CRT Tech Guide Part I

There are literally thousands of products for businesspeople today, and finding the right products for your needs can be exceedingly difficult.  The process of finding exactly the right tools and resources can be costly and time consuming.  We at the Center for REALTOR® Technology realize that many REALTORS® want to become more tech savvy, but they don’t know where to start.

With that in mind, I’ll be discussing some of the most popular tools in detail over the next few months.  Our blog and newsletters will be filled with advice and useful ideas to help you find the best mobile gadgets, software, and office hardware.  To be clear, none of these guides will endorse any specific products.  Rather, we hope to give you information about the tools that are available so that you can make a decision about whether or not you should consider a particular tech tool.

Part I: GPS

gpsWhether you’re an agent, broker, or an association executive, you may want to consider a GPS unit for your car.  GPS units are common in today’s market.  Over the past five years the number of different GPS units available has been growing at an exponential rate.  With recent advancements in mapping and location, finding where you are and where you want to go quickly and easily has never been simpler.  The popularity of GPS units has been so great that most smartphone manufacturers now include GPS radios in their phones.

While most new smartphones have the ability to accurately track and map your location and destination, many phones still do not offer the versatility of a standalone GPS unit.  In addition to the extra features available, personal GPS devices often come with screens that are much larger than a smartphone’s screen.  This is not to say that smartphones with factory GPS applications or with apps that can be purchased are not valuable.  Rather, I would suggest that GPS software on smartphones simply is not quite the equal of a standalone unit.

There are numerous GPS manufacturers and each one is vying for your business.  Each manufacturer attempts to differentiate itself by offering different features.  Many of these features can sway you to purchase one GPS or another.  However, I would offer the following advice when considering a new GPS device:

1.       How well does the routing work?  This might seem like an easy question to answer for any GPS device, but my experience with different hardware would suggest otherwise.  The most important feature of any GPS device is this: will it get you where you need to go?

2.       Have you used the brand before?  If not, do you know anyone who has?  With the number of manufacturers in the GPS market, it has never been more important to know what you’re getting before you buy it.  Your experience with a certain device will vary greatly between different brands.  When you’re doing your research, talk to other people who have used the unit, or at the very least, the brand you’re considering.

3.       Is the unit you want being offered at a super-mega-hyper discount?  If the unit you’re considering is on sale for an incredibly low price, find out why.  Many units that go on sale are perfectly well built and provide great features. However, buying the cheapest option simply because it’s the cheapest option is never good.  Weigh the price against the features before making your purchase.

4.       What are you going to use it for?  How often?  If you’re a REALTOR® who takes your clients from showing to showing on a daily basis, your needs will likely be higher than a REALTOR® who rarely does any driving.

5.       What features do you really need?  Don’t buy the unit with all the bells and whistles; you’ll probably never use half of the features it has.  The software is so advanced in many devices that with the higher-end units, you really need to be a road warrior to justify the cost of those features.

Everyone has different needs when it comes to technology, so do your best to consider as many options as you can.  And above all else, try before you buy.  If you never play with the device before you buy it, you’re never going to know if it’s right for you.  Most big box stores such as Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart have display units available to examine and use.  Make sure you’re comfortable with the device in the store or you’ll never be comfortable once it’s talking to you in your car.

Greg Stinton

Lead Web Software Developer
Center for REALTOR® Technology
National Association of REALTORS®

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  1. Great post! I suppose it could depend upon your market and how large it is, but in Dallas, there’s no way I could do without a GPS. There are great ones out there and the pricing has become much more affordable. And from a defensive driving standpoint, much better to have a screen along the dashboard area than glancing repeatedly at your phone.