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In a perfect world, every real estate transaction will be paperless. I'm very proud of my progress on getting there, but it's still a work in progress.
18 months ago, I participated in the Kodak "Go Paper-less Challenge" and addressed the "Who, What, When, Where and Why" of going paperless, beginning with these five steps - each of them being a "what" in my plan (followed by the other four W's in parenthesis):
Create electronic files for storing electronic files for both transactions and financial records. (Margaret. Immediately. Office/Dropbox. Make it easier to find important records)
My file cabinets are nearly empty because my transaction files for current clients and cases closed over the past 2 years are stored in Dropbox. I love the convenience of having access to my files from any computer, even my iPad or iPhone. It never ceases to amaze me how often I refer back to old cases... looking in an old file, for example, to find out who made the chimney repair or conducted an asbestos test on the insulation so I can pass on the information to a new client.
Making this conversion was possible only because I hired a former client to come into my office 2 evenings a week to build the digital files for old closed cases. It costs me less than $200/mo. and it's been money well spent. Next up for the two of us will be to do the same with my financial records.
Research, choose and implement an electronic signature program. (Margaret. Before 2/28/11. Anywhere. Facilitate transactions with absentee owners and buyers) This choice was made for me because my company chose an e-signature program and integrated it with our forms program. I'm not entirely happy with this choice, however, and plan to revisit my options before the month is over.
Scan receipts promptly and store them electronically; export monthly bank statements to Excel and add cash expenditures monthly, based on the receipts. (Assistant. Ongoing weekly. Office/Dropbox. Easier tax filing).
This is one area that I haven't made much progress. Next week, I'll be staying in Ocean City, MD for two days after the annual MAR real estate conference, so I plan to use that opportunity for setting up these files in Dropbox. Once that's done, my assistant can start scanning the receipts for 2012 and go backward from there to do the same for recent years.
Use paper-less resources for client communications and records. (Assistant and Margaret. Ongoing. Office/Dropbox. Easier access and less clutter):
(a) Compile CMA and all supporting data in one PDF file for emailing to seller and saving to the client's electronic file. (b) Email itinerary and map to buyers prior to appointments and bcc myself to save in client's electronic file. (c) Scan contracts and counter-offers to PDF for emailing to appropriate parties; save them to client's electronic file. (d) Store incoming/outgoing email in client's email folder, and export it monthly to client's electronic file (e) After closing, create three CD's with client's entire paper trail for the client, myself, and the office file.
This seemed like one of those "pie-in-the-sky" goals that would probably never be fully achieved, but I'm happy to report that I now go paperless to a listing appointment, other than taking a few glossy brochures for my clients. This is possible by using my iPad to present the CMA, MTA, and closing cost estimate to sellers. Depending on the circumstances, I can email those documents to them while we're talking - but I can also opt to NOT send them.
I can also go paperless to a showing appointment, and do so most of the time. The iPad makes this possible, and clients love it. Printouts for homes they like can be emailed to them on the spot, and we simply delete printouts for homes they don't want to consider.
Items c, d, and e have been fully implemented, as well.
Sort and file piles of paper; scan every client file in my office, beginning with most recent and working backward. (Assistant. File one drawer or box monthly 'til done. Office/ Dropbox and CD. So I can find important papers)
In the parenthesis following each "what" there is a "who" (...will do what), "when" (...it must be done), "Where" (home/office/Dropbox/CD or flashdrive, etc.), "Why" - that last one is the motivation behind the "what". My status update is in italics after each item.
Going paper-less did require an up-front investment of time to save much time later. If you haven't started this process yet, why not now?
Copyright 2006-13. Margaret Woda. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Information contained in this post is deemed reliable on the date of publication, but it is not guaranteed and it is subject to change without notice.
Margaret Woda, REALTOR & Associate Broker Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., 2191 Defense Hwy., Crofton, MD 21114 Direct: (410) 451-6245 or click on EMAIL
Real Estate and community information for home buyers and sellers, military transferees, and rookie agents in the greater Crofton area, including Bowie, Davidsonville, Fort Meade, Gambrills, Odenton, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.