The Complete Guide to Choosing Real Estate Transaction Management Software

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Introduction:

Real estate transaction management is a complex and varied process. Whether you have decades of experience managing a real estate company, or if you’re a new realtor in the industry, the sheer volume of legal documents, signatures, and the myriad of other requirements—all of which involve buyers, sellers, lenders, and additional other parties—can be incredibly difficult to manage within the specific timelines and state compliance requirements.

Top brokerages, teams, and transaction coordinators have found, that with the right technology, they can better manage complex real estate transactions, delight their clients, and avoid the risk that essential tasks will fall through the cracks. However, with more than a dozen products out there, each with its claim to fame and often overly-pushy salespeople, the most common outcome for a business owner is confusion.

This guide is intended to help you select the best real estate transaction management system for your company. It will bring you up to speed on the basics of what real estate transaction management systems can do, help you understand the critical factors to consider, introduce you to the important features and options they provide, and help you avoid the manipulative practices of salespeople promising solutions in exchange for an annual contract.

Here’s what’s inside:

computer, tablet, and phone Chapter 1: What is Paperless Real Estate Transaction Management?

Real estate is more competitive than ever, and not just in terms of managing the business, recruiting top talent, and coaching realtors. You now have to deal with a vast array of competing technologies that all claim to be the best tool for you. What these products promise to make easier often creates a frustrating combination of systems, processes, training programs, and headaches for everyone.

Avoiding the frustration of a sub-optimal decision is essential, and it starts by understanding what a transaction management system is and what it can do for you. A comprehensive understanding will help you distinguish precisely what to look for and how to evaluate the options against your needs.

What is a paperless transaction management system?

A paperless real estate transaction management system is an online product that replaces your filing cabinets or generic cloud storage and is designed to help you manage the complex processes associated with real estate transaction paperwork. However, the right transaction management system for your company can be far more than that.

For your business, the right real estate transaction management system can be a powerful tool that enables your company to close more deals in less time, recruit top-producing agents and teams, and ultimately reach your growth and expansion goals.

Each available transaction management software solution offers a wide range of features. Specific features vary, but the best systems seek to provide real estate companies with options that enable users to track key transaction dates and contingency deadlines, collect buyer and seller contact information, view information regarding third party vendors, offer transparent compliance safeguards, and promote increased workflow efficiency with comprehensive checklist templates.

How can the right transaction management system impact your business?

Once all your files are on the internet, the right transaction management service can provide you measurable new benefits beyond an online filing cabinet. Let’s consider the most important benefits for your agents, admins, and your entire business:

For Your Agents

One of the most immediate benefits for agents is easy access to their files from anywhere. Your agents won't need to travel into the office or play phone tag with your office admins for transaction information. Instead, your agents can easily find contact information, view documents, and find important tasks and dates anytime and from any place where they have a computer or mobile device with internet access.

Agents can upload documents immediately and turn in required paperwork from their computer or mobile device without having to drive into the office or calling up an office admin. Once uploaded, they can look up the status of their paperwork, their active transactions, and their past deals.

With the right system, your agents can spend more time selling instead of navigating an error-prone, broken, or time-consuming process. The right transaction management system will direct them only to do what they need to, without any extra work, learning, or workflow changes.

For Your Admins

Your office admins can review paperwork more efficiently and accurately using their computers instead of sifting through reams of paper. They can instantly notify agents when documents are missing signatures or transactions are missing required real estate forms.

Admins reporting to brokers, company owners, and team leads will be far simpler and seamless. Admins can pull up the status of any active deal and see precisely where it stands, view all outstanding paperwork still needed before close, forecast production with closing reports, and seamlessly produce commission statements and authorizations.

If you run a multi-office company, location features built into a real estate transaction management system will allow your admin staff from one branch to instantly share their knowledge and data with staff at the other offices. They can share each other's checklists, contact information for escrow agencies, title companies, and other third-parties.

For Your Business

The right transaction management system will ultimately save you time, money, and effort—so you can focus on doing the things that matter, such as coaching agents to close more deals and growing the business.

