Business Management

4 Practical Ways to Keep All Your Real Estate Documents Organized

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Finance, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Marketing, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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If you own multiple properties, both investment and personal, then you probably feel a little scatterbrained at times. Each property comes with its own complicated paper trail—closing documents, insurance and tax forms, titles, rent agreements, etc.

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How can you stay organized without taking up unnecessary space?

4 Practical Tips for Staying Organized

Some people are naturally drawn towards being organized based on personality type, but anyone can learn how to become more organized in their daily life. If organization in your real estate career is a major point of contention, then you’ll find the following tips helpful.

1. Get rid of what you don’t need.

Take a look at the documents on your desk, piled up on the floor, and spilling out of your filing cabinet. Chances are, you don’t even know what you have.

“Some are current documents for recent transactions. Some are for houses that you have long since sold. And some may be for refinances of previous transactions,” points out Larry DeBerry of the DeBerry real estate team. “Many of us tend to keep the entire package given to us at closing, which just takes up space. So the question is, what should you keep and is there anything you can get rid of?”

Related: #AskBp 005: How Do You Organize Your Real Estate Investing Business?

Start with homes you no longer own. You'll want to keep the original owner's policy of title insurance to protect you should problems arise down the road, as well as loan payment documentation, HUD statements, and land surveys. The rest can be shredded and discarded.


2. Use binders with tabs.

Everyone has their own method of organizing real estate documents, but one of the more helpful suggestions is to organize by property. Also, instead of throwing all of your records into a filing cabinet where they’re hard to retrieve, purchase a large three-ring binder for each individual property.

On the front of the binder, paste a picture of the property with the address at the top. Inside, use dividers with labeled tabs to organize documents by type. The wonderful thing about three-ring binders is you can flip through and see everything without the documents getting out of order. The binders can then be placed in a single cabinet or drawer to save space and keep them out of the way.

3. Store copies in the cloud.

Only keeping physical copies of important real estate documents is a mistake. Documents get lost, stolen, and damaged by fire or water. In order to cover yourself and avoid losing records you need, scan all important documents to your computer and upload them to the cloud. Eventually, you may want to use the cloud exclusively, only saving paper copies of things like HUD statements.

Related: 3 Steps to Automating Your Receipt Organization in Real Estate (And an EPIC Bonus Section…)

4. Always clear your desk.

Clutter seems to breed more clutter. If you end your day with documents scattered across your desk, you aren’t very likely to clean them up in the morning. This means you’ll end up creating more piles the next day. In order to curb this dangerous issue, make a habit of always clearing off your desk at the end of the day and finding a home for every document. Some may need to be thrown away, while others should go straight into one of those binders previously discussed. Regardless, nothing should be left without a home.


Make Organization a Top Priority

If organization doesn’t come naturally to you, then you’ll have to make a conscious effort to focus on it. In the real estate world, disorganization isn’t just a nuisance. It’s a serious matter that can have adverse financial and legal ramifications.

Find a way to get your paper trail in order, and don’t underestimate the value in asking for help.

How do you make sure your papers are in order?

Leave your organization tips below!

Larry is an independent, full-time writer and consultant. His writing covers a broad range of topics including business, investment and technology. His contributions include Entrepreneur Media, TechCrunch, and When he is not writing, Larry assists both entrepreneurs and mid-market businesses in optimizing strategies for growth, cost cutting, and operational optimization. As an avid real estate investor, Larry cut his teeth in the early 2000s buying land and small single family properties. He has since acquired and flipped over 30 parcels and small homes across the United States. While Larry’s real estate investing experience is a side passion, he will affirm his experience and know-how in real estate investing is derived more from his failures than his successes.

    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Getting Things Done by David Allen is a great system too I would highly recommend.