Real estate agents and brokers know that having a paperless transaction management program is a must-have to remain competitive, compliant and become more productive. But there’s another huge benefit to a paperless real estate transaction that is often overlooked: it’s remarkably Earth-friendly.
Being more eco-friendly remains important to a vast majority of Americans. In fact, 79% of Americans “agree that they consider themselves an environmentally conscious person,” while only 6 percent strongly disagree, according to a Harris Poll conducted last year.
The impact of paper
Consider for a moment, the amount of paper the average real estate agent handles during a single typical transaction, from the marketing materials and often hardcopy of a CMA at a listing presentation, to the contract, addendums, title, appraisal and documents at the closing table, the stack of paper would likely be as thick as an old telephone book for a major city!
Now think about the fact that there are typically 5-6 million new and existing homes sales each year, and the fact that the typical sales transaction still provides multiple sets of paper documents for all the parties involved, and we are talking a huge negative impact on our environment.
Now according to experts, it takes a little more than half a tree to make 10 reams of 100 percent, non-recycled 20-lb. copier paper. One ream of 500 sheets of paper uses about 6 percent of a tree. The bottom line is that if every real estate agent went paperless, we could potentially save millions of trees each year.
But the positive impact on our environment is even greater when an agent and broker use paperless transaction management. That’s because the amount of energy savings also is huge. To produce one ton of paper, or about 400 reams, it takes more than 11,000 kilowatts of energy: that’s about the same amount of energy the average household uses in 10 months! Continue reading
Moving into a new home is always one of the most stressful times in one’s life. Home buyers have many decisions to make during the months leading up to buying a new home as well as the three months following the move. There are movers to hire, utility services to call, appliance pricing to do, and furniture selections to make. These are just a few of the multiple decisions facing home buyers as they look for moving offers along the way.
REALTORS® provide their clients with a bevy of expertise. They research properties, execute marketing plans, offer financing advice, the list goes on and on. However, when it comes to purchases needed for the new home itself, home buyers are often left to their own devices.
According to a 2016 New Mover Report, home buyers start their purchasing decisions, other than buying the home itself, up to three months prior to moving into their new home. For example, three months prior they will begin thinking about if they are going to purchase cable, or instead, if they should cut the cord completely. Ultimately, they end up making the decision one month prior to moving.
The top three sources, cited in the report, for new movers’ purchasing decisions come from 1) the vendor itself from driving around the neighborhood 2) friends and family referrals and 3) Internet searches. Nearly 71% of new movers made major purchasing decisions around the time of their move, with furniture topping the list as the most expensive purchase followed closely by appliances. Continue reading
Millions of real estate agents have already gone paperless by using a transaction management solution; today, brokers also can streamline many of their most essential business management processes digitally as well, if they adopt the right broker transaction management program.
One of the key drivers for deciding on which broker transaction management program a brokerage or MLS should select for their agents is a deep dive into what that transaction management solution does for brokers, as well as what it costs. That’s because there is a significant difference between offerings today in terms of the tools, costs, and benefits for brokers.
Built-in Broker Tools
Last year, Form Simplicity, one of the real estate industry’s most popular and advanced paperless transaction solutions – and created for Realtors by Realtors – added Broker Transaction Management features. From a single place inside Form Simplicity, brokers can manage, review, approve, track and store every agent’s transaction activity from beginning to end. While some transaction managements charge extra for these broker tools for the peace of mind they deliver, Form Simplicity integrates all these broker features at no extra cost.
For a broker, the benefits from these built-in features are big, especially when it comes to compliance. Form Simplicity Real Estate Management Software brokers tools helps reduce risk through a customizable, automated, paperless review process to help brokerages remain compliant. Moreover, brokers are operating in a collaborative environment, working digitally with each agent throughout the transaction process to ensure accuracy across the streamlined workflow. At their fingertips, brokers can see email and text correspondence for every transaction; that transparency gives brokers visibility into each agent’s transaction activity, and allows brokers to evaluate, comment on and approve all forms digitally submitted by their agents. Continue reading
In Part Two of this two-part series that looks at how electronic signatures work inside a transaction management solution, Tricia Stamper of Florida Realtors shows what the signature experience looks like from a home buyer or seller’s point-of-view.
One of the most powerful ways to quickly engage a new client is to show them something that will “wow” them. Digital signing can have that “wow” factor, particularly with home buyers and sellers who are used to signing paper real estate documents. The fact is, the more experienced your client is with a standard, paper-filled real estate transaction, the more they are going to appreciate – and be delighted with – the digital signing process.
And that’s a big misnomer in real estate: that somehow, your clients have to be tech-savvy to want to sign documents digitally. The only real impediment is not technology. The real barrier is the resistance we all have to doing something that we have never done before: the fear of the unknown. But if you show your clients what the digital signing process is like, and explain the incredible benefits it provides for them, you will find that every one of your customers, no matter what age or level of experience with new technology. In fact, digital signing is no longer considered a nice feature to offer. It has become so pervasive that buyers and sellers are expecting their agents to make it available to them, and not just Millennials.
