10 Essential Tools for New Real Estate Agents
There are many tools new real estate agents need in order to be a success in the real estate industry. Below are what I think are the most essential based on my years of being a real estate broker in the business since 2003.
I also think the return on investment with these tools will save you money and you will make you more money in the long run. I will break down these costs for you.
You have to pay to play. What other business can you get into that doesn’t really require such a large amount of money down. And where you can make hundreds of thousands and / or millions of dollars a year? There are not many. But one thing for sure is, the agent who has invested in their business wins.
Technology Is Here To Stay
You are fortunate to be selling real estate in this day in age. At a point in time, real estate agents had to rely on landlines, faxes and old MLS books pictured here.
I too, am fortunate as my real estate business has evolved with these technologies that are available. I am constantly looking at the new tools on the market to figure ways how this will help build my business and separate us from the competition.
Please note. This article doesn’t go into detail on any of the other tools associated with marketing such as Bandit Signs, Open House Signs, Business Cards, etc. These are essential tools. However, we are discussing the necessary technology tools that I believe every real estate agent should be equipped with.
So let’s dive into the tools I have invested in and recommend to anyone who is looking to build their real estate business. But let’s first commit.
Commitment To Your Business
I find the agents who invest money up front into their business stand a much higher chance of success in this industry. All of the agents in our company that have these tools or a combination of these tools below are making six figures a year.
This level of commitment provides a subconscious obligation to success. You are investing hard earned money into this business. When you have that kind of stake in, you become all in. Those investment dollars hold you accountable.
So, I encourage you to take your business serious. Invest in the necessary tools. You will also see below how clients will see a distinction between you and every other real estate agent out there.
PS – Most of these items have come down tremendously in price since I purchased them.
If real estate had a heart, your phone would be it. Hands down you need a great phone and also a great carrier. The last thing you want, is to have missed calls, drop calls or a bad signal.
Has there ever been a time when you were on the phone and you would say “Can you hear me now?” This is what you have to avoid at ALL costs on your end. No one wants the aggravation of this.
One of our agents has a bad carrier and a very old smartphone. I think it was one of the original windows based phones. Every time he would call, I would have to hang up and text him. “Do yourself a favor. Go get another phone and carrier. I am not the only one who likely feels this way.” His response was he didn’t have the money. Well guess what, you are not making money if you do not fix this problem.
Windows Based or IPhone?
My friends would always press me because of my Droid back in the day. Always pushing Apple on me. I refused for the longest time. Once I made the switch I wished I would have done it a lot sooner. They are easier to use but more so, the capabilities which I will explain below which are necessary for videos and pictures using Airdrop.
The iPhones are not too expensive these days if you shop right. You can get these on Amazon for half the price over a dealer / retailer. One add on tool that I highly recommend for my iPhone is the Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer.
Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer
PIC This thing is incredible! This has an internal battery inside with a charging port. I think it has like 12 hours of use before charging. You simply clamp your phone on it and record without touching your phone screen. The Gimbal stabilizes the phone so it appears clear without any shaking. It comes with a tripod stand as well. This will even follow you around the room. So you can be inside of a listing, showing the features of the kitchen while this thing that follows you side to side. It appears you have your own production team. It is pretty impressive. You can pick this up fairly cheap on Amazon Here.
If you are camera shy right now, that is fine. Videos make you money. Start out just filming and commenting as you film. This will get you warmed up. Either way, videos will help you gain more exposure. Share on your social media outlets and YouTube.
Video content doesn’t have to always be the boring “Hi my name is Joe with ABC realty and I am at this open house.” Rather you can go into a bathroom with shag green carpet, post a video and ask a question to your audience like “What do you think about carpet in the bathroom?” People enjoy humor and this is a great way to interact off a 30 second clip.
My Phone Carrier
I personally use Verizon. Hands down, the best in my experience. I have tried most of the others out there. I can tell when other people have the competition as the clarity is completely different. My brother who lives in Alabama recently bought into T-Mobile. Every Time I am on the phone with him a call drops or clarity is terrible. Forget about Face-time. It just doesn’t happen.
