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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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