If a Real Estate Brokerage Can Go Paperless, Then Why Can't I?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Franklin Homes Realty LLC

If a Real Estate Brokerage Can Go Paperless, Then Why Can't I?

paper filesAnyone who knows me will tell you I am a recycle fanatic. I have made a concerted effort for many years to cut down on the amount of paper that comes into my life.

Several years ago, I went to on-line banking and bill paying. The only bills I receive in the mail are my water and electric. They are the only companies in my life that haven't gone entirely paperless yet. I have opted out of credit solicitations to prevent unwanted mail. I have even cancelled subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. With the exception of my beloved Southern Living, just can't seem to part with that one.

I have made some real strides this year to go paperless. It all started with a change in my brokerage. Benchmark Realty uses a paperless pipeline to transmit all our contract documents. While that isn't the reason I left my previous brokerage, I am so happy to be part of an office that is conscious of the endless amount of paper that passes hands during a real estate transaction.

This got me thinking...if a real estate brokerage can go paperless, then why can't I?

I quickly discovered there were steps to going entirely paperless. My journey looked something like this:
iPad

  1. iPad - The purchase of an iPad was the first step to going paperless. What I used to do with paper, I now do with my iPad. I no longer print up MLS sheets for showings. I email the listings to my buyers prior to going out. They can then refer to those with their iPads or smart phones. I also pull up the listings on my iPad to review the information. Through the use of Open Home Pro, I now use my iPad at open houses for registration. I use my iPad for listing presentations. I no longer leave a paper copy of my presentation. The sellers love this technology and I can tell by the stacks of paper they have from other agents that no one else is using this approach. And finally, I am able to use my iPad for electronic signatures.
  2. Electronic Signatures - After showing the homes, the next logical step came to preparing offers. This is where DocuSign entered the picture. I was easily able to upload documents and then send them via email to my clients for signatures or have them sign via my iPad. This is especially nice when I am traveling. I went to Chicago for a week this summer and my clients didn't even know I was gone because I handled everything through electronic signatures via email.
  3. Single-property Websites - I have been using this paper saver for quite awhile. I create a single-property website for all my listings. I then have a sign rider with a text code. Buyers input the text code and are directed to the single-property website. Their phone number is captured immediately and sent to my iPhone. I can then call them while they sit in front of the house. No need to monitor flyer boxes anymore.
  4. paper in trash canEmail Marketing - The use of the iPad has really helped in this area. Open house visitors sign in through Open Home Pro. Buyers seem much more willing to provide their email address because they are promised a copy of the listing will be sent to them. This has given me more opportunities to market using email vs. direct mail. I do some farming through direct mail but everything else is sent via email.
  5. Google Docs - I currently use my computer and Google docs to store contracts electronically. Google docs gives me the ability to pull up these documents anywhere. It even has the ability to share documents. Over this next year, the goal is to use Dropbox to do this.

Future plans include getting a ScanSnap to scan business cards and receipts for electronic storage to further augment my plans to go paperless.

While I haven't gone entirely paperless, I am moving in the right direction. I hope by this time next year to have eliminated paper files completely from my life. Think of the cost savings in paper and ink that we use. Sounds like a great way to cut our budget doesn't it?

After all, if a real estate brokerage can go paperless, then why can't I?

Posted by
Tammie White, Managing Broker/Owner
CLHMS, CRS, GRI, SFR
Franklin Homes Realty LLC
Franklin, TN
(615) 495-0752 
GET REAL. GET LOCAL.
 
This posting with the content written here and photographs displayed are the intellectual property and opinions of Tammie White of Franklin Homes Realty LLC. Any party who uses this material without the written permission of Tammie White is subject to copyright infringement and possible lawsuit.
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Rainmaker
747,907
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Hi Tammy, I'm also a recycling fanatic. It drives me a bit nuts when I see the ton of trash some of my neighbor's take out on Mondays - most of which could be recycled. I do have to admit, however, that I still get the newspaper. I just love reading it with my morning cup of coffee .. I did limit delivery to Wednesdays and weekends though.

The iPad is just the greatest tool for Realtors.. the possibilities seem endless. I haven't tried the Open House Sign In yet although I've already installed it. Do you find that people are more open to signing it vs. the traditional pen and paper?

Sep 28, 2012 03:31 PM #1
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Andrea - I think I've just begun to scratch the surface with the use of my iPad. I do think people are more likely to sign in with the iPad. It is such a fun tool. For older couples who may not be tech savvy, I offer to sign in for them. I tell them that the listing will automatically be sent to their home. That usually gets people to sign in because they are interested in the technology. I am getting more email addresses which helps with marketing costs.

