I loved all of her apps and reviews and wanted to repost. . Since I am trying to find a transaction management program to use. This was just the information i was looking for Jennifer.
A few years ago, my PC hard drive failed on my Toshiba laptop....Along with that came the agony of losing everything I had. After many long hours trying to rebuild everything on my new Dell laptop, I determined there had to be a better way... So began my search for taking my biz completely to "cloud computing" - I was DETERMINED to no longer depend on a machine - or a backup system - to keep my business safe..
If you're not familiar with "cloud computing" - it basically means you're relying on online systems (most of which maintain massive back-ups and hi-end security) vs. relying on your machine's hard drive. It ALSO means that for today's technologically savvy agent, you no longer have to carry files - or even your own computer, for that matter, as you can access everything you need from your iPhone (or other smartphone), iPhone - or any computer - anywhere, anytime! Here are the systems that have revolutionized my business...(I don't claim to be a genius by any means - and there are TONS of great systems out there)
This is just one snapshot view of what can be done "in the cloud." Keep in mind that this research has been done over the past 12-18 months, and my main goal was low-cost (many times FREE) sources to help me innovate my business & simplify my life. SO - here goes:
1. Google & Google sync - what did I EVER do without Google sync? http://www.google.com/mobile/sync/
-What it does - this FABULOUS - and FREE sync feature syncs my calendars, contacts, notes, & email - between my assistant's PC, my MacBookPro, my husband's PC, my iPhone, my iPad AND my husband's Android phone.
-My review - I can't lie - this was a bit of an ordeal to set up on all my multiple devices - you choose who sees what (my assistant can view my personal calendar, my biz calendar, and also my beach rental property, so she can handle anything she needs to) - my husband only wants to see "blocked/busy time" on my work calendar - not the nitty gritty, so he can see when I'm booked & when I'm available - and we both have full access, of course, to our personal calendar...so if he books us for dinner with friends, within seconds, that event is shown on ALL devices. AMAZING!!! again - you choose who sees what & whether they can 'read-only' and/or add/edit calendars. This feature is a MUST have! AND - you do need a Google account (FREE), but you do NOT need to switch to gmail if you don't want to. Also LOVE that when I add a contact to my iPhone while out of the office, it's automatically nearly-instantly shown on all devices. (works the opposite direction as well, of course)
-Suggestion - I googled for help in setting this up - and also watched a number of YouTube videos showing me how to do this as easily & quickly as possible.
2. The Wise Agent - http://www.thewiseagent.com
-What it does - online real estate specific contact management, calendar, newsletter, transaction management, etc.
-My review - I've been using this for probably about a year or a little more now. I LOVE that it's completely virtual - and - you can have up to 5 users accessing for just $25/month currently. UNBELIEVABLE. This allows me, my assistant & my two buyer agents (with room to add one more) to all access the same info. at any point in time. (if you prefer not to share your account, you can certainly have everyone set up their own for $25/each per month). I'm a former Top Producer user, and this one has one me over. Nearly all the same features, for a FRACTION of the price! My assistant applies our transaction management checklists to each listing (&/or buyer transaction), & all of us can see where the process is at - anytime, anywhere. We can also assign tasks to one another, so it's SO easy to handle my team management this way!
-Suggestion - try it! You get 30 days free - AND they have 24 hour, 7 day per week customer service. FREE - You can't find that ANYwhere!
3. Dropbox - http://www.dropbox.com
-What it does - stores anything - photos, documents, etc. online
-My review - GREAT (free) app for iPhone too! I upload all my listing pix into Dropbox, then my assistant can pull them into our new listings. SUPER handy- and- doesn't slow down your computer because of big files being stored. I've only used the free version of this, and have never maxed out my allotted storage amount. I also store all of our generic, but needed paperwork on this site. (New Listing sheet, MLS change of status sheet, Listing presentation paperwork, utility cost sheets, basically any/all template type forms I use in biz. )
-Suggestion - try it! It's free! *NOTE* If you're on a Mac - they "drag & drop" feature is AWESOME! (ie - I download all pix to my MacBookPro, then with a quick "select all" - I drag them all into the new folder I created on Dropbox under Header "Seller Photos" - new folder named "123 Main St., Anywhere")
4. Google docs - http://www.docs.google.com
-What it does - basically the same as Dropbox - you can create files & store stuff online. Another GREAT feature - is that it also has easy-input stuff - (ie - I am an Excel dumbo, but the Google spreadsheets are easy enough even for me to use effectively!)
-My review - SO easy to use. Great on smartphones too with the Google app. downloaded.
-Suggestion - play around with it - it's free! If I'd found this first, I may not have checked into the other online storage sites - we're still playing with each of them to determine what we love best.
5. Box - http://www.box.net
-What it does - basically the same idea as Dropbox
-My review - my new assistant was used to this site, so I am playing with it a bit. Have found that I really like it for my beach house rental management. You can load all pictures & docs into one file, then email a secure link to the chosen file - to the tenants. (versus sending multiple documents or photos as attachments), nice iPhone app. too
-Suggestion - try it if you like!
6. PaperlessPipeline- http://www.paperlesspipeline.com
-What it does - Takes your business completely paperless!! ONLINE EVERYTHING FILE/TRANSACTION MANAGEMENT FOR OFFICES- This is the BOMB! Hard to explain - go to the site & watch the free videos.
