Not all buyers love jumping in the car with their real estate practitioner to scout out neighborhoods and homes, and some buyers don’t even want to take separate cars. Special situations may require that house hunters take solo trips to look at homes you’ve recommended.
Technology can make such scenarios as fruitful as possible. Practitioners are lending out preprogrammed automotive GPS devices to customers, who can use the technology to guide them from home to home. And some new in-car GPS products have Web access, which adds the ability to upload or remove addresses in real time, while customers are on the road.
“Because the device is connected to a wireless network, I can push new addresses to customers while they’re touring,” says Sven Andersen, ABR®, CRS®, a sales associate with RE/MAX Leading Edge/The Andersen Team in Winchester, Mass. An Internet-connected GPS also provides access to constantly updated traffic reports and information on local landmarks, stores, banks, or even home listings.
Andersen uses Dash Express GPS, which recently stopped production (the company is now licensing its software to other manufacturers). But there are other “connected” GPS devices on the market.
Among them: Garmin’s nuvi 885T ($599.99), which includes an MSN Direct receiver and three months of service; after that, you must pay a subscription fee. There’s also TomTom’s Go 720 Live model ($399.99), with local search provided by Google. This device also —requires an extra Internet service after the first three months. All brands are different, so do your research before making a purchase to find out what Web sites will be accessible.
The tools are pricey, but the convenience factor is invaluable, says Andersen, who has used his two-way GPS to help clients target their search. Recently, he worked with a couple relocating from Milwaukee who wanted to explore the Boston area on their own to see the variety of homes available in their price range.
After phone conversations with the couple and an hour-long conference to prequalify their needs, Andersen handed them his GPS, programmed with more than two dozen homes that fit their criteria.
The next day, he managed other clients, conducted an open house, and stayed in contact with the couple by phone—adding properties to the list based on their live feedback. The buyers checked out 26 properties on their own and reduced the number of viable homes to eight. They viewed those homes with Andersen and purchased one of them within 10 days.
“In this day, buyers want to look at everything in the market and buy when they’re ready,” Andersen says. “Two-way GPS let me cut the time I spent on showings in half and still provide an enhanced level of service.”