Why the iPad will become the real estate software platform of choice

BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors released a new iPad app for its agents yesterday. The app – Home Zone – lets Fox & Roach agents manage their open houses by automatically connecting them to their listings and to their CRM through a single interface.

It’s smart, custom implementation of a tool that every agent should be using. Kudos to Rajeev and his team for getting this right.

I see this as a real signal of progress, especially in light of the other big software news of the past week – the release of Office for the iPad. The rub here is that Microsoft seems to have delivered a very functional, and fully baked, version of its software for Apple’s tablets.

While this move might strike some platform evangelists as heresy, I think it is a pretty significant and positive step for Microsoft. I don’t use Office myself, but I can see many people being excited about finally being able to open, create or modify an Excel spreadsheet on their iPads.

Who am I kidding? Nobody is ever excited to open a Excel spreadsheet.

Seriously though, these moves are just further reinforcing a feeling I’ve had for a while.

I feel fairly comfortable asserting that the iPad will become the most significant computing platform for real estate professionals in the years to come. It may already be.

Therein lies the opportunity

Software for real estate is, by and large, still in the land of the dinosaurs. And while many of the tools created for agents over the last decade moved from the desktop to the web, I believe the pendulum is now swinging back to the device in the form of the app.

If I were building software for agents today – full disclosure, we are – I would be building slimmed-down native apps for iPhone and Android smartphones and more fully featured apps for the iPad.

And while on the battle for consumer attention in the app store is so prohibitively expensive and so noisy that I would warn most brokers and vendors away… on the B2B side, there still exist many opportunities.

Especially when you can leverage existing relationships, like, say, that of a broker and its agents, for distribution.

When you stop and think about it, nearly every piece of the broker or agent’s software needs can be re-imagined and re-architected for a mobile future.

The rewards may be smaller, but the gains in the end may be just as great.

On a side note, all of this makes Move’s announcement of a new Realtor.com branded iPad especially prescient.

[Disclosure: Move, Inc. is a 1000watt client.]