-My review - One word - LOVE!!! I had the good fortune of meeting PP's owner/creator, Dane Maxwell, at the RE/MAX convention several years ago when he was creating this product. Dane has HEARD the needs of agents/offices - and married practicality, ease-of-use, and amazing innovation into this one product. The end result? ALL of my files - are now in Paperless Pipeline. The mobile site works great, too! This ONE product has allowed me to COMPLETELY overhaul my business. I no longer carry or maintain paper files - zip, zero, zilch. I literally go to closing with my iPhone or iPad. In the event I need to pull up a document, I can do so within seconds from the site - and can email it to the title agent to print if needed. (this has only happened ONCE in the 9 months or so I've been using this system). AND - traveling - one of my loves -is now bliss! NO MORE CARRYING BULKY FILES, BRIEFCASES, etc.. I can be sitting on the beach & someone calls me & needs paperwork - ie. home inspection - emailed....within seconds I'm logged into my PP & can email the specific document(s) they need from my iPhone. EASY! I'm personally loving not blowing through all the paper, laser toner, etc. that I previously consumed! Another great feature is that every single transaction has its own email address, so as someone emails me a document, I forward it directly (via email) into the transaction's Paperless Pipeline file for that property!
-Suggestion - HIGHLY recommend doing a trial run on this one. I am blessed to have an innovative Broker who actually researched this after I introduced it to him - and now our entire office is paperless as of Oct. 2010!
7. MetroFax - http://www.metrofax.com
-What it does - pretty obvious - but this is an online fax system
-My review - love it - $12.95/month, I have a toll-free fax #, and the faxes come directly into my email inbox. No privacy/security issues, or problems with faxes walking off of the company fax machine. To send docs, you just scan them, then upload them into MetroFax & send! Easy!
-Suggestion - if you haven't already moved away from paper faxing, consider this! Scanned docs. are SO much more legible!
8. ZipForms - http://www.zipformonline.com
-What it does - state-specific contract form packages
-My review - love it! I used RealFast, then RealFast2Go - for the past 10 years. ZipFormOnline seems much more in-tune with today's technology. All forms are updated automatically, so you are automatically using the current form versions!
-Suggestion - ESPECIALLY if you're still using carbon-copy contracts, please consider checking this out! You'll thank me later!
9. Docusign - http://www.DocuSign.com
-What it does - electronic signature service
-My review - where have you been all my life?! Wowza - the days of running all over town chasing down people for signatures on addendums, contracts, etc. - are OVER! This has to be one of THE biggest time (and gasoline!) savers ever! Here's where it gets technologically crazy - let me give you a few examples:
1. (real life) Seller A is in town, Seller B has already relocated to new state or town. Buyer A works 11p-7a, Buyer B works 8a-5p. Dilemma - you have paperwork that needs signed by everyone. Follow me, here. In this scenario, I'm the listing agent. Buyer's agent (not a member of DocuSign) emails me an unsigned addendum with her buyers' requested "Reply to Inspections" (would take her 24-48 hours to be able to connect with both of her Buyers for physical signing). I review (phone call) the Buyers' requests. My Sellers are in agreement. I take the emailed Addendum from Buyer Agent, upload into Docusign, then here's how it goes -Addendum uploaded into DocuSign -> email to Buyer A & Buyer B for signing (as order #1, and with Buyer Agent/Buyer permission, of course) Buyer A & Buyer B both log on to their email (from home or work), take a minute to read/review & sign. Once both buyers have signed, the addendum goes directly to Seller A & Seller B for signing (as order #2), then as order #3, I have it scheduled to arrive directly into the PP transaction file for that property, and also as order #3 to be emailed as a "cc" to the Buyer Agent so they have a fully executed copy. Voila! I get notification that all parties have signed the document & I haven't had to touch it, or remember to upload it.
2. Next example - (real life) 3:30 pm the day before closing a 10 a.m. short sale listing, (due to a last-minute judgment showing up), the title company notifies me we are "short" $2500 from what the bank needs to net per the approval they've given us. By 3:45, everyone is assuming we need to reschedule, since there's "no way" we'll get this resolved quickly enough to settle at 10 a.m.. With a call to the Buyer Agent, (who notifies me Buyer is at work until 7pm), agent calls her buyer. Buyer agrees to increase price by $2500. Buyer agent (not a member of DocuSign) emails me the Addendum. I upload to DocuSign, send to Buyer at work email addy (order #1), to Seller A, to Seller B to sign as order #2, to buyer agent, lender & title company, and Seller's lender as order #3 (cc), to Paperless Pipeline as order #4 (cc). Buyer agent called buyer & asked her to open & sign asap, and I did the same for my sellers. Can I just say - by 4:15, we had the addendum signed by all parties, AND closed the next morning at 10 a.m.! Needless to say, that agent is now a member of DocuSign. This could NOT have been done under my "old" biz practices of running around & collecting signatures, and we would have had to delay settlement!
Hope these ideas may help you innovate your business! Feel free to contact me with questions. If you decide to check into any of these services, please let them know how/where you heard about them. Most businesses like to track their source of business. I don't get anything out of it - except they'll know I endorse the great things they've done for me!
Jennifer King, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CIAS, CRS, GRI
Lancaster County PA
Selling Indy Metro, LLC
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Shannon M Thomas NAR Short Sales and Foreclosure Certification
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