For real estate companies looking into transaction management for the first time, the right system will help reduce the cost of storage, printing, and file administration. It will help attract modern, tech-savvy agents to come and work for your company because they'll have the option to work from anywhere.

For real estate companies looking to switch to a better and more fitting transaction management system, the right product will increase the efficiency, accuracy, and daily throughput of your admins. In some cases, you might be able to eliminate an entire admin position—or give them more value-add tasks.

Additionally, the right system will ensure that upcoming and future audits go smoothly, and admins won't have to hunt down old paperwork from storage units or cumbersome online systems while they are in panic mode. Instead, the best transaction management system will keep your transaction data on secure, reliable, and always-available servers, so you don't have to worry about ever losing access to it in case of a disaster at the office or storage room.

woman with idea Chapter 2: The Top Benefits of Real Estate Transaction Management Software Management Software

Before diving into the features to consider when choosing real estate transaction management software, it's helpful to understand some of the potential benefits and uses of employing such a solution, as this can help you to understand what to look for specifically. The more complete and compressive your understanding of the various ways that a real estate transaction system can improve the performance of your real estate company, the better you can begin to understand how different products might optimally fit your needs.

Benefit 1: Recruit Top Talent

In addition to improvements in the day-to-day workflows and processes, moving to an efficient real estate transaction system can be a useful tool for improving and maintaining employee morale and for recruiting the best new top-producing realtors. By reducing the frustration of repetitive tasks and improving the ease of administrative functions, a real estate transaction management system can fuel employee productivity and eliminate common pain points, helping everyone to do their best work.

The right transaction management system can often have a double benefit when it comes to recruiting. For starters, word gets around, and if your agency or brokerage is known for high employee satisfaction, the best real estate talent in the market will want to work with you. Investing in new technology is also a meaningful way to demonstrate a commitment to being innovative, performance-oriented, and being proactive to employee needs.

Benefit 2: Retain Quality Agents

Your agents are the heart and soul of your business, and keeping your top producing realtors and teams happy is another benefit when you implement the right transaction management system.

Often, companies assume this means offering agents a system that has every feature under the sun. Retaining agents doesn't come by over-complicating the process, but rather by providing what your agents need to help them close even more deals and delight their clients—without the unnecessary features and processes that get in their way.

The tools you offer them should be complementary to the systems and tools they will continue to use alongside your system. Ineffective tools and convoluted processes lead to frustrated agents and increased attrition. Your new system should provide greater mobility, time-savings, and high-productivity process changes—all packaged in a super-easy-to-use interface. What's more, it shouldn't force your agents to change the way they like to work. It's just what you need to keep your agents happily working for you.

Benefit 3: Track Company Production Seamlessly

The best technology in the world can't help your business if your agents can't (or won't) use it.

Real estate transaction management systems are no different. Some products try to pack in as many features as possible so that it feels like a complete package, while others seek to build a product entirely focused on the task of managing the transaction itself. Both options can be a good fit, but it often comes down to what's easiest for agents and admin to adopt.

The easier a product is to learn and use, the more likely it will be adopted quickly and used effectively. It's necessary to recognize that agents will only truly accept a new office-wide technology if it's simple to learn, easy to use, and doesn't force them to do things differently.

Benefit 4: Implement a Flexible System for the Entire Company

You may have seasoned agents with decades of experience or brand new agents who haven't closed their first deal. Alternatively, and more likely, you have both—and your transaction management system should work equally well for both.

The right transaction management system will ensure that your seasoned agents aren't slowed down, and your new agents are well supported and set up for success. You should create user accounts based on what each agent needs to have access to, what they need to see, and how they need to use the system to help them work faster.

A system that's a bad fit is often one that pushes all agents into the same environment with the same options and the same experience. Some will refuse to change the way that they work with their clients—something you may be okay with based on their production. Some may disregard the system and instead ask their assistance or independent transaction coordinator to use the system in their place. For most real estate companies, the ability to keep the system flexible is a practical option to have and use appropriately.

