September 2012

Spend Less Time On Real Estate Closings With Integrated Task Tracking

Real estate closings involve a lot of individual steps, each of which must be completed before the closing can go through. There are far too many components to remember or to trust to scribbled notes on a piece of paper. If any task is overlooked, it can set back the entire closing schedule or even jeopardize the sale. This is why Easy HUD includes integrated task tracking.

Click on the Tasks/LinkedDocs tab to reach the task tracker. This section also gives you access to other useful tools such as case notes, linked documents and the calendar. Each case is automatically assigned a copy of the default task list, which already includes common steps such as scheduling an inspection and reviewing the HUD 1. The agent can assign tasks to the appropriate people, give each a priority and a due date, and add detailed notes about each step in the process. Tasks are checked off as completed. A complete report can be produced for easy reference and, as with all of our law office management software, the report can be printed or can be saved in PDF or RTF format to be emailed to a client or other party.

Of course every case is different so legal software programs such as Easy Soft’s real estate application includes the ability to customize records to fit the client. Tasks can be modified, added or deleted with the click of a mouse even after closing procedures have started. Information such as the seller’s name and the property address are automatically pulled from the HUD 1 and added to the task report.

Your agency probably does things a little differently from other agencies. Now it’s great that you can customize the task list for each case, but it can be tedious if you are making the same changes every time. This is why Easy HUD allows you to modify the default task lists. On the top menu select “Tools/Case Management” to bring up the Case Management screen. At the bottom of the list to the left you’ll see “Purchase Task List” and “Refinance Task List”. Click on either to make changes to the default task list that reflect your office’s procedures. Each new HUD-1 form you open in the future will automatically use this modified task list.

We think you’ll be surprised at how much easier closing is with customized task lists. The fact you can access the list right from the same application where you fill out the HUD-1 form makes it so convenient you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Download a free demo of our HUD forms application or our other law office management software and find out how simple real estate transactions can be.

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Keep The Faith: EasyHUD Streamlines Good Faith Estimate Calculations

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made a number of changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) designed to protect consumers from unreasonably high settlement charges. These changes, effective January 2009, modified the HUD-1 form in several ways, in part to streamline the comparison between final charges and the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) made at the start of the real estate process. Unfortunately the calculations can be confusing even to experienced real estate professionals unless they are using legal software programs such as Easy HUD that do the math automatically.

GFE comparison is done on page 3 of the HUD-1 form. On the surface the calculation is simple: ensure that if final charges are higher, then the difference falls within the tolerances established by HUD. The reality is a bit more complicated because the allowed tolerances and how they are administered are different depending on what kind of charge. RESPA divides GFE-HUD comparisons into three categories: 0% tolerance, 10% tolerance, and no tolerance.

Final 0% tolerance fees are not allowed to be higher than the GFE. These fees include origination charges, points and transfer taxes. Note that 0% tolerance fees are evaluated line by line so each individual charge in this category must be equal to or lower than GFE. It is not acceptable to compensate for one higher charge with a lower charge in this section.

The 10% tolerance category includes HUD 1 entries such as government recording charges. Unlike 0% tolerance fees, the 10% tolerance is calculated on the total of all values. When the form is complete, the fees in this category are summed and the total must be no more than 10% higher than the total of the same fees on the GFE. It would be possible for specific fees to be more than 10% higher than GFE as long as the sum is within tolerance.

The no tolerance category includes everything else on the HUD 1: homeowner’s insurance, daily interest charges, etc. The final value of these fees can exceed GFE by any amount without penalty.

This is further complicated by the fact some fees can be in more than one category. For example owner’s title insurance is in the 10% category if chosen by the lender, and in the unrestricted category if not chosen by the lender.

Completing HUD forms correctly is challenging if done by hand. Confusion about proper tolerance, or the difference between how 0% and 10% tolerances are administered, or arithmetic mistakes can lead to inaccurate forms.

Rather than doing this manually, use legal software programs designed to complete the HUD forms according to the latest HUD regulations. Download a demo of EasyHUD and see just how effortless HUD-GFE comparison can be.


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Easy Soft Offers Free Webinars To Our Customers

We want to offer our customers every opportunity to get the most from our software. Although our products are designed to be intuitive so you can start using them the first time you run them, we realize people may need a little extra instruction along the way. That is why in addition to online help and training videos we also offer weekly webinars that alternate between our most popular products: Easy HUD and Easy TimeBill.

The webinars on EasyHUD demonstrate how this real estate software is more than just an online HUD-1 form. We show you how you can print over 200 real estate documents, maintain a disbursement ledger, prepare 1099-S forms and integrate with our mortgage lien release tracking service.

Easy TimeBill webinars take you through every feature of this law office billing software including setting up attorney billing schedules, setting up clients and matters, generating customized invoices and using the built-in conflict checking to ensure you know about any conflicts of interest. We demonstrate how it integrates with Easy Trust to provide full trust accounting capabilities to your firm.

Nobody wants to spend hours sitting in front of a computer screen listening to an instructor drone on about trivial details. After careful consideration we’ve found a good course length to be 45 minutes for the real estate software webinars, and 90 minutes for the billing software presentations. This gives us enough time to demonstrate the important features of the law practice management software and take questions from our viewers, while remaining short enough that you can fit them into your busy schedule.

Although we also recommend our customers view the dozens of instructional presentation in our video library, the webinars have two advantages over the videos. First the instructor can discuss how any recent changes to the law have affected your use of the software. Second viewers can ask specific questions about the software and get immediate answers.

The best thing about the webinars is that, like all of our training resources, they are absolutely free.

