Team:Builder | Vija
“No other technology has given me the freedom that iPhone has.”
Tools a Real Estate agent needs
As a successful real estate agent in the Seattle area, Vija Williams prefers to spend her time away from the office—showing properties, making contacts and closing deals.
“Real estate agents make their money by networking and being out in the world,” she says. “And iPhone officially broke the tether. Im not locked to my computer at all. Or my office. Or my staff.”
Before getting iPhone, Williams often had to coordinate her day to return to the office three or four times. But with iPhone and the 3G network, thats no longer an issue. “I now have the capability to download an entire purchase-and-sale agreement, view it, make comments and forward it instantly,” she says. “And those are 20- to 40-page files.”
That freedom has resulted in a big leap in productivity for Williams. Without having to run back to her office, she can move between her car, clients homes and listed homes with ease and speed, never missing an email or a call. “Its all there for me in the palm of my hand.”
A Realtor's favourite apps
Williams “aha” moment with iPhone came when she started downloading applications. “You realise everything you could possibly want can be downloaded,” she says. “Its pretty amazing.”
For Williams business, no iPhone feature has been more powerful than the Rapattoni Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Web app, one of the centralised databases of locally listed homes.
Recently, with a client in her car, Williams found MLS indispensable. “We had several houses mapped out to see, but when we went through a new neighborhood, my client loved it. He was pointing to houses, asking about prices. We didnt have appointments and I didnt know if they were vacant, but the addresses were in MLS. So I just looked them up and I was able to show him those properties.”
In the past, Williams would have had to call her office and ask a colleague to look up the homes—if she could find a colleague at his or her desk. Or she would have had to enter the homes without any knowledge about them, unable to answer her clients questions. Not now, thanks to iPhone.
“I now truly have a mobile office,” she says. “It gives me everything I need as a Realtor.” On her way to property sites, Williams uses Google Maps for navigation, despite having a navigation system in her car. On location, she checks Zillow, the app for a popular real estate site, to keep in step with what her clients are reading about her properties. And to make on-the-spot mortgage calculations, she uses an app called Mortgage Calculator.
When shes staging a house, Williams taps into the Bubble Level app to make sure that her pictures are hanging straight. The calculator app Hewlett-Packard 10B helps her run numbers. She has used OpenTable with clients in the car, to make lunch reservations. And she gets her news headlines from the USA Today app.
Then theres the fun stuff. Whenever Williams finds herself briefly alone at a property, she might steal a moment to check in with friends on Facebook or to view iPregnancy, now that she and her husband are expecting a baby. “I track my pregnancy every week,” she says. “Its been outstanding.”
The freedom to travel
It used to be that when Vija Williams went away for the weekend, she took her laptop. Not with iPhone.
“When my husband and I went away recently, he asked me where my computer was. I was expecting an offer to come in and he was surprised that I didnt have it with me. But I could do everything with my iPhone.”
With this kind of mobility, Williams has gained a true competitive advantage. “In this business, theres an expectation about instant answers in real time,” she says. “Anytime Im not the source of information for my client—anytime they have to go home and get on the Internet and possibly call another agent—it weakens the loyalty and the relationship. I need to be able to answer the question right then and there. And with iPhone, I can.”
“If youre like me,” she says, “and you work in the field, theres just no better product.”
- 12 employees in the corporate office and 30-60 agents in the field
- Headquarters in Bellevue, Washington
Making the switch
Williams is part of a growing group of people who initially began to use iPhone because they were handed one by their employer. “When I started at TeamBuilder, I was using another phone,” she says. “And I honestly wasnt sure about iPhone. But I grew to love it. It was easy to set up. It was easy to use. And its boosted my productivity tremendously. Its actually helped me be less dependent on my computer.”
Synching with PC
Williams' firm is powered by the Mac, but at least one of her email accounts comes through a Microsoft Exchange server. Thats not a problem for iPhone. “The iPhones been great,” she says. “I actually have three different emails that come in. One of them is Microsoft Exchange Server, one is web-based and ones our personal server at the office. My folders show on all of them and theyre completely integrated into my email system on my iPhone. Its far better than any system Ive ever had.”