So, you’re a real estate professional, eh?
If you’re anything like the ones I’ve met, you’re busy, on-the-go around the clock, and always hoping for ways to streamline and improve your processes. You know, to make things nice and easy, clear and simple, straightforward and intuitive. Unfortunately, all too often, you’ve likely been forced to lug around a briefcase filled with paperwork as you move from deal to deal, house to house, too busy to define and improve upon your real estate best practices.
Case in point, the last time I signed a lease for an apartment, I met the realtor at the apartment, and we conducted a walkthrough of the property. We talked about minor details and I offered to take the lease. She stepped out to her car and returned with a bulging leather briefcase, from which she dug through for a seemingly long time and finally withdrew a contract and placed it on the kitchen counter in my soon-to-be apartment. Extracting a pair of bifocals from her purse and planting them firmly onto her nose, she then took me, line by line, through the whole contract. All 30 pages. It took a while, and by the end of it, I'd wasted half a day and so had she -- on a sale she had already closed!
Looking back, I’m thinking that realtor would have better results – and less to lug around – if she were to make use of a little technology. I mean, she had an iPhone, but what was it, just a place for Candy Crush? She didn’t seem to be using any apps at all, certainly not the sexy, cloud-based ones for streamlining her real estate sales functions.
But she could.
Specifically, she could turn her leasing and mortgage agreements paperless, store them in the cloud, and spare her lessees and future homeowners the displeasure of wading through the agreement accompanied by her dry, legalese narrative. She could then update the lease with any changes and get it signed right then and there!
In the cloud and on the move
That property manager seemed like she needed to get to her next deal in a hurry. (Let’s be serious, during this housing crisis, she’s not alone.) Instead, she was bogged down by having to close the deal with me, an already done deal. Plus, I, her client, was in a hurry to go do anything other than wade through the various boring clauses found in a fairly standard-issue leasing agreement. The episode did little to foster initial rapport between lessor and lessee, and I can tell you, I don’t think I’d work with her next time I’m ready to move.
Why put your clients through all that? You can play it smart by using a smartphone or tablet and a selection of easy-breezy apps to mobilize the real estate process.
Mobilize and conquer!
Taking your real estate business mobile lets you load your documents and track them, right from your mobile device. With the right selection of real estate apps, you can carry everything you need with you, ready at a moment’s notice. There are many great apps for real estate professionals and consolidating all the key aspects of your business, right to your mobile device.
Six priceless real estate apps
Truila – Quick access to listings.*
Supra eKey – Unlock homes to show on short notice.
MagicPlan – Make floor plans with ease.
Top Producer – Keep up with your real estate contacts and manage related tasks.
Real Estate Calc: Mortgage & Home Loan Qualification Calculator – For reasonable estimates of mortgage rates and local taxes.
PandaDoc – Import documents from anywhere, send, track, negotiate, and sign contracts, on the move. Track versions, annotations.
There are many apps out there for real estate, but going by the app store reviews, you’ll find these above to be among the highest rated.
What do real estate apps enable you to do?
Show a Property
When you mobilize, your real estate showings can happen wherever you need them to, at your desk or over lunch, even in the parking lot picking your kids up from school.
Everyone is shopping for real estate online, so you’re sure to be familiar with creating a virtual listing. But you might not think about your iPhone or tablet as a virtual portfolio of your listed properties – one that goes where you go. Harness that power to take your clients on a digital walk-through of a long list of potential homes, giving them an inside view of each listing and saving you the gas and time wasted driving them around town, showing places they might only like from the outside. MagicPlan really is magic for this.
The benefits of mobilizing your real estate business aren’t limited to the digital space. When you do finally arrive for a walkthrough, apps like eKey and Real Estate Calc become more imminently handy. eKey will help you get your clients in and out of the property rapidly, and a real estate calculator will help you estimate their payments (which is always the “big question”) rapidly.
Document the Deal
Once you’ve shown the home property virtually, it’s time to show the property in person. Your mobile device is your friend here yet again.
You probably know by now that the Internet has changed the real estate game in many of the same ways it has changed other industries. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
42 percent of homebuyers last year found their home through the Internet. Only 34 percent of buyers found their home through real estate agents.
Not surprisingly, though, the same data shows that 89 percent of buyers and renters still interact with a real estate agent or broker before closing. (Phew, right?) But that means you need to be prepared to bring a Internet-age-ready sense of ease, efficiency and action to your dealings -- we're all less patient.
When you show a property in person, all you have to take is your iPad or tablet, as opposed to the full contents of a boring old file cabinet. You end up looking much more together and professional with one iPad than you would with stacks of paper. That means no more bulging briefcases stuffed with bloated manila folders, when you mobilize your real estate documents.
It’s a pain in the butt to go through each step of a Word document to update to your newest client, fussing over formatting that never truly looks professional, and outsourcing to a law firm is costly. Automate your real estate contract creation, by using real estate contract templates or create your own template out of a past, allowing you to update just that essential info, without having to reworking spacing and margins... again.
That’s where you’ll uncover the value of PandaDoc, which puts all those documents in the cloud and at your disposal, via your mobile device, a more intuitive way of handling documents.
Negotiating an Agreement
Your clients are more likely to read something on their smartphones or tablets (perhaps at times and places you’d rather not know about), than if they have to download and read multiple versions.
Realtors and brokers communicate frequently throughout the process of closing a real estate transaction. Often, the negotiations get heated, and little details have to be hashed out. Buyers and sellers can exchange numerous offers and counteroffers. You’ve probably seen more than your share of issues, questions, and concerns rise between buyers and sellers. Your ability to respond rapidly to all the people involved can make or break the deal.
