Just last week, a fellow agent told me that gadgets will never replace a skilled agent. I absolutely agree. However, I believe that gadgets can make our lives as real estate agents much easier and inspire us to cater to our clients in ways we wouldn't have dreamt of before! How? Let me show you as I guide you through the amazing world of the best gadgets for realtors. In these seven thorough investigative reviews, I will rethink the use of some already established gadgets and also introduce fascinating start-up ideas already in production for you. Let this article be the key to a fascinating series of articles about gadgets that will make your work as a realtor so much more awesome! We're preparing a special series of articles about drone photography, so stay tuned!
My inspiration for coupling these two products and using them as a real estate agent came from one of my favourite English actors, comedian and writer Richard Ayoade and his Channel 4 show The Gadget Man. As he flew the Phantom 2 over the medieval Leeds Castle, I could see myself doing the same over some of the finest houses I'll be selling in Toronto. I believe that the marriage of drones and high-resolution cameras will bring a revolution to how we do our work.
The Phantom 2 quadrocopter is extremely easy to use. After you simply click the parts into each other, you can fly it almost straight from the box. Isn't that just amazing? The Wi-Fi connection reaches over 300 metres. Moreover, you can also boost the reach by adding the Wi-Fi Range Extender. However, the original 300 metres should do the job perfectly without any trouble at all.
Phantom 2 sports a feature called stable hovering, which allows you to stop mid-air and take either photos or take a pause in the video and zoom in on some particularities. I found this extremely useful when analyzing the damage on some of the houses I was selling for clients, because this way, we didn't need to call in the specialist to climb to the roof and we simply flew the drone up,
Jane Christensen, a former REMAX real estate agent who worked in the U.S. and later UK, comments.
The full charge will give you around 25 minutes of flight. I'd advise you to consider buying an extra Smart Battery that costs close to $150 CAD, and you can add 25 more minutes to your flight.
The basic model of the Phantom 2 quadrocopter will cost you approximately $625 CAD, which is a surprisingly low price, considering that you are actually going to fly a real drone! Can't wait to try it out.
I'd also advise you to check your local rules on flying the UAVs before you do so, since some of the areas might have restrictions, as Josie from the OPCC told me. You can check the short version of the Canadian regulation here.
To get the best real estate video pitch, you need to mount the drone with a camera. My advice is to go big here, because the picture is all that matters. My top tip is the latest camera from the GoPro family – the HERO4 Black. The HERO4 Black takes Emmy Award–winning GoPro performance to a whole new level. Truth be told, I was still excited about the awesome properties of the older model, and GoPro has already released an even more awesome Hero4 version.
The biggest advantage of the HERO4 Black is the combination of professional-level resolution and a light and tiny build. Incredible high-resolution 4K30 and 2.7K50 video and high-frame-rate 1080p120 video enable stunning, immersive footage of any property of your choice — or even your own promotion videos.
Jeff from Digital Camera magazine told me about another useful feature of the new GoPro:
The feature I am very excited about is the SuperView™, a new video mode that captures wide-angle perspective like no comparable camera has before. I couldn't compare the picture taken to anything else I have put my hands on before.
Naturally, HERO4 Black is also capable of taking high-resolution 12MP pictures at 30 frames per second.
The new GoPro has a built-in Wi-Fi connection that enables it to reach the Smart Remote, which allows you to control multiple GoPro cameras from distances of up to 600 feet (180 metres) so you can comfortably shoot wonderful 360-degree videos of properties.
GoPano Micro is a revolutionary lens for the iPhone 5 that enables you to create 360° panoramic videos. You just snap the lens to your iPhone 5 and tap to make 360° videos instantly. It's an absolute game changer. You can also buy the lens for the iPhone 4S/4. The GoPano for iPhone 6 hasn't been announced just yet.
This project started on Kickstarter, but over the past three years, GoPano has integrated well into the iPhone user community. The dream of Michael Rondinelli to sell easy-to-use, widely accessible 360° lenses came true.
Jonathan Margolis from Technopolis TV says it's one of the most remarkable pieces of technology he's ever seen. It produces videos of a kind you've never seen before. Moreover, this is the first viewer-controlled video delivery image of 360° panorama ever attempted. It's actually bordering on virtual reality!
Jane Christensen shares her view on GoPano:
I imagine this would feel great to a customer who wants to buy a new house. You can use the drone to fly over the house with the regular camera and shoot the interiors with GoPano. This will enable the customer to feel in control of the video as opposed to the feeling of being sort of restricted by the realtor's view. Often, customers feel they are just being fed the "nice" parts of the house. With GoPano, they get to choose where to look.
Your video very cleverly uploads to the GoPano website and you can edit it. Whoever accesses the video can then turn the shot around to the camera to have a unique GoPano signature experience of the video.
You can get your GoPano Micro for $98 CAD in the online shop. GoPano also offered an option for a 360° panorama lens for regular cameras starting at $875 CAD. However, they have unfortunately been sold out for quite a while now. Clearly, this gadget became a hit the minute it showed up.
I think I can safely say that this gadget is something I have been looking forward to since I've started printing. An Israeli start-up that will fit a whole printer into your pocket is set to hit the market somewhere in the first quarter of 2015. After raising $487,000 CAD on Kickstarter, the company started to ship out its first printers that fit into your palm (still can't believe the words I'm writing!) and are able to print directly from your phone, tablet, or laptop onto any size of paper.
