Gmail for Real Estate

This is not really a step by step tutorial – it is easy to search Google how to send a message in gmail, or do any number of different specific tasks.  If you got here from my CRM for Real Estate Agents, please leave a comment below.

Instead what I am going to do is share how I use Gmail in my day to day activities as a Realtor.

For me, my inbox is my to do list.  I get a lot of emails every day:

  • Messages from other agents
  • Important messages from clients
  • Notes from friends and family
  • Newsletters I’ve subscribed to
  • Reminders from other meetings and activities
  • spam (of course)
  • Plus lots of other emails that I can’t really categorize

Since I like to keep my inbox around zero – a goal which is increasingly difficult, I have to stay on top of my messages all the time.   I use as many tips and tricks that I can to keep things organized and efficient so I don’t drop any of the dozens of balls I’m juggling at any given time.

Gmail on the BrainI think of Gmail like my brain, I’m only really using 20% of it at any given time, and I know there is so much more I can do.  Gmail is just like that.  Most people only use a fraction of all the different features either because they are afraid they are going to lose something, or mess something up, or just don’t realize that it is possible to do these things.

But with Gmail, it’s really hard to loose a message.  If you move it to a strange folder, you can always move it back.  Even if you delete it, it doesn’t really go away.  You can still recover it, if not too much time has passed.

My in-box is my to do list.

Like I mentioned before, my inbox is my to-do list.

A long time ago, I read something about working efficiently that stuck with me.  This was written long before the days of the internet and email, because there was no mention of technology.  The article was called “how to deal with your mailbox” and it referred to actual snail mail that people would get everyday.

In order to prevent paper from piling up all over your desk at work the article stated, whenever you get a piece of paper, be it a letter, postcard, copy, or report, choose one of three things to do to it immediately.  This is one of those habits that highly successful people employ to keep their life simple.

Read it | File it | Toss it

Amazingly, this doesn’t just apply to paper.  It works incredibly well for emails.

If you are like me, most of your email messages are longer than a text, but shorter than a phone conversation.  They are in that sweet spot of communication.  A quick read, a couple of minutes to craft and fire off a response, and then done.

So for every email I get I use one of the three things above, and Gmail, used as part of my real estate CRM works flawlessly.

I base these three actions solely on the snippet preview or sender.

Read it – I do exactly that.  I read the message and act on it immediately.

File it – I scan the subject and decide that this is not an immediate effort, and file it into an appropriate folder (see below)

Toss it – junk mail, newsgroups I don’t have time for, and other solicitations all get deleted immediately.

Gmail for CRM

This is where Gmail really comes in handy.  Once I read a message I immediately send a response.  Usually I take a couple of minutes and hand write something.  But every so often I get something that I have a prepared automated response for (like people who want to submit a listing to my blog).  To learn more about canned responses just Google it 🙂

When I get a message with an invitation to something – like a listing appointment, showing or meeting, I can immediately add it to my calendar, by clicking on the day or time.   Want to learn more ?  Search for it on Youtube.

Gmail Attachment Reminder MacOften times I need to add a contract or other attachment.  I simply click on the little paper clip and upload the file.  If I mentioned an attachment in the text of the email, and forget to upload it, Gmail gently reminds me before the note can be sent.

Adding images is just as easy.  I simply drag the photos I want to include in the message to the draft of the note, and they are uploaded instantly.  Not all web browsers support this, but I’m using Chrome on my Mac Laptop, so it works really well.

Once I’ve written my response I want to get that I organize every message into one of 7 folders

  1. Buyers
  2. Sellers
  3. Renters
  4. Investors
  5. Office
  6. Personal
  7. Misc

These are all pretty self explanatory.  If you have a question about each specific folder, ask me in the comments below.

Backup Gmail?

Even though everything is stored in the cloud there is still a way to backup everything to your hard drive if you want.  Look it up it’s easy!

Google Mail Search Bar

Remember how I mentioned that I file everything away so my inbox is as low as it can be?  Well, sometimes that’s a problem.  Amazing search bar –

I can search for anything with the search bar.  Just type in the sender’s name, something in the text, or whatever you remember, and presto, the infinite power of Gmail’s servers spring into action and deliver outstanding search results.  It just works!

A couple of other cool features:

Google groups email threads, or conversations together automatically.

You can add smart labels to messages and Gmail learns your habits and behaviors to automate repetitive filing tasks.

