The market may be slow in your area or not, but either way, we can all take advantage of some great free tools to help us in our day to day lives. Here’s a roundup of the ones I use frequently and ones I would use more if I were an honest-to-goodness REALTOR®.
Postlets.com – Personally, one of my favorites because it is so incredibly simple to use. It generates code for Craigslist (simply copy & paste) and syndicates your listings out to a variety of sites, including Zillow, Trulia and Google Base. They are also what I consider a soft sell, they have paid upgrades available, but they aren’t heavily pushed while using the system. Postlets also creates a variety of widgets for your blog or other personal site.
Next up is vFlyer.com which I know is an old-time favorite. vFlyer has a lot of great features including the ability to generate some decent looking flyers for print or PDF purposes. They also syndicate your listings like Postlets as well as generating code for Craigslist. They do appear to force feed the paid options quite a bit more than Postlets, but they still do have a free plan. Also, apparently vFlyer requires a bit more tech-savvyness because I have found it to be much easier to provide phone support to people I work with for Postlets than vFlyer (apparently the home page is a bit cluttered/confusing for some).
Single Property Web Site
I know there are a lot of great paid options for single property sites, but I’ve (so far) only seen one free one that holds a candle to some of the paid versions.
RealBird Listing Publisher has been getting some really good reviews in the community lately. Unlimited photos (which we know help sell real estate), excellent Google Maps integration including street view (where available), the ability to embed 3rd party widgets, printable flyers, market stats from Altos Research…the list goes on and on. Best of all, it’s free.
I went a bit more in-depth into this on my site, but without being a Photoshop pro, there are two programs I recommend for basic work with photos, again free.
Picnik.com is a web based photo editing tool. It offers some of the very basic functions like resizing and rotating to more advanced features like exposure control, red eye removal and color adjustments. If you do decide you want more advanced features, it’s less than $25 per year for their premium version. The only bad part is it is web-based, so if you’re not online, you’re out of luck.
But not completely out of luck. Picasa, from Google, fills the void nicely for a basic image manipulation application. Even though I’m a Photoshop guy and I love the way Vista manages my photos, I still love Picasa for its simplicity and image viewing and cataloging capabilities. A hint: if you want to resize an image, you have to click on the export button near the bottom.
Like Ben mentioned, sometimes being in the office isn’t always the best for state of mind. For my day job, I travel to several different offices every day, so I have a lot of practice with these tools.
Have one phone number with GrandCentral.com. GrandCentral was recently purchased by Google and technically they are still in an invite-only beta program, but invites are pretty easy to come across (here’s a good site to get connected with invites for a variety of sites). The idea is you can get a local number that you can have forward wherever you would like. Tell it to go to the office or your cell or home, it doesn’t matter. Very easy to use and again, completely free.
Keep organized and drive safely with Jott.com. Jott offers incredibly good voice to text capabilities. Setup your online address book with friends, family, clients and coworkers and call a free 866 number to have your words quickly and (fairly) accurately transcribed into text, which is then emailed. Or tell it to remind you of something and it will email you a reminder. I keep Jott on speed dial so I can keep my eyes on the road.
I know there’s a lot of great services out there, these are the ones I would keep on my tool belt (which I always wear) as opposed to my tool box (which sits in the garage). Please share your favorites in the comments below.