However, the system shouldn't just bend to the user—it should also adapt to your market and the changing industry. If your agents are using tools provided by their association, they're unlikely to suddenly switch to a new system or remain happy when doing so.

Benefit 5: Reduce Your Company Overhead

Whether you're operating in the paper world or even if you have a transaction management system currently, the right system should help you reduce your overhead and save on both the obvious and hidden costs that keep mounting.

The right transaction management system should eliminate time wasted by admins who will no longer need to hunt down paperwork for agents, create reports for owners, comb through redundant folders of the same transaction, and more. Instead, your staff should have time to do the things that help grow the company and help agents become increasingly more productive—things like coaching, mentoring, recruiting, and refining the processes.

The right transaction management system should reduce the time it takes for agents to do the simple things they need to do so that they can return to the field. The more leads your agents can work, the more deals your company can close—and asking agents to spend countless hours inside a system does not help them do that. Your system should enable you to streamline the process, give agents exactly the workflow they need, and, most importantly, eliminate the need for extensive training, ongoing support, and troubleshooting.

The right transaction management system should save you money and not force you to pay for unproductive agents, assistants who do not produce, in-house coordinators who manage the process, and admins who will spend time running reports and managing commissions.

Benefit 6: Maintain 100% Real Estate Compliance

The most obvious benefit of a real estate transaction management system is that it can help keep you organized and on top of every step of the closing process, as well as optimizing other ongoing functions such as performance tracking. More than a superficial checklist, the right real estate management system helps you seamlessly create and retain complete records for every transaction.

Depending on the state requirements concerning recordkeeping, you may have to keep files locally or for up to 10 years. Your transaction management system should be able to ensure that nothing gets missed along the way – and protect you from compliance issues down the road because all of your records are stored online, locally, and ideally for ten years.

Additionally, the best transaction management system should maintain a complete, easy-to-follow audit trail of all activities on transactions. Comprehensive and accurate transaction information ensures painless audits for your company. If you prefer to go through an audit offline, some systems can have you covered with the ability to download transactions with just a couple of clicks.

Benefit 7: Create a More Productive Work Environment

In addition to improvements to day-to-day workflows and processes, moving to an efficient real estate transaction system can be an effective tool for improving and maintaining employee morale and for recruiting the best new hires. How? By reducing the pain of repetitive manual tasks and improving the ease of administrative functions, a real estate transaction management system can further fuel employee productivity and eliminate common pain points, helping everyone to do their best work.

woman with planning chart Chapter 3: Tips for Selecting the Best Real Estate Transaction Management Software

Now that you understand the reasons for implementing a real estate transaction management system, you’ll need a plan to help you determine which solution will be the best fit for your busy office. As you evaluate your options, here are the top seven questions you should consider.

1. How flexible or customizable is the system?

There’s no doubt about it: detailed listing and closing checklists make it easier to successfully manage your documents, due dates, and tasks at every stage of a transaction. Although pre-formatted checklists can provide some necessary guidance, every real estate transaction is unique. The ability to customize your checklists to the workflow, review process, and compliance requirements, ensures that you have the flexibility you need to deliver professional results at every touchpoint across every transaction.

2. Does the Solution Reduce Repetitive and Error-Prone Tasks?

Successful real estate professionals know that accuracy, consistency, and timeliness are critical elements of every deal. However, keeping up with time-consuming tasks can be challenging for even the most organized agents, teams, admins, and brokers.

Rather than merely supporting the essential tasks you need to perform, the best real estate management transaction systems can reduce the burden by eliminating much of the time-consuming, repetitive work.

3. Does the solution let your agents work from anywhere?

As an industry, real estate frequently attracts the type of people who work well in multiple settings and are comfortable working outside of traditional office settings and business hours. As a result, successful real estate professionals require adaptable tools that enable them to get things done whenever and wherever the work happens.

If your solution is only accessible from an office computer or a specific network, then it restricts top performers from reaching and achieving their goals. Moreover, if agents must return to the office every time they file paperwork, then you’ve added one extra step that increases the likelihood that documents will be lost and deadlines missed.

