5 Tried and True Habits a Real Estate Agent Has for Keeping Financial Documents Organized

published Aug 10, 2022
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The homebuying journey can be a long one, and that’s even when things go smoothly. It helps to keep information and documents as organized as possible — especially if you’re buying and selling properties at the same time — so that you can respond quickly to a real estate agent, mortgage lender, or potential buyer with the information they’re seeking.

“Buying or selling a house for the first time can be a daunting task, so assembling a good team around you is paramount,” says Andrew Pasquella, a real estate associate with Sotheby’s International Realty in Malibu, California. He recommends leaning on an experienced real estate agent and mortgage broker who can help prepare you for what to expect during the process. “Speed counts in a real estate transaction, so anticipating what you will need to create a smooth transaction is key,” he says.

The good news is that even if you don’t normally consider yourself an organized person, you can get your head in the game rather easily when it comes to staying on track with your real estate transaction. I checked in with a few real estate professionals to get their best tips and tricks for making a real estate transaction as pleasant an experience as possible for everyone involved.

Store Important Documents in Digital or Physical Folders 

Whether you prefer writing things down or filing everything away in a digital archive, Pasquella says to pick a format and set up some folders that will keep important information accessible during your real estate transaction. 

Pasquella recommends starting with a financial folder where you can put bank records, taxes, and income information so you have easy access to it when your real estate agent or mortgage broker asks a question. If you’re selling a property while also purchasing a new one, create a repair and services folder that has information on the history of any home improvements you’ve made, as well as a list of services — everything from phone and internet to utilities and homeowner’s insurance.

Pasquella says this info is helpful for a real estate agent to pass on to potential buyers. Lastly, keep another folder to track any correspondence and offers.

Organize Your Email Inbox

Spam filters can be a little overenthusiatic at times. If you’re buying or selling a home, make a point of checking your spam or junk folder daily to make sure that nothing from your agent or mortgage lender is showing up there. 

If your inbox is already overflowing, you’ll need to stay on top of it so you don’t overlook an important update or request for information. Tali Raphaely, a broker and real estate attorney as well as the president of Armour Tile Company, has a good tip: Set up a brand-new email address just for the sake of the real estate transaction.

“It’s simple to track and find everything when needed,” Raphaely says. “If an email comes through in your regular email, you would CC this new email address in your response [to keep everything in one place].”

Utilize a CRM Portal

If you’re working with a real estate agency or a mortgage lender that uses a CRM — customer relationship management software — by all means log onto that, says Alex Capozzolo, co-founder of Brotherly Love Real Estate in Philadelphia. 

“The interface allows agents to integrate whoever is involved in the transaction so the clients can upload details, organize papers, and keep tabs on the progress,” Capozzolo says. “This has been highly useful for my business and has improved work efficiency by almost 20 percent.”

Capozzolo’s firm uses Wise Agent, a general real estate CRM. Some firms have their own in-house CRMs, for example CENTURY 21 uses the CENTURY 21 Tracker™, which allows agents, buyers, and sellers to keep a close eye on the transaction timeline.

Don’t Go Radio Silent When You’re on Vacation

Matthew Atwood from Century 21 Atwood in Mankato, Minnesota, has walked countless clients through buying and selling a home. Rather ironically, he shared the cringe-worthy story of his own property deal nearly falling through. 

As is common in real estate, the purchase of his new house was contingent on the sale of his current home. This was also the situation for the buyers who were purchasing from him — and for the buyers purchasing from them. So when his buyers’ buyers (follow that?) went on vacation without telling anyone, chaos ensued. Why? The mortgage lender couldn’t get in touch with them for some much-needed information to finalize their financing.

“We were only a week away from closing,” Atwood says. “It ended up delaying every single one of our closings by almost a month.” 

While you might be tempted to get away from it all during your property transaction, it’s not a great move unless you are prepared to stay in touch with your real estate agent — and especially your mortgage lender. And yes, this might mean scanning paperwork from a hotel business center or taking a call from the beach to keep things moving along!

Lean On Your Real Estate Agent 

“I hope this transaction takes forever!” said no real estate agent ever.

Understand that while certain things like title searches and mortgage underwriting do take time, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get to that closing date as quickly as possible. So if you are wondering what comes next in the process, just call or email your agent. They’ve been through this process countless times and will give you peace of mind that everything is progressing as it should.

“A lot of research, hard work, and time are dedicated to our clients so that their homebuying/selling journey is memorable and stress-free,” Capozzolo says.

Pasquella agrees. “The biggest tip when organizing for a home sale or purchase is don’t forget to enjoy the process,” he says. “Assembling your crack real estate team will help you get out of the weeds and have some fun with your transaction.”