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The Top 6 Things Agents Need to Know about PDFs
PDF files are so prominent, you probably have at least one open on your computer screen right now. Many people utilize and share PDF files as documents or contracts in their business and daily life. Because at Tech Helpline we often get calls from real estate professionals asking about this file format, today we bring you the top six things real estate professionals need to know about PDFs. Read on to learn some quick basics that will help you harness your files in this type of format with more confidence.
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7 Google Sheet Templates for Real Estate Businesses
The secrets to take you from an organization zero to a real estate spreadsheet hero In the real estate world, there's no telling what will come up or what you'll have to tackle in any given day. Fire drills aside, it's crucial to have a base plan for your business. A cozy home of organized data to fall back on. But fret not. If you're not the savviest when it comes to spreadsheet sorcery, Google Sheets has you covered. They have a library of pre-made templates to help make organizing your business (and your workouts, finances...life!) much much easier.
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Life without a Fax Machine
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The Real Estate Top Producer's Filing System
They think we have an easy job! One of the things we read about in consumer-focused articles about a real estate career is that it is a great self-employment opportunity to make lots of money and take great vacations. NOT! It can get you down when even your customers and clients think that you're going to make a pot full of money in the few, short weeks you work with them. Disregarding the fact that you work with many more customers who never result in a commission, there is a lot more to this job than they think. However, you can make a great living—maybe even a pot full of money—in real estate. You just need to get your own real estate top producer's filing system.
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Using Cloud Storage Apps for Real Estate Client Service
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Paperless Files like a Pro: Fast, Efficient Document Management
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM PST This session will cover how to set up transaction templates and start a new transaction file while automatically associating forms and features to have more efficient and consistent files. We will also cover document management, how to link a document to an MLS listing, slice / merge and mark-up documents, as well as how to add sub-folders. Register now!
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7 Apps that Make Dealing with PDFs Easy
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Selecting the Right Document and Transaction Management Solution
Realtors no longer have to spend precious time making sure nobody missed a signature or driving across town to send an expensive FedEx package. Instead, significant productivity gains and expense reductions can be achieved by the use of electronic signatures for most transactions. While the benefits of going digital for document and transaction management are indisputable, Realtors need to be selective by asking some of the important questions listed in our Technology Guide before choosing a service provider. For instance, what security features does the document and transaction management provider offer? E-signature technology allows clients to easily complete purchase, sales, and financial documents from their computer or mobile device, but some companies are vague about exactly who can see or share the documents. Clients share highly sensitive personal and financial information and it is the Realtor's duty to ensure document security. The best electronic document and transaction services employ an encryption technology such as Secure Socket Layers (SSL) to prevent any unauthorized individuals or malicious third party services from accessing the information. In addition, the document and transaction management service provider should ensure that documents are tamper-proof through signature validation. For real estate transactions, it is important that documents are marked with time-stamped audit trails showing identity of individuals who accessed the documents and which device they used. Some companies also offer two-factor authentication that either probes the client to answer a secret question or texts a code to their mobile phone, which can further safeguard document access. Should an agent ever face a legal question, the proof of access timelines can protect the validity of the signatures.
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Best of 2015: How to Convert a Document to PDF in 3 Easy Steps
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How to Convert a Document to PDF in 3 Easy Steps
Need a quick, easy way to turn a document into a .PDF without having to pay for conversion software? You're in luck! If you have a Google account, you already have access to a free online tool that makes it a snap to change files to the format you need. (If you don't have an account, you can sign-up here.) One of the most underappreciated features of Google Drive is how it lets you convert documents to different file formats like rich text, plain text, Open Office, PDF, Microsoft Word, and more. It's a simple hack that anyone can do in just a couple of minutes. Here's how. Step #1: Upload a File for Conversion First, upload the document that you want to convert to Google Drive. To do this, click the orange New button and select File upload. Then browse to the file on your hard drive you want to convert and hit Open.