Solutions that make it easy for agents to submit paperwork any time and allow brokers to complete their review process wherever they are will increase the likelihood that compliance requirements will be met consistently across every touchpoint in a transaction’s lifecycle.

To best meet agents’ and brokers’ needs, look for a solution that is accessible from anywhere in the world and that features the same secure data protection standards used for online banking and e-commerce.

4. Is the solution easy for everyone to learn and adopt?

Regardless of how many helpful, innovative-sounding features a solution offers, you won’t reap their benefit if no one can figure out how to use them. If a platform feels familiar and intuitive, then your agents and brokers will be able to learn the system quickly and embrace the new tool because it makes the process more comfortable rather than creating new problems.

Conversely, if your software requires extensive step-by-step instructions, charges exorbitant fees for account setup, and relies on complex user manuals and fee-based training to figure out, there’s a good chance that your team will resist the new solution and revert to their old habits when it comes to managing their real estate transactions.

5. How well does the solution automate compliance management?

Real estate brokerages are not just accountable to their clients. They’re also legally and ethically accountable to a complex web of local, state, and federal regulations. The best transaction management systems make it easy to track deadlines, thoroughly document the broker review process, provide copies of all email correspondence with relevant parties, and provide a clear history that outlines every action taken (along with a time and date stamp) across a transaction’s lifecycle.

In the event of an audit, brokerages are not only required to produce legally-executed documents, but they may also be required to provide a time-stamped audit trail and proof of delivery. This added documentation can be a mess to track down and organize, especially when scattered across different systems or when an employee has resigned and is no longer able to provide access to those files and emails.

6. Does the software make financial sense for your business?

Every office is different—from the number of active users working on transactions to the volume of transactions typically processed in a given month. The differences that exist from one real estate company to another is why the pricing model of your solution can have a significant impact on its cost-effectiveness for your agency.

Here’s a quick overview that explains some of the most common approaches to transaction management solution pricing:

  • 1.

    User-based Pricing Plans With these plans, you are charged based on the number of users in the system—agents, assistants, admin, staff, and any others that need to log in. These plans pose the most significant risk to growth since you will end up having to pay for unproductive agents. Furthermore, your costs do not decrease when your business experiences a temporary or seasonal downturn. For flat-fee brokerages with dozens (if not hundreds) of part-time agents, the overall cost is far higher because each agent’s “license” must be paid for even though they contribute little toward the brokerage’s total profits. This user-based pricing model means that you will incur a charge for every broker, agent, and admin in your office, even if they only need to access the software occasionally.

  • 2.

    Data-based Pricing Plans With these plans, you are charged based on the amount of data storage space you need. The most significant problem with this approach is that it’s challenging to anticipate how much space each transaction’s data might consume each month. Of all pricing models, this one is often the least aligned with the real estate professional because your total costs are based on an unpredictable technological factor rather than a more predictable business factor. Additional arbitrary limits on storage space can also quickly run up your expenses.

  • 3.

    Transaction-based Pricing Plans You are charged based on the number of deals (i.e., listings, sales, or rentals) your company creates each month. For most companies, this pricing model makes the most sense, especially if the product offers you the freedom to upgrade or downgrade your plan month-by-month so you can adjust your cost to your actual business cycles. After all, your business’s revenue stream is directly tied to deals closed, not to the number of agents nor the amount of data you generate.

Another thing to consider as you evaluate pricing is the cost of making changes to your plan. Whether your transaction volume fluctuates through the year, the size of your workforce changes, or you decide you want to switch to a different real estate transaction management system, it’s crucial to consider upfront how any amendments will affect your bottom line.

Setup fees and technical support may also be considered “a la carte” service for some solutions. To fully understand what you’ll be paying (and what you’ll be receiving), make sure to ask about these, too.

If your solution requires you to lock into an annual contract, then you might face hefty cancellation fees if you decide to switch providers, attempt to transfer your data to another system or change your level of service. It’s always advisable to speak with customers who have left the system so that you can verify the process.