And we've all juggled multiple copies of documents. PandaDoc blissfully tracks versions and annotations, so you can get down to the nitty gritty of the negotiation, fast and easy.
Finally, when your client opens your contract, you receive an email notification, telling you when your client has looked at what part and for how long. No more thinking they want one thing, when really they're stressing over pricing.
Closing the Sale
You can also mobilize your real estate closings. Not only will doing so help with documenting and tracking your sales, but you can improve your close rate by using your mobilized approach to create a sense of urgency.
If you’ve been in real estate long at all, you know the value of creating urgency in a deal. Put a little pressure on them and add a deadline to your contract. Let them know that they have to decide in two days or you’ve got other buyers/renters waiting in the wings.
Don’t give them time to change their minds! Let them electronically sign right then and there on your handy-dandy iPad or tablet! In many countries, a digital signature is just as binding as the paper-and-pen type. It just happens to be a whole lot more efficient.
Sign, Sealed, Delivered
Of all the apps on our list above, PandaDoc, in particular, comes in handy when it comes time to sign. The app lets you capture legally binding digital signatures, on demand. Using drag-n-drop-anywhere signature fields, you can add signature blanks anywhere. Then, you can set the order of signees, so after you get that lease signed, it’ll automatically send to your notary, their lawyer or witness. No waiting for the endless download, print, sign, scan, re-upload shuffle, which can only lead to disorganization at best, someone changing their mind at worst.
When the deal is ready to close, you can then ask the lessee for their email address and in a snap, send a leasing agreement to them, wirelessly. You can shake hands and head to the next client. When the lessee gets home, they can read through, leave comments and/or digitally sign the contract. You can even require the lessee to initial line items, saving you from having to explain each clause.
More reasons to mobilize your real estate life
Mobilization will help you stay on top of the local real estate scene, but it can also help you make sales from faraway places. This is of particular interest as more and more homebuyers from China look to the US and European nations when shopping for a new home. Fully embracing the digital age and backing up your support with mobile-readiness helps you be prepared for the sale, wherever it happens to come from.
The Internet allows people from anywhere in the world to scope out real estate anywhere else they plan to move or travel to. The web has helped in this regard, but when it comes to back-and-forth negotiations and signing offers, again, things can get slowed down.
Earlier this year, my mother sold a house through a large local agency in Georgia, U.S.A. The home was listed on the agent’s website, just like a million other houses. Like any house, it was shown to local people several times. The house attracted a few solid nibbles right away, but no bites, which I imagine to be the standard routine for any real estate professional. The listing hung on, people came to look every now and then. But no one wanted to actually buy the house and close the deal.
Turns out, part of the problem was that her real estate agent was, like most, too busy. As anyone in sales, the agent's time was better spent on the street than behind a desk, however, that meant that she was missing the leads pouring in from the website. She replied to emails about once a week -- not an acceptable response time in this housing market. She had taken the time to create an online listing, but not the time to follow up on these super qualified leads, who, of course, were only going to buy a house from someone who responded to them.
If the agent had properly streamlined and mobilized the real estate process, she could have all that perspective client info right in a client relationship manager (CRM) in her digital world and could have followed up quickly.
It ended up, the listing was up for months, we weren't too optimistic, but then, suddenly, the Internet came through.
To the surprise of everyone involved, the agent’s phone rang and on the other end was a buyer ready to pay cash, having never seen the house in person. The call came from Illinois.
The buyer had the cash in this economic time so we assumed the Chicagoan was a busy business man. But instead of him being able to just eSign and get it down, the real estate agent began a torrent of faxes and overnight shipments of documents. It took another couple weeks as minutia was negotiated. Eventually mom's house was sold and that peace of mind in the end was worth all the stress. Of course selling your home is stressful, but I just don't believe it had to be that stressful.
Simplify your life: mobilize the real estate process
I can just imagine how quicker it would have sold if the real estate agent had been modern and mobilized.
Mobilization lets you work with scanned documents, putting them in the cloud in a flash. No fax machine needed. That alone would have probably saved that agent from a lot of stress from this single real estate deal alone.
But that’s not the only way mobilization would have helped in that situation. There were several points when issues were raised and follow up needed to happen. Had the agent been sending the documents via PandaDoc and had she had access to the invaluable analytical tools within it, she would have known right away which piece of information had stalled the progress of the sale, because she would have received a notification that the document had been viewed and the app would have also told her where the recipient left off. She then could have started the legwork of addressing the concern more quickly. She could even have annotated the sections of the offer that needed to be addressed to hammer out the sale more efficiently.
Together with a handful of must-have real estate apps, that agent would have a much happier life, if I had to guess.
Are you ready to mobilize your real estate business?
I can just imagine how much quicker mom's house would have sold if the real estate agent had been modern and mobilized.
If you’re a real estate professional, I’d imagine I’m just scratching the surface compared with what you’ve actually witnessed. Real estate ain't easy – and the obstacles simply seem to keep surmounting. While a property purchase is a once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime event for us Average Joes, it’s an everyday thing for real estate professionals.
But if you mobilize your real estate operations, you’ll take away a lot of the pressure in your day to day. Real estate is challenging, especially in the current global economy, so every competitive advantage you can gain will help you close more sales. The faster you work, the faster you sell.
Chances are you already have the tool right in your pocket -- you've just got to start using it (for sales, not Candy Crush.)
What tech tricks make your day run smoothly as a real estate professional? What stresses would you like to reduce to make your life easier?