When I began in residential real estate agents navigated from home to home the old fashioned way - with a paper map! When Global Positioning Systems (GPS) became available as units mounted on the dashboard, I acquired one. The GPS for me is a critical tool for the practice of residential real estate selling. The last 2 vehicles I have purchased had built-in navigation devices.
The GPS is particularly helpful in those areas where the streets change names frequently or they stop and start in different sections of the community. Arlington, Virginia is one of these communities in which the GPS is extremely helpful. Before having a GPS, oftentimes the buyer client would be in the front seat instructing me on where to turn. With a GPS the buyer and I can focus our conversations, and it allows me to identify more easily for the buyer community amenities and points of interest. Realtors in the listing information often include directions to the home, however those are often written assuming the driver is starting from a central location. But typically when an agent is out showing buyers homes, we are probably not starting at a central location but rather coming from another home in a residential neighborhood. Navigating back to the main roads and then figuring out where one is from that place and getting to the next can be a nightmare! The GPS allows one to focus on driving, rather than worrying about getting lost.
What I found though is that the GPS is not a thinking person! I have had a GPS take me in what I knew was the most out of the way direction. Also the GPS doesn't know about traffic patterns in a community and possible construction sites. So I believe that having a thinking person involved is still the preferred means of navigation. Even with a GPS, I still use a paper map to identify the properties to view and to lay out a plan for the order of the homes to see. Buyers have told me that they appreciate having the full perspective of the area that only a paper map can truly provide. I plug in all of the addresses into the GPS individually; that way if the client decides to change the order of homes to view from what I had originally mapped out, or a seller has requested we arrive at a time frame different from what was originally planned, those changes can easily be accommodated without the GPS having to recalculate the route.
In thinking of the fabulous uses of a GPS as it relates to my life, it made me think of another correlation. I have found that many people think that just by doing some research on the Internet that they can find out everything they need to know about home buying and selling. That would be like believing that a GPS and a paper map is all you need to get around. Again, having a thinking person aboard is still the preferred method! That is the same in navigating the process of home buying and selling, it is still best traveled with a seasoned real estate professional that can assist through the process.