Technology Tools For Savvy Real Estate Investors
While many of my articles are about investing in real estate, I can’t help but notice how many of my students, co-workers, associates and real estate agents are NOT proficient in utilizing technology tools.
This can cost you a LOT of money as a real estate investor. So in no specific order, here are the tools that I recommend that you understand and utilize.
If you don’t understand all of these then you can:
- Google It
- Watch a You Tube Video on the topic
- Ask your kids 🙂
Yes, it’s sad but there are college educated people out there with MBA’s that just simply don’t know a lot of these (or some of them).
So if email did not exist when you were in college then perhaps you need to brush up on your technology tools.
Some of these are so damn simple that at the risk of offending anyone, I will put this disclaimer first.
If you don’t know some of these then you have a HUGE problem evolving in today’s marketplace for real estate investors.
And if you are looking for a job well….
You might be passed over on getting that job offer. I turn potential hires down every day that have very good GPA’s and went to great schools, but unfortunately did not have ANY technology skills.
The sad part is when they are interviewed they say their computer skills are “good”.
Hint. If you think using Word, Outlook and Excel means you have computer skills well … it doesn’t.
Technology is becoming more and more important in today’s marketplace. And too many of the kids graduating college today do not have the computer skills that they need to compete in today’s market.
At my boot camp last weekend, I asked a simple question of the audience. The average age of the audience was probably mid 40’s to mid 50’s.
Here was the question:
“If you use Gmail for email then how many inboxes do you have in your gmail account”
80 percent of the room said one inbox.
17 percent of the room said two inboxes.
and only a few people knew that there were three inboxes (inbox, social, promotions tabs)
Why is that an issue? Because we communicate with our students primarily via email. We also do all of our event registrations, boot camps notices etc via email marketing.
And our emails are going in to many of our students and customers spam folder, junk folder or promotions tab in Gmail.
Here is a typical dialogue with a student.
“I want to flip houses”
Great, let’s get started by sending you a document to get access to our training site.
“I didn’t get the document”.
It’s in your Spam Folder/Junk folder/ Promotions Tab.
“Whats a Promotions Tab”
I kid you not. We deal with this nonsense every day. So now instead of learning how to flip houses we are teaching them about their email.
They are paying A LOT of money to learn how to use their spam filter!
Now these are not morons.
These are people with jobs making $80,000 a year.
People with college degrees.
People that are smart.
But they lack basic computer skills.
And that is a big problem.
Because if they don’t know how to check their spam, then they certainly don’t know about:
- Facebook Custom Audiences
- Pay Per Click Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Landing Pages
- Lead Generation
- CRM Databases
You get my drift?
No matter what business you are in, you need leads. Every business needs leads. And no matter what your business is or what you do for a living those leads probably are going to come to you from “Google”.
So if you don’t know how to get leads, capture them, market to them and sell to them.
Then you my friend – are facing extinction.
Just like the dinosaur!
And in the meantime, there are kids out there that are under 30 that are mastering these topics.
They are making millions of dollars selling their information marketing services.
They are called “Information Marketers”.
And if you don’t understand this stuff, then you will be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to them to have them help you figure this all out.
And there is a learning curve. So expect to pay way too much to too many people before you find someone good who actually knows what they are doing.
So in summary…
Learn it yourself.
Pay someone to do it for you.
Or become extinct.
How’s that for a reality check.
I see smart kids graduating from very good schools applying for jobs with my company. They are 24 years old, fresh out of college, with good GPA’s. They look like smart kids. The model of success.
I ask them questions like this:
- Do you know any html?
- Are you familiar with WordPress?
- Have you ever blogged before?
- Do you have any graphic design experience?
- Have you ever coded anything?
- Have you ever sold anything online?
- Do you understand online shopping carts?
- Do you know what an autoresponder is?
- What is a landing page?
- Do you have any experience with video editing?
- Do you know any software other than Microsoft Office?
- Have you ever made money on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook?
I have yet to meet a college kid who can answer yes to even one of those questions.
