As a real estate investor, it’s not uncommon to feel the need to be in two places at once or lack the hours to make every phone call, go to appointments, and still have personal time. From working with sellers, buyers, contractors, agents, title attorneys, and lenders to keeping up with the state of the market, researching deals, and making time for personal growth, productivity has to be a priority. This is where you will find that productivity tools for real estate investors can help you get ahead and stay ahead.
These activities are time-consuming and can distract busy real estate investors from their overarching goals as days are spent doing what feels like $10/hr tasks instead. A real estate investor must find ways to be more time efficient. We’ve compiled 9 productivity tools every real estate investor needs to get more time back in the day and focus on the bigger picture.
1. Transcription Service
Many real estate investors use videos for marketing. Whether the videos are hosted on a website or in a Facebook ad, people should be able to understand them without sound. Did you know that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without turning the sound on? Providing a transcript and captions for your real estate videos will allow a broader audience to be captured. If a potential lead comes across a video at work, they’re not going to turn on the volume for their co-workers to hear, so having it transcribed allows them to get the same value out of it whether the volume is up or not.
In search engine optimization, uploaded transcriptions allow the video to be indexed. Google can understand text and index it, allowing more people to find it when searching online for words and phrases within the transcripts from your video content. This is not a new task to add to a “to-do” list, there are transcription services that will do this for you. Accuracy of the transcription is essential. Otherwise, the message does not come across as intended. Look for transcription services that use human transcribers, as fewer errors exist.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRMs are arguably the essential productivity tool for real estate investors, providing a centralized hub for all customer information. From seller leads to a buyers list, all pertinent information can be stored in one location and easily shared with all team members. Have pre-qualifying questions to ask a seller lead? Create a form in your CRM to fill out for each new lead received, and let this info populate into your database. This allows for easy sorting and tracking of leads and is an efficient way to get organized. There’s no more worrying about losing track of any information as it’s all in one place.
Regarding CRM tools, we will touch on a few options, although many tools are available. Podio is popular among real estate investors. However, it’s more old-school. Many of the newer CRM tools have improved upon Podio, such as Airtable and Smartsheet.
Airtable is a free piece of software that can be used as a CRM– it is a database that can look like a spreadsheet from a user interface perspective and enables users to create relationships between the sets of data within each table. Airtable provides the ability to connect with external services such as Mailchimp or social media to import new contacts or post new content automatically. Finally, Airtable also neatly integrates with Zapier (a software built around connecting “disconnected” software), which means software can be integrated with Airtable even if Airtable doesn’t directly support it.
Smartsheet is another popular CRM more commonly used by mid-sized businesses. While it is not free, it provides more expansive capabilities and can be used as project management software.
3. Cloud Communication Platform
Managing inbound calls and texts is critical for real estate investors. This makes a cloud communication platform separate from your phone number (without buying a second phone) crucial for decreasing business expenses while increasing productivity. Utilize a phone system that is as automated as possible while providing customizations that meet your needs, such as Twilio. Twilio allows users to accept calls from a laptop and other devices, which is excellent when a phone battery dies or gets left in an inconvenient location.
Many communication platforms can also be integrated with CRMs and other productivity tools. For example, Zapier can auto-associate phone calls (recordings, voicemails, etc.) with your leads and store this information in your CRM. I forgot what “Bill” said a couple of days ago about a faulty joist in his house or occupation. This saved data can keep investors from asking repeated questions and help build rapport with leads.
Have a business partner or team? A cloud communication platform allows multiple people to accept calls, listen to voicemails, respond to texts, etc. It is impossible to divvy out these tasks if everything is contained solely on your phone. Through cloud communication, calls and texts can be managed externally, so the lead that just came in can still be contacted if you’re at a house appointment. Calls and texts are received constantly from homeowners who wish to sell their house with a property buyer. Switching to a cloud phone service significantly increases productivity while fulfilling the home seller’s needs.
4. Project Management Software
Don’t wait for a task to be forgotten to utilize project management software. Any real estate investor who jots down notes on the phone, computer, or the nearest piece of paper can quickly lose track of what needs to be accomplished. One central location to track not only all daily tasks but also larger business goals will help with organization, timeliness, and productivity. Software that can be accessed on both desktop and mobile allows investors to create tasks while on an appointment or away from the computer, so everything stays in one place.