Can you imagine that while you show your customers their new house, the printer will print out all the documents you need them to sign right on the spot? Without the need for electricity, installation, or heavy lifting, for that matter, I predict that this printer simply has to become an essential part of any realtor's equipment.
The printer is activated by sliding a hatch at the bottom of the printer, which will reveal the inkjet. The inkjet lasts for over 1,000 printed pages and the battery lasts for over one hour per full-charge (three hours to charge fully).
The first version will print in grayscale. The printer comes in 2 colors — Mars black and Titanium white and will be made out of Polycarbonate. The dimensions are 10 centimeters high and 11.5 centimeters in diameter and the printer will weigh about 300g. It is estimated that the speed will be about 1.2 ppm. It is likely to cost $266 CAD when it goes on the sale in 2015.
Tuvia Elbaum, the firm's chief marketing officer, described the product.
With no other really portable printer on the market, the pocket printer offered by this exceptional group of engineers and designers from Israel is something to really look out for.
The minute I've first noticed the idea on Kickstarter, I knew that these guys have just revolutionized the way we think about printing. Their printer is just the thing I need as a business student. Whenever I need to print something out really quickly, like a draft of a contract, I want to know that I won't be limited by my location,
Jonathan Mill, a business administration graduate from the University of Windsor, added.
What I came to realize more and more as my client base started to grow was that my phone rings almost constantly. I talk to my wonderful family, my dear customers, contractors, potential clients, other realtors, and the list goes on and on. However, my smartphone's battery often doesn't agree with my busy schedule and simply decides to run out of power in the middle of my active day. I found that this phenomenon, with the accuracy of a sniper, always hits me when I'm busiest.
The reason I told you this story is that every realtor knows it to be true. We need to have our phones powered up at all times to be available to chat with our clients whenever they want to talk to us.
Duracell came up with an amazing idea that I simply adore — to make a cordless charging system called Powermat. To charge your phone, you just need to lay your phone down on the Duracell charging surface. When you're on the road, there is an option for a portable Powermat to charge up your device.
With the wireless cases, you can also tap into the network of Powermat stations in Starbucks, McDonald's, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. But this service is only available in the U.S. right now. Wireless power stations are expected to roll out to Canada, Europe, and Asia within a year.
Daniel Schreiber, the President of Powermat, a company implementing the wireless charging systems, says:
Powermat helps us create a world where our technology is mature enough to take care of itself so we can live our lives and not babysit the battery. We believe it's time to do for power what Wi-Fi did for data. Wi-Fi meant that data just arrived at your device. With wireless power, power just arrives at your device.
You can get all you need to set up your home wireless power stations for less than $80 CAD. The Powermat for one device will cost you $44 CAD and a wireless charging case designed by Yves Behar (!) will cost you $33 CAD. You can keep the mat in your office, in the car, or wherever else you need it and just lay the phone down on it. I love the idea.
The only drawback is that the products are limited to certain types of phones. So far, Duracell makes wireless charging cases for Samsung Galaxy S III phones and the iPhone 4S/4 and 5S/5.
In the previous review, I emphasized the importance of our accessibility as a real estate agent, and I would like to offer you one more suggestion from the same category. InReach is a world-renowned company that develops satellite communication systems that let our customers reach us anywhere on the planet. Plus, I guarantee you are going to feel very cool just knowing you have this device.
Even when you're going away on a trip to the country where you can't be too confident about the cell coverage or simply going north to more remote parts of our beautiful country to have a look at a lucrative winter cottage listing, you don't want to lose your cell reception.
Chris from Outdoor Gear Lab, an amazing website for all kinds of outdoor stuff reviews, had a look at the DeLorme InReach for Smartphones:
This satellite messenger beacon is by far the best device for being able to send three different types of messages on its own. The area where it really shines is the ability to pair with your smart phone where it then becomes kind of like a back country cell phone service. You'll be able to use your smart phone to send as well as receive messages, something that very few devices let you do. It also pairs with the phone so easily, unlike other devices where we run into problems.
The price of this small and very portable device is $249 CAD. Better communication, however, is not the only thing you will receive when you decide to buy the InReach system. It also comes with the DeLorme Topo North America GPS maps (full U.S. and Canada coverage) and NOAA (U.S.) nautical charts — something I'm definitely going to use a lot.
No more one handed typing. No more spilling coffee. Have your hands free for your optimal texting, gaming and social networking pleasure.
This is how Ruben and Frank from the Dutch marketing agency Natwerk start to address their fictional customers in their hilarious mock pitch video for their even more fictional, revolutionary product, Uppercup. This is one of the best gadget publicity stunts I have ever seen, and also one that I have been quite disappointed about when I found out that the idea was just a publicity stunt.
Truth be told, although the concept is absurd and an additional 2 inch cover for my iPhone would be just about as handy as using my old phone from five years ago, there was something subtly appealing about the idea of freeing my hand while typing without the necessity of putting the cup down.
I hope this last gadget made you smile, just like it made me. Please let me know if you have any more ideas about the gadgets for us realtors. I would love to hear from you!