Okay so not everyone has computer skills.
So I move on to a different line of questioning related to sales:
- Have you ever sold anything?
- Do you like selling?
- Have you ever cold called?
- How do you feel about calling people every day
- Have you ever worked with a database?
The resulting answers are… well you can guess. No, No, and No.
So let me get this straight.
You want me to hire you. And I cannot figure out one thing you can do for my organization other than filing, admin, answering phones, data entry, posting on blogs and spreadsheets?
And I have to teach you how to post on our blogs because you don’t know WordPress?
Well here is the problem.
There are these things called “Virtual Assistants”. They can do all of the above things for around $3 an hour. They are hungry to work and make money. They live in places like the Philippines and all of our admin jobs are being outsourced to them. Companies like Ebay, Microsoft and HUBZU are realizing that you can save a lot of money and become way more efficient by building call centers in places like India and the Phillipines.
My last virtual assistant lived in Cebu City in the Philippines. She had a degree in electrical engineering! She knew html, how to code, WordPress, graphic design. She also could cold call, follow up on leads, work with multiple databases. And the best part was she had an amazing work ethic. You see where she lives $3 an hour is a lot of money.
I asked her why not just get a job in a company over there using your degree.
Her answer was that she makes more money working from home for me.
And her husband works for Microsoft. She worked for Ebay before I hired her.
Do you see the problem here?
If big companies and small companies are hiring offshore because salaries are way lower.
And college kids graduating college have NO SKILLS for the current marketplace.
Then that is a huge problem.
And it is even a bigger problem when you consider the amount of financial aid people are taking on in order to get that college degree.
Now if you are studying to be a doctor, dentist, or engineer then it is probably worth it. but if your major is communications, political science or literature then you will have a big problem getting paid what you think you should get paid in todays market.
Unless you learn some new technology skills.
Which is not that difficult to do.
You could watch online tutorials on You Tube to learn just about anything.
So let’s talk about basic tools for real estate investors.
Now thankfully most younger people know how to do ALL of the things on the list below.
However if you graduated college 20 years ago then a few of the items on this list might be challenging:
Here are some basic things that you MUST KNOW if you want to be a real estate investor:
- Make sure you know how to white list emails so you don’t miss important emails.
- Know how to get emails on your phone (thankfully almost everyone does).
- Sync your emails from your mobile device and your laptop/desktop so you read them only once.
- invest in an ADF PDF Scanner, that can scan at least 20 pages (like a real estate contract).
- Have an email signature and adjust your email settings to add your first and last name.
- Know how to use a service like Docusign to sign and complete documents without a printer.
- Know how to transfer photos from your smart phone to your PC.
- Know how to upload these photos to sites like Craigslist, your website etc from your phone.
- Know how to send a wire to a title company from your laptop or desktop.
- Have a service for following up on missed calls and voicemails if you cannot answer your phone.
- Use a file sharing service like Google Drive, Dropbox or One drive – save all docs in the cloud.
- Check your email as often as you can so you don’t miss anything (a few times a day or more)
- Know how to use apps like Trulia, Realtor.com, Homesnap and Zillow on your phone.
- Google “Real Estate Apps” and “Real Estate Websites” to keep up with change.
A student at my boot camp last weekend, asked me why he needed to know all of this. He was probably in his mid 50’s. And I can see how someone in the 50 plus crowd would question why all of this is important.
It is actually a very good question.
Why do you need to know this stuff?
When I first arrived in the U.S. I went to college at San Diego State University. One of my first assignments was to prepare a report. I thought it had to be handwritten, but my room mate informed me that it had to be typed out.
There were two problems with that:
- I did not have a computer
- I did not know how to type
So I asked isn’t there somewhere I can go where I can pay someone to type it for me?
The answer was no, there is no such place on campus. So I went to the campus book store, purchased a Toshiba Laptop and bribed one of my friends with lots of pizza and beer and cash to show me how to use it. Then I picked up a book on typing. And I learned how to type. While the other kids were playing beach volleyball by the pool and rushing fraternities I taught myself to type. One hour a day. Every day. for a few weeks.
