How I Went Paperless...For Free!!! Do it yourself paperless real estate transaction manager

Real Estate Agent with Silver State Realty & Investments

There's many reasons why you might want to take your real estate business paperless...

For me, the search began when I got a critical phone call from a short sale negotiator at 7pm on a Friday night.  I'm sure they were expecting my voicemail because she explained she had to make calls on 40 files that evening.  (It goes a lot quicker when you can just leave a message!)

So there I am driving home from the grocery store on the phone with the negotiator who had just called me.  I pulled over to talk and now the negotiator wants to know the seller's loan number, social security number and property address to discuss the file...doh!

After that, I decided to find a solution to take my business with me wherever I go...paperless!  I tried several different pay for use programs.  Some for real estate in general and some designed specifically for short sales.  Each one had it's strong/weak points, but none that I tried had everything I needed, so I came up with my own solution and best of all...IT'S FREE!


Here are the 2 main parts to the system

1. File Storage - Access your files from anywhere

I looked at many different solutions and the biggest obstacle was upload time and accessing files without an internet connection.  I wanted drag and drop and I wanted to be able to access all my files without a live internet connection...and I found the solution!

This free service allows you to create a folder on your computer.  Files and folders within this "dropbox" automatically sync with all your computers.  I can drag a pdf file of a purchase contract into the property folder on my laptop.  When I show up at the office...there it is in the same folder on my office computer.  Oops, forgot to cc the lender with a copy of the purchase contract and I'm out showing homes all problem.  That file is also accessible to email from my iphone.  Nice!

Click here to sign up for your free dropbox.


Here's a look at how my files are organized:

Click here to sign up for your free dropbox.


2. Transaction Manager

The transaction manager that is working best for me is a simple spreadsheet in google docs.  They are accessible online from any computer as well as my iphone.  I have one for buyer files and one for seller files and they serve the following functions:

  1. Contain names and contact info for everyone involved in the transaction
  2. Contain the info required to authorize short sale communication with the lender
  3. List all the tasks required for the transaction which can be checked off as completed
  4. List all the documents required for the transaction which can be checked off when completed
  5. Contain a field for notes on the file

This part of the puzzle will take some work on your part setting up, for me it was well worth it and it wasn't any more work than learning to use the expensive transaction management software that I tried out.

Click here to view a sample of my buyer spreadsheet.

You can also sign up for google docs by clicking on "google docs" in the upper left of the sample spreadsheet.


A few more tips...

Print to pdf using the free program at or spend $20 at for the software to edit pdf files as well as separate or combine multiple pdf pages.

I use the the task manager/calendar that is free with our MLS, but outlook or google calendar can also work to set alerts if you need task reminders.

Use efax or similar service to send faxes out from your email.  You just send an email with all the attachments you want faxed to the fax - this has saved me lots of time when faxing huge short sale packages to the banks!


Go Green!


Comments (13)

Harry F. D'Elia III
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I have bookmarked this for future reference. Great find tonight

Aug 25, 2010 07:03 PM
Ron T. Weems Jr.
Weems Property Group | KW North Sound - Bothell, WA
Managing the details one home at a time.


Nice job on getting something like this done. I've been doing the same thing. Looking for something a little more user friendly. It can't get no better than when you create it yourself.

Aug 25, 2010 07:17 PM
Patty Luther
RE/MAX Rock-n-Roll Realty - Lewiston, ID
Lewiston ID Real Estate, Idaho-Washington

thanks for the good information Damon, I will be checking this out!

Aug 25, 2010 07:23 PM
Damon Botticelli
Silver State Realty & Investments - Las Vegas, NV
Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate

Harry, thanks for bookmarking.

Ron, the tools are out there, but it can be a challenging puzzle to put them all together. 

Patty, you're welcome!

Aug 25, 2010 07:42 PM
Jean-Paul Peron
The Outer Banks Real Estate Copmpany - Corolla, NC
Carova Beach - Living & Working in 4-Wheel Drive

Thanks for the tips. I have been trying to find ways to maxamise my Google Docs account.

Sep 04, 2010 11:30 PM
Tommy Jedrzejczyk

Thanks for this post. I've been trying to transition to a paperless system and one of my biggest challenges is keeping track of all of the PDF files. I like your system in the pic. Could you also post your seller spreadsheet for everyone to check out? Thanks

Oct 22, 2010 06:31 PM
Damon Botticelli
Silver State Realty & Investments - Las Vegas, NV
Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate

Tommy, I suggest you create your own method of naming the files that makes the most sense to you.  I just made a list of every form I need, put them into categories based on what they are or at point point they come up in a transaction and then numbered them in a way that would allow me to add to each category as needed.  They are listed on the spreadsheet so I can check them off as I obtain the files and I also can use the file name on the spreadsheet for a quick cut & paste when naming the files.  The rest of the spreadsheet is  a contact form for all parties and a chronological list of everything else that needs to get done on a file.  Mine has my entire marketing plan with marketing contacts, web addresses, etc, which I keep confidential.  ;)

Oct 23, 2010 01:36 PM
Marla Lopez
Fantastic info! Going paperless is the only way to go! It's the way our entire world is moving! Clients appreciate the ability for you to 'keep them in the loop'!
Nov 14, 2010 03:07 AM
Ranji Singh
Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd. - Newmarket, ON

This is great stuff Damon. thanks for pulling it together.


You seem to tbe the perfect person to create a simple single page CMA :o) ....   which would be another great happening.



Jan 30, 2011 01:19 PM
Matthew Johnson
Keller Williams Premier Realty - Woodbury, MN

The iPad has relly changed the way I do my offers!

Mar 21, 2011 05:16 AM
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Damon,

The information is good.

And FREE is even better.

Thanks for the info


Mar 29, 2011 11:04 PM
Damon Botticelli
Silver State Realty & Investments - Las Vegas, NV
Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate

Thanks for the comments.  The iphone app has been extremely helpful.  It's so easy to re-send an addendum or contract on the fly and I can't count how many times I've been able to answer a client's question on the go without having to say "I'll have to get back to you on that" and then go digging through files at the office to check on a detail in the contract.  In fact, I can check the files while I have them on the phone!  (One reason I haven't switched to Verizon yet, but that's for another blog).

Apr 02, 2011 07:19 PM
Jeremy Shoenig
EZ Coordinator - San Francisco, CA

I like your thinking and love and use dropbox myslef.

However why not have all these systems available in one place.

Try It's free for agents and includes document storage, and task management all in one place. With the ability to get notifications and reminders. And to view or export your due dates to the calendar.


Jun 24, 2012 04:40 AM