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The Echo and its Alexa Voice Service has a huge lead over Google Home, with a 76 percent market share currently. For most people, the setup is fast and easy. For a busy broker, you can have Alexa wake you up with a celebrity voice in the morning, turn on your smart coffee maker, play the morning news from NPR, and read you your Google Calendar appointments for the day. Alexa will even start your day off with a smile by telling you a joke. In the kitchen, tell it to set a timer while you make that perfect 3-minute egg and to add milk and eggs to your shopping list, and then just before you head out door, Alexa can give you a traffic update, then open up your smart garage door.

5. New iPad Pro or Surface Pro

This is a case where bigger really is better. Both are big – 12.9 inches for the iPad Pro and 12.3 inches for the Surface Pro. It's a powerful business tool with high impact for giving presentations to a small group, or just meeting with staff. Because you don't see too many giant tablets in most businesses, it catches your eye when you first see one in person. Keynote or PowerPoint presentations pop off the screen. Both screens display beautiful high definition images, grabbing your audience's attention. You can play a video, share a Matterport tour of one of your listings, or show off a new brochure you just created. There may be no better way to make a powerful first impression than with one of these tablets. And when you are on the go, just connect a keyboard and you have nearly full desktop computer functionality when you are out of the office.

A Holiday bonus

Two more things every savvy broker should consider: The new iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy Note 8, along with the new Apple Watch 3. All of these are pretty big leaps in technology. The phones debut everything, from face recognition and built-in waterproof features, to more powerful cameras and wireless charging. This next generation of smartphones really does put something more than a supercomputer in our pockets.

As for the Apple Watch 3, the Dick Tracy watch of 1931 becomes a reality with a first: standalone, built-in LTE mobile phone capability. The downside is you can only make an hour worth of calls before the watch goes dead. But if you have ever forgotten your phone at the office when you left for an appointment or lunch, you'll especially appreciate this new futuristic tech tool, as that hour could save a deal. Two other standout features: its advanced workout app and how you can stream 40 million songs from Apple Music.

It will be interesting to see what the next big tech thing will be that will help make brokers' lives even more productive – and hopefully less stressful – in 2018.

Tricia Stamper is director of technology with Florida REALTORS®, which owns Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.