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Is That Tech Investment Worth It?

August 14 2012

tech productsSummer is winding down and, for many real estate professionals, this means preparing for budget season. Now that we're well into the third fiscal quarter, you're probably just starting to think about how to best allocate your resources in 2013. Should you set aside money for the rumored iPhone 5, or would finally investing in a CRM make more sense?

When considering a new tech purchase, it's easy to be distracted by the "wow" factor of the latest gadgets without thinking about their often high price tag. In order to preserve your bottom line, think of that new phone or software as more than just a toy--it's a tool that can help your business grow!

In order to decide if a potential tool is a worthy investment, ask yourself if the benefit gained is greater than the money spent. Does it save you time? Will it streamline your workflow? Is it something that you will use frequently? If it's something that you will only use once or twice, it's probably best to just hold off.

If you do decide that a new gadget or software program is a worthy investment, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to maximize its value.

Hardware

Any major purchase should be thoroughly researched before being finalized, but this is particularly true for products like phones, tablets and computers. Thanks to a fast moving technology cycle, these items can become "old models" only a few months after sale.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. Often, the upgrades to a new model are minor or cosmetic. If the features of a soon-to-be older model are adequate for your needs, its lower price point may make it the wiser investment. However, if your research reveals features you don't want to be without in the newer model, consider waiting for the upcoming release. You don't want to be stuck with an obsolete gadget you're unhappy with, after all!

As with many things in life, timing is crucial. We've done a little digging to find the best times to buy new tech products:

  • Digital cameras - February. The latest models have just come out, and the older ones are on sale.
  • Computers - Older models go on sale in July and August in order to make room for new models. You can usually get a good deal on new laptops in August and September, thanks to back-to-school sales.
  • Phones - It's usually best to wait until you're eligible for an upgrade to get the best price on Smartphones. Can't wait? If you won't incur any contractual penalties, consider switching to a different carrier to take advantage of new customer incentives.
  • Tablets - With the newest iPad only a few months old, now is a great time to buy the still-impressive iPad 2 at bargain. If you're only interested in the iPad 3 or one of the new Android tablets, we suggest waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday discounts during the holidays.

Software / Apps

The monthly fees for necessities like website hostingelectronic signaturestransaction management or CRMs can certainly add up. Does this mean you have to sacrifice these helpful tools? Not necessarily – you have options. For instance, you may want to chat with the company to see if they have annual pay option that will save you money.

Not sure if a program is right for you? Take it for a test drive! Many companies offer free trials of their software in order to allay your doubts. If it's not what you're looking for, simply cancel it and be done. Check out our Friday Freebies column for more information.

Don't see a free trial offer through the company website or on RE Technology? Reach out to your MLS, broker, or Association. Many MLSs offer technology products as free member benefits, as will some Associations and brokerages – or they may have a special relationship with the technology vendor to help you get a deal.