November 2013

Bad Faith Estimates: How RESPA Software Saves Your Real Estate Firm Money

One of the core changes RESPA made to the home purchase process was the GFE, or Good Faith Estimate, which gives an idea of how much the buyer and seller will have to pay out of pocket. The GFE is only an estimate and the final charges may differ from the HUD-1 settlement statement but only by a certain percentage. The problem lies in the fact that if your estimate is off by a large amount then it’s going to cost you.

What If The Estimates Are Wrong?

RESPA rules separate out the GFE into three categories: 0% tolerance, 10% tolerance and no tolerance. 0% tolerance fees are transfer taxes and similar predictable fees that can’t be higher on the final HUD 1 statement. 10% tolerance fees such as government recording charges can be as much as 10% higher than the estimate. No tolerance charges would include homeowner’s insurance or daily interest charges, and there is no limit as to how much higher these fees can be.

So what if you calculate the transfer taxes wrong and the actual taxes are much higher? The buyer and seller cannot be held responsible for incorrect estimates outside of the tolerances established by RESPA. That means the agent or attorney responsible for making the estimate is going to have to pay the fees, and that could really hurt your business.

Get It Right the First Time

One of the reasons to use HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD is to simplify the GFE process. You can prepare a preliminary HUD with estimated fees and fill in your GFE estimates. When the HUD is finalized, the GFE worksheet allows you to enter POC charges alongside your GFE estimates. The software automatically pulls the actual fees from the HUD form giving you a RESPA-compliant GFE-HUD comparison.

The form makes it easy to spot any charges that exceed the allowed tolerances. The 10% tolerance charges are totaled since individual charges can exceed 10% as long as the total of charges falls within the tolerance. You can add manual lines for other fees that need to be put into one of these three GFE categories.

Easy Soft’s attorney practice management software is all about helping you get it right the first time. Simple GFE-HUD comparisons are just one of the many ways Easy HUD saves your firm time and money. Contact us to find out more about Easy HUD.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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How You Can Itemize Charges On the HUD 1 Statement

Technically brokers aren’t allowed to itemize charges on the HUD 1 anymore. While this rule was enacted to protect clients, often it is the clients themselves who want the itemization. Can a broker provide itemization without violating the HUD program rules? Yes.

Itemization Changes under the RESPA Final Rule

The RESPA Final Rule made a number of changes to the HUD-1 settlement statement intended to make the mortgage process quicker and more transparent to consumers. One of the modifications was that brokers were no longer allowed to itemize certain administrative and miscellaneous charges. The goal was to make it easier for consumers to see how much a sale would really cost, and to make it harder for that small number of unscrupulous brokers to add a large number of small fees that add up to unreasonably high total charges.

This change has been difficult for brokers who used the itemizations to track their various costs. To a consumer a fee might be one large administrative cost, but to an agent it is a collection of expenses that need to be tracked individually. In addition many consumers want to see the itemization behind a fee.

Manual Tracking Doesn’t Work

It’s possible for agents to manually tally individual charges, entering only the totals on the HUD form. This doesn’t violate the law because the HUD form itself doesn’t have itemizations. In theory the real estate office could track the charges either manually or with financial software. They could provide the itemizations to consumers who question the fees.

In practice, manual tracking is cumbersome and prone to error. The practice has to note charges in two places: on the HUD statement and on the separate itemization sheet. If anything changes and only one document gets updated, then the two get out of sync. They must use a spreadsheet or other third party software to keep track of their expenses, adding more chances for errors.

Dedicated RESPA Software Is the Answer

Although a few real estate firms still fill out HUD forms manually, most of them use some kind of software. These range from simple, fill able PDF files to complex real estate programs with a variety of valuable features. Wouldn’t it be nice if these programs could keep track of itemization? Some of them can.

The most advanced of these applications include a smart itemization feature that allows users to enter each charge individually. The software automatically totals the charges into a lump sum when generating the HUD form, but can also generate itemization reports that show each individual charge. The information is kept in one place rather than being duplicated, and automatic totaling ensures the figures on the form are correct.

