Updated: Nov 10
Above: drone shot I took with my drone of City Center in Newport News, with area photos being a standard listing feature of mine.
My primary tools/gadgets:
While my digital tools are also extensive & not listed here, I either have available to bring or bring by default physical tools & gadgets to showings (for listings and for buyers) that most agents simply don't invest in, such as but not limited to the following tools, organized by use type. Feel free to click the pertinent category to expand the view with my list:
During the Showing, Walk Through Inspection, Home Inspection, or Listing Appointment
1. A Samsung S-22 Ultra 5-G in 2022, the best Samsung has to offer at the time of this writing (10/26/22), giving excellent image quality for video showings for buyers or repair/renovation updates for sellers across the world.
2. A ladder for scuttle access to attics (seller permission needed before roof access if roof access desired by buyer)
3. The brightest flashlight sold (IMALENT MS18) to assist with crawlspaces, attics, showings without power, dimly lit spaces, & night time showings, where I can identify problems that others can't for buyers and sellers because I can see the problems in some cases. I also have some additional smaller flashlights/headlamps (including the brightest for its small size & some for buyers to borrow during showings)
4. A laser temperature reader to help with temperature differentials, especially with 2 story homes that don't have great insulation & are single zone. It's also helpful for (especially video) walk through inspections with measuring the water temperature.
5. A laser measurer to expedite room dimensions, distance between stove and above microwave, etc.
6. Drone (Mavic Air 2) to assist buyers and sellers alike; I am an FAA-certified drone pilot. That said, when representing a seller, I outsource this task sometimes due to time constraints for bundle packages of still photography, aerials, and a virtual tour. Seller permission is also important prior to using my drone when representing buyers.
For sellers, aerial photography can make a massive difference in the marketability of a property. According to Chris Stoddart, as referenced by a number of others (i.e. 1, 2, 3), “According to MLS statistics, the properties photographed by drones sold 68 percent faster.” In addition to aerials at the home, I like to do area photos on a typical listing if I don't have them already prior to listing so that they can be included.
For buyers, drones are most helpful for looking closely at roofs (especially roof work done by the seller’s contractor) when an inspector isn’t present for a walk-through inspection with a buyer. They’re also helpful for any buyer for a property where the listing agent didn’t include aerials where aerials would be very helpful, such as 5+ acre properties, waterfront properties, and properties where the buyer wants to know what the view would be like if they added a 2nd story to a home.
By including the appropriate lights on my drone, I'm also able to fly at night, which is particularly beneficial for those looking to sell in or near densely populated scenes with plenty of lights at night and who have reached out to me for selling their home in the Winter when aerial photos are significantly more dull than typical during the day, while not nearly as dull at night in a number of circumstances (i.e. downtown Norfolk).
7. Ipad Pro & Ipad Mini
a. available for clients to borrow during showings (including borrowed over a few months) if desired, including but not limited to for notes on the listing with an Ipad pen
b. The Ipad Pro is an excellent way to view an aerial tour with my drone as it occurs if no aerials are present for the listing, which is especially helpful if planning to build, purchasing acreage, scouting out the area, or planning to later add a second story
8. Toolbox; drill (i.e. for crawlspace access where drill is helpful at times)
9. A Flir One Pro thermal imaging camera (seller permission required when using with buyers unless used during a home inspection where a thermal imaging inspection is within the scope of a home inspection & is sometimes a standard with some home inspectors & an optional add-on with others who have them available)
10. Outlet/electrical Testers
11. Boots for muddy conditions, crawlspaces & areas with potential snakes
12. Other Gear for accessing crawlspaces
13. Blue painters tape - for walk-through inspections (especially new construction) for buyers & listing appointments
15. Knife for accessing (w permission from agent/seller) painted shut closets & attic access
16. Moisture Meter
17. 3 fold-up chairs for myself and 2 clients (helpful for a few hr long home inspections for buyers who want to be present on empty properties as well as listing appointments for vacant properties)
18. Folding desk (also helpful for a few hr long home inspections & listing appointments on vacant properties)
19. Blacklights (helpful for detecting urine and chemical stains in carpet, especially when heavy air freshener present to mask scents & stains are not visible to the naked eye)
20. Portable vacuum cleaner
(Often when accessing an attic via pull-down or especially scuttle access, debris falls down. If debris is left behind, it can upset the seller, especially if it is tracked through the house by other buyers showing the property and stepping on it. Upsetting the seller can put a damper on any offer, & on at least one occasion I have been asked by the listing agent if I accessed the attic after debris fell down according to the seller and was tracked through the house. If you clean up by hand, it can take a while, and time is of the essence when showing time slots are short (which is common in this market, as short as 15 minutes when even getting into a pull-down attic might be infeasible). By having a portable vacuum cleaner, it’s possible to expeditiously clean up)
21. Up to 30' extending "Doca Pole" which can be used for a variety of tasks, including:
A. photography from the air when using a drone isn't permitted (whether due to the requirement to wait a few days from an FAA manual authorization or if representing a buyer and the seller isn't permitting aerial photography from a drone) by combining the Docapole with an attachment for the S22 Ultra camera phone, the pen on the Samsung S-22 Ultra 5G that activates the camera, & an attachment for my Ipad Pro to see the image clearly.