7. Can you trust the solution provider?

Keep in mind that you’re not buying off-the-shelf software with a one-time cost. You need a product that you can trust to serve your business needs, and confidentiality requirements, year after year. In other words, you are entering a long-lasting business partnership with this product’s provider. It's best to be sure that you like everything about the way they run their business.

Companies that choose their customers as carefully as their customers choose them are rare. Not being interested in making money from every prospective customer in the short-term makes such companies ideally suited for a mutually-beneficial, long-term partnership.

What questions should you ask yourself when evaluating available real estate transaction management products?

A paperless transaction management system is a long-term investment you will make for your business. Before you make that decision, make sure to get the answers to the following questions from the service provider:

  • 1.

    Can the product be customized to meet my needs?

  • 2.

    Will the product reduce my risk and resolve my pain points?

  • 3.

    Does the solution make sense for my team (in and out of the office)?

  • 4.

    Is there a clear and easy plan for implementation?

  • 5.

    Will the product help keep my business structure compliant?

  • 6.

    Does the software make financial sense for my business?

  • 7.

    Has the technology provider gained my complete trust?

man with eye watching him Chapter 4: Common Risks & How to See Through the Sales Pitch

The benefits of an online system for your real estate transaction management process are clear—but what's not as obvious are the risks and how to spot them.

As such, it's crucial to understand how you can evaluate a product effectively with the risks in mind so that you don't end up in a year-long contract or worse, in a system that holds your data hostage.

To help you better understand the risks involved, consider the following eight common risks when evaluating a new transaction management system for your real estate company.

1. Change can frustrate agents and admins.

Changing the way that people work is always a complicated process and should be done with the utmost care in mind. It's necessary to think about how well admin and agents know your existing process, how comfortable they feel navigating it during the most complex transactions, and how loyal they have become to it.

Changing processes, tools, or requirements can cause confusion and frustration when things become complicated. Unexpected and undesired complexities can be especially tricky for part-time agents and users who consistently rely on retrieving data in a specific way.

Changing a system can also cause defensiveness when the change negatively impacts how agents work with their clients, and this can lead to closing delays, angry customers, and a negative experience for everyone involved.

Finally, changing systems often requires the users to schedule a time for training. However, that training may not take place until after an agent would have needed to use the system. As busy brokers and top producers know, appointments and requirements don't wait for your new system to be up and running with agents trained, which means that the overlap of old and new processes can be challenging.

2. Paying for redundant features can be a waste of money.

Paying for redundancy that only adds complexity is certainly not ideal—but it happens far too often when online systems try to be everything under the sun. If your agents are already using personal tools and systems, or tools and systems provided by their associations, consider if you need to move forward with a new product that offers the same features that they already have and may already love.

Additionally, extra training is generally required to help agents navigate a new system that includes dozens of complex features so that new users can learn how they properly work together, or when they should use the tools they already have. In other words, there is a significant risk with redundant features built into your new tool because that redundancy can be confusing and cause added complexity to the interface.

3. All-in-one systems can provide everything, but often don't do anything well.

If you do need a more comprehensive set of tools, perhaps because agents don't have access to tools provided by an association or real estate department, then you need to identify if a purpose-built system or all-in-one system makes sense for your company.

Products that are built around doing one thing perfectly often work better for most businesses in the long run. Many brokers don't think twice about a single-purpose accounting system, CRM, or email client for a good reason—they do what they're built to do, and they do it very well. Adding a CRM to your accounting system doesn't seem to be helpful, and the same principle applies to transaction management.

However, many products in the transaction management space want to include as many products as they can inside the same system so that they can sell a single product for more. The all-in-one nature is often a source of poor user experience, frustration, and unnecessary complexity because they require your agents and admin to change the way they prefer to work.

