In working with consulting clients in the real estate space, I've noticed a common question for those agents who are trying to go paperless with their processes: Where is the best place to store my transaction files?
And, when I asked this question in the Evernote for Real Estate group on Facebook (where there is a large population of real estate agents striving for a paperless transaction), the response was active and diverse, with no clear winner. Applications such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Dotloop, DocuSign Transaction Room, and more each appeared multiple times with some agents using one and others using more than one.
Although there may not be a "right" answer to which application is best to store your transaction files, there certainly are pros and cons to the different options and these options impact the workflow of the transaction for the Realtor. Instead of clarifying what agents do, the answers provided by the Realtors prompted more questions:
- Why do you select one over the other?
- What are the other parts of your system and how do they interact with your transaction file storage?
- What are the efficiencies you gain from the solution you've chosen?
- What bottlenecks or frustrations do you experience with your file storage system?
- And more...
What is an agent to do?
The proper solution for managing a digital transaction really lies in an agent's workflow process design (not surprising - you must have a strategy!) and must take in to consideration all the systems that an agent uses, many of which have overlapping functionality and features. Agents, particularly those focused on efficiency and scalability of their system, must make clear choices about what software tool they are using for their processes. And, there are many factors that will influence these choices:
- How the agent works - Do they work alone, as half of a partnership, do they have an assistant, are they part of a high volume team?
- How many transactions do they manage a year? The solution for an agent that deals with 10 transactions a year vs an agent team that deals with 200 transactions a year might be different, even if they are both "digital" in their processes.
- The cost of a solution and the budget of the agent.
- The software of the brokerage and the software systems the agents must use to be compliant with the broker.
- How does your chosen solution interact with your other application and workflow systems like your email, calendar, CRM, etc.
- What is the long term prospects of the software and applications you are choosing? Do you own your data? Can you extract your information? Will the company be in business in 10 years?
- What are the security implications of each application you choose?
- And more....
I'm interested in the conversation around what is the most effective digital workflow for a real estate agent. And, I think there is a need to have a deeper discussion about the pros and cons of the different solutions so that agents and brokerages can make informed choices about the digital workflows they have, or are putting, in place.
Given my love of Evernote, I'm particularly interested in how to best apply Evernote to the business of real estate. I know that without a doubt, Evernote is an invaluable tool for any small business to assist in managing, organizing, accessing, and collaborating (I for one, couldn't run my business without it). But, for a real estate agent, is it the only software needed to manage a real estate transaction? I believe Evernote has a place in the business operation of a Realtor, but Evernote may or may not be the right storage solution for a Realtor's transaction files. It is clear from my question to the group, that there are those that say yes, and those that say no. I want to explore more.
Let's have a conversation
With that in mind, I'm going to be starting a series of hangout discussions with different Realtors around the country who use different solutions for managing the digital workflow and storage needs of their business.
In the first of a series of discussions I will be having about this topic, I'm going to be chatting with Dean Oulette - active Realtor, and author of Evernote for Real Estate. Dean has a process for managing his transaction files in Evernote and we are going to get into the details of that and discuss how and why he has the Evernote centric storage and workflow solution he does. I invite you to join our Google hangout on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014. It will be recorded, and you can find the replay at the Get Untethered YouTube channel once posted.
From there, I'll be exploring the other storage solutions in an attempt to better assist the real estate community in deploying efficient and effective digital workflow solutions.
Stay tuned, and I hope you'll join the conversation. Start by letting me know what digital storage systems you use in the comments. I'll focus on the most popular first.