July 2013

Software for Real Estate Investors

With prices in many areas of the country at historical lows and starting to rise, this is an ideal time for people considering the real estate market to take the plunge as an investor. However many people are justifiably concerned about the potential for disaster considering the recent trouble in the industry. It’s more important than ever that real estate investors protect their businesses by using HUD settlement statement software.

Many investors run on surprisingly thin profit margins. This is why it is essential to squeeze every penny out of a deal by either increasing revenue or cutting expenses. Revenue is hard to control–a house is worth what it is worth–but expenses can be reduced by using software such as Easy HUD to help with the HUD-1 settlement statement. Investors can process closing paperwork more quickly by using software, giving them more time to be out there hunting for the next big opportunity. They are less likely to make errors that can cause a sweet deal to fall through.

There is more to real estate accounting software than filling out forms. Easy HUD includes the optional Easy Trust module to help with escrow accounting. Investors must be careful to handle all trust funds carefully since a small mistake can lead to serious consequences, including loss of a real estate license. Investors use software to track each transaction within a trust account to ensure that funds are not getting mixed together. It may seem harmless to rob Peter’s trust funds to pay Paul’s expenses as long as the money balances in the end, but it is actually illegal and unethical do to so, even by accident.

Real estate investors have to be able to move quickly. Often the best deals aren’t found from the comfort of your office. You could be driving down the street, see an ideal property and need to jump on it right away. You can’t afford to run back to your desk to get paperwork. This is why so many investors prefer cloud-based RESPA software so they can work any time from any location as long as they have a tablet, laptop or desktop computer and an internet connection.

Investors new to the real estate market fail because they don’t do their research. Learn the practical realities of the industry, arm yourself with tools developed by one of the leading legal practice management software companies around, and be quick enough to grab a good deal when you see it. Follow that advice and you can find a lucrative career in the real estate industry.

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Tips For Avoiding Court In New Jersey Divorce Cases

Family law attorneys rarely argue their cases before a judge. The New Jersey court system strongly encourages divorcing couples to seek out custody and economic mediation and the Early Settlement Panel before taking the case to a judge. Court time increases the cost of the divorce, drags out the process and traumatizes any children involved. NJ divorce software is an important tool for attorneys seeking out of court settlement.

What is a fair settlement?

“Fair” is a tricky word in divorce cases. Each side has a very different idea of what is a fair settlement. In an effort to remove the emotion from the discussion, many states use formulas to determine alimony and child support. New Jerseyis not a formula state at the moment, but attorneys can still use Case Information Statement software to create an objective analysis of the couple’s assets, income and expenses. Lawyers on each side can prepare multiple scenarios, giving them options at the negotiation table.

Custody and child support

Custody and child support complicate the situation. The children sometimes end up being little more than possessions the couple argues over. The children even have monetary value, in that whoever gets the kids also gets child support. Attorneys have to be able to present different options on spousal and child support since each has differing tax implications, and New Jersey family law software allows them to do that.

Mediation On The Go

Mediation isn’t going to take place in the attorney’s office. Instead the counsels will meet in a neutral setting. This doesn’t have to mean a lawyer no longer has access to case files located on the firm’s computer network. Cloud-based divorce software for attorneys allows the lawyer to have full access to all the information on the case from any computer including an iPad, from any place there is an internet connection.

Lawyers can’t predict how a judge will rule so court is seen as a last resort. Family law attorneys who take advantage of the latest law practice management software will have an edge over rival counselors who are still mired in outdated technology. Try Easy Soft’s line of divorce software to give your clients the best chance at a fair settlement.

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Data Entry: Why You Need To Get It Right The First Time

To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer. — Bill Vaughan

One of the core features of Easy Soft’s HUD settlement statement software, Easy HUD, is the common data set. You enter information in one place and all documents generated by the program pull data from that central repository.

Enter the settlement agent’s name, address, phone number and TIN once and the HUD program automatically copies it to each new HUD 1 statement generated. Put in information on the client and the property, and the program populates the appropriate areas on the form with the case data.

The real time savings comes when you generate all the other paperwork associated with a real estate transaction. In addition to the HUD closing statement you have to produce contracts, deeds, correspondence and countless other documents. Each of these will pull information from the case data so you know the same data appears on every document produced by your office.

If that data is wrong then you are in trouble.

Computers do everything quickly: calculation, document generation, information storage…and propagation of errors. If you enter a misspelled name, a transposed property zip code or an inaccurate figure, then that information will immediately be copied to all forms. If you enter a figure ten times, then you have ten chances to make a mistake. If you enter it once then you have only one chance to mess up, but if you do then it appears wrong in ten places. This is why it is vital that you take the time to double and triple check all case information at the time of entry.

Easy HUD helps where it can. Automatic calculations ensure that the totals are right, as long as the original numbers are right. The built-in spell checker will find obvious errors but can’t tell you the client’s name is Smyth rather than Smith, and certainly can’t point out that the house sold for $248,000 and not $284,000.

Misspelling a client’s name sends the message you don’t care. Entering incorrect tax information may have the IRS knocking at your door. Whether the error is serious or merely embarrassing, it’s better off not to make the mistake in the first place. Take those extra seconds to verify information before closing a case file.

The right real estate and legal practice management software will catch more errors than it creates but computers aren’t a substitute for the human brain. Use Easy Soft products to run your business efficiently, but always use your own judgment as well.

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Can Your Billing Software Handle Your Fee Structure?

