What’s In Your Trunk?
One of the most common questions I’m asked by new agents is “What equipment and tools should I get?” It’s a complicated question in that some things are things that one collects over time and others are things that should have, but not all things need to be purchased until the agent has had few closings under the belt and gained some income.
That said, the following list are those things that an agent should consider in their car from day one. Yes, it can be pricey to get started, but these are things that I have found that I needed over the past 13 years.
Regardless if you’re working with buyers or sellers, you’ll find the need to measure rooms and spaces regularly. I’ve had a ton over time, but my favorite currently is the Kobalt 115-ft Long Tape.
Analog Yard Tape Measure
Along with the digital tape measure for the interior, you’ll need a yard tape measure to gather parameters of homes or distance of things like the well to the septic system or house. The reasons you’ll need this are countless.
This is a no-brainer. Having case of bottled water in your trunk serves multiple purposes. It’s good for quenching thirst, having for cleaning things, keeping kids happy, filling toilets if winterized and soaking the ground to make it easy to break up the ground. I always try to have new bottles in the cup holders for each person who is riding with me to see homes.
Jump Starter With Compressor
At just under $100 this is probably the most expensive item on my list, but it’s one of the most important. Having you or your client’s car die while showing property is a huge headache. Having a battery jumper in your trunk will make you the hero. I prefer this over jumper-cables in that I don’t risk the issue of damaging my car in a jump or trying to figure out how to maneuver cars in narrow driveways. Additionally, most of these models have USB charging ports, LED lights, tire pumps for low tire pressure and more. Well worth the money. I prefer the Stanley Jump Starters.
One of the obvious items, that is still overlooked is the common flashlight. I often hear agents saying that they simply use their smartphone’s flashlight, but there are two major issues. One is that it kills your battery on the smartphone and the second is that it can’t double as a protective item. I prefer the 3 d-cel Maglite flashlight. Even while showing during the day, I carry this item. You never know what room maybe dark, what basement doesn’t have lights or who may be lingering around the corner. The Maglite is just the right site for protection and bright enough to illuminate just about any room.
For obvious reasons, agents should carry a full roll of toilet paper in their car. From personal experience I’ve learned to place it in a quality freezer bag to ensure it doesn’t shred or deteriorate so that it’s ready for action when the time comes.
In connection with the toilet paper is the baby wipes. Anti-bacterial wipes are great for keeping things clean or wiping off hands when you’ve visited a particularly less-than-clean house.
From time to time I have visited homes where the lawn wasn’t cared for or the owners have critter living in the house. DEET goes a long way and is a great spray or treatment to have available. The spray can be used when going into or leaving a home so that you and your clients don’t carry critters in your car or home with them.
Don’t skimp on this your First Aid Kit! You’re going to be on the road a lot and you never know what emergency can come up. Even if you’re not fully trained to use all of the items, there is often someone around who will be. [Of course it doesn’t hurt for you to go out and take a first aid class.] Don’t settle for the cheap small boxes, get a good one!
A solid tool kit is also essential, not just for your car, but also for little projects for your listings or to just get you out of trouble.
A tool you cannot leave without is the old fashion sledge hammer. It’s essential for putting up or taking down signs, and any other host of projects or needs.
Depending on what your client is looking for, they may want to see older homes or REO properties that have been abandoned for awhile. Some of these homes may have mold spores or other airborne issues to consider. Carrying a pack of masks could be useful if your working with clients in this environment.
From time to time you’ll have Sellers who wish to have buyers and agents remove their shoes. Because of injuries I’ve sustained with broken glass in the rug of a home one time, I no longer remove my shoes, even when requested. However, I do carry a box of shoe covers for my clients and I to try and persevere the target and flooring in the Seller’s home. These are also useful if you’ve had to walk through a muddy yard to get to the house.
I know that Fix-a-Flat isn’t the best thing for your tires, but when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and your tire goes flat, this may be a quick fix that will get you to a repair shop or somewhere where you can get a mobile signal to call AAA.
Far too many times I’ve visited a home where the Seller’s yippy little dogs won’t stop shouting for attention, or they are running around the yard when you arrive. Having a few of these treats will not only make you a new friend but may keep them busy long enough for you to enjoy seeing the house.
It’s not uncommon for clients to bring their kids along for the showing. Having beef jerky, trail mix, power bars or other assorted snacks in the trunk of your car can help you or your clients out. I would suggest a number of candy bars as well, in case your clients have diabetic issues and may need sugar quickly. Also, be cautious of client’s who have allergies. All of these items should things that can remain in your trunk without decaying.
We’re all wired now-a-days. Having access to power on those long days of showing could be critical to your buyer. The ability to stay charged and use one’s mobile device to research homes and regions could be critical to making the client feel comfortable in the decisions set before them.
Having a Wifi iPad in your car and your own device setup to share the data connection could be a notable difference between you and a competing broker. Agents need to be able to research and could do so while on the road, in between seeing other homes. Consider getting refurbished iPad and loading with with a few basic apps, such as CrimeMapping, Your own mobile app, GreatSchools, iScape, WalkScore, HomeSnap, Mortgage Calc Pro, Yelp, Find a Church, AroundMe, CloseIt among just a few.
File Folder Box
Even in the paperless world that we’re in, it doesn’t hurt to have a stack of full listing agreements and contract packets, well as addendum and various disclosure forms. This could be really valuable in a pinch.
You never know when you’re going to walk land, show up to a muddy yard or need to walk around a flooded basement. A pair or rubber boots can come in really hand. [Hat tip to Marcia Stonestreet for contributing this item]
You never know when you’ll need to clean up a mess, put dirty shoes in a bag or need an emergency poncho. Quality trash bags could really save your day.
Plug/Ground testers are very inexpensive and handy to have around. It’s a quick test to let you know if a plug if functioning properly and they are very inexpensive. Just make sure that you aren’t overstepping your role. Let the Home Inspector do the actual testing when necessary, but this is a handy tool to check for reasons other than inspections.
You never know what you may have to pickup or remove from time to time, so it’s great to have a set of gloves with you to protect your hands. These are also helpful if you’re walking land, so that you can move branches or thorn bushes out of your way.
Cable Ties [Tie Wraps]
A pack of assorted sizes tie wraps will also keep you out of the weeds. They are useful for fastening sign riders when the hardware isn’t working or you forgot to bring it. They are also useful for securing a variety of other things and even some quick car repairs.
WD-40 takes care of those creaky, creepy doors and other assorted sounds that could be a distraction while selling a house. It’s also useful when trying to dismantle those signs that have been in the yard or sign shed for too long. The uses are endless.
As they say, ‘if it can’t be fixed with Duct Tape, than you’re not using enough Duct Tape’.
Pack of Rags
Most hardware or auto parts stores will have small packs of rags that you can buy. These are also useful for countless reasons. This and a roll of papertowls should be in your assortment of goodies, just in case…
Help Grow The List
This isn’t a complete list, but should be a good start for those looking for… well, a good start. At this point you’re probably thinking you need a U-haul trailer to carry all of this stuff, but if you get a nice crate or box of the SUV or trunk you’d be surprised how much you can keep back there.
Feel free to leave a list of things you like to keep in your vehicle in the comments below.