World Class Transaction Management on the Cheap

Assuming you're not using a transaction coordinator or other assistant, there are a great many tasks and deadlines involved in a real estate transaction, and they can be tough to manage efficiently.

There are two schools of thought about using a transaction coordinator. Those who like the concept explain that the coordinator's only job is coordinating the many tasks and deliveries in a transaction, so you get more efficient service. Those who would rather keep the process under their direct control and actions believe that they maintain a closer relationship with their clients and it helps with referrals later.

For those who want to stay in the driver's seat, this article is all about a system and resource that helps you to keep you on top of critical deadlines, deliver documents to others in the transaction and never drop an important transaction ball. We want a system that makes this easy and does so in an online environment that can be accessed from your computer or smart phone when you're out doing your job.

Evernote and Why

System Pieces
Getty Images

There are a great many dedicated to-do lists and task management systems, some free and some at a cost. It's hard to resist the bells and whistles of a dedicated task management system, but for other reasons, Evernote becomes a powerful force. That's even though it's primary importance is capturing information, creating notes and retrieving information on demand.

  • Attach files of any kind
  • Add checkboxes
  • Add bulleted and numbered lists
  • Add photos from your camera roll
  • Take a photo with your camera or webcam
  • Record audio

Task and transaction management are just one piece of your business. You're also viewing properties, checking out neighborhoods, going over hot sheets, new listings, and price reductions and most importantly, working with customers.

A transaction management system that fits into an overall information and even a contact management system has got to be a major benefit to the busy real estate professional. It's like the image suggests, one piece of a puzzle that has other important pieces necessary for success.

Notebooks and Task Notes

Evernote Transaction Templates
James Kimmons

Evernote uses "notebooks" instead of folders. By creating a notebook for "Transactions," you can build templates of check-off normal transaction tasks. When a new deal is signed, you can select the proper template, buyer or seller, and property type. You will already have the most common tasks and document deliveries there, needing only to add the dates they are due if you want.

Each day you can pull up the new Transaction Note for a deal and check off the items you've completed or see the items coming due. The image shows a portion of a transaction note for a deal in progress. Notice there is a right-side column for completed as well as the checkbox on the left side. This is where you can use a keyboard shortcut to enter the date. So, documenting the date you've completed tasks or delivered documents is a 5-second task.

This gives you some liability protection if things go sideways. If you later need to show you completed a deadline delivery on a specific date, it shows here. Sure, it's just your entry, but Evernote gives you another option. You should be getting someone to sign for important document deliveries. However, you can also take a photo with the Evernote camera of a signed document being accepted. It will be time and date stamped as well. You can attach it to the note.

There is also an automated Note History function that during the day makes copies of notes that then show when certain changes were made to the note.

Document Management and Delivery

Document in Evernote
James Kimmons

Documents, best in PDF format, can be attached to your notes and will display when you pull up the note. You can then share the note with your customer/client via a notebook sharing link or email the note to the client.

Using another application (free), like Mailtrack, you can have your emails tracked and you'll have a record of the email being opened and when. Now you've filed away a document in a secure location, shared it with those who need it, and you can document when it was delivered to them if it becomes necessary.

Yes, there are many systems that offer these features. However, when you can get them in a system that is also very valuable in the other areas of your business, you have fewer systems to learn and more power from the one you use for just about everything.

Tying It All Together

Systems Joined Together
Getty Images

This isn't just about transaction management simply because it doesn't stand alone in our busy daily activities or our reputation for customer service. It's part of a larger package of services we're delivering to our buyers and sellers, and related vendors as well.

Here we look at the many ways to get information into Evernote. Each one lends itself well to some of the duties we have in the processing of a transaction from signing to the closing table. 

  • Use the Clipper to clip all or a portion of a web page: Perhaps you locate something of value to your client, maybe another new listing in the area like their home. You can clip it right off the screen and then share it from Evernote with your client.
  • Take verbal notes on your phone into Evernote: When you take a note, you indicate it's verbal and it will be recorded. Perhaps you notice something in their documents you want to bring to their attention. Record it, Evernote converts it to text as well for searching, and send it along from Evernote to your client. This keeps it in the Transaction file (notebook) for reference later if necessary.
  • Take photos from your phone with Evernote camera: Maybe you pass by a newly listed home with a sign in front of it. Take a photo. Evernote indexes the text on the sign and you can search later for the agent's name and find the photo.
  • Attach documents to notes for sharing or delivery: Valuable in every aspect of your business.

The title says "on the cheap." Evernote is free at the basic level, which can work for many. However, if you want the content of all attached documents indexed, as well as text in photos, the pro version is only $45/year.