November 28, 2015

Buyer's Guide: Transaction Management Solutions for 2008


Buyer's Guide: Transaction Management Solutions for 2008

The latest transaction management systems make going from contract to closing easier than ever.

Transaction management is back on track, inviting real estate professionals and their brokers to take another look at a concept that debuted a decade ago then faded away. Back then, there was more promise than practical benefits in systems for organizing all the details, documents, and correspondence that drive a successful closing.

What’s driving the renewed interest? Mostly the comfort level that many now feel about working online. Although transaction management software is available, most solutions are Web-based services, creating a central spot where all parties to the deal can collaborate, contribute, and monitor progress.

How You Can Use It

For sales associates and managers, there are many benefits. With a transaction management system, you can:

  • Create an organized, efficient workflow, minimizing chances anyone neglects their responsibility.
  • Set up a centralized digital library and archive of relevant documents.
  • Alert and allow clients to check in on completed tasks and on what needs to be done.
  • Log and stamp all activity and correspondence for an audit trail of the entire process.
  • Relieve the sales associate of labor-intensive chores while promoting them and their company as market innovators.

As such, real estate companies are taking notice, and many have — or are in the process of — adopting or considering a transaction management system for their offices.

For example, this spring, the estimated 5,000 brokerages and 50,000 associate members of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® will be encouraged to embrace the SureClose system developed by Stewart Transaction Solutions. The offer follows a three-year evaluation.

“Transaction management is the way of the future,” says Craig Sanford, CRI, with Realty Executives in Phoenix. As 2006 past president of AAR, he spearheaded the group’s investigation.

“For brokers, these systems reduce the manpower required for file management and the likelihood of errors,” he says. “Agents appear more professional because of the way they can get data to their clients. Eventually buyers and sellers will see the benefits of working with a company with one of these systems in place.”

The ‘Interactive Solution’

Kathy Lambert, contract administration manager with the Atlanta-based real estate investment company Novare Realty, has run more than 2,300 transactions representing 12 accounts through the company’s Settlement Room system.

“It allows me to oversee the entire process and has become our ‘go to’ place to find any document on any transaction,” she says.

She describes it as an “interactive solution for communication among agents, buyers, lenders, closing attorneys, title companies, and our internal staff. ... Since all of our data is imported daily, we are able to keep our contacts in each transaction up to date and give the best service possible,” she adds.

However, it’s not just larger companies with multisite operations that can benefit from the technology. In Middletown, Del., broker/owner Jim Young invested in Settlement Room, on a smaller scale, when he launched Colonial Real Estate as a virtual office last year. The company’s 14 agents work from home, entrusting transactions to the firm’s processing manager once a contract is signed.

They scan their documents into the system. From there, the processing manager takes care of everything to guide the transaction through closing.

“Clients have always complained about a lack of communication,” Young says. “So here’s an organizing tool which also gives them feedback, and allows them to check on the status of their deal, whenever they want. But for me, one of the biggest benefits is that there are no more file cabinets. Everything about the transaction, it’s all in the system.”