A client of mine has been researching starting up a real estate business. She knows that I have experience in this area both from personally being involved in this kind of venture, as well as working with clients in the real estate field. Based on this, she asked that one of our sessions focus on setting up a real estate business – not from a marketing or business development standpoint, but a document management and system perspective.
The following is a summary of information I shared with her to help her get started in setting up her real estate business, with a focus on document management:
One of my projects last quarter was to purge our real estate files that are more than 15 years old (past most statute of limitations) and to make sure that all of the releases of liens contain the correct references.
(We experienced a fiasco last fall where the release of lien from an 18-year-old refi of our home referred to the incorrect volume/page number, therefore negating the validity. My project was to make sure that can’t happen with any of the other refis or investment properties we bought and sold.)
While sifting through all these documents from a lifetime ago, I was reminded of how I’d set up everything separately. The separation is key to managing communication and document management for the long term.
Email – created a separate email from personal and work, strictly for real estate dealings
Bank account – same bank, but a completely separate account
Mailing address – rented a PO Box and used that for all real estate transactions and communications
Credit card – for real estate transactions only
Realtor – found one who specialized in investments (both flipping and rentals); since we didn’t use a property management company, we gave him a special power of attorney when we went out of town, so we didn’t have to worry about the rentals while trying to relax
Title company – used a recommended title agent whenever given the choice; she understood our schedules and was willing to work around them; she also got to know us by the second closing, so after that, closings went faster because she could skip all of the formalities since we already knew them
Written communications with tenants -Looking back I realized that I did a pretty darn good job of getting everything in writing – applications, lease agreements, walk-through forms, etc. I even found notes on napkins, signed off by the tenant and myself when we’d come to a verbal agreement while meeting in person. If you use a property management company, I’m sure they’ll take care of all this, but you should be aware to even ask that they do all of these things.
By realizing what’s helpful to have in place now so that you’re ready for anything in the future, you’ll save a great deal of time.
For details on how to set up document management systems whether for a real estate business or any industry, check out The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.