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Alex's Tech Picks for Real Estate Investors

Looking for a way to declutter your office?  Shoeboxed is a receipt and document storage company that offers a simple and effective way to store and organize your receipts and other important documents.  I have used Shoeboxed for awhile now, and I think it's a must-have for real estate investors.  Here's why:
No More Clutter

No need to keep shoeboxes full of receipts anymore.  Simply upload your docs to Shoeboxed or just mail them in and they'll do the work.  Either way, your cluttery mess is gone.
Multiple Ways to Upload
Shoeboxed offers several ways to upload your receipts and documents including; mail, mobile app, email, scanner, and computer.
IRS Accepted
The IRS has accepted digital (scanned) receipts for taxes and audits since 1997, under certain conditions, all of which are met by Shoeboxed.
Store Other Docs
Shoeboxed will also scan and organize other docs too.  For example, you can upload contracts, disclosures, and leases.  These documents also become fully searchable too.
Storage & Automatic Backups

Your data is always stored and backed up regularly.  So no need to worry about losing important information.  And if you ever move, no need to carry heavy loads of documents to another location.

Shoeboxed offers free do-it-yourself plans and paid full-service plans.  In the DIY plan, you must upload documents yourself.  In the full-serice plans, you can simply mail in your documents and they'll do the scanning for you.  There are several full-service plans available with a reasonable monthly fee that varies depending upon the number of documents you upload.
If you're like most real estate entrepenuers, you run a small business.  And most small business can't, or don't want to, invest in expensive networks and servers to manage their data.  Dropbox offers a great alternative to maintain, share, and backup important information.
I have tried several file sharing and backup services, but Dropbox leads the pack.  It's an excellent tool for real estate investors.  Here's why:
Multiple Devices
Access your data wherever you go on multiple devices like your laptop, iPad, iPhone, or any other computer.  No need to email files to yourself and others.
Automatic Updates
Unlike most data storage services, Dropbox backs up your data instantly and automatically.  In other words, no long waits!  And, no need to remember to backup your data manually.
Share data with employees, team members, and clients
Dropbox acts like a "network" so you can share your data with others and they can share their data with you.  If you only want to share a single file or folder with a customer, you can simply right click on the file and send them the link.
Backup Feature
Since all your data is stored on Dropbox's servers, if you ever lose any of your devices, your data will always be backed up on Dropbox.  Phew!
The service is free up to 2GB of memory. If you need more than 2GB, Dropbox offers a very reasonable pricing structure.

If you're like me, then one of your least favorite parts of running your business is accounting.  However, it's one of those neccessary evils that every business owner must deal with on a day to day basis.  The good news?  Intuit offers QuickBooks Online, a very simple and effective bookkeeping and accounting program which any business owner can easily use.  I have used QuickBooks Online since 2004, and I believe it's a must-have for real estate investors.  Here's why:
Easy to Use
As a real estate investing entrepeneur, you need to focus on what you do best - investing in real estate.  You shouldn't be tied up with accounting and bookkeeping.  The interface is simple to use and contains easy to understand jargon and graphical illustrations.

QuickBooks Online

Easy Access
All you need is an internet connection and you can access your books anywhere.  If you have multiple work locations or travel frequently, this makes accessing your information very easy.
Share Data
You can easily share your books with an outside accountant and bookkeeper without the hassles of sending loads of information.  You simply provide them with a username and password and they can access your information instantly.  You can also set user privileges as necessary.  There's even an activity log which you can view to follow any changes they make.
Automatic Backups
No need to worry about backing up your data to avoid losing important information.  The service is backed up off-site continuously.
Easy to Setup / Automatic Updates
It's easy to start using the service.  You simply register on the website and you can log in immediately.  You also never have to worry about installing any lengthy software updates.  QuickBooks automatically updates the service when not in use to avoid disruption.
Instead of paying for expensive software upfront, the online version is billed at a low monthly fee.

MailChimp Email Marketing
Whether you're a wholesaler, rehabber, or a buy-and-hold investor, you need to stay in touch with your customers.  These days, email is the easiest and most efficient way to keep in touch with a large number of people.  As a real estate investor and information marketer, I rely heavily on email marketing.  As a result, I am always looking for good email marketing services.
Compared to all the services I've used, MailChimp is a huge standout.  I've tested it extensively and I believe it's an excellent tool for real estate investors.  Here's why:
Intelligent (Yet Simple) Interface
Most email marketing services usually have some kind of drawback.  MailChimp is different.  It provides a very sophisticated (yet simple to use) platform to send campaigns, manage subscribers, and view campaign reports.
Campaign Templates
MailChimp provides some pretty cool campaign templates.  You can also send plain-text campaigns along with your HTML campaigns.  Since plain-text campaigns have higher delivery rates, this helps ensure your messages actually reach your customers.
Social Media Integration
Now you can put faces alongside your list members with MailChimp's social media integration tools.  The service pulls data from social media networks to provide you with photos and demographics about your subscribers.
Mobile App
MailChimp's mobile app is handy when you're away from the office.  You can add subscribers, manage your lists, view campaign reports, and even read "Chimp Chatter" (MailChimp's version of keeping you informed about your campaigns and new signups).
The service is free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers! This is good news if you're a novice real estate investor or have a small list. If you have more than 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp offers a very competitive pricing structure.