Smart itemization is just one of the features today’s professionals receive from real estate and legal practice management software. Don’t continue to slow down your practice with manual methods or out-date software solutions. Take advantage of the latest technology for your business.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in HUD Software | Comments Off
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Time and Billing Software Improves Client Satisfaction

Law firms, like any business, depend on client referrals to generate new business. However unlike other industries, your customers aren’t usually qualified to judge whether or not you are a good attorney. Your image is going to have as much or more to do with client satisfaction as your legal background. Easy Soft attorney time and billing software gives any law firm the air of professionalism essential to pleasing clients.

Your Billing Reflects Your Practice

Many firms, particularly smaller ones, treat billing as an afterthought. Invoices go out erratically and there is little effort put into collecting late balances. The invoices are either sloppy handwritten affairs or stale templates that don’t reflect your professional image. Not only is this bad business — if you don’t collect your fees then you don’t make money — but your clients may think if you don’t care about your own billing, then how much will you care about their cases?

One option is to contract out your billing to a third-party. You can forget about the administrative details and focus on the practice of law. However, you also give up control over your invoicing and you lose the opportunity to work personally with clients.

The Advantages of Legal Billing And Accounting Software

Easy TimeBill is like hiring a full-time bookkeeper without the cost or headaches. Using dedicated lawyer billing software gives you features that no other billing software can:

  • Customized Invoices – Tailor your invoices to reflect your practice’s unique style.
  • Dedicated Legal Billing – Easy TimeBill shows information generic financial software doesn’t, like retainer balances and fees broken out by matter.
  • Automatic Late Billing Reminders – Numerous studies show that gentle reminders greatly increase collections. The software automatically generates invoices on late accounts.
  • Late Fee Calculation – Late fees are complicated to calculate so let Easy TimeBill do the work for you.
  • 360-Degree View – It is shocking how many law offices have no idea of the state of their accounts. See all unbilled and unpaid balances as well as retainer balances at a glance.

Your invoices are often the last contact a client receives after a case is over. Don’t leave a client with a bad impression. Maintain a professional image by using law practice management software to administer your firm.

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How to Find the Best Real Estate Trust Accounting System

Real estate transactions involve the transfer of money to and from many parties. Real estate firms need to keep careful track of all these funds, which can be complicated especially when several sales are in progress. Easy HUD helps you complete the HUD 1 settlement statement but you will also need a system to track your trust accounting.

Manual Trust Management: Administrative Nightmare

Some firms track trust transactions manually. The system may involve copious handwritten notes, or a complicated spreadsheet that documents all receipts and payments associated with a sale. This system might work for a firm that makes very few sales, though we don’t recommend it even in that case, but it is a disaster waiting to happen when you get busy. Often what happens is a single practitioner starts out using such a system and continues to do so as the business grows. Then one day a mistake is made, a trust account is overdrawn, and a government auditor gets very upset.

QuickBooks: A Good Solution

Intuit makes great software and QuickBooks is a wonderful business accounting solution for most companies. Easy HUD can export your ledger to a file that can be read into QuickBooks so you can handle your trust administration. Easy HUD’s help system gives step-by-step instructions on how to set QuickBooks up for trust administration, and how to export the ledger for import into the other software. However, although QuickBooks is a decent option if you are already using that software in your business, you are going to find trust administration is easier and less prone to errors if you use a dedicated escrow software solution like Easy Trust.

Easy Trust: A Better Solution

Easy HUD has been designed to integrate with Easy Trust for a complete real estate accounting software solution. Since the products have been designed to work together, you will find that using them both is a little easier than trying to transfer data between two products designed by different companies. Easy Trust handles all transactions, tracks each set of transactions separately even if all your trusts are kept in the same bank account, issues reminders of low trust balances, and generates the three-way reconciliation reports required by most states.

