Real Estate Agent going paperless & mobile
Hello all,

This is my first post in this site. After reading several reviews, I feel even more clueless. I am an expert in several software forums, but here, I am a total noobie.

It is my wife, the RE agent who is going mobile; new tablet, minivan mount and GPS. We decided on using the tablet rather than a stand alone. She often has a route of a dozen homes to show for a client. It seemed that to get a route set up, would work better on the tablet than a separate device. Is that a reasonable assumption?

About 10 years ago, I had DeLorme Street Atlas and the EarthMate receiver. I was satisfied with my limited usage. This application would be much more demanding. Naturally, I was leaning toward what I knew, but will that be the best for her? I have looked at Garmin Mobile PC and Mobile™ 10 for laptops as well as the DeLorme SA2009 w/ BT20

My head is spinning, after looking at products and reviews for tablet PCs, vehicle mounts & GPS receivers and software. I would appreciate any direct responses as well as links to other applicable information.

Thanks for any helpful advice.
Ken in Regina
Instead of casting about randomly trying to find some mythical "best" GPS program out there, I find it helps to focus on what function or functions absolutely must be best of breed and look only for the products that deliver.

Once you have it short-listed to only those that are competent in your Must-haves, then you can compare the rest of the features to see if there is anything in them that will cause you to pick one over the other.

This also helps when you go hunting for help in forums like this one. It's of absolutely no real help to you and the real estate agent for us to tell you what our favorites are because we all have different needs/interests. And sometimes we've simply stuck with a particular product from pure inertia ... it does pretty much what we need so we figure it's probably more hassle to learn a new one than the benefit we might get from it.

So it sounds like the real estate agent's top Must-have is the ability to establish a list of places to go and then the ability to have the program optimize the route. Sort of like a delivery person.

Or is that true? Does she want something that will optimize the shortest distance? Shortest time? Or is it more important to be able to order them by a specific schedule, so the program would need to allow the user to force the order in which to visit the destinations?

Or is it easier for the real estate agent if she can enter all the potential destinations very easily ahead of time, into a Favorites list or Address Book sort of thing, and then have the ability to search for each destination and route to it very quickly and easily, when she's ready to go there? This leaves the potential for ignoring some of the destinations or going changing the order on the fly (in her mind, as opposed to being forced to change the program), as she discovers the client's likes and dislikes.

You see, it's so much better if you and the real estate agent work through what she needs it to do for her ... how she wants to be able to do her work and how the GPS stuff should help her do it. Work out the top few items that the product absolutely must do well. Then it becomes so much easier to narrow the list of possibilities to only those products that do those things well.

And, of course, it makes it so much easier for us to suggest products to look at or stay away from based on her needs.

Marvin Hlavac
Hi SkipVought,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

Is TabletPC better than an all-in-one PND for planning a route? Yes, the larger screen helps. Also, programs like Microsoft Streets & Trips and DeLorme Street Atlas are both excellent trip planners for PCs, but they would not work on all-in-one PNDs (personal navigation devices).

As Ken says, the more clearer idea you have as to what the mapping/GPS software is going to be used for, the easier it will be to decide on the purchase. They all can bring you from A to B, but some may be easier to use than others, and some may not have the features your wife may benefit from.

Will she use it only as an aid to her driving, or will she also want to use it as a presentation tool to show her clients on the map where the houses are, what the neighborhood looks like, nearest schools, parks, and other amenities? Microsoft Streets & Trips and DeLorme Street Atlas could be suitable choice.

If the usage is to be purely for her own driving, then the other available programs may be better, as they may be easier to use on the road since they have been designed to be a GPS navigation tool,rather than a sophisticated route planner and a desktop mapping application. Suitable choices would include Garmin Mobile PC, iNav iGuidance, ALK CoPilot, etc.

For mounting solutions for TabletPCs, UMPCs, and laptop PCs, visit RAM Mounts website. I'd actually go as far as suggesting not to buy a TabletPC unless you can find a suitable mobile mount for the model of TabletPC.
Thank you both for your replies and the emphasis on the focus of her needs.