Today I type faster than just about anyone that I know. I don’t tell you that to boast. I just want to illustrate to you how YOU can acquire a new skill set, practice and master it. If I could do it, then so could you. Regardless of your age.
Everything I do comes from typing on a computer keyboard.
Can you imagine if I thought the way our parents did?
Can you imagine if I never learned how to type?
You see in my parents economy only secretaries typed.
There was NO REASON to know how to type or use a computer.
Well, this ain’t our parents economy.
Back then we had job security and all sorts of good things.
We were just simply cogs in the wheel of a giant corporate enterprise.
They needed us just as much as we needed them.
And as long as we did our job we were fine.
Well, this ain’t our parents economy.
Today EVERYTHING is on a computer.
And you better know how to use one.
You need to know how to type and how things work online.
And if you don’t know these things then you already know that you are challenged.
You already feel it in your difficulty to get leads or new customers.
You already know that you are a dinosaur. Facing a certain extinction.
So going back to the student at my Boot Camp that asked me why he needed to know all of this.
This was how I responded:
I just got a bid on a property accepted on an online auction site called Hubzu. I signed the purchase contract and wired the deposit from my iPad while we were on our 10 minute break.
I asked him. Do you know how to do that?
Last week I used the HUD Home store App on my iPhone to search for HUD homes while I was waiting at the dentist’s office. I found a house, logged in to HUD as an agent, registered to bid, created a purchase contract online, and submitted it – all from my iPhone.
My offer was accepted two days later.
I asked him. Do you know how to do that?
A seller contacted my office looking to sell their house. I got a text from my office along with an email from my office with the comparable sales report. I called the seller and negotiated a price with him. He accepted my offer. I signed the contract on my iPhone and my office was marketing the property online on multiple web sites within 45 minutes of my speaking to the seller.
Oh, and I did this from an iPad while I was sitting on my boat in the middle of Lake Boca. We sold the property to a cash buyer for a profit of $7,000 three weeks later.
I asked him. Do you know how to do that?
Last week I went to look at properties to purchase for a fix and flip or rental (I bought 4 houses).
For my decision making process while I was on the road in my car I used the following:
- Realtor.com’s app to see the properties listed for sale around the subject property.
- Zillow.com for sold houses, pictures of sold houses and current houses listed for sale.
- My comparable sales service provider for retrieving sold comps on houses and lock box codes.
- Access to my MLS to search actives/pendings and get a feel for supply and demand.
I asked him. Do you know how to do that?
Do you have those apps set up on your phone or tablet? Do you know how to use them?
Today over 100 people signed up for my email list. Every day another 100 or so people sign up. That’s 3,000 new leads every single month. They sign up from my web site, from multiple landing pages, from Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google, You Tube and many other sources.
I asked him. Do you know how to do that?
Every week I send out hundreds of thousands of emails to these same people. I market to them constantly every single day. This marketing is automatic and on autopilot and does not need ANY HUMAN INVOLVEMENT. However people with technology skills need to set it all up to work properly. I pay them thousands of dollars every month. These people are in high demand and hard to find. They don’t teach this stuff at college. I hire video editors, web site designers, graphic artists, logo designers, lead generation companies, writers and anyone that can contribute to clicks, content, media or social on any of my hundreds of web sites .
Customers come to my sites every day and purchase products online. Every single day. These customers are located all over the world. In fact I have just as many customers that are thousands of miles away as I do that are within 20 miles of my office. According to my Google Analytics my sites are visited by people in remote countries that you would never expect to see visitors from. Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Papau New Guinea, Indonesia. How do they find me?
You see the Internet is Global. It is on 24/7. And it is your marketing machine. This matters to you. I visited a local restaurant in Boca Raton the other night that has amazing food. There were two customers. I asked him do you have a Facebook Page for your restaurant? He said no.
