Home Searching with your GPS

Posted by Mitch Argon / CalNeva Realty on Friday, February 15th, 2008 at 11:26pm.

Last holiday season, the GPS was among the most popular holiday gifts.

I picked up a TomTom unit (for about  $150) for my wife, Maureen, who is also a licensed real estate agent and works with me and often spends time with clients showing property.  After playing around with this for a little while (believe it or not, I have been accused of getting this for me...), I've found a number of useful features that we use in our real estate business.

Getting Directions

Yes, the turn by turn directions are real nice.  While most properties are able to be located (to the front of the house), others have not yet been mapped so you are still on your own.  This is the most basic of how one can use these devices.

MLS data on the GPS

I can be a bit of a geek at times.  One of the first things I tried doing after getting the basics down was to download property data directly from the MLS into the GPS.  After a fair amount of hunting around online, I was able to successfully get listings (lots of them) onto the GPS using what is known as a custom POI (Points Of Interest) database or file.  By doing this, the GPS has all local listings and you never have to key in addresses on the GPS itself which is easy but a bit cumbersome - especially for large quantities of properties.

I quickly discovered that the TomTom unit doesn't allow for "extended data" to be associated with each listing (price, bedrooms, bathrooms, square feet, ...) which has been somewhat of a disappointment.  With a little more searching, I was able to find a solution that will allow this extra data to be downloaded to the GPS.  Unfortunately, I will need to pick up another model to completely download and test the process.

MLS on GPS  for home buyers

This is actually kind of exciting.  Currently, there is a small number of mobile MLS solutions for real estate agents.  Most of them require a wireless PDA or smart phone AND  a monthly subscription (and cost) to gain access.  Once I get this information and the download program functioning and pro grammatically updated each day with new listings, anybody will be able to download the local Greater Reno-Tahoe MLS POI file to their device - for free.  This would allow anyone to get current property information for any listed home - right as you pull up in front of it.

I plan to continue putting more effort into this for the benefit of current clients and prospects - the service will, ultimately, be free and as easily available as accessing MLS listings right from a web site.

Sound intriguing?  Drop me a note and let me know if you would like to use this type of service.

Mitch Argon
Broker - CalNeva Realty

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