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Homebridge Mortgage Bankers becomes

Nov 02, 2006

Tech Bytes: SmartphonesMike VernonSmartphones, PDA, organization, Mike Vernon is the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Technology Committee co-chair, as well as the vice president of the Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers. Every month, Mike will be on hand to help establish a baseline of knowledge, relative to technology, for anyone within the industryfrom the tech-savvy to the technologically challengedwho wants to know. Weve come a long way since the 80s, when big hair ruled, Joe Montana was winning Super Bowls and you could purchase a fake cell phone as a status symbol to hold to your ear as you drove your car. Remember Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street, walking down the beach, carrying something that then looked totally high tech but now looks like something that would appear in an old M*A*S*H episode? And yes, they even used to come with their own portable bag. As these ubiquitous devices have gotten smaller and better over the years, you have to ask yourself whether you have caught the wave of information technology or have been left in its wake. For years, cell phones kept getting smaller and smaller, and then along came personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the need to organize your information on the go. Imagine being on a sales call with a client and first needing to check your laptop to review a listing for a particular purchase and then needing to go into a separate area to review an approval that has been e-mailed to you. In order to schedule a viewing, you would then have to open up your PDA and verify the activities you have set for the coming week, as well as the phone number for a rarely used title company. Then, to top it all off, you have to then make a call back to the office from your cell phone to speak with your assistant and verify that a particular loan has funded. In this example, three different devices are needed to make your life more efficient and less complicated & hardly. If you are in this worst-case mode of action, it is time to review some of the fantastic new products that are on the market today and some that will be out in the coming months and years. These smartphones combine the best features of all of your handheld devices, as well as a few from your desktop workhorse, into one sleek piece of techno wizardry. Generally speaking, there are two different kinds of smartphones. The more common and inexpensive version is a phone that utilizes basic PDA functions, as well as other basic e-mail capabilities. These enable the user to log into corporate environments and servers, as well as access the Web with basic mobility. You may be able to receive large files, but you more than likely wont be able to view them. The next level of smartphones mirrors the capabilities of your desktop, and they will enable you to take your business up a notch. With these little powerhouses, you may be able to review the multiple listing service, run Windows-based software, browse the Web freely, text message and view complex files. It basically functions as a mini laptop computer you can carry in your pocket and still make phone calls on. The ability to take basic photographs and video is usually found on both versions, but only where image quality isnt critical. You would also, on some models, be able to attach sound to images, which could be a fantastic feature when sending a picture of a house to a client. After taking the leap from basic PDA functions on your Treo or Blackberry to a more Windows-based environment, the next steps get even more exciting. The technology that is currently being used in highway toll-taking systems and in retailers utilizing barcode scanners will soon find its way to your cell phone. Radio frequency identification tags, which are tiny chips with built-in radios and wireless scanners that pick up signals from these radios, could someday enable you to stroll through a supermarket checkout line without stopping and have the entire contents of your cart scanned and then billed directly to your phone. This technology is currently being used in Europe, where commuters are able to use their cell phones as a mass-transit pass or even to purchase tickets. The opportunities are many, and even if people dont actually embrace the idea of paying for everything with their cell phones, imagine the possibilities if you were able to walk up to a pair of running shoes in a large box store, stick your cell phone next to it, get a reading from a barcode on the box and then instantly being directed toward an unbiased product review of those same shoes. Media companies are driving some of this technology, and it wont be long before you will be able to scan a barcode from a movie poster and immediately be taken to a trailer of that movie on your high definition smartphone. Sticking to applications closer to home, real estate professional Robert Hamilton, owner of Re/Max Realty All Pros in Greensburg, Pa., utilizes many of the features on his smartphone, which enables him to operate much more efficiently. Not only is he able to use his phone to open up a lockbox at a vacant house, but it also updates him on any homes that are put onto the market, as well as any time another agent enters one of his listings. Utilizing Global Positioning System capabilities and some of the basic street-finder software on the market, Hamilton and his clients never have to worry about giving or receiving directions to a listing. This type of technology makes me more effective and more productive, which, in the end, makes me a better agent for the customers I serve day in and day out, said Hamilton. It also sets me apart from those I compete with, which increases my referral potential, and thats a win in my world every time. So dont be one of those people who has to fumble with multiple pieces of hardware before making his next move. Review your wants and needs carefully, and make sure that your service provider can handle what you are looking for in this next wave of smartphone technology. As the technology advances, these little workhorses become easier and easier to use. So lose that bag full of gadgets, grab a smartphone and get back to selling. Mike Vernon is the Technology Committee co-chair for the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, vice president of the Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers and president of FollowYourCustomer Inc. He may be reached at (877) 365-5692 or e-mail [email protected].
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