GETT File Sharing Service
Have you ever had the unpleasant experience of uploading and emailing a large file to someone only to have the recipient's server bounce it?  If so, then you'll love the new file sharing service from GETT.  This free service allows you to upload large files and share them instantly using a short URL.  No need to install any software or create an account.  I've tested it and it's an excellent tool for real estate investors.  Here's why:
View Option
There's no need to worry about whether the person you're sending a file to can accept the documents in the format you're sending them.  GETT offers a unique "view window" in which documents can be viewed and printed without the need for the recipient to install updates to their current software or purchase new software.
Send Purchase Agreements
If you're trying to get a purchase agreement locked up on a property, oftentimes the paperwork can get a little cumbersome.  Not only do you have a purchase agreement, but you may also have addendums, amendments, disclosures, approval letters, regulatory reports and other documents which add to the size of the file.  Instead of emailing your file, upload it to GETT and share it instantly.
Send Draw Requests
If you're a rehabber and you send draw requests to your bank, then you know the headaches involved with collecting numerous statements, invoices, and photos and then trying to email them to your banker.  If the file is too large, your email will likely bounce.  Instead, use GETT to quickly upload your draw requests and share them instantly.

I think the iPad is an excellent tool for the serious real estate investor.  Whether you're a wholesaler, rehabber, or a landlord, there are a number of practical uses for it in your business.  Here's the top 5 reasons why investors will love it:
Laptop Substitute
While the portability feature is a huge selling point for the iPad, it can easily be converted into a laptop if necessary.  Simply hook up a wireless keyboard and you’ve got an instant laptop.  Yet, you have many benefits over a laptop.  The available apps are endless and from a hardware standpoint, it’s much lighter, portable, and quicker to turn on/off than a laptop.
MLS Access
If you’re at a property and want to research listings in the area, use Safari to browse MLS listings.  There’s no need to carry your heavy laptop with you and wait for it to boot up.
Spreadsheets on the Go
When you’re at a property and need to evaluate repairs, instead of bringing along a clipboard and paper, use your repair spreadsheet to note which items need to be fixed.  If you’re a Mac user, use Apple’s iWork Numbers software or download the Microsoft Excel app.
(all models with Wi-Fi + cellular)
     iPad for Real Estate Investors
Review and sign contracts
If you’re at a property, have clients review and sign documents on the iPad.  Then, instead of faxing numerous pages to several parties, simply email a copy to the client, your title company, and anyone else.
Presentation Device
If you’re meeting with bankers to get financing for your properties, give them a dynamic presentation of before and after photos for your projects.  If you’re meeting with contractors, show them previous projects so they can see how you want your properties to look.  If you’re meeting with sellers, pull up the MLS and show them as-is comparable sales.  If you’re a wholesaler meeting with rehabbers, show them renovated comparable sales at the property.  If you're a landlord, show potential tenants your other available properties.

(all models)
The iPhone is a great tool for real estate investors.  Here's why:
Map App
Instead of printing out directions to properties and wasting lots of paper, use the handy map app.  Once you're ready to go from one property to the next, simply enter in the new address and it will give you turn-by-turn directions.  There's also a nice street view feature.
Voice Memo App
A great app to use when walking through properties and evaluating repairs.  Instead of bringing a clipboard and writing down the list of repairs, use the digital voice recorder to note which items need to be fixed.  Not only will it save you paper, if it's raining out you don't have to worry about getting your forms drenched!  Another nice feature is that you can be as descriptive as you want without having to write a lot.  This way you can easily jog your memory when you get back to your office.  When you've seen 4-5 properties in a day, it's easy to forget details quickly!
The picture quality is great.  It's also helpful when you want to remember features of the property and you don't want to carry around a separate digital camera.
Realtor.com App
If you're at a property and want to research active listings in the area, use this handy app.  Even if you have MLS access back at the office, it's convenient when you want to get an on-site feel for the comparables.
Google Voice App
This is one of my favorite apps on the iPhone.  If you're in the car and you need to "google" something.  Instead of getting into a dangerous wreck by "driving while searching," simply activate this app and speak your search request.  It's very accurate.  And, if you're searching for a business, Google displays the phone number right next to the search result.  Just tap the number to place the call.



Alex Everest
Author, Speaker
Legal Forms, eBooks
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