As citizens and businesses alike attempt to make changes to help the environment, JP’s Focus Real Estate is no exception. With the increasing availability and accessibility of technology, gone are the days of printing out stacks upon stacks of paper at open houses, said Randal Engelmann, Owner of Focus Real Estate.
Focus Real Estate used to print out hundreds of “really splashy, pretty, glossy, heavy stock brochures” containing information about a property for open houses. “We would print out between 50 and 75 brochures for each open house, each of them double sided,” Engelmann said. They include floor plans, photos, and maps of the surrounding area. “It’s something that’s kind of nice for buyers to grab and hold onto,” he said.
But then he realized that all that paper might not be so necessary. Engelmann said he sent a client something in the mail, and she said she was insulted by the amount of paper that was included. He was also shopping for a home for himself, and discovered that those brochures were “completely useless,” and found himself tossing them aside. “I went on my smartphone or my tablet to see map and floor plans,” he said. “As long as it’s provided by the listing agent, it’s all available online.”
In August, Engelmann decided that he would try to reduce the amount of paper he used at the company, so he asked around if this was something people would be interested in.
He’s now down to 10 or 12 sheets of paper for each open house for things like door signs to let people know they’re in the right place. “I like to have a little bit of visual context at an open house,” he said.
Instead of the paper, he uses QR codes—people can scan the codes using their smartphone camera, and they will be automatically linked to details about the property on a website. It’s the same high quality brochure that would be printed, but is now available electronically so it is easy to access and impossible to lose. Additionally, if people sign into the open house on the provided iPad, they will automatically be sent the listing brochure via email.
He said the response has been extremely positive, and people have wondered why the paper has lasted this long. “The fact that our technology has grown—it wasn’t there a couple years ago,” Engelmann said. “We feel guilty about not doing this sooner.”
In addition to the minimal paper open houses, Engelmann said that they don’t prepare big books anymore when meeting with buyers and sellers either. “Most of our presentations are on iPads,” he said, and they also use digital signature programs—“we don’t really have any paper files in our office.”
If people do not have access to a smartphone or email, they will always have one or two brochures printed for people to have hard copies, and there is always one printed fact sheet, map, and floor plan for people to look at while at the open house, Engelmann said.
“We really do pride ourselves on being leaders in technology,” Engelmann said. “We’ve tried to embrace using the latest technology to serve our clients.”