02 May
2016

Cloud-Based Benefits and Tools for the Real Estate Industry

The real estate bust is over in most parts of the country, so now more than ever, realty brokerages and individual agents need to leverage cloud resources to optimize their productivity and efficiency in a fast-moving rcloud real estateeal estate marketplace.  Real estate has been slow to adopt cloud solutions, relying on tried and true paper-based files and contracts; yet, real estate agents routinely manage sensitive customer information and data, such as social security numbers, address and phone numbers, and banking information. Without optimizing for the cloud, this puts customer data and transactions at risk if documents are lost or a client’s identity is stolen.

Most real estate agents use public cloud services, such as Dropbox, that might be good for individual agents to store files; however, they might not have the level of encryption needed for an MLS (multiple listing service). Since the real estate industry has not yet set guidelines for cloud security, it can leverage the guidance set forth in the financial industry through the FFIEC’s handbook for IT and outsourced cloud computing. This helps brokerages make good decisions and ask the right questions when selecting service options.

Benefits of Cloud-Based Solutions

Buyers and sellers are web-savvy and rely on their agent partners to use cutting-edge technology as well. Cloud-based solutions offer the following benefits:

  • Flexibility: As businesses and markets expand or contract, so can the cloud. Servers can be scaled up or down to meet fluctuating needs, which helps real estate agents adapt to the cyclical nature of the housing market more quickly.
  • Collaboration and document control: Cloud solutions allow agents to have employees and clients collaborate on work without being in the same room. For example, this might take the form of electronic document markup and signing. Signed contracts can then be stored in the cloud for any user to print or distribute. Previously users might have had to send documents back and forth via email, but cloud solutions enable all parties to easily work on the most up-to-date document at all times.
  • Security: Agents use laptops and mobile devices as their primary tool. Should a laptop or phone be stolen or destroyed, the cloud ensures that valuable client data and legal documents won’t be lost or left in the hands of someone who might use them to steal clients’ identities.
  • Updated technology: Using cloud solutions, small realty brokerages can take comfort in knowing their software is always the most current without the repeated investment costs in upgrading their hardware and software. This keeps costs low and predictable.

Cloud-Based Tools

Using cloud services, agents are empowered to provide real-time solutions to their clients, ensure client sensitive information security and be more agile on the go. Real estate agents and brokerages can easily adopt cloud-based solutions that are ideal for the industry, such as:

  • Webpage design: With a product like Yola, agents can design business webpages that track visitors and statistics, have contact forms, integrate with Facebook and utilize stock images and templates. With these tools, agents can reliably track unique visitors to a property listing and capture lead information.
  • Document creation and client communication: With Office 365, an annual fee provides the most up-to-date version of the software including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and Skype for Business. Agents can access documents from a mobile device wherever they are in the field.
  • File storage: Agents might choose to use Dropbox as a solution for file storage. However, for more powerful encryption, Nomadesk offers advanced security options, including the ability to wipe data from any mobile device should it be lost or stolen. Agents can seamlessly sync, back up and store client files as well.
  • Email: Faxing contracts between agents or clients is outdated and unreliable. Instead, agents rely on email to ensure they have timed receipts of critical documents. Using Rmail, an all-in-one email extension, agents and brokerages benefit from increased security, compliance and productivity, such as providing senders with open tracking, certified e-delivery proof, compliant email encryption, electronic signatures and large file transfers, which is useful for sending large PDFs without having to zip them.

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