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This Overlooked eSignature Feature Can Enhance Your Customer Service
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Document and Transaction Management 101
Document management and transaction management represent two distinctly different product categories. However, some companies have chosen to offer solutions that combine the two categories into a single solution. Thus, we are discussing them together here. Borrowing from our previous article on this very subject, here's a quick review of these product categories. Document management technology is intended to help real estate professionals manage documents with functions that support: digitally storing documents, sharing documents with other interested parties, organizing documents, tracking the status of documents, and (in some instances) electronically signing documents. Transaction management products are intended to help real estate professionals manage a transaction through functions such as: contact management, a calendar tool, some degree of document management, and a wide variety of other features. It provides a collaborative space for working with all the parties to a transaction through tasks (for instance ordering home inspection, coordinating mortgage, etc.). Forms management is also often a component of products that fall into this category. Choosing the Right Tool If you're in the market for a document or transaction management platform, there are questions you can ask to evaluate which option is right for you, like: What is offered by my broker, MLS or Association? Your broker may work with a Transaction Coordinator and you'll want to be using the same solution they're using – it will make things easier for you and for them. The more people that use the same solution, the more effective it can be.
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Friday Freebie: Transaction Management from Reesio
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Friday Freebie: Realty Commander
Last month, we took our readers on a visual tour of transaction management platform Realty Commander. Though we covered most of the solution's features in depth, I don't think we put enough emphasis on just how user-friendly this program is. After all, however helpful an article and screenshots may be, nothing beats real, hands-on experience. Fortunately, Realty Commander offers a two week trial so agent and brokers can try it for themselves--at no charge. Free 14-day Trial of Realty Commander Realty Commander lives up to its tag line of "Automate. Track. Succeed." Color-coded calendars, built-in task lists, daily email reminders, integrated email with tracking, and more all work together to ensure your business runs smoothly. As we mentioned last month, Commander handles the varying needs of different file types with ease. For example, buyer files require things like showings and financing information, but listings need HOA and expiration dates. The program handily accommodates both. Commander also offers solid short sale features, like a HUD editor and a short sale package generator. Other notable features include: Customizable Task Management Paperless Document Management Smart Drag-and-Drop Calendar Lender Forms Library Client / Guest Access Login Showings Manager for Buyers and Listings Multi-User Access Levels for Teams or Brokers Broker Document Approval Guest Access Document Upload Click here to sign up for Realty Commander's free trial!
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Product Review: Form Simplicity
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Introducing Realty Commander
There's a wide variety of transaction management software on the market today. And it's no wonder--using a great solution is probably the easiest way agents can save themselves time and hassle, and better communicate with their clients. The key is finding the product that works best for you. Today, we'd like to introduce you to a transaction management solution that should be on the radar of any agent or broker. Realty Commander covers all the necessities of a solid transaction management platform--document sharing, task manager, calendars--but it's the extras that differentiate it. The solution excels in handling multiple different file types, like a buyer, regular listing or short sale. Other notable features include: Customizable File Flow Integrated Quick Search Daily E-Mail Reminders Task Management Paperless Document Management Smart Drag-and-Drop Calendar E-Mail Integration with Smart Tracking Lender Forms Library Short sale package builder HUD Editor Client / Guest Access Login Showings Manager for Buyers and Listings Multi-User Access Levels for Teams or Brokers
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Introducing Realty Commander
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Product Review: Form Simplicity
There is a world of solutions available to agents and brokers. It's no surprise, though--real estate is one of the largest sectors of our economy, and many technology companies have recognized our industry for the opportunity that it offers. While there are plenty of solutions offered by industry "outsiders," a smaller number are created by professionals with hands-on real estate experience. Today, we're going to introduce you to one such solution. Form Simplicity is a transaction management solution created by a professional real estate organization, Florida Realtors®. Its ongoing development is, in part, shaped by a panel of REALTOR® members who ensure that the program stays in step with what agents and brokers need to be successful. A Closer Look True to its name, Form Simplicity is simple. Right from the home page, users will notice its pared down interface that offers only what agents need to work fast.