Even when I am out of the country, my phone works incredibly well. You can read a story on How to Build Your Real Estate Team In 12 Months on how I was making a lot of commission dollars when out of the country, all by phone. Remember you phone is the heart of your real estate business.
Either way, if you have another carrier besides Verizon, your signal is good in your area and you do not travel much then stick with it. If you know your service isn’t good, consider coughing up a few more bucks each month and go with a superior company. You will make more money because of it.
The old mentality of a website is “How will people find you?” This is no longer the case.
The name of the game with a website is lead generation. You can do this yourself. You will want to choose a web developer to build you a site on WordPress. This will need to have an IDX integration. This allows a direct feed from your local MLS into to the site so the public can search for real estate from your site. Not in a “framed” format as you will get zero SEO credits for this.
Have the web developer build you the template and then you take over the back end of WordPress and really develop it. I have recommended iHomeFinder as they do exactly what is needed for you to build your site up at a fairly cheap price. You can check pricing HERE.
You will want to have five main areas on your site. The first 3 sections below are areas that you will want to build on a regular basis. If you keep at this, it will take Google 4-5 months to realize your worth. Meaning providing valuable content to online customers.
Community Pages – This is where you will want to add at least 2 new community every day. Write about 500-1000 words on that community. Add the IDX feed which at the bottom will show all the properties for sale in that community directly. The goal would be to have hundreds of communities on your site. We just created our new Beach Broker side and are actually in the process of hiring someone to continually create these pages for us. Create a community page similar to Bay Harbor Club
EZ Search – As I call it. You will add other pages with specific search criteria and those properties included at the bottom. Write 500-1000 words on each of these as well. Try to add 1-2 of these a day. It is amazing the searches that people do. Take for example: Pool Homes Under $200k
Quick Tip – A really big search that comes up a lot are zip code searches. Consider writing articles about “Homes For Sale In 34134” – The content is endless from what the area has to offer including communities, schools, mid size and large employers, malls, restaurants, area attractions, etc.
Blog – You will want to blog about a variety of things like hot properties that came on the market, Market conditions, Local attractions, weekend events, real estate tips, etc. Try to write 1000-1500 words on these. Try to do 1-2 of these a day. Example would be The Importance Of Staging Your Home.
If you build these on a consistent basis, Google will notice. You will get ranked higher and higher. Be sure your site is integrated with Google Places so you get credit on a local level.
Caution!!! Whatever you do, DO NOT plagiarize. Your site will be severely punished and will never rank. Google is very smart. You need to have original content written by you or your team. That is the bottom line. If you do this and the content is useful and of a good size, Google will bring you up in the ranks.
Google Analytics. Your web developer will likely set this up for you. Put the app on your phone as well. Hustle everything above and in about 4 months you will begin to see your new users and page views sky rocket.
What’s My Home Worth – There are plugins you can purchase now that will give you an estimated value of their home within seconds by inputting their email and property address in. Talk with your web developer about adding this. So far, I have found these all Zillow based. And we all know as real estate agents the accuracy of Zillow can be close to far off.
However, when the person inputs their information you now have the required fields and their contact info to reach out to them. You can also make a phone number a required field as well. So this is a great tool for lead generation for prospective people looking to sell their properties.
About Us – This section is the area where people can get your contact info and more importantly, get to know you. Consider adding a video introducing yourself and your team. Again, people love videos.
Email Campaigns – Be sure your website has a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) so you can drip your database including your website users and Sphere Of Influence.
Camera – Nikon D3300
The camera we purchased was the Nikon D3300. You will have a break even for the cost of this camera and a good lens within 2-3 listings. Professional photos are not cheap. Why not do it yourself or have your assistant do it? Get on YouTube and watch tips and tricks on this. I recommend your iPhone for videos but not for listing photos.
