Are You Documenting Your Transactions?

Real Estate Agent with Liberty Homes RS-#62825

Documentation of a transaction is one of the most important parts of a transaction. It is imperative that I get as much in writing (black and white) as possible. With technology at the tip of my fingertips I long ago learned that my emails were to be my ‘documentation of choice'.

Why are emails my documentation of choice?

We speak on the phone to get status on all parts of our transactions but is that protecting you and your client when relying on "memory"? By taking the chance that the other party is saying that that isn't  how it happened?

"Here say" is what it comes down to IMHO.


The following reasons are why I document everything (using Outlook and Adobe Acrobat PRO) by using email:

  • Each email  is time/date stamped  and they can be easily saved to your client files on your pc and it's right there in black and white.
  • You can follow the trail of a conversation with one (or even all parties if you're cc'ing everyone) to document a portion or part of the transaction...and of course it's right there in black and white
  • You can reiterate your telephone conversation with a follow up email for documentation of the conversation (i.e. per our conversation at such such time....) ....and it's right there in black and white.
  • There are delivery and read notifications for emails if you mark them as such before sending and you'll have a receipt in black and white.
  • You can refer to each email when you need a quick answer for the who, what, when, how, where and why of the topic...and it's there in black and white.
  • The attachments are saved to your client folder in My Documents but you still have a trail of when it was black and white.
  • You have documentation of the person who said cover your's in black and white.
  • I can turn all my emails into ONE PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro and Outlook to burn to CD with each of my client closed transactions and it's a BIG BLACK AND WHITE documentation all in one!

GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING is a long standing part of any contract or business. Without everything in black and white you have no proof or anything to refer to should you need to.



NOTE:  Organization of Emails with Outlook 2007 and Adobe Acrobat Professional Pro is what I use to document and save everything at the end of each transaction and you can read my handy dandy info on how to do it here>>>> Using Adobe Acrobat Professional with Outlook



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Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


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Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog.

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Jayne Williamson, REALTOR, Broker, GRI
Keller Williams Realty Mountain Partners, Hendersonville, NC - Hendersonville, NC

After many years in the business world, I have learned to CYA so it was a natural routine when I made the leap to real estate a couple of years back.  While a newbie I represented both sides and when the Buyer wasn't happy a few months down the road, it came in handy.  I was able to recreate every step of the way from emails and notes I had taken from phone conversations to create a timeline for the attorneys involved.  Both attorneys cleared me, but still not satisfied they called the RE Commission...who also cleared me.  Had I not had such detailed notes I'm not sure it would have turned out the same way.

Apr 14, 2009 01:43 AM #43
Kimberly Hardin
Treasure Coast Sothebys International Realty - Vero Beach, FL
Broker Associate/Owner - Luxury Waterfront Property Specialist

Thanks for the tip.  I do try to keep all emails etc for documentation and your post confirmed my actions are important.


Apr 14, 2009 02:02 AM #44
Manuel Sanchez
Century 21 Estro - Cerritos, CA

Great tip Sally!  Thanks for sharing.

Have a wonderful day!

Thoa Trask

Apr 14, 2009 02:34 AM #45
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Sally - Sending emails to confirm conversations is probaby the best legal insurance you can have.  If a dispute arises that results in litigation, you should know that the law presumes that if you do not dispute what is said in that confirmation, it accurately reflects the conversation.  This means that you also must read the confirming emails that others send you.  If there are inaccuracies in them, do not ignore them.  Send an email to them that corrects the record.

Apr 14, 2009 04:02 AM #46
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Gene: Can you pdf the emails in your gmail account and burn to cd for your office file?  We have to have it in our office file ...

Michael: never know when anyone will 'say something' that conflicts with your records!  Good documenting Mike!

Sherry: That's knew the answer. As someone else can get Standard edition to turn into pdf files....but if you do digital signing and need the other party to...then there's an extra feature (amongst a couple other playing a video in adobe :)

Cynthia: I long ago learned that just paper won't work for me...or the office file...I need to have them all in one place...on my pc, on cd, and the whole file gets scanned ....

Apr 14, 2009 05:03 AM #47
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Neal: Whatever works for you...I need to have all my documentation at home with me too.