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Cartavi Adds Gusto to Version 3.3
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The Cloud is for Collaboration
Most people are familiar with the Cloud primarily for its storage capabilities. From music and movies, to documents and other files, the Cloud has become the place for saving the things you care about but don't want to store on your computer. In industries like real estate, however, the Cloud also serves another essential purpose--collaboration. Real estate transactions involve many parties--not just agents and their buyer or seller clients. There are appraisers, loan officers, attorneys, and home inspectors, just to name a few. You can pick up the phone and call any of these people easily, but what happens when you need to share documents or have forms signed? Do you really want to drive all over town, or wrangle everyone's schedules to have a meeting in some central location? What if one of the parties lives out of the area? The solution is simple: take your collaboration to the Cloud. Web-based products for transaction management, document management, and electronic signatures make this possible. With mobile technology and the use of permissions to grant the appropriate level of access to the appropriate parties, Cloud technology can allow you to collaborate with anyone over any distance for a more efficient transaction. The best way to clarify this concept is to use some examples.
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Checklist: Going Digital
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Where are Your Tech Pain Points?
Real estate technology is all about "pain points." We recently heard this perspective from David Lester, Founder and CEO of Sequent Systems, and we asked him to talk a bit more about it. "Discomfort is a great motivator," David explains. "In that way, it serves an important purpose. In our industry, one of the common pain points seems to be managing the many documents associated with a transaction. Some people may be great at developing their own systems for staying organized, but most of us need help in that area. Technology is developed to address these pain points and help make business easier and more profitable for REALTORS®." But what if I have a lot of pain points? Most real estate professionals we know have a variety of factors that slow them down. We asked David what real estate professionals should do if they've got more than a single pain point. "Well," he says, "you're right; it's usually not as simple as a single source of frustration. That's why you often see people working with 10 different tools to address 10 different problems. Which, of course, creates a whole new world of pain. You've got people trying to remember which tool does what, forgetting 10 different usernames and passwords, and wasting a lot of time on redundant data entry. That's why I think the industry is moving toward integrated solutions."
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Choosing a Document and Transaction Management Solution
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Don’t Force It
We've talked about how to assuage the anxiety of technology-challenged clients, and that's an important conversation to know how to have. But a call we had today with Cartavi brought up another, equally important point: at the end of the day, you don't want to force it. Push too hard, too far, and your client relationship will break – not bend. It's All About Repeat Business As we've said time and again, repeat business is the key to being successful as a real estate agent. There are many ways to earn that repeat business. Certainly being tech savvy may be one of them, for SOME CLIENTS. But for any consumer, buyer or seller, young or old, the most important thing they'll remember is your customer service. While it's reasonable to explain the benefits of digital document delivery methods and electronic signatures, it won't help your customer relationship to be inflexible or to push too hard. Show respect and consideration to your clients at every step of the process. And if your client wants a document faxed or printed, go ahead and do so.
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"The Cloud" 101
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Friday Freebie: Real Estate Dashboard
GoPaperless Solutions is no stranger to our Friday Freebie series. Earlier this year, we featured their eSignOnline. Today, we bring you another freebie from GoPaperless – a 30-day free trial of their Real Estate Dashboard software, designed specifically for use on Tablet PCs. Free Trial of Real Estate Dashboard Now you can try the Real Estate Dashboard from GoPaperless Solutions for 30 days free. To sign up, you'll only enter your contact information – no credit card is required. A download link of the trial version is emailed to you for setup. With the trial version, you can import forms (PDF, Word, and Tiff files), fill them out, hand sign with clients, and email them out. The full version packs in these great features: Paperless document management: creating/managing digital files and folders, saved notes, imported forms, and imported contracts or documents Integrated fax and email: send or receive faxes anywhere, receive faxes by email, unique toll-free number Electronic signatures: biometric signatures use pen-to-paper simulation and web-based digital signatures use the integrated eSignOnline (with unlimited use). Work online or offline; no internet needed. Cloud sharing: view, download, or upload large files with permission based access for clients and contacts. Offsite backup: automatic secure backup that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Register for the free trial today at GoPaperless.com.
