Category Archives: Technology for Real Estate

Resolutions: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

baby-new-year1Well folks, it looks like another year is in the books. And as we await the arrival of baby new year, we all tend to ask ourselves: are we going to resolve anything from 2015 for the prospect of a fantastic 2016? Chances are, that answer is yes. There is always room for improvement and it’s this time of year that brings to light all the changes we feel need to be addressed. Health, personal relations, and money are generally at the tops of said changes.

We all know that business for us in the real estate industry slows down in the colder winter months, so this is a perfect time to take stock in what we currently have, and what we need in order to fine tune our business practices to ensure continued success. As a real estate agent, this isn’t your typical 9 to 5 career. There are three arenas that we use in everyday business: an office, the field and an online presence. We can’t let one of these areas slip through the proverbial cracks or our production will suffer. So why not take a moment to re-evaluate what resolutions need to be put into place to make sure you will begin into the new year ready for anything.

First, let’s look at your office. Does your office project a confident, well-organized agent? Is finding necessary documents on your desk simple or more like a game of Marco Polo? Every professional needs to have a clean, organized office to conduct business in. Start with your desk and move outwards. There are literally tons of organizational equipment at your disposal. A desktop organizer, file cabinet and a little shelving will not only present your skills in a professional light, but a good filing system will also make you seem ready for any situation. So take advantage of the newest technologies available to give your office a bit of a makeover. Streamlining your equipment will only improve the daunting task of keeping up with client paperwork.

Speaking of clients, the next area to consider streamlining is how you conduct yourself out in the field. An agent’s on-the-go lifestyle makes running back to the office for forgotten necessities an impossibility. You need to have everything you need within arm’s reach at the drop of a hat, and before technology, it meant lugging around lots of lots of paperwork in the trunk of your car. Today, this isn’t the case. Now everything can be in the palm of your hand if you have the latest equipment. But it isn’t just about a smartphone and a lightweight electronic notebook. You will always need brochures & flyers, a digital camera and who knows? You may even enjoy writing your notes down with a pen & paper. What you need is a fantastic case to carry along with you to showings and client meetings. It should be roomy enough for all of your basic needs, but organized enough that it doesn’t end up looking like a child’s backpack at the end of the day. Having all of your specific tools with you at all times will make any meeting go smoother and will present you as a capable real estate agent ready to help your client any way you can.

Lastly, consider where you’re storing your business. These days, it seems as though everyone is working off of the internet, in something called the “cloud”. What is this cloud everyone speaks of? Well, it’s basically a more efficient way of keeping all of your records electronic and at your fingertips. Having contracts, forms and digital signatures electronic takes all of the thumbs out of flash drives, misplaced emails and backup storage devices. Everything is online and easily accessible, thereby making any document you need ready at a moment’s notice. And when your business revolves around always being on the go, considering these online tools really is a choice worth considering. It isn’t as complex and scary as it looks. So as we are days from the beginnings of a new year, consider stepping out of your comfort zone if it means a stress-free prosperous 2016.

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Getting Your Ducks in a Row

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One thing we know for sure…being a real estate agent means having MOUNTAINS of paperwork at any given moment. And no one likes dealing with paperwork so it is generally just piling up as each stage of the selling/buying process continues. We know we have to keep paperwork around in case of a dispute or audit, but sometimes it almost seems impossible to keep up with it. Everyone has a different way to organize their office but here is a quick and easy way to stay on top of your desktop mountain, while making every client easy to reference.

Invest in binders and organization tabs in bulk. Not only are they tax-deductible (save that receipt), but they will keep each client separate and easy to access at a moment’s notice. Simply put a label on each binder spine with the client’s name and date. The tabs will break down each step of the selling/listing agreement, so break each category down to make finding a certain piece of paperwork really easy. Tab labels that are handy to have around? Client profile, listing details, notes, loan or escrow documents, and closing paperwork are just a few of the tabs that would be useful in each client binder.

Now that you have your system in place, it is time to put it to use. This is where it gets tricky. Because the way to best utilize this system is to keep on top of it all. Yeah, I know…that’s easier said than done. I get it. But it is absolutely necessary in order to keep your ducks in a row. Create a binder as soon as you sign a contract and keep the binder with you whenever you are working with that client. As you complete a stage in the process, add the paperwork to the binder directly. The sooner you add it to their binder, the less chance you have of misplacing said paperwork. Once the transaction closes, go through the entire binder to make sure you have included everything you need in it, then store it away. Doing this right away will ensure everything is all together and not lost in your paperwork abyss.

Storage is the final decision to make your new-found system complete. This generally depends on your office situation. If you work in an office, maybe there’s a spot available for storage. Fire-resistant cabinets or storage units are other options. If you have gone paperless, make sure you have a proven backup system in place to save all your transactions. The experts in the industry suggest that at any given time you should have a backup of all essential information on three types of media. It can be a jump drive, an external hard drive, and ‘the cloud’, such as Dropbox. Nothing is worse than losing your clients’ database because you missed scheduled backup and proper storage wasn’t considered.

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Selling Homes on the Go

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To be successful in anything you do, preparation is involved. We need to be ready for anything at any time in order to prove that we are right for the job. Before the electronic age ravaged our society, everything was dealt with at a much slower pace. Today, that’s not the case.

We all know that the real estate world is a very interactive profession. Not only are you trying to get your brand out to the public as much as possible, but your properties need to reach your client base as well. Clients are no longer willing to wait for an appointment, or for you “to get back with them.” A study done by National Assoc. of Realtors and Google revealed that 89% of new-home shoppers are using mobile search engines & apps for all of their house-hunting needs. They want answers and they want answers now.

This put a realtor in a position to be always Boy Scout ready. And since we can only do so much as a human, we are now relying more on technology. No longer are the days of lugging around tons of paperwork. Now a realtor needs to lug around a smartphone & a tablet, and consequently, extra batteries & chargers. It really is a magical time!

But with all power comes great responsibility. And with this immediacy, you are now expected to have all the answers at your fingertips. Thankfully, there are tools our there to prepare you for everything.

Cut to the chase

The majority of Gmail & Yahoo email users check their emails via a mobile device, so grabbing their attention needs to be direct and to the point within the subject line & header. Otherwise, it can easily be overlooked and/or deleted, thereby wasting all your hard work. Keep it simple. Stay in touch with your virtual clients via our csutom e-newsletter: it is the same as getting the printed version, but paperless.

Your mobile office

Apps like Dropbox & Evernote are just a couple of the endless list of apps available for you to keep all of your paperwork, files, & contact information at your fingertips. Faxes should be sent to your email, as opposed to the machine in your office. These days, your office needs to be virtual, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Showing houses the virtual way

Additionally, the virtual showing of a home is no longer a fantasy, but the way of the future. Programs like Facetime & Skype are allowing agents to show a property to a client without them being there. Take pictures & videos of your listings so your client base can view virtual tours on your website. The easier a buyer can navigate through the home-buying process, the more successful you will be. So take full advantage of the incredible advances created to streamline life as a realtor…just don’t forget to sync up.

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