A Sales Associate’s Paperless Odyssey
On Jan. 1, 2007, Barbara-Jo Berberi and her partner, Bill Berring, decided to go paperless, and they haven’t looked back since. “I didn’t want to have tons of filing cabinets filled with paperwork,” says Berberi, a sales associate with EXIT Realty Foundations in Port Charlotte. So, even though her broker doesn’t have a paperless office, Berberi does. “I believe in the ‘save a tree; help our planet,’ mentality. On top of that, going paperless was a huge space saver.” Getting a Little Help
The first thing Berberi did was take a class at her local Board of Realtors® on TransactionDesk, the Florida Association of Realtors®’ online transaction-management program. “Using TransactionDesk is easy. All of the contracts are in one place, so I can download anything I need,” she says.
From there, Berberi would either complete any new listing or buyer contract online via TransactionDesk or fax it to herself using eFax.com, an online fax service that sends a PDF version of the document directly to the subscriber’s e-mail inbox. She then saves each transaction to a CD disk or a USB flash drive. “I give a CD of all of the electronic transaction documents to buyers and sellers at closing, then give a hard copy of the papers to my office for filing. I keep a CD for myself as well. I put them in a music CD case and label each disk with the property address and buyer’s or seller’s name,” she says. Overwhelming? No Way!
Sound overwhelming to go paperless? It doesn’t have to be. “Since I’ve only been in real estate for two years, once I got used to being paperless, I went back to old contracts and faxed them to my e-mail inbox for paperless storage,” she says. But, the secret is to just decide one day you’re going to do it and, “from that day on, everything you do can be paperless. If you get to the old stuff, great! But, don’t stress about it.”
Berberi says it’s tough to go paperless completely, especially when your broker hasn’t done so. “I still have a paper copy of a listing agreement that I take with me to the listing because in the end I have to turn a paper copy in to my office. But, then I e-fax it to myself and start my online [on my computer] file from there.”
Berberi chooses to use the eFax.com service rather than scan each document because “it’s just as easy.”
With buying contracts, sometimes she fills them out on her laptop using TransactionDesk and other times she’ll prepare them on paper, depending on how comfortable the buyers are with the process. “I still haven’t figured out how to overcome signatures, but I do what I can with e-faxing or e-mailing things back and forth to the parties of the transaction.”
She says the benefits are endless. Aside from taking up less storage space, the CDs save Berberi time finding past transaction information and help her adhere to her environmentally conscious ways. In addition, she gets, “tons of compliments from lenders and title companies because I’ll e-fax or e-mail them the documents so they have them immediately rather than have to wait for FedEx or rely on me to run the documents out to their offices. Also, [conventional] faxes are hard to read (an e-fax is a clearer document that stays clear because it’s an electronic file), and faxes of faxes are near impossible to read.”
Converting to a paperless office can be time consuming, but little by little it can be done.
For a broker’s story about creating a paperless office, see “How to Set up a Paperless Office,” Florida Realtor, November 2006, www.floridarealtors.org/FLRealtorMagazine/2006/November/Paperless1106.cfm
. This article won Florida Realtor magazine’s 2007 Best Article award, see page 61 for more details.