While they may seem like a good fit for your needs, keep in mind that the more that one system becomes the central location, the more often they are difficult to learn and use. Worse, this risk can create more work for your admin and decrease agent willingness to adopt the system. And since most all-in-one systems inevitably contain a lot of clutter, your agents and admins will have a harder time getting their regular, day-to-day work done quickly and efficiently.

Purpose-built systems excel at performing core features; letting your admins and agents perform these frequent operations with ease and with speed. A mature, effective system will play nicely with other systems that you, your agents, and admins may already use and love. It will allow you to choose the best complimentary purpose-built tools for each critical area of your business rather than settling for an average or below-average system that tries to fulfill all your needs.

Be aware that the inspiration for packing a large number of features into a product often comes from the marketing department rather than from the customer. Salespeople will usually sell the all-in-one as simple, and while it can be a great fit for some, it's imperative to evaluate the risks and workflows that come with them.

4. Committing to a contract early can be a costly mistake.

Moving forward with a real estate transaction management system is meant to improve your agents' ability to close more deals and provide better, more consistent, client services. However, if your agent's don't adopt the new system, or only use it occasionally, you now are forced to use two separate systems at the same time.

To avoid this risk, make sure you understand what agents and admins need in a system and how a system will help them. Adopting a new transaction management tool for reasons unrelated to the needs of your office is likely to yield inconsistent usage and less than ideal adoption rates.

The possibility that agents won't adopt the system is a critical risk to address. Even the most seemingly-perfect system can't help you if your agents and admin won't (or can't) use it for their daily operations.

A product demo is a great way to get a quick overview of the product, and you should schedule one. However, when information is withheld, such as pricing, contracts, and features, it's a sales pitch, and it's not geared toward your needs. A free trial, particularly one that is not feature-limited, will allow your admins to test the system more thoroughly, and help you determine with more confidence whether it has the features your business needs.

Avoid pushy salespeople, false promises, and "promised features" by testing the system for yourself. Sign up for a trial, create users for admin and agents, and run a few real transactions through the system. Most brokers will know within minutes if the system is a good fit.

Keep in mind that you shouldn't be asked for credit card information or a commitment at this stage. Often, companies count on you forgetting to cancel a trial, so consider reputable companies who genuinely want to offer you the ability to try out their product without strings attached.

5. Annual contracts auto-renew, keeping companies locked-in.

The most significant risk to your agents, company growth, and ultimately the bottom line is an annual contract. There is often a reason why products and salespeople try to sign you up before you're able to test, train, and set up the new system.

Be aware of an annual contract and offers of free training or other free incentives. Moving forward with a yearly contract agreement forces you to allocate funds, time, energy, and your data to a system that may not help you grow the company or provide better services.

Finally, always ask when the annual contract renews and ask to see it in writing. Online cloud-based systems in every industry are known to employ deceitful tactics when it comes to getting the sale—and the 12-month mark of an annual contract doesn't mean you're able to leave. Often, those annual contracts renew well before the twelfth month.

6. Cancelling a system can be a monumental challenge.

Think about your business goals for your real estate company. Is the system meant to help you take it to the next level? Is the system a good fit for you now, but not in the future? A system should help you grow, and it's not always a good fit for every stage of that growth.

Are you looking to sell the brokerage at some point? Franchise the company? Regardless, you should make a point to find out what it takes to cancel the system when the time is right and what will become of your data in the event you do cancel. Be honest about future planning and understand how you will cancel the system at some point.

7. Transaction data may be held hostage by the product.

Once you have identified how to cancel the system, find out what your options are for retaining access to your data, including how you can download the data and store it for compliance purposes. As a broker, you're tied to the data that you manage and review. Many systems do not allow that data to come out of the system quickly, and instead, they keep it locked up so that you must stay with the product.

Salespeople can be pushy to hit quotas, not actually help you.

Product demos are an important way to see what a product offers, but they do not replace testing the system with agents and admins on real transactions. In fact, if information about the product is withheld until the end, or the salesperson is unwilling to break from the demo script, it’s often safe to assume that the benefits they promise are inaccurate or not specific to your needs and office. Use the following five tips when speaking with any real estate transaction management product salesperson:

  • 1.

