How To Use cloudHQ For Real Estate Agents

CloudHQ is one of the most popular data replication services which many small businesses and professionals use for consolidation, collaboration and backup. It may sound complicated, but actually cloudHQ is VERY simple to use, and it's completely automated, so you can simply set it and forget it, and cloudHQ handles the rest. But what exactly does cloudHQ do? And how can cloudHQ help us real estate agents?


SAAS And Real Estate In The Cloud

If you are a real estate agent that is into technology and the cloud, you are probably familiar with Software as a Service (SaaS) in the cloud. Many real estate agents already use SaaS in the cloud, and you probably already do in some form as well. Many  real estate agents that use SaaS are wary (and rightfully so) about a number of issues and challenges including security, cost, data backup and recovery and other possible disasters that could happen in the cloud. In this article, we will take a look at what SaaS is, how it is used in the real estate office and in the field and how to prevent any cloud disasters associated with SaaS from happening to you.

What is Saas?

Software as a Service apps are quickly becoming more popular in real estate brokerages everywhere. An SaaS app is software that is based in the cloud, so it performs the same functions as software installed on your computer, but you can access it from any device that has internet access instead of having to install software on all of your devices.

Some of the most popular SaaS apps that are used in real estate brokerages today are:

  • Evernote: Used for taking notes, snapping photos, clipping web articles, audio clips and much more.

  • Google Apps: This powerful document management suite allows real estate agents to quickly create, edit, delete, share, sign and save documents, spreadsheets and presentations from any mobile device or computer that has internet access.

  • Dropbox: The most popular cloud storage provider, offering free space, unlimited size file sharing, simple file sharing, strong encryption and security measures. 

  • Box: Similar to Dropbox, it offers free space, but does have file size limits. It also offers the strongest security measures as it is HIPAA and HITECH compliant.

  • Microsoft SkyDrive: Microsoft's cloud storage. If you have Windows 8, you are no doubt familiar with SkyDrive as much of the storage and apps are stored in the cloud on SkyDrive.

  • Basecamp: That's right, the premier project management tool in the world is SaaS. Based in the cloud, Basecamp provides real estate agents with all the tools they need to successfully manage cases and other projects from any location with internet access.

How secure are SaaS apps?

Well, there is good news and bad news. The bad news first: 1 out of 3 Companies Lose Data in SaaS. Okay, so now you're thinking that SaaS is not secure, right? Wrong. The sad fact is- human error still accounts for the number one reason for data loss in the cloud. And unfortunately, security cannot predict human error and therefore it is very hard to guard against it. But there is one cloud service that stands against human error, human stupidity and even purposeful malicious human deletion. This cloud service is cloudHQ

How cloudHQ is the solution to data loss

The cloudHQ backup and replication service works by providing a complete backup of all of your cloud data to a backup account on a completely separate cloud service. So if your brokerage uses Dropbox for all of your cloud storage needs, the backup account could be on a separate cloud service such as Google Drive or Box. You choose which folders and files you wish to have backed up and cloudHQ does the rest. All new files added to the shared folders in the main account will be instantly replicated to the backup account. So now if you or your coworkers or anyone else with access to the cloud account accidentally (or purposely) deletes files or important documents, there will always be a secondary copy of all of your files and documents on the backup account. Recovering files is quick and easy and only takes minutes. Most cloud services offer file recovery, but only for short periods up to 30 days. After that period of time, your data is gone forever, unless you have a secure backup system like cloudHQ. Human error is prevalent and is still the number one cause of data loss in the cloud, but with cloudHQ, you can combat human error and defeat it easily by maintaining a safe and secure backup of all data in the cloud.

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How To Use Tech To Create Office Envy

We already know that the more tech gadgets workers have, the more likely they are to be highly productive, more efficient, and most likely the target of a few jealousy fits by other co-workers or peers. As real estate agents, we must consistently maintain a working level knowledge of tech and the latest tech products that can help in our bid to successfully sell homes. Here a couple of ways that you may become the target of office envy and jealousy simply by upgrading your tech environment.

Upgrade hardware and software

Upgraded hardware such as upgrading to a 24" (or larger) monitor can quickly cause your co-workers to get a little jealous, as can a new laptop, smartphone or tablet. The latest tech gadgets that help your productivity and are "cool" can cause a little office envy as well. Integrated services can help as well- such as cloud services that store data, sync data and provide backup options, document management, file-sharing, project management and much more. By combining services, you can create an entire cloud system of efficiency that will almost certainly make other workers a little jealous.

Working remotely

A recent survey found that 56% of office workers believe that working remotely can cause jealousy among other office workers. It also found that 70% of respondents would rather work from home than work at an office. As many real estate agents have turned to working remotely, this is bound to cause at least a little jealousy among other agents that sit in the office the majority of the day. In BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environments, the workers that are able to work remotely generally have higher efficiency and success rates. So any workers that haven't stepping into BYOD era yet may find themselves a little jealous, even as they find themselves a little nervous about going remote.


How To Make The Most Out Of Social Media

Social media has taken marketing to a whole new level. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the perfect outlet to showcase your business and your listings. The key to marketing through social networks is to produce quality content and update it frequently. As 90% of all homebuyers use the internet when searching for homes, a social network is a great way to reach out to many potential clients.

Formulate a plan

The first step is to make an outline and create a plan. You need to determine the type of friends and followers you want to attract, how much time you can spend maintaining the sites and determining what makes you different from other realtors. 

Make informative posts

When posting updates, your posts should be informative and provide a unique look at interesting content. Don't just post links to your listings but also other real estate-related posts containing information about real estate transactions that buyers are interested in reading, even posts that have a little light humor to them. Anything that is engaging to your readers and keeps them returning to your page to read more.

Interact and expand

Interact with your followers by replying to their posts, answering any questions they may post on your page, replying to comments they may leave on your posts and replying to and sending direct messages. Expand your social network to include local community groups and professional real estate groups on the social networking sites. This can help you spread information and increase your reputation.

Build up a local reputation

Be sure to build up your reputation in your local area. By joining local community real estate groups you can meet others who are interested in real estate, whether they are selling or buying homes. This enables you to grow your contacts- other real estate agents can provide you with information, photographers that can help with your listings, inspectors that can help with your transactions and homebuyers that may become your clients.


A Quick Look At Information Security

Define security policies

Creating security policies is essential. If you have data flowing through different programs, devices and outlets, and no control over who has access to it, this can be a huge security risk. Policies must be set defining which users have access to data. Some users, such as clients and sources will not need information to sensitive company data, while some users such as secretaries and sources may not need access to confidential client data. These policies must be clearly defined in order to avoid a huge disorganized mess with many security holes. With the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement taking hold in many real estate brokerages, mobile access policies must be defined as well. Other policies should include passwords, antivirus, firewall, Wi-Fi, software development, logging and account management.  You can find many policy defining templates here

Secure the office network

If you have an office, it will have either a wired or a wireless network. A firewall (or router) should be configured to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic for protection of company data on all office computers, as well as agents (and clients) who may use laptops on the wireless network while visiting. Web filtering should be set up in order to prevent malware from being installed by malicious sites. An intrusion detection system must be in place to prevent hackers from gaining access, as well as logging so any intrusion attempts, successful or not, will be logged. The access point (such as a router) should use the strongest encryption available (WPA2) and should be protected by a very strong administrator password.

For more information, be sure to check out the Top 10 Tips for Real Estate Agent Information Security in order to better protect and control your information.