Going Paperless

Real Estate Broker/Owner with New Paradigm Partners LLC EB #1326335

We weren't AR members yet in February 2011, so we missed the original challenge to develop a plan to go paperless. But somehow, we must have been tuned in to the cosmic vibes on this issue, since we have made some significant efforts over the past 18 months in reducing our paper usage.

Without a doubt, DocuSign has been the biggest contributor to the cause. We had begun using it several years ago, and it seems like every month, we find additional ways to put it to work. At first, we applied it mostly to clients that were hard to meet with - out-of-towners or those with busy schedules. Now, almost every client reviews and signs all their paperwork in DocuSign. And we've done more than cut back on wasting trees - we're finding that we need less face-to-face meetings, so we're saving energy and gas as well, by doing a lot more telephone conferencing.

Save the Trees!Another great paper-saver we've recently begun using is Dropbox. It's one of those tools that we just keep finding more ways to use. Besides the obvious - making important documents available on all of our computers - we're able to share files easily with clients and others we work with, even if they don't have Dropbox.

One of the changes that has had a huge impact on paper use over the last couple of years has been the way title work is handled. Our title company implemented a digital option, which we were quick to adopt, both for ourselves and almost all clients. Those huge 5 lb. bundles of paperwork - title commitments, conditions and exceptions, complete with original documents, and HOA covenants, articles and by-laws - are now delivered as .pdfs, as are the constant updates to the title package. We're probably saving a couple of trees per deal on this alone.

We do have one unimplemented item yet to do, and we know it's going to be a major one. We have not yet bought a scanner and started turning all our files into digital records. We have been using the office scanner more every month, but until we have one of our own in a handy and accessible location, we won't really be using this tool to its fullest extent. So it's on the list for a purchase sometime before the end of the year.

We are seeing the writing on the digital wall and we have made peace with it. Emotionally, we're there. We have lost our love of paper, along with that unnecessary feeling of security that comes from having huge piles of boxes stuffed with various documents and records. And we have proof of our paperless commitment: we got rid of our storage space this last summer - what we really needed was scanned, what we didn't need got shredded. We now get that same feeling of security from getting everything into digital files.

Of course, that raises at least two additional issues - the first is the need for bulletproof back-up. We're doing an external hard drive back-up, as well as redundancy on several computers, but I also need to overcome my uneasiness with the concept of using cloud back-up as well, and do the research to get something going there. We're not totally bulletproof yet. The second issue is the need for a digital filing system that makes logical and practical sense. Needless to say, Mary & I have totally different ideas of the definition of logical and practical in this regard, but as long as we can each find what we're looking for, we'll be okay. And so will the trees.

Posted by
Mary & Dick

Mary & Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC
2601 S. Lemay Ave. #41
Fort Collins, CO 80525


Data Source: IRES MLS


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Frank Castaldini
Coldwell Banker - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

One of these days I'm going to go paperless.  I've got to sit down with someone who is doing it and get trained.  We're using docusign but we still back up everything with paper files...I so last century.  LOL

Sep 25, 2012 12:40 AM #1
Jerry Newman
Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com - San Antonio, TX
Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation

Hi Dick, I was using an external hard drive backup too, but I am planning to start using iCloud storage, like Carbonite. I know you and Mary will find the most effective way to take your business paperless to Save the Trees.

Sep 25, 2012 12:42 AM #2
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Love it, Dick.  I could make strides to do better at this as well.  One step at a time ...

Sep 25, 2012 12:59 AM #3
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

Dick,  I'm going to check out Dropbox, Docu Sign, I'm still not so sure.  For backup we use Carbonite.  Really cheap.

Sep 25, 2012 01:04 AM #4
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Dick ever since my last scanner clonked out I have been saying  I will replace it....well you know I am .....so soon:)

Sep 25, 2012 01:10 AM #5
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * www.AlbuquerqueHomes.com - Albuquerque, NM
AlbuquerqueHomes.com, Albuquerque Homes Realty

Dick,  It seems were on the same page towards going paperless.  I've had an awesome scanner for several years that is lightning fast...well worth the bucks.  I had been vacillating between back-ups..first it was Carbonite, now its ZipCloud.  I too was/am a bit tripid on that issue.  But I like the results so far, zipcloud also replaces DropBox..you can sync files or share.  Lost of options out there to help us go paperless.

Sep 25, 2012 01:31 AM #6
Glenn Freezman
Family Abstract, Inc. - Horsham, PA

Dick, It's is my lifes work dream to be able to close loans via video conferencing on a completely end to end paperless platform.  The notary is still thhe sticking point, but I have been at it for 12 years and I got time. 

Sep 25, 2012 02:31 AM #7
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Great plan Dick! many of your action items are similar to ours, we do still come home with 5 lbs of paper from the title company, maybe its time for our title companies to start talking to yours. 

As far as filing the electronic documents, it should not matter too much between you and Mary's plan as the computer will be able to find it either way as long as you name your documents well.

Have a great day!

Sep 25, 2012 02:48 AM #8
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORSĀ®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

The bullet-proof back-up.  There's where my heart leaps into my throat.  The more paperless I get, the more I want to back-up my back-ups and so on.

Sep 25, 2012 03:34 AM #9
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Good job on the paperless subject.  The bullet proof back up is key.  We have found the cloud helpful in that as well as a physical diigital back up...Happy Tuesday, A

Sep 25, 2012 04:21 AM #10
Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Dick,  Sounds like your heading down the right path.  My husband has law firms who backup their entire database to the cloud.  He doesn't love it but it is the way of the future.  At home, we back up all of our computers (including Craig's IT company server) to a something Terabyte external drive.  He takes it out to his car and drives around with it in case our house burns down.  He changes it out once a week.  Glad I dont have to worry about these things.  He does enough for both of us.

Sep 25, 2012 09:03 AM #11
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Dick, sounds like you're doing a tree mendous job going paperless.  It's hard to give up the security of hard copies, but imagine the reduction in our collective carbon footprint if every Realtor and every industry followed your lead.

Sep 25, 2012 10:13 AM #12
Kathy Sheehan
Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021 - Atlanta, GA
Senior Loan Officer

I try to be paperless as much as possible.  Unfortunately so many times we have to have orginal signatures on documents.

Sep 25, 2012 10:52 AM #13
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Dick -- it seems you are well on your way.  Gotta love Lloyd's comment(#12) about the tree-mendous job going paperless.   

Sep 25, 2012 02:33 PM #14
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Dick Greenberg

Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate
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