1. She first accumulates a list of properites to review in a general area.

2. She prioritizes the route, by either shortest distance or time.

3. She calls the schedulting service to schedule each property in the prioritized sequence.

4. She adjusts the route to coincide with the schedule, as there are often changes when calling the scheduling service.

5. She prints copies of the route and schedule for herself and client.

6. AND on the way, there could be changes to the route.

So construcing the initial route and making changes to the route, before and during her time with the client, are high priorities.

Other features high on the list are:

1. Voice route prompts

2. Large display

3. Intuitive interface

4. Interface with Multiple Listing Service (I have yet to find if suitable GIS data from selected MLS data can be downloaded)

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and opinions.
Marvin Hlavac
All of the items on the list, other than the last one, could be accomplished within Microsoft Streets & Trips and DeLorme Street Atlas. You are more familiar with DeLorme Street Atlas than I am, so you can judge for yourself how various tasks could be done with the software. I'm perhaps more familiar with Microsoft Streets & Trips, and while the program may take a while to learn, I think it could fit to the category of relatively easy-to-learn.

Check out the following info - it may be of interest to both of you: [Real Estate] HomeQuest now exports listings formatted for routing in Streets & Trips
HomeQuest, pretty neat! My wife is about to change brokers and the new agency has something that seems similar. We will see.

It seems that iNav iGuidance may have a more intuitive user interface. I wonder if it would be easier for my wife, who is somewhat electronically challenged, to operate. Although I will be helping her get accustomed to her new hardware and software, she is the one who will be using it on a daily basis. I'd probably feel more comfortable with DeLorme SA, but, in the long run, iNav iGuidance may be a better choice.

How is my logic?
Marvin Hlavac
Yes, I understand your way of thinking. iNav iGuidance is simple to use, and it is a decent program - definitely very intuitive. Much more so than Streets & Trips, of course. After she gets comfortable with the setup, perhaps several months down the road, she could try Microsoft Streets & Trips, or DeLorme Street Atlas, for some other functionality. I think S&T and SA could prove to be an excellent presentation tool for a real-estate agent - showing the neighbourhood to a prospective buyer, etc.
My Point...Exactly
Thought I'd share my experience with Microsoft Streets and Trips and my last Real Estate transaction as a buyer:

Microsoft Streets and Trips is a very powerful tools for business to business sales people. It is also a great productivity increaser for the Real Estate market as well! “Quick” story – when moving back to New Hampshire from Florida, I found a website that listed the street address for homes for sale.

I created a list of all the properties I wanted to visit, then plotted them in Streets and Trips. I also copied a picture of the property, along with specifics and stored it in a word doc – placing a hyperlink to that in the pushpin balloon.

When we got to New Hampshire , my wife and I got in the car an visited 25 homes in half a day. I clicked the ‘Create GPS trail’ checkbox, and recorded each street we traveled on – and home we went by. We were able to knock all of the houses off the list due to neighborhood/location/condition.

The next day, we met our realtor who told us she had 3 walkthrough’s scheduled for that morning. I told her we should look at which houses they were first. Flustered, she got out the house details – and it turned out we had gone by each one. None of them were acceptable to us based on location.

I pointed to one of the houses she was going to have us walk through and said – ‘Yes, great house – unfortunately it has a high tension power line running like 100 feet from the bedrooms.” Her response was – “OH – that’s why it hasn’t sold in over a year (in a hot RE market).

The agent quickly canceled the walkthroughs, and we used Streets and Trips in conjunction with her MLS to quickly identify and map new accounts that had come on the market – and drove right to them – ultimately buying one.

Streets and Trips saved us a bunch of time – when time was critical – because we could quickly knock houses off the list that didn’t meet our location criteria. It saved our time, it saved the agents time – and it even saved the time of the prospective home sellers because they didn’t have to clean or leave their house for someone who wasn’t going to buy it anyway.

Streets and Trips is fantastic for sales – and it is a great tool for the Real Estate market as well.
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