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 day...no problem. That file is also accessible to email from my iphone. Nice!
Here's a look at how my files are organized:
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:
- Contain names and contact info for everyone involved in the transaction
- Contain the info required to authorize short sale communication with the lender
- List all the tasks required for the transaction which can be checked off as completed
- List all the documents required for the transaction which can be checked off when completed
- 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.
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...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org - this has saved me lots of time when faxing huge short sale packages to the banks!