Sep 28, 2012 03:44 PM #2
Rainmaker
5,183,735
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Tammie..... I don't do deals anymore, but if I did, I would need t make one copy of important documents, just in case!!! I'm thankful I have no more paperwork to think about!!!! 

Sep 28, 2012 09:28 PM #3
Rainmaker
3,745,233
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Gppd morning Tammie. I am really impressed. I am having paper tax stuff shredded later today. I have boxes of it. Your focus is terrific. Suggested.

Sep 28, 2012 09:32 PM #4
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Barbara - I still have some paper files but I'm quickly moving towards becoming paperless.

Sheila - I'm getting there.

Sep 29, 2012 07:48 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,372,209
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
I could not give up the Scan Snap for a day! No way! Why are you making the Google to Dropbox switch?
Sep 29, 2012 09:33 PM #6
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Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Hello Tammie,I couldn't agree with you more.I do this as well.hehehe Thanks for sharing this with us.Just dropping by to wish you good luck and continue doing great as number one Franklin TN Short Sale Agent. 

Sep 30, 2012 02:58 AM #7
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Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"

Tammie  I find my See A Virtual Tour sign rider very effective, too.

Sep 30, 2012 03:33 AM #8
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Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Tammie, Thanks for sharing your journey  to go paperless. If the company can do it then why not you?

Margaret

Sep 30, 2012 07:02 AM #9
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Cheryl - I am still on the fence about this one. Considering that Google is doing everything I want it to, it might be silly to make a change.

Katerina - Thanks for stopping by.

Karen - It sure beats loading up flyer boxes.

Margaret - Exactly.

Sep 30, 2012 08:58 AM #10
Rainmaker
323,298
Rich Cotton
Rich Cotton The Waterfront Specialist EXiT Preferred Realty - Chesapeake City, MD
Waterfront Specialist Cecil and Kent Counties MD

Tammie,

Our company uses DotLoop, which has esignature ability, for listing and sales contracts. It is cloud based so all documents are available to all transaction participants wherever they may be.

Oct 01, 2012 08:41 PM #11
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Rich - I'll have to look into that.

Oct 02, 2012 02:48 AM #12
Rainmaker
891,566
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

Tammie - A client recently signed a binder on her iPad using the GoodReader app. It is a PDF annotator app, but if you use a stylus, you can use it to sign PDFs and then just e-mail the document.  It only costs $4.99 and saves the ongoing costs of using DocuSign.  You can then spend that money on buying the Fujitsu Scansnap S1500.  I just bought one along with a Passport 1TB external storage unit to store all my old files and photos so I don't take up space on my laptop.  I'm going to download that Open House app onto my iPad.  Great idea!

Oct 09, 2012 01:55 AM #13
Rainmaker
818,268
Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team
Thanks for sharing - Our office has started the journey to going paperless also. I am sure we will love it.
Oct 15, 2012 07:43 PM #14
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Gail - Thanks for that suggestion about the GoodReader app. I have been looking for a product that did just that. I can't wait to download it and give it a try. I have an older external hard drive. I'm wondering if that is going to be sufficient for all my photos. I'll have to check with my tech savvy son. The Scansnap growes closer everyday.

Norma - It's a little scary at first. Especially for those who are so used to paper.

Oct 17, 2012 03:58 AM #15
Anonymous
Bess Wilson

Hi Tammie! Great post! Going paperless has made my life so much easier. I really liked your tip for using Google Docs. As long as you and your clients are gmail users, it is so easy.

You might also want to check out Ez Coordinator. It is an online transaction management tool. We've been using it for a while now, and it really makes organizing and keeping track of all of our documents easy. They also just recently integrated with DocuSign, which has just made going paperless even simpler. If you're interested, it is free for individual agents. You can check it out at http://ezcoordinator.com/

Thanks for the great post!

Dec 05, 2012 01:25 AM #16
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Bess - Thanks for the tip. I'll check ezcoordinator out.

Dec 05, 2012 07:46 AM #17
Rainmaker
97,624
Eileen Begley
Coldwell Banker, DelMonte - Carmel, CA
Monterey Real Estate

Nice post Tammie. I am working on going paperless too - by fits and starts. I also have Good Reader and like it. But it doesn't replace docusign. Docusign is a legal signature - all kinds of additional safeguards. Just do NOT think Good Reader can replace it. Good for lots of other things though.

Dec 30, 2012 09:44 AM #18
Ambassador
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Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Eileen - Thanks for the heads-up.

Dec 30, 2012 09:48 AM #19
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