OpenOffice (also referred to as Open Office) is an open source (free) set of applications aimed to function just like Microsoft Office without the hefty price tag.
As of today, the Microsoft Office suite of tools costs $499.95 direct from Microsoft.com. Do you use Office enough to justify that kind of expense?
Agents and Expenses
As a real estate agent, saving money on start up expenses is usually a priority. After the initial education expenses, association membership dues, and brokerage initial fees, most agent’s pockets are usually filled with lint rather than dollar bills.
It’s in this light that OpenOffice looks very desirable. Could you accomplish the same thing that you could with Microsoft Office?
Many could argue that Microsoft Office has become an industry standard. It’s true; most small businesses with the need for a word processor and presentation software will resort to purchasing Microsoft Office licenses and have them installed on all their workstations.
However, in the real estate office most agents are using software like Zipform Online for the contracts; resorting to spreadsheets for things like net sheets, and possibly Outlook for their email (though I’m a personal fan of GMail).
Even databases are starting to be held in online software such as Top Producer 8i or Act! for Real Estate. Where does the need for a full Microsoft Office suite come into play?
In an article by Lou Dolinar, he talks about what’s holding OpenOffice back and what Microsoft is doing to combat the open standard initiative (just a fancy way of expressing the need for things to be more competitive and easier on the pocket books for everyone). I find it interesting to see that Microsoft’s answer to a unified open standard is to create their own…open standard.
The open source community is looking to create one standard that anyone is free to incorporate into their productivity tools. In this same article, Lou talks about the OpenDocument:
The anti-Microsoft crowd has an alternate data format, OpenDocument, that anyone can freely incorporate into any program, just as everyone uses the same old free, non-proprietary HTML to build Web sites. Not only that, but they’ve managed to persuade a fair number of governments to legislate standards requiring word processors, spreadsheets and such to include open document standards as well as proprietary ones. – Source
I’d go as far as to say that most real estate agents can accomplish most of their main tasks (word processing and spreadsheets) that they do with Microsoft Office in their real estate business with free software like OpenOffice.
I believe you should be using software like Top Producer 8i for your database, and why not use GMail as your email software? You should also be using software like Zipform Online to manage your contracts.
If you could save yourself $499.95 dollars in start up costs to get you up and running; would you? $499.95 is enough to fund your monthly flyers or possibly a just listed campaign in a hot neighborhood for a new listing you just took.
Hold your money accountable! OpenOffice is free, so I definitely think it deserves a look.