Plus it links every message to a contact. you can read more of that in my Google Contacts for Realtors upcoming article.

 

As always, Please share any of your cool g-mail tricks or tips in the comments below.

CRM for Real Estate

We are all on the go.

I know I am, especially as a busy real estate agent.   Often I don’t have time to sit down at a real computer (laptop or desktop).  When a client calls and wants to see a house, I don’t just jump, but leap!  In the Austin market, homes sell very quickly, and to be able to get the ones my clients want I have to act immediately.  I need all my information immediately, and everywhere I go.  And I don’t want to have to worry about it being outdated or backed up.

Real Estate ContactsWhen I started as a Realtor, I really didn’t know how important it was keeping track of everything.  Who is interested in which neighborhood?  Who is flying in from California next weekend?  Who needs to get a contract signed.   No longer is it just my phone that is ringing.  I get emails all day long, am constantly texting, and as you know I’m all over Facebook and Twitter.

How does one handle it all?

I rely on technology.  Around the office, I’m known at one of the most techie guys around.  Of course we have a full time computer specialist on staff, as well as a person handling all of the social media for our company.  But we are all independent business people here.  Even though we all work for a broker (or are a broker), we have to get and grow our own business.

It seems like everybody does something a little differently.  And it seems like there isn’t a single solution either.

What is a CRM

Day planner for Real EstateSimply put CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  It’s a way to organize and communicate with all your leads, buyers, sellers, investors, and even renters.  It is a way to track their name, email, phone number, house address, and more – whatever you enter.  I usually start with basic business card information, and add stuff as I go.

In the last century everybody would run around with these little file-o-faxes, or day planners.  But now everything is digital.

Basically it’s my little black book, but all digital.  I store everything about my clients there, birthdays, favorite wines, kids names, you get the idea.

Why do I need a CRM?

I need a CRM because I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of everything.  I may be driving on my way to a listing appointment and thinking about that when my phone rings and it’s a different client about a different property.

If you are like me, when your phone rings the first thing you do is check your caller ID to see who is calling.  If it is just a number sometimes I have a hard time associating the name with the number.  One feature of the CRM is it associates the client’s name with their number so when they call I get that information right away.

Plus I need more.  I need access to my calendar.  I need directions.  I need everything.  Immediately.  And I’m on a budget.

Some CRM for Real Estate

I didn’t have time to  write real estate crm reviews for all these products, but I have tried a lot of them out

  • Daylight
  • Salesforce
  • Base
  • REA Real Estate Assistant
  • Clientlook
  • Apto
  • Insightly

A lot of these companies/programs have been around for a long time, and I’m sure they all have their benefits and drawbacks.  All I know is when I started selling houses, I needed something FAST.  I didn’t have a lot of money to invest, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time learning a system that I wasn’t sure was going to work for me in the long run.

One thing I kept running into with these out of the box CRM solutions was that they either had a bunch of features I didn’t need, or they didn’t have the features I really wanted.  I hated being forced to do things their way, instead of my way.

What is the best real estate CRM?

For me, the best CRM is platform independent I can use it on a Mac, PC, Tablet, or Phone.  It does automatic backups,  because I never remember to do that.  It has a calendar, contacts, notes, document storage, and a to do list.  It is easy to set-up, and has lots of documentation in case I run into a problem.  Plus it’s low cost, or even free.

In summary:

  • Platform independent
  • Automatic Backups
  • Lots of features
  • Easy to use
  • Low cost

Google for Real Estate

Enter Google, and their suite of business apps.

google_appsWhat?  I didn’t know google had programs I could use in my business.  Well, they do,  And they are easy to use, free, and work on both Macs and PCs (Plus tablets, and phones).

They have lots of support on-line that teaches me how to use the different programs when I get stuck and need help.

Since the apps live in the cloud, I never need to worry about backing everything up.

The best part is it is free, and since it is Google I don’t have to worry about them going out of business.

There are lots of different features, too. The parts of Google that I use for managing my real estate business:

  • Mail
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Drive

Over the next week I’ll be writing extensively how I use each of these features.  Mostly I just have the regular set-ups for each of them,  but the way I use them is a bit specific to real estate, and hopefully you will find that helpful.

Most likely you already have an account with Google, so the set-up is almost nil, and unless you have tons and tons of emails, the cost is free.  I know you get 15 Giga-bytes of storage for free, and the next level is 100 GB, for only $4.95/month.  That’s cheap!

