The following is a guest post by Dean Oullette, VP of Business Development for Thompson’s Realty and an avid Evernote user and advocate.
First I want to thank Ricardo for the opportunity to share my love affair with the wonder app Evernote. For those of you who follow me on Twitter (click here to follow Dean On Twitter) you know I recently wrote a book called Evernote for Real Estate. When Ricardo asked me if I would be willing to boil it down to ten ways an agent could use Evernote in their business, I jumped at the opportunity to share with his community.
Over the last year I have completely changed my business to almost completely run through Evernote. I have replaced a few programs I was spending over $1,300 a year on, and now pay a whopping $45/yr for the Premium version of Evernote.
Here are ten ways I use Evernote to manage and work on my business.
1. Simplified Data Collection.
As full time real estate agents we are always on the go. One of the challenges with being on the road is data collection and taking notes. We sometimes receive calls while we are on the road, at our desk, or at home. Unless we have a single location to keep notes, finding what we need later can be a challenge. Even if we had a single notebook we tracked everything in, finding a note we wrote two weeks ago could be a challenge.
When we use Evernote we can eliminate notebooks, Post-its and scrap pieces of paper, and have a single storage location for all our notes. With Evernote’s powerful search those notes are never more than a few seconds away.
2. Buyer Tours.
Using Evernote for buyer’s tours makes a paper free showing a breeze. Start out by adding the MLS tour you created to a note inside the client’s notebook. Once you arrive at the property, open the note and start typing what your client likes or does not like about the property.
While taking notes remember to take pictures of the master bathroom features they like most, so after viewing four or five properties they remember why thy liked what they did. Take pictures of items you are going to ask for repairs on so you have before and after pictures.
After your tour is done you can email the note to your client so they can view them any time they like or share them with friends and family members.
Evernote is just as integral to my business when I am doing listings as it is for showings. When I arrive at a property I ask the potential seller to show me around the property and tell me about it. I make sure to take good notes, usually recording the conversation via Evernote’s built in recorder.
I also take pictures of items my clients highlight as the features about their home they like best. After we have agreed to list the property, I hand them my iPad which has a seller’s template containing a checklist of home details matching the Profile Sheet from our MLS. Once completed I can email the note to my assistant for entry into the MLS.
4. Updating buyers and sellers automatically.
Buyers and sellers both like to know you are watching out for them and doing your job to earn your paycheck. I have developed a system that allows them to check the status of a transaction at anytime without continually needing to ask.
I have created a buyer’s and seller’s transaction template to track every deal. The top part of the template contains a table with all the quick reference information I may need such as my client’s contact info, the cross agents contact numbers, title company and lender information. On the road or near the computer, I am never far from any numbers I need.
Below the reference table I have the transaction checklist. This has all of the items that need to be completed for a successful transaction. My client, my assistant or myself can check at any moment and see what has been done, or what is next.
The final part of my transaction note is all of my notes from the deal. I have a table that has date and a place for notes to be entered. Every time I talk to my client, a lender, home inspector, cross agent or need to make a note of anything else going on with the deal, I write it down. This allows your client to check in and see what is going on with the deal and see what you are doing.
In my ebook Evernote for Real Estate I share the templates I use in a downloadable format.
5. Short sale management.
Using Evernote to manage my short sale transactions may be my single favorite real estate use of Evernote. I used to spend $79/mo for software to manage my short sale transactions. Since I have implemented my Evernote system, I have been able to completely replace that, get all the functionality I needed from my previous system, streamline my process with one less system to use and save myself $903 a year. I have no complaints about the software I used before, it was quality software and I enjoyed using it.
Note linking is the key to making my short sale system work flawlessly. I use a master transaction note inside my client’s notebook in which I keep all the notes from my conversations with the banks. I also can link other notes to this main transaction note. So, if the negotiator asks me a question about the estimated HUD I sent two weeks ago, I can quickly just click on the HUD link inside of my note and it will pull it up for me to view.
Another great thing I can do that saves me a lot of time is I can create a URL for the transaction notes and share it with the buyer’s agent. This way whenever the buyer’s agent wants to check on the status of the file they can just check the URL I created for them in Evernote and not call me for an update each time. This saves a lot of hassle for both parties. Just remember, make sure you put in your notes what your next action is, and when you expect to do it, that way the cross agent knows when to check back next.
6. CYA tool.
Have you ever had to go to court over one of your files? Luckily for me, I have not, but I know two agents who had to testify before a grand jury about transactions they were involved with. Evernote can be a tool to help you deal with these situations in the future if the need arises.
I save all important emails from a transaction into a client’s notebook within Evernote. I also have a complete copy of the notes involving each deal in my master transaction note section in each client’s notebook. This way I can always see I called Jane on 2/12/12 and this was the result of the phone call.
I also save important voicemails into Evernote with Google Voice. When I receive an important voicemail, I just forward a copy of it to my client’s notebook in case it is ever needed again in the future. Keeping everything in one easy to find location will save you a lot of headaches down the road if you ever need to relive what happened in a transaction.
7. Sharing buyer closing information.
This one is simple enough, but your clients will appreciate it. I have a master note set up in my templates that has local websites to things like changing your voter registration, changing your motor vehicle license address, and information about schools.
Also included in this note are the local phone companies, cable and satellite companies, gas companies, electric companies, trash, water and any other information that a new homeowner is going to need to know. A week before closing send over this note to them via email and they will be thankful they do not need to look it all up later on.
8. Manage your daily to do list.
What are you using to track all your to-do lists and task management? Post-it notes, a to-do software program, a legal notepad, your memory or for most of us a combination of them all?
I have always been a heavy to-do list user. I know my memory is the worst place for me to keep a task, because if it is there, there is a good chance it is never going to get done. The great thing about using Evernote as your to-do system is you are already here. You are already using it for your real estate business; this way you do not need another system on top of Evernote.
I used to use Wunderlist. I will admit, I love Wunderlist as a to-do program. I have no complaints about it and used it for well over a year. But now that I am using Evernote for everything, keeping all of my to-do and tasks for my personal life and my real estate career in one place has made my life easier.
As real estate agents, we tend to gather a lot of receipts for tax write-offs. We have monthly charges, yearly fees, meals, closing gifts, CE, travel and more. I keep all of these receipts in one notebook in Evernote called Taxes2012. If I get an email for a monthly receipt for my hosting, I have it set up to automatically forward to my Evernote account. When I am out to lunch with a client I will snap a picture of the receipt in Evernote and upload it before we even leave the table. All of my receipts go into one location, and I never need to sort them later.
The great thing about this is I can share the notebook with an accountant who can check the notebook weekly or monthly and always be up to date.
10. Simplifying and streamlining.
Let’s face it, if you are like I was, and like most of my friends in the business are, you actually spend a lot of the day jumping around to different programs to manage your career. I love Evernote because I was able to get rid of four systems I was using for my taxes, for my to-do’s, for my transaction management and for my short sales, and combine them all into one. Evernote has helped me become more efficient, more productive and get more control over a busy real estate business.
How else are you using Evernote in your day-to-day real estate business?