On Business Tech Takes - iPad Is Key Tool for Commercial RE

Spring 2012

For commercial real estate practitioners, one of the most powerful tools in their business arsenal may well be Apple’s iPad and the many apps that are now available.

John M. Adams III, founding principal and broker for Cornerstone Commercial/ Cushman & Wakefield Alliance, Knoxville, Tenn., won an iPad at a professional event last year. His first reaction was that it was a toy; after all, he had his office computer, laptop and smartphone. He soon learned that the device was no toy and could well be a game changer in the business.

At less than two pounds and about the size of a sheet of paper, carrying an iPad beats lugging a heavy laptop around. But the real power of the device for real estate is the “apps” — or applications — that have been and are being developed for it.

Adams is now a technology buff and currently blogs on the subject of the iPad. When he has a need for a particular app, he researches it on Google and in magazines, and watches YouTube videos about apps. If an app is free or costs less than five dollars, he is liable to download it and use it to see if it fits his needs. If it is more expensive, he will do further research before he buys it. 

Here are the apps he finds necessary for his business:

Storing documents. Adams is a big proponent of DropBox, which is a virtual hard drive allowing users to store documents on the iPad and in “cloud” storage (on DropBox’s server). Many of the other apps he uses are selected because they are compatible with DropBox.

Writing and editing documents. DocsToGo can be used for editing Microsoft Office documents. Many apps do the same thing; Adams finds this one to be the best.

Taking and saving notes. Adams uses the Noteshelf app and a stylus for taking notes directly on the iPad screen. When the app opens, an image of a lined sheet of paper appears on the screen for easy note taking. Adams will either drop notes into a client file or put them in a “notebook” in EverNote, another app, for follow up.

Creating to-do lists. TaskTracker is excellent app for creating to-do lists, according to Adams.

Saving or editing a PDF. An app named SavetoPDF allows conversion of a word document into a PDF. You can also edit the PDF right on the iPad.

Sign documents. The new operating system for the iPad allows users to sign documents on the screen with a stylus without having to first print out the document, sign it, scan it, save it as a PDF and then email it.

Social media. Adams downloaded apps for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the iPad and has access to all the social media he needs.

Easy reading and clipping. Adams uses the Kindle and iBook apps for reading and keeping up with the industry. When he comes across something he needs to save or refer to later, he saves the portion of the article he wants in Dropbox.

Property searches. Adams employs CoStar’s new app for property searches. The app uses a GPS to locate property types around his particular location or in a particular area of the city.

Calculators. There is an app for the HP 10bII calculator that Adams uses. He said it is as good as the real thing.

Dictation. For dictation in his car, Adams uses the Dictation Dragon app for the iPad.

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