Take a moment to look over the roster of upcoming Easy Soft product training webinars and find one that fits into your schedule. We think you’ll be surprised how much you learn about our products over these brief and focused presentations.

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Collection Strategies To Get Your Clients To Cough Up The Dough

It’s no fun to get calls from creditors demanding payment, but as many attorneys know it’s not much better to be on the other side of the phone call. Some offices simply put off this unpleasant task, trusting that clients will pay when they can, and that ends up hurting the company’s profits. Easy TimeBill and our other legal software programs include tools to help your practice stay on top of collection activity and improve office revenue.

One of the keys to successful collection is regular communication. It is important to send clients billing reminders every month so the debt stays fresh in their minds. Even if your office has agreed to give a client an extension, let’s say waiving late fees for 90 days to give the client a chance to pay the outstanding balance, you should send monthly reminders or the debt might slip off the table into obscurity. Our law office billing software can automatically bulk generate email or regular mail payment reminders every 30 days so you know your clients are kept apprised of the latest account balances.

Although these automatic reminders are valuable, don’t let law office management software take the place of personal contact. If you haven’t received any payment or communication from a client, it can be worth a quick telephone call to check in and see how the client is doing. When facing financial difficulties people often become embarrassed and ignore their bills rather than calling creditors. If a client is having a cash flow problem and can’t pay this month, at least now you know. You can decide whether to have Easy TimeBill automatically calculate late fees, or to waive finance charges for hardship cases.

Empathy and courtesy are strong payment motivators. A client who is dealing, for example, with a divorce financial settlement is not only adjusting to major financial changes but also to major personal ones. Although you may be within your rights to demand on-time payment, you may also damage your relationship with the client. Flexibility and sympathy will increase the chance of collection and the possibility of future business from referrals.

Of course you don’t want to be so nice you drive yourself out of business. Law office billing software gives you your practice’s financial situation at a glance. You can determine how much leniency you can give clients, which clients are paying, which are not, current trust accounting balances and a general feeling for how healthy your practice is.

Ignoring your creditors is a bad financial strategy but so is ignoring your debtors. Use Easy Soft’s law office management software to stay on top of outstanding balances, trust accounting and other financial aspects of running an attorney’s office.

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Billing Software Excuse #6: Bad Experiences

We’ve had clients say they are reluctant to try our products because they have had problems with similar applications from other developers in the past. Although it’s understandable to be a bit gun shy after a bad experience, you shouldn’t judge all law office billing software by one unfortunate incident. When we’ve talked to our clients about it in more detail we’ve found past problems come from one of three sources: generic software, bad software and old technology.

There are many great office billing applications out there designed for the needs of any business. Yes it is certainly possible to adapt these to unique law practice tasks such as trust accounting but that typically leads to clumsy, error-prone solutions. It requires more work from your practice to set up a system that supports your office’s needs than it would be to use dedicated law practice management software. Easy Soft products are developed specifically for law office tasks and are much easier to use than generic business applications.

On the other hand maybe you used law practice management software and still had problems. Each of the law office products on the market has its own strengths and weaknesses. Now we know we’re a little biased, but we really believe that Easy Soft produces the best legal software you can find. Some of our competitors put out very good products. Others have law office applications that are, shall we say, less ideal for the needs of today’s legal practices. The point is just because another product didn’t meet your practice’s needs doesn’t mean that ours won’t.

Finally, computer technology has evolved at an astonishing rate over the more than twenty years we have been offering our legal software programs. The latest versions of software such as Easy TimeBill provide many more features to our customers than we could offer even a few years ago. If the products you’ve tried in the past seemed too limited, try the latest generation of law office billing software to see how much more functional and valuable these tools are to a modern legal practice.

Judge for yourself by downloading a demo of Easy TimeBill or any of our legal software programs. Test our products thoroughly and contact us if you have any questions so you can feel confident that Easy Soft products are right for you.

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Is Your Child Support Software Right For Pennsylvania Divorces?

Child support laws are similar across the country, but each state has its own rules on calculations that can trip up family law attorneys who use generic software. Easy Soft produces state-specific applications, such as our Pennsylvania child support calculator, which address the unique requirements of each state.

We designed EzSupport-PA to follow Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Chapter 1910, which are the laws covering PA child support calculation. Special considerations and documentation requirements contained in those rules are automatically included in the preparation of child support forms.

Our Pennsylvania child support calculator figures the child support obligation automatically from data entered regarding each parent’s income, custodial obligation and other factors. If any information is updated, the child support calculator automatically adjusts the child support obligation if necessary. Easy Soft’s Pennsylvania family law software can handle situations with any level of monthly income and any number of children by using the guidelines laid out in Court Rules 1910.16-3 through 1910.16-4.

According to Pennsylvania child support guidelines, support can be adjusted for a host of other factors in order to come up with an amount that is fair to both parties and, most importantly, ensures the child receives needed care. As in most states there are adjustments for childcare or private school expenses but there are a few adjustments under Pennsylvania law that not all states include.

As an example, under PA child support calculation rules public assistance, Supplemental Security Income and foster care payments for other children are not counted as income in support calculations. However if the child is receiving Social Security benefits due to a parent’s death, disability or retirement, those payments must be included in the income of the custodial parent.

EzSupport-PA covers not only child support calculation but also documentation requirements. For instance, Pennsylvania requires Insurance Certification under Court Rule 1910.27(d). The certification form can be included under Attachments and then printed out as part of the package of PA child support forms.

State-by-state differences in child support rules may be small, but overlooking the details may not get your client the level support allowed under law. Use Easy Soft’s Pennsylvania family law software to ensure the case is settled fairly.

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