Leverage the Cloud

Mobility is the name of the game in real estate today. Even if you spend time at an office, customers in the field expect information from you right away.

September 1, 2010

That’s where you can benefit from "cloud computing," says John Mayfield, CRB, e-PRO, broker-owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. The term generally refers to applications that are based on the Web rather than being tied to a computer. E-mail, photo sharing, and social networking are popular examples, but there are also a number of document-sharing applications that allow you to create, edit, store, and share documents on the Web.

Through these services, you can access your documents anytime and anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. Mayfield notes that Web-based storage is especially convenient if you have a tablet computer, which doesn’t have as much memory as a traditional laptop or PC. "If you’re using the cloud, you can literally take the iPad out of the box and it’s useful." He recommends Google Docs, which has document templates including checklists and contact forms. You can access the documents from anywhere and share with people you choose. Mayfield also uses Google Calendar, which he set up to automatically sync with Microsoft Outlook.

Another way to leverage the cloud is through Dropbox, a free file sharing and online backup service. There is a charge for extra storage and other add-ons. After downloading the software, you can drop files into a designated folder on any of your computers, and that file will be available from any computer you’ve installed that software on. You can also use shared folders to collaborate with others, and you can control who can access those folders.