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Improving real estate productivity by getting your checklists set up

Piles of checklists, photo by Liz West.

Increase productivity, make more money

Do you have systems and steps for the way you run your real estate business or do you prefer to fly by night and make it up as you go? Creating and implementing steps and systems for running your business makes daily operations much easier and faster, which in turn will increase your productivity allowing you to make more money and have more free time.

A few business that have systems in place that you have heard of are and United Airlines (or any airliner for that matter). If either of these businesses decided to wing it, you would probably never get anything you ordered and flying without checking systems could be a disaster. Below are some quick ways to put together easy to follow systems for your real estate business and make your life easier.

First, make a general list

The first thing you will do is just list out the tasks you actually have to do. For example you take listings, you screen buyer leads, maybe you also process short sales. These will be the main components of your business which you can dissect and find the most efficient way to operate them.

Now, to create your system, you will want to start with the end in mind for each component, which is most likely a closed transaction. We will use a listing as an example and the steps can be converted to any other aspect of your business.

Step one: marketing checklist

So you have a listing. Your client signed the listing agreement and the clock is ticking at 90 days to sell! Step one: create a marketing checklist.

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To make your checklist, consider including: input listing into MLS, maybe create a single property website, email blast to your contacts, publish flyers, syndicate across the web with Postlets or some other site, schedule showings with pocket buyers, and schedule open houses. Just go through and check each off your physical or digital list so nothing is missed. If this were a buyer, you would just be marketing yourself until they are ripe.

You can do these in any order you want, so long as it works the best for you and it’s the same every time.

Step two: follow up plan.

Now you need to check performance of the marketing with a checklist. Add up the hits and bites from your marketing list to see what’s working. This is helpful because it lets you know how your marketing could be better if you see holes.

Add up showings, and maybe follow up for feedback with the other agents who showed your listing. If you have that checklist written up, you can just fill it in every week with the info on your specific update day. The best part of this is your client will be blown away by the detailed analysis provided and weekly comps to see why there are no offers yet or where offers stand.

Step three: get closed

With the previous two steps, you will be able to spot why the property is not selling, fix it and get an offer. Now you have an offer and you get in escrow. This is the most critical checklist because escrows really like going sideways and falling apart nowadays and that’s no fun when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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This list will be staggered. Consider on day three making sure the deposits are in and disclosures are sent. On day five, make sure you have pre lim and NHD. On day seven, make sure the appraisal has been ordered! Day 17, get the buyer to lift contingencies and send over that UW approval with conditions, and day 30 close!

There is nothing worse then taking the passive approach and finding out on day 25 that the buyer switched lenders eight times and has a FICO at 450 trying to buy with a hope and dream as credit. Whether it is a buyer or seller, if you handle this list well, they will send you those referrals because they didn’t have to live in a hotel for a week waiting for you to get the deal closed.

The takeaway

The goal is to get the pieces of your business together and list it out. Then list it out a few more times to make it the best it can be. Now every day when you come into the office, just look at your list. You will always know exactly what you need and nothing will ever be missed. With all that extra time you have you can go out and prospect, and get more business. Another great perk to this is once you set it up, others can step in to help you complete the tasks. If you hire an assistant, all you will need to do is send them four or five successful checklists that you have tested, and they will be good to go- you will have a well oiled machine.

This has been useful in my real estate business, as my niche is investment property. My team and I track properties from four counties that fit into a specific mold which is about 200 homes at any given time and match them with our investors. A lot of things need to happen just right at just the right time to keep the machine moving and without systems, I would lose thousands of dollars every month.

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Written By

Ryan Schattner is a real estate broker associate with RE/MAX Gold in California, specializing in investment properties. He is also the creator of the Escrow Coordinator PLUS real estate business platform. His writing focuses on increasing productivity and efficiency through the use of technology, and planning.



  1. Stephanie Crawford, @AgentSteph

    August 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Would love to hear how you all automate your systems electronically. I'm trying to be as paperless and connected as possible.

    • Ryan Schattner

      August 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      Hey Stephanie, I converted all my work to electronic systems. I have docusign for sigs which works great. If banks wont take it echosign can sneak past because they look like real sigs. And I built a software platform to handle everything else like checklists and docs.

  2. Matthew Hardy

    August 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    David Allen's "Getting Things Done" offers excellent advice on working with lists. (We built significant elements of his thinking into our real estate vertical CRM — REST.)

    For me, Allen's approach was life-changing: I implemented GTD with gusto and have been well-organized and nearly paper-free since.

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