Some Advice on Real Estate Professionals Going Green
Green. Eco-friendly. Environmentally responsible. Whatever you wish to call it, it makes sense for all of us in so many ways.
The business of real estate can be paper-heavy, and it is one of my professional missions to leave this trend in the past where it belongs. Since launching Toyoda-Roberts Realty, I have had a goal of decreasing paper and office supply usage and reducing vehicle trips, which increasing efficiency and productivity. These goals, while actually more of a journey than a destination, have been incorporated into so many of the things that we do at TRR.
Some examples of our improvements over the years include:
1. Converting all of our fax machines into electronic faxes. That means that instead of traditional faxes printing out of a fax machine, using copious amounts of paper and ink, our faxes are delivered as emails. We found that more than 80% of our faxes never needed to be printed at all. Another benefit of electronic faxes is the ability to forward them, often to more than one recipient, with no phone call, paper or ink, and also very importantly, no vehicle trips. Faxes used to be picked up in person, but with electronic delivery, they can be viewed wherever you have access to email, including on your smart phone. Every real estate professional needs an electronic fax number. The small monthly fee is more than offset by the cost savings of using less paper and ink, not to mention the time savings and convenience.
2. Ending the practice of printing checks, and using direct deposits to pay commissions. Once again, the paper and ink, checks, envelopes and stamps saved are substantial. And when commissions are paid by direct deposit, vehicle trips to retrieve checks, deliver checks, make deposits at a bank, are all reduced, if not outright eliminated.
3. Increasing our use of electronic storage. Gone are the hanging file folders, manila folders and file cabinets piled up to the ceiling. Now, we use CD-RWs, flash drives and online storage methods instead for permanent storage of files and records.
4. The reduction of training class materials. While we used to disseminate materials by making copies of materials for each class attendee (sometimes dozens of pages per person per class!), we now send materials by email.
5. Reducing courier services. We are encouraging title companies to remit our commissions by bank wire, and our closing documents by email, instead of the more traditional (and outdated) method of printing everything out and having a courier deliver them. Any title company who wishes to be one of our preferred vendors MUST do this. Electronic documents and bank wires speed delivery time, reduce paper and eliminate wasteful vehicle trips.
6. Pre-approving buyers. In my training classes, I talk about the fact that in my opinion, the majority of the home-buying process begins before an agent ever shows a single house. A smart real estate practitioner works only with pre-approved (or cash) buyers, and sets their expectations prior to driving them around. Smart agents show multiple pictures and take the time and effort in advance to reduce the number of houses that need to be viewed in person, once again reducing gas and pollution, and increasing efficiency and productivity.
7. The implementation of smart phones and smart phone technology. By using smart phones, which often have applications like GPS, email and fax capability, etc, agents can become more efficient in their dealings and reduce drive time. I use my smart phone for web surfing, online banking, email, faxes, text messages, and more. I have recently set up my smart phone, which happens to be a BlackBerry, so that I can send group emails including leads without having to return to a computer first. Others are even subscribing to Mobile MLS, which means that you don't have to print out MLS sheets any more; rather, you can view the sheets right on your phone.
8. Coming soon: more technology to reduce our environmental footprints. We are experimenting with electronic signatures and "e-closings", in an effort to not just reduce, but outright eliminate, paper in real estate closings.
Remember the last presidential election, when a popular mantra was used over and over again: " Drill, baby, drill"? With the recent oil spill debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, that has become more like "Kill, baby, kill". Luckily, those irresponsible, selfish, shortsighted individuals are on the wane, while those doing their best to become more green are on the increase. Wastefulness and destruction of natural resources is definitely NOT cool, and to the best of my ability to control it, will not be tolerated on my watch.
Keep an eye on TRR, as we continue to evolve and develop new strategies and methods to be as kind to the environment as possible. TRR will always be on the cutting edge of environmental-friendly business methods. We ask our real estate associates and our customers to strongly consider doing the same, and implementing as many technological benefits into their daily lives and businesses as possible, as we all have a substantial and increasing responsibility to the world around us. Remember: our stay on this planet is a short one (we are just guests!), and the use of our resources is not an entitlement, but a privilege. Please use them responsibly and conservatively.
Bradford Roberts, President of Toyoda-Roberts Realty, has been involved in the real estate industry since 1994. His experience encompasses investment properties, residential and commercial sales and rentals, as well as acting as mentor for dozens of Sales Associates. Roberts along with Ms. Toyoda founded Toyoda-Roberts Realty in the summer of 2004. His first office was in Boca Raton, Florida, where he retains Designated Broker status. Roberts then expanded his operation to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he is now spending the majority of his time.
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