Friday, December 10, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Realtor Bonnie Ishii Coen of Prudential Locations Inc.
demonstrates the Hand e Corp. system for Palm Pilot
computers that puts the entire Multiple Listing Service
of homes for sale at real estate agents fingertips. The
local entrepreneurs who created the system for
Prudential are now finding success in marketing
the program nationwide.

Isle entrepreneurs
put information
into the hands
of real estate agents

They are now selling their
software on the mainland

By Russ Lynch


NOW that they have given their Prudential Locations coworkers the ability to use pocket computers to access reams of data about sale property, three Hawaii real estate agents are concentrating on selling their software on the mainland.

Tech Wave Their product, called "Pocket Real Estate", is advanced software that loads the entire Multiple Listing Service -- or as many parts of it as the agent wants -- into a Palm Pilot or compatible personnel digital assistant (PDA) so the agent has all the data at his or her fingertips. The MLS lists all the homes and land for sale or recently sold in the area and their prices.

The three Prudential real estate agents who developed the system -- Scott Kimball, Rich Jackson, and Everett Kaneshige -- have formed a company, Hand e Corp, to market their product on the mainland.

For its first three years, Hand e Corp isn't allowed to sell the software to anyone in Hawaii except Prudential Locations agents, said one of the founders, Rich Jackson, a Hand e Corp vice president. That's because it was developed under Prudential's roof by employees.

But since its debut on the mainland in July at a real estate electronics show in San Francisco, the firm's copyrighted system has been catching on fast, Jackson said.

And while that's happening, he said, the Prudential agents in Hawaii are falling in love with it.

What Pocket Real Estate does is allow an agent to instantly look up any single-family, condominium or vacant parcel for sale in any location, finding what clients want according to such factors as price range, location (by zip code or neighborhood), how many bedrooms or bathrooms, average living area or land area.

Or they can quickly help a prospective buyer or seller with information about the recent selling prices of similar houses in the area.

The Pocket Real Estate software includes calculators to instantly work out how much a buyer will have to pay per month on a mortgage or how big of a mortgage the client can afford.

The Palm Pilot also stores contact lists of names, phone numbers or e-mail addresses of the agents representing the listed properties, and stores client profiles to help the agent match a property to what a particular client wants.

"It really facilitates the process," Jackson said. "It builds a lot of trust and confidence" between the agent and his or her clients.

Prudential real estate agents having lunch with a client or on the road can get all the information instantly, he said.

The key to success is that the product was developed from the bottom up, by Realtors for Realtors, Jackson said. He and his partners did extensive beta-testing in the field to make sure it does what they wanted it to do.

It holds the entire MLS listings for the area, but most often an agent will come in and download the latest information on his or her specialty, such as a particular neighborhood, type of property or price range.

"They select an area, hook up the Palm Pilot, click the download button and it downloads whatever they selected," Jackson said.

Bonnie Ishii Coen, agent and associate partner at Prudential, said the company's clients are professional, educated people. "They expect us to be on top of things," she said. "They don't have a lot of time and they don't want to hear an agent say 'We'll get back to you with that information'."

Coen said a client once called her cellular phone while she was at the beach with her family. She was able to pull out the Palm Pilot and answer all the client's questions without moving.

Hand e Corp doesn't sell the hardware. A Palm Pilot or compatible equivalent costs about $200-$250 and the company says that while the standard Palm Pilot handles the software well, users might want to spend more to get one with more capacity, or go for the Handspring Visor, a newer machine using the Palm operating system.

Several PDAs under other brand names can use Hand e Corp's software.

The company's Pocket Real Estate software package sells on the mainland for $199 and includes MLS Sync, a program that automatically adapts different MLS programs in different areas so they can be read on the hand-held unit.

Prudential Locations' agents in Hawaii are able to buy the software for $99.

After three years, it will be available to any real estate agent in Hawaii.

The only ways to have such information in the past has been to subscribe to MLS books for about $40 every two months for an update and carry the cumbersome volumes around or to use a laptop computer which is bigger and heavier and won't have Hand e Corp's fast system, Jackson said.

More information is available at, the Web site of Jackson's company, which is separate from Prudential.

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