If the pandemic has a silver lining, it would be accelerating a new era of all things digital in real estate. Brokers and agents swiftly embraced technology to help them work safely and remotely as real estate became crucial fuel for the U.S. economy.
After a record-setting year, it’s clear that transaction management solutions have become an essential fully digital tool for brokers and agents. Transaction management solutions do more than help keep agents and their customers safe during these challenging times. Brokers and agents using transaction management solutions save time, increase productivity, and make sure closings happen on time and are worry-free.
If the buyer or seller is down located down the street or halfway across the globe, today’s transaction management solutions make the process smoother, more accessible, and easier than ever.
And it is the little things that count. The ability to offer electronic signings instead of having to be there in person saves a tremendous amount of time while removing the hassle of coordinating everyone’s schedule. It also means no more hunting down clients for initials and “wet” signatures in blue ink, then driving back to the office to scan and copy the documents to send to all the other parties involved in the transaction.
We also have learned that agents need their transaction management solution to do more than just provide electronic signatures.
What do agents want – and need – from their transaction management solutions?
From candid conversations with real estate agents across the nation, we collected 10 of the most sought-after features in a transaction management solution. Here is the list and how Form Simplicity stacks up in meeting each of these features:
#1 Ease of Use
Many agents complain that the programs they are using are cumbersome. When asked about what they mean about cumbersome, agents said there are so many features, and they lack the knowledge about how to use them in the best way.
Every agent learns differently. Some are okay with video training, while others prefer live training where they can ask questions. Many agents prefer step-by-step guides along with videos and/or live training. Others just wish their system was more intuitive.
Form Simplicity meets these needs in various ways. First, we made Form Simplicity more intuitive. In 2019, Form Simplicity underwent a complete overhaul of its layout to improve the user experience both on desktop and mobile devices, and we continue to improve it. Second, we offer live training on-site and via webinars. Both of which offer the members the opportunity to ask questions. In fact, in 2020, over 18,000 individuals took advantage of our live webinars because it was an excellent opportunity to learn while social distancing.
#2 Live Tech Support
Does the brokerage’s transaction management solution provide customer support that understands the questions agents are asking? When preparing transactions, time is of the essence, and having a live support staff available to answer any problems or concerns can be an enormous help.
It could be to resolve an issue with the Transaction Management program, a question about using it on a computer, tablet or smartphone, or a problem with their computer, laptop or smartphone itself.
Real estate agents do not want an answer from a scripted platform by the provider that leaves agents feeling frustrated and Form Simplicity understands that. That’s why Form Simplicity offers stellar support via the Tech Helpline team. Tech Helpline, owned and operated by Florida Realtors, is the No. 1 tech support service for real estate, uniquely experienced to provide support to agents. Because Tech Helpline is fully immersed in the real estate industry, its friendly analysts can quickly understand agents’ questions. With Tech Helpline, you don’t get a robot. You get someone, live, who is familiar with real estate transactions.
#3 Fillable Forms That Can Be Completed Before Signing the Contract
Some forms, such as applications to the HOA or Property Disclosures, need to be sent for clients to complete. These forms can often be quite lengthy and may require giving the client the ability to review them carefully over a couple of days. Can the documents be sent to a prospective Buyer or Tenant for completion without requiring a signature? Can these forms be partially worked on, saved, and then completed at a later time?
With Form Simplicity’s Ultimate Edition, the answer is yes. Fillable forms can be sent to clients via the eSign feature (even if they do not need to sign it). And the clients can save the form and come back to it as necessary to complete it. Once the client completes the form, PDF copies can go to both agents automatically (when set up to do so within the system) for their records.
#4 Ability to be Reviewed by Outside Party Before Client’s Signing
At times, with some transactions, it is necessary for outside parties to review and provide feedback. Does the platform offer allow documents to be sent to an outside party, such as an attorney or family member, for review before signing?
Form Simplicity’s built-in Collaboration features allow you to give outside parties and clients permission to review and add comments in real-time to forms and files before sending the final document for signatures. It’s the easiest way to track negotiation comments from all parties and keep all the information together in your transaction. Others can’t make changes to the forms or files themselves. Their comments will be logged separately and visible simultaneously. Once everyone agrees on the language, you can then make any necessary changes to the final forms/files so that what the clients sign accurately reflects what all parties agreed to.
#5 Total Document Storage With Downloads Available
Is total document storage available? And can real estate agents download all the documents once the transaction is complete (as a zip file or single pdf)?
Agents know that having all documents in one place for each transaction is essential. It creates an aptitude for being organized in a fast-paced real estate environment. It eliminates the need to look through multiple files for each document or on your computer. All of your work is in a single place – in the cloud and protected. As an additional crucial feature, agents see the need to download their transactions so they can easily forward a copy of it to their clients.
And yes, Form Simplicity does provide total document storage. It allows you to keep all your transaction documents in a single location. It’s easy to find and safely stored digitally. Form Simplicity also enables you to select all or specific files within a transaction you wish to download. The file is download as a .zip file to your computer.