Each of the different apps is linked to each other, too, so I can schedule a meeting right from my mail program, and then link it to the people who I’ll be meeting with on contacts.  I can also share and collaborate with documents using Google Drive,

It’s really easy!  I suggest you try it out!

Lease Codes

One question I get all the time is:

What does AC mean on the rental listing page?

The great majority of my clients choose to receive automatic emails that send them properties that match their criteria.  Maybe they are looking for a 2 bed 1 bath in Hyde Park.  Perhaps they want to lease a 4 bedroom on the lake, or even just a downtown condo.  For each of these different types of clients I set them up with an automatic email that sends them current listings automatically. (more…)

September 2012 Austin Real Estate

What a market we are in. For the last 18 months we have experienced increases in the number of homes sold.

Usually, the winter months show a decline in houses being sold, but not in Austin.  We sold 23% more homes in November of 2012 than we did last year.  Houses get listed, and quickly sold.

What does this mean?  Depending on your situation, you will experience different things.  Tere are no if’s and’s or but’s about it, we are in a very strong Seller’s market, and I don’t see signs of this changing any time soon.  Interest rates are extremely low, and will remain that way through at the very least the spring of 2013, and probably longer.  Lenders are beginning to loosen requirements a little bit, although appraisers are reluctant to overvalue homes in Austin based on what the rest of the country is experiencing.  Inventory of places to live in Austin are extremely low.  New home builders can’t pour slabs fast enough, and apartments are 98% rented.

Why?  Because everyone is Moving to Austin.  It’s all over the news.  There are so many TV shows about us.  And we are on all of the top 10 lists, too.  Austin is one of the best the best city for vegetarians.  Austin is one of the healthiest cities in the nation.  Austin is a great city to meet singles.  The lists go on and on.

For home sellers:

Now is the time to sell.  Whatever your price range you are bound to get some activity.  If you are at the lower end of the market be prepared to receive multiple offers, and if you are at the upper end of the luxury market, I wouldn’t be surprised if you experienced more activity, and a shorter time on the market overall.

For home buyers:

Don’t delay!  Work closely with your realtor and trust them.  I’ve always said that if you see a house that you like, don’t dilly-dally.  Make an offer.  If you don’t, it is very likely that someone else will.  Among my buyers half believe me, and they get the home of their dreams, but the other half think they know better, and see a house, wait a week, and then go back to look at it and it’s sold.

Remember, I do this day in, and day out, every day of the year.  I know the Austin Real estate market.

August 2012 Austin Real Estate Statistics

15!

Fifteen straight months that Austin has seen an increase in sales volume.  Central Texas is Growing, and looks to continue to grow as more than 100 people move to our area every day.

29%

Houses are selling 29% faster this month than they did at this same time last year.

Leonard Guerro (A JB Goodwin Agent, and president of the Austin Board of Realtors) said:

Strong demand for homes continued in August while the inventory of available homes continued to shrink. That contributed to the increase in price. In fact, this was the highest median price we’ve seen in the month of August in the last decade in Austin

Here’s the monthly real estate stats, in an easy to read infographic form.  What do you think of the Austin Market? Leave us a comment.



July 2012 Austin Real Estate Statistics

Every month the Austin Board of Realtors puts out some statistics for the Real Estate market in Austin. I’ll be honest. Sometimes they are hard to understand. And I used to be a biochemist who worked in a bioanalytical lab.

What does that mean, exactly? It means I would look at pages and pages of data. Time points from experiments. Drug levels, and kinetics. Rates of absorption and chemical formulas. My job was to look at all those numbers and pull out something of significance. To use all my training and find a result in pages and pages of numbers.

This is exactly like what I do now. I take the data presented by ABoR, and find the neighborhoods that are appreciating the fastest. I look for areas where homes sell the fastest, and for the most money. I find great values in properties that are undervalued for first time home buyers.

So I present my infographic of the Austin Area Real Estate Statistics. Over the last few days I’ve been paying with these infographics, and I think they are a great way to present real estate data.

Some of the charts are interactive, so use your mouse to roll over slices in the pie chart, or click on the different series of data to get more detailed info.

Of course, if you want an even more detailed analysis of a specific neighborhood, or even your home, give me a call, or send me an email, and let’s chat.

 

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