Let’s look at how digital signing works for the consumer using Form Simplicity, a leading transaction management program that is Realtor-created and supported. The move towards a paperless transaction with Form Simplicity helps unlock the chains that keep agents tied to their desktop computers by giving agents access to all their documents from anywhere with Internet connection, anytime. With eSign built-in, Form Simplicity demonstrably improves the customer signing experience. Digital signing reduces both the time to sign and the number of errors. It eliminates the 11th hour scramble to get a missing signature, an unpleasant experience that can frustrate you, your customer and be incredibly stressful. Continue reading
In Part One of this two-part series in looking at how electronic signatures work inside a transaction management solution, Tricia Stamper of Florida Realtors shows what the experience looks like from an agent’s point of view. In Part Two, Stamper will show what the signature experience looks like from a clients’ point-of-view.
Going paperless is the fastest way for agents and brokers to improve their businesses, increase their profitability and give clients a better experience. Real estate is a mobile industry and agents are always on the go: in their home office, in their car, or meeting with clients at their home.
Today, by using a transaction management program such as Realtor-created and supported Form Simplicity, agents and brokers have the mobile tools to put contracts together anywhere. Agents are no longer chained to their desk and with Form Simplicity’s integration with eSign, electronic signatures can save every agent literally hours per transaction. That translates into increased profitability and productivity for agents.
Let’s first take a look at how easy and fast it is for an agent to use eSign technology, as shown inside Form Simplicity:
First, an agent can create an eSign session and quickly auto-populate their client information from the transaction contacts already inside Form Simplicity: (If the contact is not already in Form Simplicity, the agent can manually add them later in the process.)
This week, Realtors throughout the Sunshine State will assemble in Orlando for a meeting that is literally 100 years in the making. “Celebration100” is the Florida Realtors® annual Convention & Trade Expo, taking place Aug. 24-28, 2016, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.
It’s going to be a convention for the ages, from a 100th Birthday Party celebration featuring America’s number one private party band “Party On The Moon,” to the General Session featuring Jay Leno, the 22-year host of “The Tonight Show,” who is considered one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time.
The schedule is jammed-packed with three days of courses, meetings, and educational sessions that will explore the hottest topics of the day. The complete schedule with times and locations is online here.
Meet Us at the Expo
You’ll find our Tech Helpline Internet Café onsite, where you can check email, get technical help from one of our experienced Tech Helpline analysts, or ask the Tech Helpline experts about Form Simplicity, MLSAdvantage, IDX or Florida Living Network.
At the Form Simplicity booth, we can demo the broker tools for you or answer any of your questions. For a little recreational fun, challenge one of our staff members to a foosball table or arcade game.
You’ll find both our Form Simplicity and Tech Helpline teams in the foyer in front of the Sebastian Ballroom where the Trade Expo is located.
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When you think of exceptional customer service companies, brands such as Apple, Amazon and Nordstrom immediately come to mind for most people. It’s interesting that companies that are the best in their category are often known for having the best customer service. They also typically have the best products, processes or services, but it is the customer service component that resonates with most of their remarkably loyal fans and followers. Their customers often rave about their experiences, becoming unpaid company evangelists.
For Form Simplicity, Brenda Ghibaudi is one of its biggest champions. When you ask the Florida 1st Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, located in South Florida, about the support she receives, she will tell you that Form Simplicity ranks beyond triple-A: “I would rate them, compared to any other customer service or tech support, a quadruple A,” she says.
It is the little things that add up to big benefits for Brenda, she explains. “They are welcoming when you call — and they call me by my first name when they answer the phone. And they treat you great, regardless if you are tech savvy or not real techie at all; they are like chameleons in which they adjust to the level of the person who is calling in,” she adds. Brenda also loves the fact that she can spend a Sunday at home, and if she’s catching up on work and has a problem with a form, auto populating for example, she knows help is only a phone call away. “Being available seven days a week saves me a lot of time,” she adds. Continue reading
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The real estate industry today is Internet dependent. Agent and company websites, company intranets, MLS access, and back office systems all require agents and brokers to go online to manage these resources. So must the American homebuyer too, as more than 90% of all real estate home searches begin online.
Perhaps the most important software tool that enables the Internet is the one that’s also taken for granted: your Internet browser. For years, real estate agents’ favorite browser has been Internet Explorer from Microsoft. Unless you were a Mac user, when you bought your PC, Internet Explorer was automatically your browser and the vast majority of agents simply never switched. Additionally, many MLSs were only compatible with Internet Explorer, adding to many agents’ reliance on IE.
Even with the sun setting of support for Internet Explorer’s older versions and IE 11 being replaced by Edge as the Windows 10 default browser, agents have been tentative to switch to a different browser. According to the NAR REALTOR Technology Survey, while the use of Internet Explorer dropped from 50 percent to 38 in the most recent survey, it was still the number one browser for agents, with Google’s Chrome coming in at 32 percent, Firefox at 16 and Apple’s Safari at 9 percent. However, among the American public, Chrome is the most popular browser, according to a 2015 Federal Government report.
But the Internet is changing so fast that if you are still using Internet Explorer, especially an older version, you should ask yourself, “is it time to switch?”
What might be wrong with an outdated browser? Continue reading