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Real estate agent takes workstation on the road

Bruce Jenkins' Jeep Cherokee contains all the gadgets needed to turn a his vehicle into a convenient office.

By JANET ZINK
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 29, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- From the outside, Bruce Jenkins' deep red Jeep Cherokee looks like any other Jeep Cherokee.

Inside, it's another story.

Jenkins has transformed the vehicle into a mobile office, complete with a computer workstation and color printer for his job as a real estate agent.

A laptop computer sits on a black stool with legs fashioned from PVC pipe and painted beige to match the car's interior. It sits over the console between the front seats, high enough so that Jenkins can reach under to shift the car into park, reverse or drive.

Driving is key.

With a client in the passenger seat, Jenkins can access Tampa's Multiple Listing Service, show clients photos and information about houses, and produce the pages on a color printer in the back seat. The printer can also copy and fax documents.

All this while driving through the streets of Tampa.

Every morning, Jenkins downloads all of the homes for sale in his primary territories of Carrollwood and Lutz. If a client wants to see a home outside that area, he plugs his cell phone into the computer and finds the house online. He also uses the Internet to find information about schools and taxes.

The best part is that he can stay on the road all day long, without returning to his office in Carrollwood.

"I can show so many more houses," he says.

Finding the houses is a snap, too, using street finder software that provides maps and directions. To close the deal, he has a computer program for writing contracts.

The mobile system is powered with the help of an inverter in the back of the Jeep that converts car battery current into current used in a house.

Jenkins, a real estate agent with ERA-Polo, began selling houses just a month ago but worked in the technology business for years as a systems integrator for IBM.

"I'm a technology kind of guy," Jenkins says.

He switched professions because his IBM job required him to travel out of town every week, and he wanted to spend more time in Tampa with his wife and two teenage children.

He bought the Jeep last spring with the intent of bringing his mobile real estate agent concept to fruition.

He envisions a large van with club chairs, sodas, snacks and videos about buying a home that clients can watch while Jenkins drives them from house to house.

"Everyone says if you're not using technology in real estate you're going to get left behind," Jenkins says.

With his mobile office, Jenkins hopes to lead the pack.

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