ANAHEIM, CA—Mobility in real estate is becoming increasinglymore necessary and prevalent, as GlobeSt.com recently reported. Enter CommonAreas, a new mobile app that allows property managers tonote, manage and track clearly and simply property-managementsituations that need attention.

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Developed by Casey Rue, COO atMarketplace Properties, a small boutiquedeveloper of shopping centers forthe last 45 years, and CEO of the firm Common Areas, the app takesthe place of clipboards, paperwork and endless emails and follow-uptime by allowing property managers to see problems through tosolutions all in one place. Rue, who has real estate experience inacquisitions and property management, tellsGlobeSt.com, “I've always thought it's been brain damage trying toget work done when managing properties. You use a clipboard, aniPhone and text, but there could be 50 differentthings going on with any given property at any given time.Communicating via email, voicemail, fax and letters; finding theissues by walking the property, then going back to the office todisseminate the information takes forever.”

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Rue hired a team of software developers and an interfacedesigner to develop Common Areas, which has been in beta mode forthe last three years and is currently available on theiTunes store. He says the key to the app'ssimplicity and effectiveness is communication. “People can dopretty much anything if they can communicate it correctly. Problemsare mostly based on lack of communication. It comes down to theproject: something didn't get done right, and the people involvedthought different things. This tool makes it really easy foranybody to identify an issue and communicate it in a way that'seasy.”

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Common Areas is currently only available on theiPad, but a Web version is currently in progressto allow it to be accessed via any Web-enabled device such as anAndroid, tablet or desktop. In addition, asmartphone version that's simpler than the iPad version is also inthe works.

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Rue introduced the product to real estate executives at therecent ICSC RECon conference in Las Vegas. “Nobody had seenanything like it or was using anything like it.”

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The app allows users to create a location anywhere in the worldand add it to their list. Via Google Maps, theycan pin a property for action items, name it, assign it to acategory (such as the parking lot, for example) and assign it toanybody in the world with an email address.

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“You can take pictures of the site and upload those, and itsends an email to the person you want to take care of it askingthem to do something,” says Rue. “When you go in to sign up for anaccount, that situation will be on your action list.”

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On other systems that companies use internally, employees andtenants can report problems, but service providers and others can'tuse them. “With Common Areas, you can start dropping action itemswith anyone you want, and they're private. It's like takingwork-order software and mixing it with LinkedIn orFacebook. You can share it with anybody, but it'sactually a little more private than Facebook because you can choosewith whom you share it.”

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Rue adds that the system has the potential to be used by avariety of businesses, such as supermarkets (clean-up in aisle 4)and municipalities (citizens can report graffiti or a light out).“We're designing it so it's a universal platform for people to dowork together.”

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In addition, Common Areas has been created to be affordable. Theapp is free and can be used forever like Dropboxif data is removed periodically. “Ninety-two percent ofproperty-management companies in the US have four employees orfewer,” says Rue. “They can't spend a lot of money on software.With this platform, property managers will use it, but it will beeven more valuable if service providers and vendors use it, too. Weneed to be price sensitive to these companies—a sweeping orcleaning company can't afford expensive software. This way, theycan turn around and start showing the other companies they workwith that they're tech savvy.”

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on GlobeSt.com and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.