A year after its launch, HAR-ETS, the electronic transaction solution platform powered by SureClose, is becoming a staple among a growing number of HAR member brokerages throughout the Houston area. The transaction management component of HAR-ETS platform is the product of a partnership with PropertyInfo® Corporation and reflects HAR’s ongoing commitment to help broker members boost productivity and, in turn, profitability, through technological innovation.
HAR-ETS is earning high marks among its earliest adopters. “We needed an efficient way to manage and oversee real estate transactions – something user-friendly to consolidate processes and improve workflow for the broker and the agents, and HAR-ETS provides just that,” said Ignacio Osorio, President and CEO of Champions Real Estate Group.
To date, 32 firms have signed on to implement transaction management with HAR-ETS, including Greenwood King, Heritage Texas Properties, Coldwell Banker United, Realtors®, Champions Real Estate Group, Sand ’n Sea Properties and Bayou Realtors®. Combined, the 32 firms represent nearly 4,500 agents with a total transaction volume of $5.4 billion in 2011.
Bill Jones, SVP with Heritage Texas Properties, says HAR-ETS has delivered many benefits to his brokerage whose goal was to adopt company-wide uniformity for creating, maintaining and archiving electronic files across its 13 offices. “First, ETS is a ‘green’ system,” explained Jones. “It eliminates the need for lots of paper, which saves trees. Second, ETS will provide our clients, agents and staff with a better transaction experience: immediate access to documents and no concerns about leaving a needed file at the office and having to drive back to the office to retrieve it.
HAR-ETS puts agents at the hub of the transaction and provides them with true mobility in every aspect of their daily work. It is the platform for better service and higher productivity.”
Cindy Hamann, VP/Branch Manager with Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS® – The Woodlands, applauds HAR-ETS for the efficiencies it has brought to her brokerage. “The most important efficiency is the ability of our agents, vendors and clients to have immediate access to their files and documents,” said Hamann. “And having the ability to integrate SureClose with DocuSign, and eventually DigitalInk helps with the paperless flow of our contracts. Our legal team sees this as a better way to store and access files and documents for later use in case of a dispute. Another advantage is that we can hand our client at the closing a personalized flash drive with their entire transaction on it. Way cool!”
Hamann said that the implementation of SureClose, under the leadership of Beth Young with SureClose developer PropertyInfo Corporation, has exceeded expectations.“With 18 offices, it was critical to have a well thought out implementation plan and schedule,” she said. “Beth worked with a SureClose Task Force, comprising of five branch sales managers, five office administrators and department heads. We met for nine weeks, putting together the SureClose program within our company’s protocols and procedures. After the system designed, we loaded all of the data to beta-test the site. Once we felt that it flowed well, Beth started training our management team and entire office staff. When that was accomplished, Beth and her team then went into all of the offices, training 20 agents at a time. It couldn’t have gone better, though ongoing training is imperative.”
“HAR-ETS has proven to be a tremendous time-saver for our agents,” said Greenwood King Properties Marketing Director Lorraine Abercrombie. “It makes everything accessible on the iPad, iPhone and other portable devices, which has enabled our team to be more efficient and responsive. Our agents love the product and think everyone should be using it.”
From Beth Young’s perspective, HAR’s move to provide the ETS platform to its broker members has been impressive. “With 7+ years of actively implementing SureClose in real estate companies, I’ve been involved in hundreds of deployments,” said Young. “The Houston membership has continuously impressed me. The brokers have immediately grasped the overall benefits of the system and have done an excellent job of maximizing system features to the benefit of their agents. The broker staff that we have encountered has been quick to learn the mechanics of the system and is eager to provide support to their agents. In return, the agents have embraced the technology on both their computers and their mobile devices. Overall, HAR has been an excellent partner and the HAR membership has been top-notch.”
Young wants brokers to know that every customer gets to take advantage of the standard HAR template that was designed by the committee that reviewed and approved the ETS product. That template includes a list of TREC documents and additional forms, inspections and reports typical for both listing and pending files. The committee also designed a basic workflow for the transactional process within each template.
“While HAR-ETS customers can utilize the standard templates, our team trains them on how they can go about customizing them to include any internal forms their company may require, to modify the workflow to match their specific process and most importantly to include any customized messages they would like delivered to various parties throughout the course of the transaction,” said Young.
As for cost-savings to date, Jones says it’s hard to put a dollar figure on it yet. “Certainly eliminating the need for long term storage of paper files is a big savings,” noted Jones. “We are immediately benefiting from the ability to access files with mobile devices whenever we have Internet access. The real savings will be longer term as we discover additional operational efficiencies in how we maintain and store files.”
Hamann, too, believes it’s too soon to accurately assess the cost-savings resulting from the use of ETS. “The obvious savings will be in paper and, of course, time. We hope to eventually be able to integrate our backroom software with SureClose, preventing some double entries.
“Beth and her team took the complexity of SureClose out of the equation, making it friendly for our agents and staff,” added Hamann. “It will now be up to us to get into the offices continued training and follow-up, whereby a year from now, SureClose will be the norm in our closing process. And from a consumer’s point of view, anything that helps facilitate a transaction without imposing undo requirements on them is a good thing, adding to the value of a REALTOR®.”
Osorio considers ETS a no-brainer for HAR member brokerages. “I would like to encourage fellow brokers to take advantage of this tool,” he said. “It is affordable for brokers, a built-in REALTOR® benefit for members, it is efficient, it is user-friendly, and quite simply, a smart thing to do.”
For more information about ETS, including pricing, and to sign up please visit www.har.com/ets or contact René Galvan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.629.1900 extension 299.