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Product Review: Instanet Solutions Suite
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Product Review: eSignDashboard for iPad
At the end of 2011, electronic signature and document management provider GoPaperless Solutions launched their eSignDashboard app for the iPad. You can check out our sneak peek of the app here: "Going Paperless and Mobile with the eSignDashboard iPad App." The company has recently released some updates to the app and we decided it was about time to create a quick product review. Take a Test Drive If an image is worth 1,000 words, then video must be worth 100,000. We think this video from GoPaperless is a great way to get introduced to the app. We Walk through the Basics We downloaded the app on our iPad (it is available in the app store). Following along with the training video, we began by creating a folder for a fake transaction. The next step would naturally be to add some documents for that transaction. Forms can be added via email or from the Internet ("From URL"). Now, this is pretty cool – when I searched for a W9 online and found a .pdf version AND when I clicked on an attachment to an email, I was automatically given the option to "Open in eSignDashboard." It was really easy.
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Document Management vs. Transaction Management
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Looking Forward with Austin Allison
We figure Austin Allison, CEO of DotLoop (www.DotLoop.com), is doing many things right. After all, DotLoop blows up our Google news alerts on a daily basis. The news tells us that Austin’s company is growing by  “loops” and bounds – unsurprising, once you get to know his product. So we decided to play “crystal ball,” and get Austin’s take on where the future of his company – and the real estate industry – will go. “The market is ripe for a solution that works,” says Austin.  “That is why DotLoop is growing at an unusually fast pace for this industry. This isn’t just blind optimism; we have every reason to believe that we can: Introduce new revenue streams. Reduce administrative time by 70%. Achieve a 100% savings on carbon copy/paper forms. Eliminate contract disputes. Eliminate document storage cost. Increase the number of deal conversions by 4 to 5 deals per year, per agent. This week DotLoop will be announcing another national brand partnership.  Also stay tuned for the largest DotLoop announcement yet at the NAR Convention and Expo starting this week. We will be announcing a new offering that people cannot afford to say ‘no’ too.”
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What Does Your Website Say About You?
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Are You Meeting Your Goals for 2011?
June is officially here, marking the middle of the year. It's time to start asking yourself if you've accomplished, or set the wheels in motion to accomplish, the goals set early in the year. For many Realtors®, that goal was to ditch traditional real estate practices and adopt the right technology solution to make their business interactive. The end of 2010 promised the future of real estate as more people were adopting smartphones and tablets – meaning Realtors® would quickly need to adopt a solution to meet prospective home buyer and seller demand.
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Going Paperless: A Smart Choice
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The Queue: A Look at RETechSouth, Bob Hale, and 4 New Technologies!
I have been to a conference or 12 this year. I had a chance to attend RE Tech South in the Atlanta suburbs this past week and for lack of a better analogy I am dubbing it the Roy Jones Jr. of real estate conventions. Pound for pound this was the best event of the year.          
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Are Electronic Signatures Right for Your Business?
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Cloud Computing and Social Media in Today's Business World
New technologies are always being released upon the public with promises of boosting efficiency and simplicity in our lives. However, for those who don’t consider themselves tech savvy, the world of new technology may seem overwhelming. It’s understandably difficult to keep up, especially for people who learned how to do their job before the digital age. Nevertheless, failing to keep up essentially gives competitors the upper hand. In most sectors of the business world, including real estate, one of the most important technological advancements of recent years is social media. Potential customers and clients are attaining information through online contacts that serve as references to make important decisions. They spend more time interacting with fellow users through online forums and groups because social media because it’s less formal and easy to use. The main reason why social media is so easy is because it incorporates cloud computing; using networks and software hosted by third parties.
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Need a New Year’s Resolution?
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Track My File
Track My File is currently marketed directly to real estate companies and they emphasize that what you get with Track My File is more than the product. They stress the importance of learning how to integrate transaction management processes into the business culture and their ability to help companies do this. The Document Management and Transaction Manager Product are combined. They pride themselves on offering a user-friendly system that all agents can use. Track My File is easy to navigate though the interface appears a bit dated. The Track My File team schedules a one-time consultation with new clients to get to know them, the processes they currently have in place and the way they work. Then they create custom software tailored to both the currently office requirements and workflow. This tailored, consultative approach sets Track My File apart from the competition in this regard where most vendors expect the client to adapt to their system.
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