Steven: Folder for each client and so forth...but talking about the tranaction all over twitter is not keeping confidentiality is it?

Jayne: Yeah...and so the reason I have yet to represent both sides. I have always felt there would be conflict somewhere down the line.

Kim: Sure are.....after reading many of the comments I surely will stand by that ....FACT ....that is IS needed.

You're welcome Thoa!

Susan: Sending emails to confirm conversations is probaby the best legal insurance you can have.   That is an important one! 

Apr 14, 2009 05:09 AM #48
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Good tips, usually I just print the emails off & add them to the file.

Apr 14, 2009 06:13 AM #50
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Sean: I've found it to not only be more organized but condensed :)

Lyn: And what happens if it gets destroyed? Always good to have a back up that we can refer to for years.

Apr 14, 2009 06:33 AM #51
JL Boney, III
Coldwell Banker - Columbia, SC
Columbia, SC Real Estate

You can save yourself a lot of trouble by keeping good notes and documents on your transactions. Good paperwork makes good friends.

Apr 14, 2009 07:03 AM #52
Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

Carrie and Kathy SampronSally:  Could not agree with you more!

Apr 14, 2009 09:57 AM #53
Ricki Eichler McCallum
CastNet Realty - Corpus Christi, TX
Broker,GRI,ABR, e-Pro, TAHS

Good documentation is so important.  Email is a great way to go but I also put lots on paper too. It has paid off royally many times. Great post!!!

Apr 14, 2009 01:15 PM #54
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

I document anything important as well. You just never know what can happen in a Real Estate transaction.

Apr 14, 2009 02:39 PM #55
Greg Renfrow
Marx-Bensdorf, REALTORS - Memphis, TN

Great points everyone. I save EVERYTHING. Sometimes I think I save too much, but when I need something and I have it-then I know I am doing the right thing. I scan all documents and store them in our company server. I also do the same thing, I creat folders for every transaction and keep all emails in those folders.

Apr 14, 2009 03:22 PM #56
Sonya Loose
Modern Realty - Beaverton, MI
Selling Waterfront in Gladwin & Midland County

Always get it in writing!  Great advice to keep you out of trouble.... nice post!

Apr 14, 2009 03:29 PM #57
Sylvie Conde
Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Broker, Toronto Real Estate

Sally, great post.   I document everything. Always follow up a phone call with an email, and always fax certain documents to myself (which automatically turns them into pdf files). (Easy to email and also date stamped).  (I also keep a separate folder for each client, with all email correspondence, faxes, phone call logs, etc.)

When other agents fax offers to me, the offers come into my email automatically, as a pdf file, and they are also time-stamped. (Our offers have specific time-frames that we have to respond by, and some agents don't feel they are important, even though if they are not received within that time, it kills the deal).

It's definitely important to document everything, even if just to help us stay organized, with everything in its place.


Apr 14, 2009 05:17 PM #58
Kent Simpson
Realty One Group Mountain Desert - Tucson, AZ
Real Estate Is About People

Hmm...Google Voice?  Will have to look into that!

Something I started doing is CC'ing myself on all emails - even the ones with the "Read Receipt" because people can choose to opt out of the notification on some programs.  Documenting all contact (or attempts to contact) and conversations is paramount in a litigous society. 

Cover yer keester!

Apr 15, 2009 03:55 PM #59
Terry Miller
Miller Homes Group - Tyler, TX
Miller Homes Group and Tyler Apartment Locator

I love this post. I will have my tech nerd on it today. Good stuff as usual.

Apr 16, 2009 01:03 AM #60
Victoria Murphy
Sotheby's International Realty - Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM


I have always found Outlook to be the best way to go.  It is part of the reason I decided to leave my last company.  They were insistant that everyone switch to gmail and get rid of outlook.

Apr 17, 2009 01:01 PM #61
Kelsey Barklow
Hurd Realty - Johnson City, TN

Very good topic and post. I always try to document everything via email and fax and have not yet removed one email folder of former client transactions. You never know.

Apr 26, 2009 11:58 AM #62
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Yes I do.  I'm a mortgage broker before I was an agent.  It's absolutely critical.

Nov 08, 2009 03:59 PM #63
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