Thursday, August 1, 2002

Improving productivity in the housing industry


By Steve Niles

From construction to final sale, Palm OS handhelds are popping up in all facets of the housing industry. Realtors are some of the most inherently mobile professionals around. They're always moving from one property to the next, and thanks to wireless Palm OS handhelds, they can now access listing databases and schedule appointments on the fly, track walk-through tours, get real-time interest rates, and even calculate loan amounts. Palm OS handhelds are also useful for tracking the status of open houses, pending sales, and new deals. Many real estate companies and lenders, not to mention homebuilders, are improving productivity, customer satisfaction, and bottom lines through the use of wireless Palm OS handhelds.

Sussex and Reilly

Chicago based real estate company Sussex and Reilly (at uses wireless Palm handhelds to manage more than 350 property showings per week. An agent can fill out a survey on client likes or dislikes about the house on the spot while giving a potential homebuyer a tour. Afterwards, the results can be wirelessly transmitted to a Web site where the seller can review them. Meanwhile, the wireless access lets Sussex and Reilly agents access up-to-the-minute property data, allowing them to answer any questions the potential homebuyers may have while still onsite.

Steve Bohn, chief technology officer at Sussex and Reilly, believes their Palm OS solution sets the company above other real estate brokerage companies. "Giving the agents wireless access allows them to do three times as many showings as an old-style brokerage. And in this business, more showings means faster sales and happier clients. The Palm VII handheld, integrated with Sussex and Reilly's Web site, also provides a seamless, clear-channel communication back to our clients by allowing the agents to enter on-the-spot prospective buyer feedback."

Countrywide Home Loans

Countrywide Home Loans (at is an independent home-loan lender. The company is providing its sales staff, business partners, and realtors a Palm OS solution designed to be a more convenient way to access Countrywide lending rates and calculate home loans. Loan consultants can get interest-rate quotes in real time by connecting to the Countrywide Web site via a wireless Palm handheld. Then, the site emails the consultant the estimated loan amount, monthly payments, principle, interest, taxes, and insurance rates. Thus, potential homeowners know the approximate amount of a loan they would need, and they can also check on the status of their loan approval.