B. Photography in tight spaces or spaces with limited entry points, such as in an attic covered by insulation when sprinkler systems could be triggered by walking on the insulation, or places not possible to crawl in a crawlspace due to ductwork
22. Triple Lens Endoscope Teslong NTS500 (16.5’) In some cases, this device can make visible for inspection an area that can’t be seen by the naked eye, nor by a drone, or a drone may not be permissible by the seller of a home (or by FAA) if I am representing a buyer. Combined with my 30 ft extension pole, I have seen where a termite/moisture inspector that wanted to charge $150 to cut out ductwork (that the listing agent didn’t even want to ask the seller about because he was so afraid that they would get upset, so it wasn’t even a viable option for us), was able to successfully use this combination to look in an area of the crawlspace that would have been impossible to check without some other configuration than he had available. I purchased both of these to assist my client when the situation arose and it worked beautifully, so well that the termite/moisture inspector even said that he would ask the owner/manager of his company about purchasing similar equipment for future inspections with others. Difficult to get to areas of crawlspaces and attics, as well as roofs of homes when no drones are permitted, are where this device shines.
23. Rapid Radon test device (Ecosense RD200 RadonEye)
24. 4 gas detector (VZMCov)
25. For video showings: DREAMGRIP Evolution MOJO 2 Plus Universal Modular Video Rig Kit for iPhone,Smartphones,DSLR,Action Cameras-Complete Journalist Kit w/52-37-17mm Optics Adapter/Hood/Filters/Gun Microphone/2*LED Lights
In Between Showings or Listing Appointments
1. Camera phone dash car mount which is helpful when showing buyers the neighborhood and roads leading up to a property if desired for a video showing.
2. GoTreads to help assist entry/exit in vehicles for showings on difficult unpaved surfaces, such as muddy dirt driveways, sand, or snow (2); these are also paired well with a collapsible shovel I have https://gotreads.com/product/gotreads-pair/
3. Rechargeable car charger (helpful in place of standard jumper cables in tight spaces or if I am driving a buyer & something happens to my own car, though it never has been needed during a time with a buyer due to the reliability of my vehicle)
4. Portable phone chargers
5. High power max car converter to wall outlets if the built in wall outlet in my car alone is insufficient (helpful if performing 8 hrs+ of showings in a row across a large distance)
6. Trashbags which are low cost & compact but very helpful after I go in crawlspaces to help keep my car clean. I use these if at a walk through inspection with items done in the crawlspace & no inspector coming back for the walk through inspection, which can help mitigate the need for a home inspector and can save a buyer as much as $200 for a 2nd inspection. While some inspectors don’t charge for these, and some charge less, $200 isn’t unusual.
Available to Leave in Homes After Initial Listing
Listing highlight sheets
Soft exterior chains for lockboxes (you would be surprised at how much a door’s paint can be damaged just from having a lockbox or 2 on it directly) & lockboxes for easy access to agents (including recorded electronic entry for all MLS specific lockboxes) with agent entry ease being critical to successful listings (& many listing agents only using 1 lockbox, with at times no notice prior to coming to a listing where lack of automatic access could mean that a home isn’t shown even if vacant)
Always a contractor lockbox
Always* a REIN MLS lockbox
Always* a Williamsburg lockbox
Depending on location, a CBRAR MLS lockbox
* If a seller doesn’t have them already, interior floor mats & exterior floor mats for all points of entry as long as the mat and door configuration wouldn’t work well
You would be surprised at how much buyers/agents can trash a completely clean house with their shoes if it’s wet outside & as multiple buyers go through a property.
* A basket for holding shoe covers that asks people to please use them, shoe covers, and a relatively nice looking trashcan or a separate basket for the used covers
* 6x 5’x6.7’ portable T shape Background Backdrop Stand per listing available to display staged pictures (if available), area amenities, area large sources of jobs, surveys, etc. I print these out on 11”x17” cardstock on our professional printer.
* If a seller doesn’t have them already, hand towels
* If a seller doesn’t have them already, toilet paper
* If a seller doesn’t have them already, hand soap
* Premium selection of snacks & drinks, selected by me in a fashion to avoid problems (i.e. all clear liquids, nuts, etc.)
* (for standard commission properties or as otherwise negotiated; if sellers want a below typical commission, that is sometimes possible on a listing plan that includes less MLS entries than my typical placement in 4 by exclusively doing 1 or 2 of the primary MLS for an area, less physical features, and other reduced offerings, while still remaining superior vs most listings)
Before/After the Showings or Initial Listing Appointments & in Some Cases, After Closing
Available for clients to borrow during buyer brokerage or listing agreement (including borrowed over a few months) if desired to assist with spreadsheets and signings while buyers are actively looking or sellers are actively engaged in a sale.
2. Home office printer/scanner, office(s) printers/scanners, & portable printer for those who aren't tech savvy with offers & other paperwork where no amount of instruction is sufficient to assist with digital signatures, despite my digital resources that I've put together including via video for instruction
3. A Lenovo P-17 laptop (purchased on sale for about $2k) to expedite the buying and selling process with 3 large monitors (24”-32”) at home office and main office in Newport News, portable external monitors (a large one and the Ipad Pro doubles as another) & Herman Miller Embody chairs at home office & Newport News office for health & efficiency. Here’s a picture of my portable office set up when used at one of our coworking spaces (Gather Norfolk).
4. Ricoh Theta Z1 to enable virtual tours- While I do this task better than most in my opinion, I outsource this task often where pros use their own cameras of various types due to time constraints for professional photographers to acquire still photography, aerials, and a virtual tour.
5. Plantronics Voyager Focus headset for calls & at times, Zoom sessions
6. Plantronics Voyager 104 Bluetooth Headset, Over the Head Headset with Microphone (for speaking on the phone & listening to audio while driving)
7. Portable space heaters for those clients or former clients who need emergency heat due to a furnace problem & cold temperatures and have power.