Is Going Paperless in CRE Even an Option?

 March 28, 2019

By  Guy Gray

Evolution is an important part of moving forward and achieving success in any industry. Going paperless is just one of the ways that forward-thinking companies are embracing change –think financial institutions, doctor offices, or retail. However, in the commercial real estate space, is going paperless a positive change? Is it even possible?

To really put it all in perspective, let’s start with just a few of the ways that the real estate transaction currently hinges on paper.

Leases – It’s true that certain technologies have made the process of signing leases more efficient, but more often than not it still involves a physical hard copy. And then there’s abstracting leases. It is totally possible to abstract a lease on a computer, but the old school approach of taking a highlighter to paper is often deemed as easier.

Space Plans — When it comes to TI’s or any sort of modifications to your space you will probably utilize space plans. Again, there is technology available that can make these processes digital, but a lot of the time people prefer to print the plans out. Not to mention, the construction crew that works on the space will probably have the space plans printed out as well.

Marketing & Sales Promotion — CRE brokers and landlords need to promote their business. In addition to employing digital marketing strategy, it is still common practice for individuals to:

  • Print brochures
  • Print business cards
  • Utilize print publications like business journals to advertise and list their space
  • Print signage to advertise their space or services
  • Print and send direct mail to potential clients

Now, let’s take a look at some ways that going paperless can benefit the commercial real estate industry —some more obvious than others.

Save Money– By going paperless you can forego the need to purchase printing supplies. Printers, paper, ink, printing equipment maintenance, can all add up to additional costs. Even the costs it takes to keep and store old files can add to a company’s deficit. By going paperless you can cut expenses in your day-to-day business.

Save the Environment – With the growing concern regarding deforestation and pollution from the paper production industry, you can do your part in helping the environment. Even if you are not one to be concerned with environmental causes and issues, you can use it to your advantage from a marketing perspective. Showing people you care about the environment and its preservation, can appeal to clients or associates who feel connected to such causes.

Convenience for Clients and Staff– Going paperless can add an air of convenience to your business for clients, associates and staff. Gone are the days of wandering out to get a client to sign a contract, or waiting for it in the mail. You can now send associates forms and documents and leave a documented “paper” trail, no pun intended. This helps with your company’s organization as well.

Backup Your Files – Speaking of paper trails, going paperless is an amazing way to backup important files. From contracts to receipts and everything in between, you can reliably back them up from unforeseen damages.  As long as in transitioning to paperless, you do a diligent job in backing up your files, you can keep them offsite securely.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the ways going paperless could benefit the commercial real estate industry, is it even possible for larger brokerages or property managers to commit to going paperless?

Yes, but it’s impacted by preference and tradition.

The industry is taking steps towards going paperless more and more. There seems to be an application created to advance each step of the process – DocSign, CadM, any sort of digital marketing app. Even Quarem aims to simplify the processes that were once dominated by paper, but the beauty of Quarem is that you can control just how paperless you want to be.

Quarem gives professionals the tools they need to support their own particular processes. The Quarem Vantage lease abstraction tool gives users a list of over 30 key data points to identify within a commercial lease. This tool is built to support both professionals that prefer to abstract a hard copy or their lease and professionals that prefer to quickly scan through a digital copy to identify the key points.

Additionally, some professionals may prefer to have hard copies of every document – leases, space plans, photographs – but Quarem gives them the peace of mind to know that if they were to lose track of the document they have it securely stored in the system and easily accessible from anywhere at any time.

Traditional print advertising may always supplement the digital efforts that CRE professionals take, but these same professionals can utilize Quarem to support and strengthen their efforts. For example – Quarem’s dashboard analytics can show a landlord their overall tenant mix as well as their current vacancies. The landlord could then take this information and apply it to their traditional marketing efforts as well as their digital efforts.

The bottom line is we are moving towards a paperless future, but there will always be professionals that prefer paper as part of some of their processes and Quarem is a tool that will support these preferences.

Though it may seem impossible, it can be done in steps and over time. Remember, at one point companies didn’t even have computers in offices, and now that seems unimaginable. During the transition process, obstacles may present themselves. Some things like getting staff used to the changes, scanning and converting documents to digital copies, and finding the correct software for your needs can all be possible difficulties.

It may take some time but with organization, persistence, and help from cloud-based companies like Quarem, it can be simpler than imagined. Quarem software includes features that can help digitize and search lease documents, manage projects, monitor property data and assets, and generate reports.

With proper software like the kind mentioned above, going paperless is definitely an option for real estate professionals. Just as moving from using a typewriter to now taking notes via Siri may have seemed impossible, it is important to keep your business up to date and moving into the future.

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About the author 

Guy Gray

Guy Gray serves as Chief Operating Officer overseeing our technology and client services teams. He is responsible for guiding Quarem application development, networking and security, as well as new client implementations.

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