Electronic tablets, smart phones help local businesses

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Realtor Karla Martin, right, shows prospective buyer Chassity Cannon, left, photos of a house Wednesday afternoon on her iPad. Martin incorporates different aspects of technology and social media into her job with Century 21, including the iPad, below, an iPhone, a laptop and a Blackberry.

NATCHEZ — If Century 21 real estate agent Karla Martin had her way she would be able to handle everything involved in selling a house on the spot from one device.

Currently Martin uses an iPad, an iPhone, a Blackberry and a laptop to offer her customers more options to view and purchase their dream homes.

Martin is among a limited number of local business people who have fully integrated tablet Internet devices, mobile phone apps and other technology products into their work, but they are part of a growing national trend.

For Martin, each device plays a key role in helping her customers find what they want quickly.

“You can lose a lead right there when the person says, ‘Well I’m really looking for something smaller,’ and if you don’t have the devices to look up what they want right there, they’re going to call someone else and you just lost their business,” Martin said. “With this you’re able to keep their interest and instantly show them something else.”

Martin’s iPad and iPhone play a large role during the house hunting process because she is able to access Century 21’s website or other realty sites to view properties.

“It maps out everything and shows me the different houses on the map so if someone is looking for a certain area I can find which houses are available and set up the showing right there,” Martin said. “Everything is just a click away.”

Martin uses apps like a mortgage calculator, which instantly calculates what a monthly payment would be for a customer’s income.

“We can put in what they are able to pay each month and find out what’s best for them,” Martin said. “It’s a big step, but with all these things we can help them pick out the perfect house for them.”

With the pressure and nervousness some customers have, Martin said she also uses other technology to give her customers some breathing room.

Martin uses QR codes — a barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone — on the realty signs outside the homes.

Once scanned, the customers are taken to a mobile Web page with information and photos of the house.

“That’s a little more personalized, and I like it because it makes it more about the house itself, not just me as an agent,” Martin said. “You have to keep up (with technology) and just give people different options.”