By Steve Overton on Wed, 06/20/2012
I have been searching for a contact manager that integrates with real estate since the iPhone was launched. I have even worked with a developer to build one from scratch. That didn't pan out as expected so I continued searching. Many apps go part of the way in merging contacts, calendars & to do's as well as integrate tracking listings, showings and closing info. I realize that it is a fairly narrow use case, but the real estate industry usually adopts technology quickly, so I've been hopeful.
As soon as my article was published in the most recent issue of iPhone Life, Essential Apps for Home Buyers and Realtors, I received a call from the developer of iTopAgent wondering if I had seen their app. Since I hadn't, I downloaded it to give it a try.
The app has a simple and easy to understand interface. There is a place to keep track of Buyers, Listings and Business Contacts with the capability of tracking to do lists for buyers and sellers. There is also a place to save 6 web links to favorite sites.
In the buyers list, there are 5 pages to keep track of personal info, properties of interest, properties shown, escrow info, and to do's.
In the Listings there are 6 pages for owner info, property details, property features, showing info, escrow info (listing agent, escrow, lender, inspector, and appraiser) and to do's. You can add up to 5 pictures of the listed property also. While within the listing itself there is a link to find the address on google maps so you can see exactly where it is located and how to get there.
This is an app that answers most of my requirements. I can't think of much more information I'd need while on the road. There is a difference in opinion between realtors as to whether contacts should merge with the native contacts app. I have been on the side that wants it to merge, thinking that if I make a change in the app, it won't update in my contact file. I even thought that it would be a deal breaker for me, but have given it an honest try, and have found that it has just required a change in the way I think about my real estate business and my personal life. It has required some extra time inputting information, but what I have discovered is that once customers are in iTopAgent, I have no reason to use the Contacts app. I can email right from the app, I can call from the app and all the relevant information regarding my clients are in one place. I may be an old dog, but think I am learning new tricks.
There is a new update scheduled soon so I am looking forward to having a well thought out app get even better.