You see, regardless of what business you are in you need customers. And you get customers from leads. You could have a dry cleaning store or a restaurant. You could be a real estate agent, mortgage broker, appraiser, or general contractor.
You need leads. You need customers. You need a way to convert leads into customers.
So I have a question for you….
What are YOU doing to grow your business, expand your brand, market, advertise and generate leads?
Please don’t say nothing.
Because if you do then your business is either dying or is already dead. And yes even if you work as a real estate agent from home, on your cell phone.
Make no mistakes about it, it is a business. Unless you treat it as a hobby. Then it’s a hobby.
Yesterday a buyer that was supposed to buy a property from me, had still not sent in his deposit.
I waited patiently for two days for the deposit. It never came. I began to wonder if he was serious.
In the meantime, another buyer sent his deposit in with a signed contract. So I sold the house to him.
The original buyer that never sent their deposit in, told me that he needed to go to his bank to do a wire. He told me that he could not get off work to go to the bank to do the wire. And when he did the bank was closed. He clearly did not know how to wire the title company a $3,000 deposit from his laptop.
Well he lost the house.
And he also lost the opportunity to fix and flip the house for a potential $30,000 in profit.
Because he did not know how to log in to his bank account online and send a wire.
Because he didn’t know technology.
Now isn’t that a pity?
This guy was an engineer. He had a graduate degree.
But he didn’t know how to send a wire from his laptop.
Every few weeks, our office has a situation with a buyer who doesn’t sign a contract or submit it back to us. The reason is usually because it’s in their spam folder, their printer doesn’t work, or they are out of toner or paper.
Our office tells them to just “Docusign” the document and send it back. They ask “what’s Docusign”.
Do you see the problem?
Do you get what I am saying?
Technology is very important. And it is getting more important every single day.
Please learn how to use technology to your advantage. If you can’t figure it out then you can pay someone to help you. Or better yet, bribe your kids and maybe they will learn a few new skills along the way.
If you want to flip houses then you have to utilize technology. Most of it is free or very inexpensive. Docusign costs only $15 a month. That is 50 cents per day. Ponder that, as you stand in line at Starbucks waiting for your $3.95 Cappucino every morning.
Ask yourself can you afford NOT to have a service like Docusign? If you are a real estate investor or even a wannabe real estate investor then the answer is a resounding no. You have to have it. You need it.
You need to learn how to sign a contract on your iPhone or Android phone.
Learn how to save documents that are emailed to you as attachments on cloud sharing services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or One Drive.
And learn how to create a new email, retrieve a PDF document from the cloud sharing service that you use, and add it as an attachment to an email. Learn how to do this from your phone.
You need to know this in order to be able to sign and send documents back to realtors. Otherwise you will need to be at your computer 24/7. or you will need to constantly go home to sign a contract.
Why on earth would you drive all the way home, print the contract, sign it and then scan it when you could do that all from your phone? Be smart. Use technology. Save your time for finding properties.
Do you see what I am saying?
Use technology to help you.
Use it to save you time.
Use it to make you money
To make more offers.
To find more houses.
To flip more houses.
To get more offers accepted.
Technology can make all of the difference to your game.
I would not have been able to do even one of the transactions in the list that I mentioned above without using Dropbox, Docusign and the apps that I mentioned.
And if my buyers had understood technology better then they would have purchased those houses from me instead of letting another buyer who understood technology better beat them to it.
Are you one of those people that says:
- I don’t text
- I don’t have a website
- I don’t do Facebook
- What’s Dropbox?
Because if you are, then you my friend are moving slowly towards extinction. Just like the dinosaur.
You have a huge meteor (called technology denial) that is about to hit you.
And when it does it will send you instantly and permanently into extinction (job loss/business loss).
Because while you say that you can’t, you don’t or you won’t use Technology/Facebook/Text.
There are people like me, and some of my real estate associates and info marketers, who are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to figure out how to get more leads and how to convert them better.
So please do yourself a favor, and start investing some of your time and energy into learning how to use technology to leverage yourself, your time and your business to take it to another level.
To your success in real estate