Why the Most Successful Real Estate Investors Don’t Use Spreadsheets

If you’re not using the latest technological tools to be more productive in your business, then you probably either (a) built your business a decade or more ago and are not growing it now, or (b) you’re a complete beginner to business. Either way, if you’re not leveraging the usefulness of online tools, then you don’t know how the most successful entrepreneurs depend on such tools to give them an edge against their competitors.

Some real estate investors depend on (Excel) spreadsheets to run their business. But spreadsheets are outdated, and they don’t count as part of the latest online productivity tools.

Here are six reasons why spreadsheets are not good for your business:

1. Slow and Limited Collaboration

In your growing real estate investing business, most of the spreadsheets will probably be used by more than a couple people. You might have one person taking down information on new leads, someone else running comps analysis, another person saving a list of the repairs that need to be done on a property, and so on.

Because a spreadsheet is just a file, only one person can access it at a time. When one person is working on it, everyone is waiting. Then the spreadsheet must get emailed to everyone, and then emailed to everyone again once anything is changed.

That’s when there appear multiple different versions, often with conflicting data—and you have to figure out which parts are the most up to date.

In a cloud-based online system (like Swift REI), however, everything is always synced up. You get a streamlined system with a central database that saves all your information, and everyone can collaborate easily.

2. Not Accessible Remotely

If your team works inside one office and people rarely step out for work, you can still benefit from a system that is accessible on the go. For example, whoever in your company goes and sees the properties to assess them for you will need to take notes. They might write things down on a piece of paper and then come back to the office and spend more time entering everything into a spreadsheet.

But you probably also have many times when you’re away from the office you need to show someone something about one of your properties; or you might need to quickly check the rehab budget for a property when you’re in a store to buy materials. A lot of spreadsheets (especially big ones) will not open up on your smartphone, and if you’re always needing to download a spreadsheet to view it, you’ll quickly use up a lot of the storage space on your phone.

3. Limited Scalability

As your business grows, you’ll need to not only save information on more projects but likely also more information about each project. You’ll naturally get better at keeping records so that no details get lost. The problem with spreadsheets, however, is that they don’t work very well when the file size is large. The responsiveness goes down in proportion to the file size, and your computer processor is taxed heavier by the extra load. All spreadsheet programs will limit the amount of data you can save because the spreadsheets simply won’t work well when they have a lot of data.

On the other hand, the right online tool should allow you to save more data than you might ever want to save. In your Swift REI account, for example, you can save an unlimited amount of notes and files.

4. Not Specialized for Real Estate Investing

Even if you pay someone to make a really fancy spreadsheet for you to use on all leads and deals, you’ll never get some of the features you can get only with an online-based database or CRM. For example, a CRM like Swift REI has special forms (with checkboxes, dropdown menus, longer text input fields, etc.) that were invented for the internet, not for spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are designed for number crunching of data sets; they’re not meant to save various types of information besides short strings of text and numbers. And as a spreadsheet gets more complex, the cost of hiring programmers able to tweak them will grow exponentially.

In a project-based system, for each lead or deal you simply create a project that already has the form input fields you’ll need for your real estate investing business. There will be a special table for comps, a form for saving lists of the repairs needed on a property, a form for you to save details as you’re talking to a seller on the phone, and so on. The project data is integrated and synced for easy access on any part of the project.

5. Poor Data Security and Data Integrity

Especially in a business like real estate investing (where the deal sizes are much larger than the typical transaction in other businesses), you want to ensure that you keep thorough records of your data safely for often long periods of time. You may do a deal in January and need to come back and review it in July of the following year for tax purposes, like if your business is audited. But as time passes, spreadsheets become error prone.

Compatibility issues arise when a spreadsheet file is created with an older version of a program like Microsoft Excel and is being accessed with a newer version. This can lead to mismatch of information and data corruption. You may lose all or some of the data, or you may have to pay a specialist to recover the data. If your business relies on Excel spreadsheets, then you’re always going to be dependent on Excel. But the program changes every year. The spreadsheets you have today might not work next week when a new update is rolled out by Microsoft.

Just as important is the fact that all data in a spreadsheet is kept in a file. This is the worst setup if security is one of your goals. Whoever gets hold of a spreadsheet file will be able to view everything. Spreadsheets are prone to such theft. Also, you might not know if one of your employees or assistants is sending files over to someone else—whether with bad intentions or simply without thinking much of it. But they wouldn’t be able to share access to a cloud-based project without you the administrator also knowing that the file is shared.

6. Limited Report Sharing

You may prefer a particular layout when entering data into a spreadsheet but another layout to export a report. So every time you need to make a report from a spreadsheet, you have to take the time to either transfer the data over to the template you export or to adjust the original spreadsheet into a presentable and printable format. This is a lot of extra work, and we all know that it’s a pain to print spreadsheets.

In an online system designed for you to save information efficiently there will be (at least Swift REI has it) a feature for you to share parts of any project with the public. Then you simply give the URL to whomever needs to see the information.

Conclusion

If you’re letting spreadsheets drag you down while the real estate investors you’re competing with are growing their businesses, then you need to try something new. Here at Swift REI, of course, we’re biased toward our own system and think it’s the best. Our tools are designed specifically for a real estate investing business; and it’s useful for both individual investors and bigger companies with multiple people in the team. Try our program now for free to see how it can help you run your business more effectively.

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