Make project management software part of your daily routine. Asana is a free tool (available on desktop and mobile) that allows all activities to be captured and viewed in a list, calendar, or several other formats. The calendar format shows what there is to do that day and allows for quickly planning out the week setting your business up for success. From being able to tag tasks based on priority to set tasks to repeat certain days of the week, investors can better track their “to-do’s” and look in one location for all the work needed to complete. If creating all of these tasks sounds time-consuming, we will discuss automation later in this article.
Depending on the size of the business, project management software allows investors to see what everyone is working on, giving the business total transparency. It also allows investors to track business goals or milestones– this is beneficial for ensuring all tasks align with the goals for the month. It’s simple to check in on the progress and make sure everyone or yourself is still on track mid-week. It’s easy to forget to return a phone call or keep social media active, but project management software can serve as an investor’s space to write everything down, so there’s nothing to remember.
5. Document Collaboration
Regarding collaboration, Google Drive is a non-negotiable (free). However, even solo real estate investors can stay organized in the cloud with Google Docs and Sheets. Sheets are great for tracking financials and can be accessed on both desktop and mobile. Comments or suggested edits can be left to yourself, so when coming back to the document, it’s clear what still needs to be completed. This saves time from re-reading the entire document to remember where you left off. If something needs to be added to the document while out getting coffee, it can be added directly using the app, even without being connected to WiFi.
Some real estate investors get leads via SEO, so writing content for a website’s blog or answering HARO queries should be important weekly tasks. Google Docs is perfect for copywriting and allows real estate investors to get started and invite a partner or team to expand on their initial thoughts. After an update, a teammate can immediately open the application and view the change. There are no sending emails back and forth with the document attached. This saves time that can be spent on the next task.
6. Email Marketing
Wholesaling properties is a popular strategy in real estate investing, requiring a decently extensive buyers list. Sending deals through marketing campaigns is an effective way to reach out to these buyers “en mass.” Mailchimp has a free base package that allows users to create a template, so the next time there is a wholesale deal, investors can plug in the address, price, photos, and other details and blast it out to their buyer’s list. This should take no longer than 20 minutes after the initial setup of the template. It also looks professional and is easy to link to social media and your website.
7. Automation Integration
Automating tasks is one of the best ways to improve productivity because it allows items to be removed entirely from the workload. However, automation requires upfront work, which can feel overwhelming to fit into a packed schedule. Real estate investors relate to not having enough time to automate a task but try calculating how long it will take to set up automation versus the amount of time spent doing the task for a year– 9 times out of 10, it is worth automating.
There are many mindless tasks that investors may be tempted to hire out to a virtual assistant when it can just be automated. For example, every real estate investor needs a simple way to follow up with leads, so when there is no response from a lead in 24 hours, they automatically enter an email drip. This can be done by connecting the CRM to SendInBlue via Zapier. SendInBlue is a free application that allows users to create follow-up workflows (e.g., after 24 hours, send an email to an unresponsive lead).
Using automation tools, voicemails and form fill-outs from leads on a website can automatically generate a task in project management software and be assigned to the next open availability. The automation options are endless and can quickly save hours per week.
8. PDF Signing Service
As a real estate investor, signing documents and contracts with leads is excellent news because deals are being closed. However, signing in person is not ideal (and your lead probably feels the same way). Signing PDFs remotely saves everyone time and money.
Real estate transactions happen quickly these days, and documents need to be sent around as fast as possible– snail mail is no longer an option. DocuSign is one of the most popular signing services, and although it’s not free, it is worth the few hundred dollars per year. Haven’t yet adopted a PDF signing service due to the price? PandaDoc is a free option that provides the basic capabilities to gain productivity in the signing process.
9. Tracking Tax Deductions
No one likes paying taxes… As a self-employed real estate investor, taking as many tax deductions as possible (while keeping everything legal) is the best-case scenario. Keeping track of all business expenses in a spreadsheet is a good start, but it’s also essential to track receipts. An app that has optical character recognition (OCR) or sends the receipts to a company (e.g., Shoeboxed) will save investors time from recording everything manually. Real estate investors don’t want to estimate tax deductions at the end of the year– keep accurate records and use resources to make it less manual.
One resource we all have in common is 24 hours each day. By maximizing the work we can accomplish within these 24 hours, we can achieve maximum productivity by utilizing these tools for real estate investors. Real estate investors have a constant stream of work, whether lead follow-ups, walkthroughs, or overseeing projects. Thinning out the daily tasks to gain more time back in the day creates room to close more deals and reach those overarching investment goals.