If you are already using Easy HUD then you can try out a demo of Easy Trust to discover how simple trust management can be. Check out our full line attorney practice management software products at our web site.

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What Can We Learn From The Healthcare.gov Debacle?

Both supporters and detractors of the Affordable Healthcare Act agree on one thing: the healthcare exchange website launch has been a disaster. Software developers have nightmares of product release catastrophes but it’s rare that things go this badly. As a real estate professional, you don’t want to use RESPA software that could shut down your business like this and that’s why you should use a tested product like Easy HUD.

Experienced Developers

Everyone thinks creating software is easy but there are always problems. You need to work with a vendor who has over 20 years of experience developing real estate and attorney practice management software, someone who understands what users really need and who offers a product that has been used in the real world by professionals just like you. Easy HUD has thousands of satisfied customers so you don’t need to feel like you are an unpaid software tester.

Knowledge Of The Law

Laws change and legal software has to change with it. When the 2010 RESPA Final Rule was published and made significant changes to the HUD 1 settlement statement, we brought Easy HUD into full compliance quickly. As laws and tax rates change, Easy Soft releases free updates to Easy HUD so your office is always working under the latest rules.

New Technology

One of the common complaints heard about the healthcare.gov website is that it is using ten year old technology. In some industries older technology is tested and reliable; in software development older technology is unstable and insecure, or at the very least outdated and limited. Easy Soft stays abreast of new technological developments that give our HUD program the features needed by the modern real estate professional, features like:

  • Cloud Technology for an application as mobile as you are
  • High Security to ensure your clients’ privileged information stays private
  • Electronic 1099-S Filing so you can file as you close, avoiding the end-of-the-year IRS nightmare
  • Electronic Forms emailed from right within the program, because paper is so yesterday

And yet we haven’t lost sight of the past. Many of our customers prefer desktop software over cloud software, and paper HUD forms and correspondence over electronic versions. We offer a range of choices so you can pick the option that best suits the way you do business.

Find out how easy and robust Easy Soft title closing software is. Download a demo, or use the full product risk-free for 30 days.

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Free Family Law Software Training for Divorce Financials

You know the law but do you know your law software? Easy Soft has designed Divorce Financials, our family law software, to be an intuitive and helpful tool for any divorce practice. We also offer an assortment of support options to help you get the most from the software.

Free Demo – Try before you buy. This family law software free download lets you test out Divorce Financials for as long as you like. You have a chance to learn the software by using it before you spend a penny. Give it a full workout, test it with real divorce cases and find out for yourself if this software fits your family law practice.

Embedded Help – Confused by something? Press F1 and get access to a fully indexed and searchable help document that takes you through every feature in the software. We cover everything from how to install and activate the software to how to enter case information to how to generate alimony and child support analyses.

PDF Manual – Press Control-M to bring up a full software manual. Read it online, email it to other users throughout the practice, or print it out so you can read it at your leisure.

Free Training – The Easy Soft website has a number of easy-to-follow training videos on Divorce Financials, other family law products (EzSupport, Case Information Statement) and all of our legal practice management software titles. View these short informational videos from the comfort of your own computer, and watch them as many times as you need to.

Technical Support – Our online technical support system offers step-by-step solutions for common error messages or other problems. We also offer basic instruction on tasks like exchanging data between Divorce Financials information and CIS. If you don’t find your answer here, then you can submit a ticket and one of our support experts will get in touch with you shortly.

Our Blog – We regularly publish helpful articles on our divorce software and our other products. These post might contain helpful tips on how to use Divorce Financials more effectively, observations on how changes in the law affect the software, pointers to often-overlooked tools or announcements of new products or features.

When you buy Divorce Financials you aren’t just getting a piece of settlement statement software. You are getting a business partner who can help you run a more efficient practice. Buy Divorce Financials today and try it risk-free for 30 days.

Posted by Rick Kabra on in Divorce Financials, Other | Comments Off
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