I received this press release from Nuance software, maker of PDF conversion software and Dragon Naturally speaking, speech to text software.
The release was so well written, meaning it’s a TRUE STORY, that I’m publishing it here in its entirety. Sure, it’s a press release, but it’s a great story of how a small realtor moved their business to being a “paper-less” office.
When economic conditions created an “upside down” housing market in Las Vegas, Nevada, The Karten Group at Realty Executives of Nevada saw this as an opportunity to leverage their commitment to quality and client service to focus their business on short-sale housing transactions.
A short sale is a highly specialized transaction. For the homeowner, it can be an extremely emotional process where delays and uncertainties generate anxiety. For the lender, it is a complicated procedure, requiring extensive layers of paperwork that need to be complete and managed in an exacting way to work within short-sale guidelines.
It was this combination of demands that led Mark Karten, Realtor at The Karten Group, to search out a software tool to streamline the paper-intensive process – to make creating and managing the documentation associated with a short-sale painless for the client and efficient for the lender.
“Most real estate agents don’t want to handle short-sale transactions because of their complications. Realtors are sales people, not paper pushers. We adopted Nuance PDF Converter software because it allows us to work and collaborate in a paperless way,” said Karten.
Nuance PDF Converter Professional 7 software enables The Karten Group to create PDF files from virtually any PC application and also convert PDF files back into fully formatted, editable Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and Corel WordPerfect documents.
“The computer skills of our client base range from beginner to expert. PDF Converter helps us present electronic documents to clients in the format they are comfortable working in. It also allows us to scan static forms and make them interactive so clients can easily key in needed information, which can be especially helpful on financial information worksheets from banks,” explained Karten.
In addition to features, price played a big role in The Karten Group’s selection decision. “Realtor offices are like other small businesses; we are very price sensitive in our purchases. When we saw Nuance provided all the PDF features we needed at a price that was one-third the cost of Adobe Acrobat, going with PDF Converter was the smarter choice,” said Karten.
The Move to a Paperless Office
The Karten Group has been using Nuance PaperPort desktop document management software to scan and manage incoming paper documents as PDF files, and DocuSign electronic signature software for clients to sign paperwork. Adding PDF Converter has helped The Karten Group make the leap to a paperless office.
Real estate is a paper-intensive business and The Karten Group needs to save transaction files for five years – which for their business totals hundreds of thousands of pages. One example of a paperless process is gathering client signatures on documentation. After converting documents to PDF, The Karten Group uses the annotation capabilities of PDF Converter to call out the areas of the documents that need to be signed or initialed – making it easier for clients to sign electronically. This attention to detail ensures documentation is in compliance with the state real estate division. Working with electronic documents also makes it easy for clients to save copies in their email systems, download or print.
“There are many advantages to being paperless. We have instant accessibility to all files, and ability to modify and share documents of different types in one format. Also, electronic document storage allows us to keep paperwork private – with no need to shred or put files in boxes and pay for off-site storage. We also like that our business is ‘green’ by saving paper and reducing office supply consumption,” said Karten.
Another example of the efficiencies The Karten Group has created is email management. PDF Converter enables Karten to convert Microsoft Outlook email messages – including attachments – into PDF files with a single click from the Outlook toolbar. This step helps Karten stay organized by dropping the messages into the client’s electronic folder.
Protecting Proprietary Information
To generate market visibility, The Karten Group publishes a weekly electronic newsletter for homeowners, service providers and other Realtors about opportunities and process changes in the Las Vegas short-sale market. The newsletter reaches more than 1,000 readers and consistently generates new sales opportunities for The Karten Group.
One key reason for the newsletter’s popularity is Karten includes PDF files of weekly sales reports and documents about government and bank programs which many readers have not previously seen or used. PDF Converter enables Karten to protect his work product with PDF Security features that prevent other Realtors from copying and pasting the information to claim it as their own as well as preventing document printing.
“Real estate is a highly competitive business. PDF Converter allows us to bring real value to clients and others in the market while also protecting the proprietary information that goes into each newsletter. That means we can freely share our industry knowledge – but in a way which prevents others from capitalizing on it,” said Karten.
Improvements in Working with Lenders
When The Karten Group works with a lender on a transaction, they need to fax the initial property package to the lender. While The Karten Group uses an eFax program, many times the banks have paper fax machines on the receiving end and it may take two or three submissions before the lender acknowledges receipt of the fax.
Nuance PDF Converter enables The Karten Group to add headers and footers to each page of the file so the pages can be easily identified if misplaced or shuffled upon receipt. With the software, The Karten Group adds information, such as borrower’s name, loan number, date and property address, on all pages, improving efficiency in the document transfer. According to Karten, “Gaining a bank’s confidence that you are well organized and capable is half the battle in moving a short sale forward.”
Karten continues to use PDF Converter throughout the transaction. For example, at the end of a short sale when The Karten Group receives paperwork from the bank with their terms and conditions, Karten can annotate the documents, add electronic notes and explain right on the form areas that need specific review.
“Without Nuance software, we could not have grown our business like we have; we would have capped out – overwhelmed by paperwork associated with the transaction volume,” said Karten.