    Only choose a system that's a good fit as it is today—not based on what can happen later or when you "start paying." You should be excited about what you see, not what a salesperson has promised.

  • 2.

    Ask if you need to commit to a long-term contract with the provider, or will you be able to pay for their product month-to-month and cancel anytime without incurring penalties.

  • 3.

    Ask to try out the product for free to help you determine if it's the right fit. Make sure the free-trial duration is long enough and offers all of the features without restriction.

  • 4.

    Verify if the pricing is based on the number of users, number of transactions per month, the amount of data stored, or something else. Determine how growth and changes in production and agent count will change those costs.

  • 5.

    Will your costs go down when your business is going through a less productive period? In other words, can you downgrade your pricing plan at any time and upgrade it back when needed?

celebration Chapter 5: Successful Deployment & Adoption of Real Estate Transaction Management Software

Once you have found a transaction management system that's a perfect fit for your company, the next step is deploying the new system and helping agents and admins successfully adopt the new process.

Consider How Active Transactions Will Close

Even when the transition seems simple, it's essential to consider the timing of deployment because this can promote or derail ultimate adoption.

Consider how many deals are currently closing and determine if it makes sense to migrate them into the new system or let the agents close them out in the current system. Any substantial process change at this stage may cause critical tasks to fall through the cracks or cause agents to become frustrated about having to use two systems simultaneously. The decisions around timing are always necessary to plan for—although it's often common for the timing to never seem quite perfect. The priority at this stage is about ensuring that transactions close on time and tasks don't go incomplete.

Consider the time of year so that you can deploy a system with up to date commission and production numbers. The start of a quarter or year is an ideal time to make a switch to new commission reporting tools, but that's not always possible.

Plan for the Complete Transition

If you're switching to a new transaction management system, the first step is to figure out how you will get data out of the previous system. Not every system makes it simple to retrieve your data, and the process can sometimes be a challenging one. The more data that you're able to get out, and the more organized it is, the easier it will be to transition it into the new system.

Import Active Deals First, Then Past Transactions as Required

You don't need to bring everything into the new system—although sometimes it's helpful to do so. Think about the following:

  • Do you need to bring in only new deals?

  • Do you need to front-load the system with all current listing inventory?

  • Do you need to backdate the system with closed and withdrawn deals from the last month, quarter, year, or more?

Answers to the questions above will determine how long and how complicated the transition may be. Your new system should allow you to front-load the system without any up-charge so that you can get started with the new system and all of your active deals.

Incorporate and Set Up Your New System Based on Your Workflow

Follow this setup checklist to make getting started easy.

  • 1.

    Outline your intended workflow and how the system will fit into the way that your agents and admin manage transactions. Setting up clear workflow expectations will help ensure that your new system has the correct verbiage and that training will go much smoother.

  • 2.

    Set up the appropriate hierarchy in the system. Agent teams, geographic office locations, states, cities, or counties where deals will occur are all high-level layers to build in when possible.

  • 3.

    Add admins to the system first. These should be the users who will be using the system daily to track the progress of transactions, review documents submitted and uploaded by agents, run commission calculations, and generate production reports.

  • 4.

    After admins, bring savvy or enthusiastic agents on board next. They can then help and advocate the system to others afterward.

  • 5.

    Next, add remaining agent user-profiles and other staff that will need to access the system, specific transactions, and features.

  • 6.

    Customize the verbiage to ensure clarity and reduce questions during adoption. Customization should include the correct naming of the stages or statuses that your deals will move through. These can be specific to the language used by MLS, or they can more closely reflect the stages a deal goes through in your office. In some cases, these transaction statuses may align with other tools such as a CRM and Accounting System. Company-specific naming should extend to Document Names, Transaction labels, and instructional prompts throughout the system.

  • 7.

    Import and set up checklist workflows for each deal type and status. Use automated checklist features to auto-apply the right task lists at the right time so that admins and agents only see the tasks they need to—not everything all at once.

  • 8.