Some law firms take only a narrow range of cases, but most practices prefer the financial stability of diversification. Different cases are suited to different fee structures and it is important for law firms to choose attorney time and billing software able to handle all of the practice’s billing needs. Here are the billing models used by most law firms.

Hourly Rates: Attorneys tend to like this arrangement because they know they are going to get an adequate fee regardless of the amount of work involved. It saves them from having to try to predict a fair price for what could be an unpredictable case. Although some time tracking software may allow lawyers to log their hours, billing software for lawyers includes the option for multiple rates. A firm might bill different rates based on who is doing the work–jobs done by a paralegal are going to cost the client far less than tasks performed by a senior attorney. Individual attorneys might charge different rates based on the matter or type of activity, and the billing software should be able to handle that easily.

Hourly Rates With Retainers: Some firms expect to be paid in advance for the work through a retainer. While the initial retainer is generally easy to collect, the firm needs to stay on top of the balance to be sure the funds don’t run out. Legal billing and accounting software tracks retainer funds and automatically notifies the firm when it is time to ask for an additional retainer from the client.

Fixed Fee: Simple cases may be billed on a flat price rather than at an hourly rate. Clients tend to prefer fixed fees because they know how much the case is going to cost from the beginning. The arrangement may include an agreement for the client to pay expenses or hourly rates in addition to the fixed fee for any unusual work or excessive consultations.

Contingency: Personal injury and debt collection practices often work on a percentage basis. If the case is decided in favor of the client then the firm using the time billing software reviews the matter expenses and deducts them from the settlement, and then takes a fixed percentage of the remainder as their fee. What is left goes to the client. If the case goes against the client, then the law office typically receives no payment.

Even if your firm uses a simple fee structure today, you still need the right attorney practice management software to give you more options when you expand your practice. Prepare for the future of your law firm by investing in dedicated legal software today.

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Why Small Law Firms Need Trust Software More Than Large Firms Do

Some small law practices tend to dismiss software tools as something for the big boys. They make the assumption that a small practice is simpler so doesn’t need sophisticated attorney time and billing software but that’s not true, especially when it comes to managing trusts.

Small Law Firm – Large Work Load

For one thing, big firms can manage to hire the specialized (and expensive) accounting professionals needed for trust management. In a small firm, especially a single-attorney firm, the lawyers do all the work. Trust administration is more complicated than simply adding numbers in columns. If a firm doesn’t use legal accounting software to carefully manage each matter within a trust, eventually someone is going to make a small arithmetic error that is going to have major repercussions.

 Stop Trust Fund Mismanagement

One of the leading reasons for attorney disbarment is trust fund mismanagement. You don’t have to be deliberately stealing from your clients to end up facing severe penalties. If you find yourself standing before a judge defending your trust accounting system then you better be able to show a meticulous paper trail that demonstrates your good faith. Some judges will penalize careless accounting as severely as they will penalize deliberate theft.

Minimize Multiple Escrow Fund Mistakes

Legal billing and accounting software minimizes the chance a firm will commit multiple escrow fund errors. One mistake, especially if it seems like a harmless one, is likely to carry a less severe penalty than a series of blunders that make the firm look at best foolish, and at worse criminally negligent.

Avoid Recovering From Penalties

Finally there is the issue of recovering from penalties. If an attorney in a large firm is hit with a six-month suspension for trust account mismanagement, the firm will roll on. A solo attorney suffering the same penalty better start looking for another line of work because the practice is done. Small firms have to be much more scrupulous than large practices to avoid even the appearance of mismanagement that can lead to career-ending punishments.

 Trust Management – Not An Option

Trust management is just one example of why attorney practice management software is a non-optional part of any modern legal practice. If you are running a law firm, whether it’s a one-person practice operating from your kitchen table or a multinational corporation that takes on Fortune 500 clients, come to Easy Soft to find the best digital tools for running an effective practice.

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Real Estate Professionals Are NOT Being Replaced By Computers

Some people see technology as a threat. It’s the whole “someday we’ll all be replaced by robots” fear. Although there have been cases in history were workers have been displaced by technology, it’s rare in today’s economy. If you’ve been avoiding real estate title software because you’re afraid you’d have to lay people off, then we have a surprise for you.

Complete HUD 1 Settlement Sheet Quicker

In modern business software doesn’t replace workers; it enhances their abilities. It allows employees to complete their work more quickly and with fewer errors so the company can run more efficiently. In the real estate industry, agents and attorneys use software to complete the HUD 1 settlement sheet more quickly and cut closing time but up to 70%.

 Handle More Clients Quicker

That fact doesn’t mean that a large real estate office is going to fire two thirds of their agents. Instead the firm can handle more clients since HUD settlement statement software allows each agent to close deals more quickly. Of course any real estate pro knows that closing is only one part–and most agents’ least favorite part–of the business. With your staff spending less time on paperwork, they have more time to get out there and find new prospects.

In the end, software is only as good as the human brain operating it. Software may help an agent or attorney but you still need someone familiar with the HUD program and all the rules and regulations associated with it. Your office will always need trained, experience and enthusiastic people to use the tools, especially in an industry as people-oriented as real estate.

Choose The Right Real Estate Closing Software

Easy Soft isn’t here to put anyone out of work. Our legal practice management software products are good but even we haven’t figured out how to write a program that can take clients to find the homes of their dreams, advise them on the legal implications of renting out their homes, or give someone that warm smile and personal interest that can close a deal.

Download a demo of Easy HUD or our other software products and discover how much real estate office automation simplifies your job and enhances your practice.

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