A Broker's Story: My Quest to Be Paperless

Learn how one broker took his office paperless and how you can, too.

April 1, 2010

As the broker of a small real estate office burdened by the cost of printing, I’m taking many steps to implement a near-paperless office. So far, I’ve decreased my toner costs by almost 30 percent—and I’ve probably saved a few trees, too. During this time, my commission transaction volume has more than doubled.

Here are the steps I’m taking.

Opt for PDF

My computer’s default printer is now set to save a PDF format document on my hard drive. Using this option makes me think twice about whether I need to print a hard copy or if a saved PDF image on the computer is appropriate. It’s also eliminated the “oops” factor of printing something I didn’t mean to print.

Use Digital Signatures

Using electronic signatures for my transactions is one of the greenest things that I’ve ever done. I’m saving paper, toner, gas, and time on each transaction. My clients love it because it’s easier and quicker to sign the documents. I don’t have to worry about printing the initial document, and copies to my clients are automatic.

Reuse Handouts

I’m creating a laminated print-out of a sample transaction, which covers the purchase price, financing arrangement, closing costs, and any addenda that clients can use when they’re reviewing the transaction on-screen. This will encourage them not to print a copy, as they can see the sample transaction in the laminated format. I’ll even provide notes on the sample so that they can know what to look for when reviewing their transaction online. When we’re done with the transaction, I’ll ask for the laminated copy back so that I can provide it to the next client.

Store Documents Electronically

Transaction management software provides a single storage place for all documents that are needed for any transaction. The benefit is the ability to generate a single CD at the transaction’s completion, which can become my broker file. A second CD can be provided to clients for their records.

No More 'Take One' Tubes

I’m moving to a paper-free marketing approach for signage and flyers at my listed properties. There are tools available to allow customers to obtain additional information via text, Web site, phone, and radio from directly in front of a property. Using these tools will allow me to do a better job of capturing prospects’ contact information and will ensure that there is never an empty flyer box at any of my listings. My clients will love knowing that potential buyers can get all the information they could possibly want, day or night, based on signage in the front yard.