I like having the photography in-house as we can get more creative. We can take more care in figuring the best shots and not missing out on the community ping pong room. We can always go back for other shoots. Other shoots like at night, pool parties, golf events, tennis tournaments, or whatever that community features. Hiring a photographer each time could cost $150 to over $1,000. Again, this is an investment that will pay for itself time and time again.
You will also want the capability to take great shots for your community pages and blog posts on your website. Image hiring a photographer for all of those as well.
Go Pro Go Pro
Ahhh the Go Pro. This is one of the cooler tools we use. We will use this for video shoots for listings, shots for properties and even showing the lifestyle of certain communities and areas. Have fun with this. Strap it to essentially anything and start filming.
Do you sell equestrian land with horses? Ride a horse and film it. Do you sell beachfront? Get on a boat, wave-runner or para-sail and film it! You sell golf course homes? Strap to a driver and hit the ball! Have fun with it and promote what you are selling. Again, you don’t necessarily have to be on camera. And the good thing about a GoPro is that it’s so small you don’t know it is even there.
Just think how much footage you can get in a single day if you just strap this on and go! Use it in your office, during an open house, while showing real estate, dining at a local restaurant. There will be plenty of footage to edit and piece together.
A great book by Gary V – Crushing It. He always say, “Don’t Create. Document.” It makes sense. Many times we are too scripted trying to force content. And many times we get frustrated and quit making videos. I’ve been there! However, if we just routinely document what we are doing, we likely come have some things that happen that make for good content. Even if the video is 30 seconds long.
Don’t forget to check us out on YouTube!
Quick Story – FIRE!
We were driving to look at property on Bonita Beach. As we were driving, we saw a beach house directly on Bonita Beach engulfed in flames. This was before firetrucks or anyone was there.
We filmed it and posted on our business page on Facebook. We got a ton of views and engagement as well. Prime opportunity to engage with those people saying things like “Half off price for a beach house. Want to preview it?”
** I know you maybe saying that is terrible. However, the guy got really good insurance money to build a kick ass house. Also everyone was safe and no one was inside at the time. Fire trucks came quickly after.
Another Quick Story – Tear-down.
We were actually running the beach one morning and came across this large beach house being torn down. It was awesome and I knew I needed to film it before it was over. I ran back to my house grabbed my camera and started rolling. Unfortunately he took a break when I came back. But we still filmed! Check out the video below:
Real Estate Drone
The day I got the drone I was super excited but a little nervous. By the way, this purchase already saved me over $18,000 in the past 12 months (And likely made us money by securing more listings). I opened it up, charged it and watched YouTube videos for tips on flying it.
It turns out these things fly themselves. The remote control attaches to your cell phone and your cell screen shows you everything including your shots and real time video. An incredible tool to get some amazing shots for listings, community page shots, intro videos and more.
I actually used the drone for a buyer. He was looking for a backwater lot where he could build 35’ up. He wanted to see if he would have views of the Gulf of Mexico on the top floor if he built 3 stories high. I flew the drone up within a few minutes. Both lots showed decent views at that height. No sale yet, but the buyer was definitely impressed with our capability. I am sure once we find the right lot he will buy.
I paid almost $1,100 for mine about a year ago. They are much cheaper now. I bought the DJI Mavic Pro which if you do decide to get one, I highly recommended this one. It folds up and you can almost put it in a large pants pocket. It is smaller, yet nibble, accurate and easy to fly. Check picture here folded.
This video was one of our first shots showcasing our beach office with the drone.
You can get so damn creative with this thing. We also would bring it on listing presentations. We would showcase it to prospective sellers and explain we would be doing drone aerial shots and videos once we listed their property. Many sellers were so intrigued by just the look of it, that they would ask to see it fly. Our response “Absolutely! With a signed listing agreement, I will even let you fly it yourself. How does that sound?”
I’ve had the HP’s for as long as I can remember. But with the iPhone this just made more sense. Especially with Airdrop. This allows you easily to drop your photos and videos easily from your phone onto your laptop for easy editing using Final Cut Pro.
