Seven Cloud Tools for Kodak's Printing on the Go Challenge

By
Real Estate Agent with Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty

Like almost everyone in the real estate business, I spend my time in many different locations. I start and end the day in my home office, but on any given day I might work out of either of two company offices equipped with desktop computers for agents to use. I also end up using my smartphone for occasional correspondence and limited web searching. With so many different work locations it can get chaotic to track files that are kept on just one local desktop. As a result, I have been using a Google Docs account to store information that I may need from any given location.

I have also made it a point to adopt every web-based real estate service that can provide me with access to my information from any computer. There are many key services that I rely on. For me, key web based (cloud based) must-haves include (in no specific order):

  1. ZipForm. I can't imagine creating contract documents any other way. This is a service provided by my California Association of Realtors and it has to rank as one of their most useful services.
  2. DocuSign. I am a true believer in the idea of electronic signatures and DocuSign leaves the competitors in the dust. This isn't just a product plug. In the dozen or more transactions I have managed with DocuSign, not a single end user had a problem figuring out how to sign their documents. Ever.
  3. RealBird. Gabe and Zoltan are both great guys to work with and they have built a highly useful tool to manage listings, create single property web sites, syndicate listings, and create clean code to use with Craisgslist.org. Realbird.com is where I go first with a new listing. I pay an annual fee to get their full range of services which for me includes a very active REO web site using their tools.
  4. Gmail. My filing system would drive highly organized people crazy, but I keep everything. Unread newsletters, family mail, transaction information, and more. I use gmail's "label" feature to index transaction files and make them easier to find, but the raw search power in Gmail let's me dig up anything I'm looking for in a few seconds. I figure the time I save by not obsessing about dragging things into folders adds up fast.
  5. Google Docs. It's not nearly as powerful as Microsoft Office, and I still have to turn to Excel for some of my charting and large data analysis needs. However, for correspondence, quick presentations and simple spreadsheets it lets me keep all my data in one place.
  6. Picnik. A simple but powerful graphics program that lets me do a lot of basic image editing from anywhere. This is one of the cloud based programs that I'm happy to upgrade to the Pro version to get access to more power. Just as I still have to occasionally use Excel, I still use Photoshop and ImageReady when I'm sitting in my home office.
  7. Picasa is a powerful image management tool that I use to keep all of my property photos organized. It is desktop based, but has a powerful companion site in the cloud. Picasaweb is a great way to share files, create slide shows, and handle the distribution of images to people who don't want an email with umpteen megabytes of images attached. 
The list seems easy to write about today, but it's the distillation of many years of experimenting that started when my laptop died and I realized I was very tired of dragging around a heavy computer bag every day. Remember, this is pre Ipad and MacBook Air. There were no light laptops. 
 
My Cloud Printing Story

I had arranged to meet clients passing through town at a local hotel. There was a nice office facility for guests, so I figured I woud have no problem printing out their contract documents at the hotel. I was running late, so I left home with my laptop...the one that died.  Because I wasn't savvy enough to have backup with me and thumb drives were still a novelty, I ended up looking very unprofessional and failed to get the signatures I needed that day. Today, in that same situation I could have opened ZipForm to generate a new copy to print in any remote office. I could have used GoogleDocs to retrieve files that I had stored in the cloud. I could even have used DocuSign to generate electronically signable documents to be printed and shipped to the title company after signing.
 
The cloud has made it much easier to work and print from anywhere as long as you remember that you are responsible for either creating or uploading anything you will need. An empy cloud storage device is high tech but it's still empty.
 


This blog post is for the Kodak and ActiveRain 'Printing on the Go' Challenge. You have a chance to win some great prizes from Kodak 

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Rainmaker
284,014
Melanie Ross
Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific - Benicia, CA
Benicia CA & Vallejo CA Real Estate, 707-319-2828

Dave, great information.  I paid for Realbird but only put one of my listings in there and have ignored it.  I need to go back and figure it out.  I use docusign and zip forms constantly.  Picnik not so much but I do love it.  Thanks for highlighting all this!

Oct 06, 2011 08:33 PM #1
Rainmaker
267,549
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Melanie - Realbird is one of those sites you have to learn how to get the most use from it. I still don't use everything they have, but get plenty of value from what I do use.

Oct 06, 2011 08:39 PM #2
Rainmaker
134,790
Donna Quinlan
Keller Williams Realty - Newburyport, MA
Realtor CRS,GRI, Newburyport, Boston's North Shore

Dave - Thanks for some good tips. I tried Picasa briefly a few years ago. I am going to give it another try. I like Picnic and use Zip Forms. I also like to be as mobile and web based as possible. I now use Top Producer, but now that I have a Mac and they do not support it, I am thinking of changing to Rest.  Great post.

Oct 06, 2011 08:44 PM #3
Rainmaker
267,549
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Donna- I wasn't aware theat Top Producer didn't support Macs. That's a trend that I thought was mainly over as companies wrote more universally accessible software.  I hadn't heard of Rest and will see what they offer since my mini-portfolio of cloud software is missing a CRM component.

Oct 06, 2011 08:58 PM #4
Rainer
86,983
Stephanie Anson
Anson Properties LLC - Gainesville, FL

Dave - thank you for stopping by my blog.  I am a geek by nature!  Prior Network Engineer before I started my Real Estate Career.  I have not had the need for cloud printing yet.  I have a printer everywhere I go.  I am new to RealBird and I am excited about what I can do with it.  I just wish there was a mini me!

Oct 10, 2011 03:38 AM #5
Rainmaker
267,549
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Stephanie - Wishing there was a mini me seems to be a sign of the times for real estate agents...

Oct 10, 2011 09:58 AM #6
Rainmaker
376,307
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Nest Atlanta Team - Atlanta, GA
Your Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant

Great post!  I'm using everything but Real Bird.  I've been hearing more about it lately, so I definitely need to give it a try!

Oct 10, 2011 11:48 PM #7
Rainmaker
267,549
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Kerry  - RealBird will give you some very nice tools to work with. 

Oct 11, 2011 01:44 AM #8
Ambassador
674,007
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Dave, still learning about this Kodak cloud printing and appreciate your input.  You use some powerhouse apps too!  RealBird is one I won't be without!  Thanks for sharing...

Good luck in the contest!
Pamela 

Oct 11, 2011 03:02 PM #9
Rainmaker
267,549
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Pamela - thanks for the feedback. I think all of us are still learning. At least we are if we want to still be in this business next year.

 

Oct 11, 2011 03:13 PM #10
Rainmaker
239,207
Gene Allen
Resh Realty Group - Virginia Beach, VA
Realtor Hampton Roads Real Estate

Lots of neat stuff out there now.  Just need to learn to learn it.

Oct 18, 2011 02:24 PM #11
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Dave Roberts

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