    Import and add active listings and assign agents. By starting with your current listing inventory, you don't run the risk of wasted effort. When these deals go under contract, update the transaction to reflect the new status.

  • 9.

    Optionally, import past deals to capture accurate YTD commission production.

  • 10.

    Integrate with other tools that your admins and agents will use, such as a CRM, accounting system, custom email notifications, and more.

Help Agents and Admins Adopt the System (How not to force change that agents will hate)

  • 1.

    Assess your admins' and agents' comfort level with online technologies, their ability to log into online tools, and understanding about how to seek help. The better this is understood, the better you can plan training materials and curate existing resources provided by your new product.

  • 2.

    Train your admins and reviewing brokers who will be managing the new system first. These users will be the ones responsible for ensuring that agents are following requirements and adhering to timelines. They will be the first to recognize when something isn't right, and are often the best and quickest resources for agents.

  • 3.

    Decide how to train agents—all at once, individually by next new transaction, or by cohorts based on experience, use, or tech-savviness. This step takes more thought and time than some admins would prefer, but it's one of the most impactful and helpful steps.

    When training is done at one time and with everyone included, you run the risk of users not paying attention, missing critical details, or not having any new transaction that will provide them the opportunity to use the system. Instead, training by cohorts allows agents to be trained in a way that eliminates the need for multiple or repeated sessions with the same agents. It also makes it easier to schedule training when they are with smaller groups, rather than the entire office.

  • 4.

    Send a formal system welcome with login credentials by email. This email is an easy and expected way to introduce new users to the domain, relevant information, and any necessary extra options such as a personal mail-drop address, system mail-drop address, training links and times, and more.

  • 5.

    Run the training sessions with a real account and an actual transaction. Even better, record a short (less than 5 minute) training video or collect the most valuable training videos from your new product's resources and provide this at the same time. It will give agents to option to re-watch when they need to use the system for the first time.

Best Real Estate Transaction Management Software: Here’s How to Get Started

Switching to a real estate transaction management system can unleash huge efficiencies, process improvements, and fuel productivity within your agency or brokerage. But not all solutions are created equal – and before you commit to a solution, it’s essential to put some thought into which software will best meet your unique needs.

To get started, contact Paperless Pipeline for a 100% free trial today or request a live demo to see how Paperless Pipeline can improve the ease of real estate transaction management at your office. With the free trial, you can test actual transactions with all your agents and ensure that the system is the best fit to help you recruit, to help you close more deals, and to help you grow your company.

With Paperless Pipeline, you only pay for any new transactions each month. You can upgrade or downgrade as needed, every plan includes unlimited storage, and closed transactions are archived and stored without any additional fees for as long as you continue to use the system. It doesn’t matter how many users you add or how many archived transaction records you download in a month. That’s all included within the monthly plan.

FAQs: Answers from the Experts

Which real estate transaction management system is best?

That depends on a number of variable factors about your company, such as the size of your agent roster, the number of full-time producing agents and part-time agents, your commission structure, admin capacity to support transactions, existing tools your staff are provided with, and your company goals for growth.

Should I switch to a new real estate transaction management system?

You should switch to a new system if your current solution has not been adopted by your staff, is costing you more time and money than it’s worth, or if it does not keep your company compliant and growing.

I don’t have time to test every system—how do I select the right one?

Switching to a new way of managing transactions is an important process and jumping into something new because you don’t currently have time is a costly mistake that many offices make. Often, jumping into a new system without testing it out with staff and trusted agents, leads to far greater time needed to train, resolve new issues stemming from the change, work with frustrated agents, or ramp up recruitment because agents switch companies.

You don’t need to test every system, however. Weed out the systems that don’t fit financially based on your growth goals. Per-user pricing or transaction-based pricing is typically the easiest way to narrow down options because one is often more-aligned with high-growth goals as you scale. If you know your agent count won’t change and if you have few staff that need access—user based pricing may be a good fit. If you’re actively recruiting and growing the company, transaction-based pricing will enable you to spend less up front but scale up accordingly.

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