I went ahead and purchased the MacBook Air from Amazon. Fairly priced and super sleek. I like it as I am always on the move whether in town or traveling. It is extremely lightweight and very easy to travel with.
The iPad Air. Do not discount the power of this cheap real estate tool. Check out the current pricing on Amazon Here. This is no longer something you put in front of your kids so you can distract them in order to get work done. We use these for listing presentations and also for buyers to use when we are going from property to property.
Buyers. We will set up all the properties on the iPad that we are going to look at, all mapped out for them. We also have a notepad set up for them to take notes already outlined with each property address and a link to the property to reference back to. It is a great tool. When they are done, we simply email the notes section directly to them. They will have all their notes plus the links to each property via MLS to review later that day.
Talk about setting yourself apart from the competition. I bet less than 1% of real estate agents are doing this. And it is so SIMPLE to do. This makes for the user experience. Do you think your buyers will be more loyal to you because of this? I bet because we have proven it. It also gives them a sense of control which they love.
Sellers. This is a great tool for listing presentations. We create videos like the one below. Feel free to replicate exactly what we have here. We sit the seller’s down. Have them watch this video. We then provide them our simple listing presentation folder FREE PDF HERE.
We then use the iPad to show the 3 active comps and 3 sold comps. We go one by one showing all the pictures of each and the important aspects like days on market, square footage, number of beds / baths, map, etc.
The iPad helps us tremendously in pricing the property accurately which you will find is THE most important part in taking a listing. If the seller wants to price their property at $550,000 and a good sold comparable is at $500,000, you can simply ask, “Why do you think your property is worth $50,000 more than the one on Beach Road?” They will try to defend their position. Then you simply click back to that comparable and review the pictures and specs in detail.
Bringing a hard copy paper of Comparative Market Analysis is the day of the dinosaur. We still provide a hard copy snapshot CMA (3-4 pages) to leave with them. However, how can you legitimately defend your position on price when you cannot dig into the photos and dissect them together? You need the ability to see all of them with clarity and capability to zoom in, etc. Also many times other agents (good agents) will include a Matterport, Floor Plan, video or virtual tour to assist with your analysis.
The video above also has been ideal in emailing to prospective sellers. We have countless times taken listings from mail campaigns where we never met the sellers as they live up north. We email the video, along with other items and get extremely easy listings this way.
With exception to a phone, the iPad would be top of the list in terms of the number one tool to purchase for your real estate business. I also highly recommend you have the iPad strictly for business use. You do not want to trash it up with games, personal photos, etc. Especially if you hand it off to a buyer in the back seat of your car.
One Last iPad Tip.
Anohter agent of ours keeps 2 additional iPads in her car with games on them for kids. If you take care of clients kids, you will gain huge points. These things are cheap enough to do. Why not invest a little more. YOU WILL MAKE MORE $$. Here is the scenario… Your client is having dinner with their friends a few days later. “My agent drove us to see some beautiful properties. She had snacks and waters for us. And guess what. She opened her trunk and pulled out an iPad for Amy to play games on and gave us one with all the properties we were going to look at.”
One Last, Last Tip On iPads.
What if you actually had a YouTube video that you asked Amy to play. It was you on camera saying “I am so glad you are part of the process to find your new home. I have set up some games on the main menu so feel free to play away!”
Then on the business iPad for the prospective buyers you have a video “I am so grateful for you allowing me the opportunity to assist you in buying one of the most important things of your lives. I have broken down 5 important steps of buying your new home. #1…”
Create the experience! To do this would take you all but 20 minutes and it will be used for every buyer moving forward.
And Finally – Reading
I can honestly tell you that reading every morning changed my life. And my financial life. The most successful people on earth are avid readers. I used to despise reading. I think it was all those forced years of reading I had to do in school and college on subjects I really didn’t care for. However, every morning I boot up my Kindle and read at least 15 minutes every morning.
I really appreciate you digging into this content and hope I have given you insight on the tools that I think every real estate agent should have. If you found this information useful, please share with another fellow agent! Thank you!