#6 E-Signature Ease of Use for Clients, Plus Tech Support for Them When Needed
Each transaction management program has a different way of e-signing through the phone or computer. Agents have expressed interest in providing a simple process for their clients: click or press where they see their signature or place to initial.
It can get confusing for clients if they have to press next and then press again for their signature. Because of this, agents say that some clients get confused, thinking they have completed all the required fields when they haven’t. Each program has a different way of showing when the signing is complete, and this must be articulated very clearly to the client.
If a client is having a problem and wants to walk through the process, does the transaction management solution offer a phone number that a client can reach out to for live support and or guidance?
Like nearly all transaction management solutions, Form Simplicity offers tech support to the account holder – not signers — and the eSign feature is only available in its Ultimate Edition. However, to make it easy for clients to use eSign, Form Simplicity does provide a short tutorial video is that is emailed with the invitation to sign.
This video allows them to review how eSign works before they get started. The video helps clients learn how not to miss a signature field, showing how eSign provides “Start” and “Next” blinking signs so that the signer can see what action they need to take. The video also demonstrates that when all the required signature fields have been tapped, a “Signing Ceremony Completion” message will pop up, effectively completing the session. Access the video here.
#7 Ability to Save Texts E-Mails and Photos on One Platform
Many agents complain about the amount of storage taken up on their computers from all the photos, emails, and documents from each transaction. Then there’s tracking all those text messages, which are essential to keep as they are part of the overall communications record.
Many real estate agents would prefer to store all the information related to a transaction in one location, including all images, emails, documents, and texts. This would be a great relief from having to save everything in your email and phone for years.
Agents agree that having a real estate transaction management software that offers this feature would be a BIG plus!
Form Simplicity offers good news for agents: how about unlimited storage? Form Simplicity’s Ultimate Edition includes unlimited document storage in the cloud. That means you can save as many files as you need. You can upload all PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, images, and photos for each transaction in a single electronic folder. Since PDFs are the most uploaded format, there’s a built-in compression tool for PDFs over 8.5MB, allowing you to upload larger PDF files. PDFs compress when uploaded automatically to help you maintain a smaller digital footprint, making it easier for you to share those files electronically.
Best of all, when you email from within an active transaction, your emails are also automatically stored in Form Simplicity. Send your SMS to the email address for your transaction to also save your SMS history! Form Simplicity allows you to keep all your forms, files, emails, and text messages in one, easy-to-find location, safely stored in the cloud.
#8 Opportunity to Continue with Platform When Agent Leaves the Brokerage
Whether a Real Estate agent is with the brokerage for five months or 5-plus years, can they still keep their files within the platform and subscribe to it once they leave? Is the platform offered to an agent outside of the brokerage at a reasonable cost?
It’s often not your broker who provides you with Form Simplicity – it’s your state association, local board, or MLS. That’s why Form Simplicity is typically available to the member regardless of brokerage, as long as they remain an active member within the entity that provides it to them. Check with your state association, local association, and MLS to determine who gives you Form Simplicity access, as well as the edition they offer.
Depending on state regulations, brokers may own the transactions. So, in some states, when an agent leaves a brokerage, all of the agent’s transactions are reassigned to the broker.
The agent may continue to have access to Form Simplicity, and the following files will remain in the agent’s Form Simplicity account:
- Files the agent uploaded separately from a transaction will remain saved in the MY FILES tab.
- Completed eSign sessions will remain saved in the MY ESIGNS tab as pdf files.
- Backups of faxes received will remain in the MY FAXES tab.
- Backups of Emails and SMS messages received will remain in the MY EMAILS tab.
- Agents will also continue to have access to Personal Packages and Contacts.
#9 Privacy and Security: Non-compete with Big Competitors
What happens to the privacy and security of real estate agents’ information, including all their clients’ contact information, when a major competitor purchases the transaction management company?
We’ve already seen this happen. Fortunately, with Form Simplicity, this is not something you need to worry about. Form Simplicity is owned and operated by Florida Realtors. We understand that Security and Privacy is paramount in our industry, and we are loyal to Realtors.
#10 Choice and Affordability
For many agents, this choice and affordability may be their top-ranked feature. They would like to choose from several transaction management solutions and not just the one the association offers or their brokerage requires to be used. If the brokerage offers a single choice, then agents would like the brokerage to pay for it.
Form Simplicity supports brokers and associations that offer more than one choice!
If the agent gets to pick the platform, they would like it to be at a price that can be maintained for months or years through a monthly, not annual, subscription. However, like nearly all leading transaction management solutions, Form Simplicity offers a yearly subscription. This allows Form Simplicity to provide the best possible service at the best price.
We know real estate professionals are always looking for ways to improve the transaction management experience. At Form Simplicity, we hear you. We want to provide brokers and agents more solutions to every-day struggles.
Written by Janice Zaltman, a Realtor, LEED AP, Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields, and Form Simplicity.