Real Estate Investor Systems and Checklists

Real Estate Investor Systems and Checklists

Let’s talk about something that may not be super stimulating, but it will save you time, it will keep your rear end out of court and conflict, and it will make you look like a real professional.

We leverage our time by automating tasks that we know are repeatable and have predictable trigger points.

I’m talking about systems. Formalized systems allow business owners to leverage four key components: time, money, knowledge, and people. Leverage allows us to stack resources for maximum results. For example, we leverage money by taking out loans, which allow us to make larger investments faster, using other people’s financial resources. We leverage our time by automating tasks that we know are repeatable and have predictable trigger points. We leverage knowledge when we have mentors that teach us the mistakes they made and how to avoid them so that we do not have to reinvent the wheel. Finally, we leverage people by hiring a team and delegating low-value tasks at a more efficient hourly rate than doing these tasks ourselves. That, in turn, gives us back more time to engage in higher return-on-investment tasks. 

Develop the systems that your business needs to influence time, money, knowledge, and people in your real estate business. 

I know, you’re telling yourself: “But…I don’t know anything about systems, where do I even start?” Well, allow me the opportunity to leverage my knowledge of real estate business to give you a head start in developing the systems that your business needs to influence time, money, knowledge, and people in your real estate business. 

Behold! The Real Estate Investor Business Procedures Checklist

Key Administrative Procedures

  • Answering the telephone and taking messages
    • Create a database for everyone you speak with: names, numbers, what they like, what you talked about, family, what they own, hobbies, and the last time you spoke with them. (This is known as client relationship management).
    • You do not need anything fancy. An Excel spreadsheet or Google Spreadsheet works.
    • The key is to be consistent, is it scheduled? 
  • Routine correspondence (list of and how to)
    • How many people do you send mailers to? 
      • Who are they? 
      • Why did you target them?
      • How many responded? (You need to keep track of this in another spreadsheet).
    • Are you removing people from your list that you’ve targeted at least 10 times and have not responded?  
      • Is this something you can automate?
  • Scheduling appointments with potential sellers/end-buyers
    • Do you have a system that:
      • Verifies appointments?
      • Sends reminders?
      • Confirms the day before?
    • It can be as simple as using your Google calendar and sending an invite for the time/date.
  • Calendar control
    • How many potential and actual customers are you scheduling a day?
    • Are you allowing calls/appointments daily or a specific set of days and times?
    • Do you have a script/checklist available for your receptionist?
    • Are you scheduling time to work on the other parts of your business? (Strategy, accounting, marketing, sales, financial statement review, budgeting, etc.)
      • CPA – quarterly
      • Bookkeeper – monthly
      • Business Attorney – as new opportunities/challenges arise

Opening a New File for a New Seller or End-Buyer Client

  • What information do you gather?
    • When do you first follow up with them?
    • How do you know which title company you will use for said deal?
    • Have a spreadsheet with your operating cash that you use for each file (earnest money deposit for X property).
      • Loans
      • Business capital
      • Expenses – demolition
      • Expenses – remodel
      • Expenses – closing
    • Do you have a scanner to keep a digital copy of each contract? (Sales contracts, assignment contracts, any other disclosures or documents)
    • Do you have a printer for quick access?
  • Opening a new file for a current seller or end-buyer client
    • Are you updating your information on that seller or end buyer? 
    • Do you have their representatives’ contact information?
      • Broker
      • LLC Agent
      • Corporate representative
    • Did they recently get married, divorced, lost a loved one, started a new business, moved to a new home/city/state, or get a new hobby, etc.?
      • Married status verification is a MUST!
    • Did they change their contact information?
    • Did you recently update your contracts?
  • Monthly file review
    • Is all the money accounted for?
      • Operating expenses
      • Loan payments
      • EMD
      • Cash to fund
      • Cash from closing
    • Did it close on time?
    • Do you have a copy of the closing statement in the file?
    • Do you have a list of costs incurred in closing that client?
    • Did employees/independent contractors meet KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?
  • File protocols
    • When do you open a file?
    • What documents go in every open file?
    • Have you scanned the checks you cut into the file?
    • Have you scanned the check payments you receive into the file?
    • Have you scanned the invoices for expenses into the file?
    • Have you scanned contractor agreements into the file?
    • Did you save correspondence/email in the file?
    • Do you have a “Notes” page in each file?
    • Do you have contact information for each party?
    • When does a client get notices/follow up in each stage of the closing?
    • Who contacts them? 
  • Closing files
    • If wholesaling, once you assign a contract, what kind of follow-up are you having?
    • If sales to end buyer, what kind of follow-up are you having?
    • What is your system for depositing proceeds from the sale? Do you have a separate account for this? (Revenue versus operating expenses versus tax bill account)
    • Schedule to call the seller/buyer before it closes to see that they are being taken care of.
    • Schedule to call the seller/buyer after it closes to see how they enjoyed the process and what they would like to improve.
    • Schedule to call the seller/end-buyer before it closes to see that they have everything they need.
    • Schedule to call the seller/end-buyer before it closes to see how they enjoyed the process and what they would like to improve.
  • Coordinating and attending closings
    • Schedule when you will follow up with the title agent:
      • Did they receive the contract?
      • Did they receive the EMD?
      • Do they have the contact information for all sellers/buyers?
      • Do they have all the information for the agents?
      • Did they issue a title commitment?
        • Have you reviewed the title commitment?
        • If unsure of details in the commitment, have you spoken with the title agent for clarification?
        • Is a real estate attorney needed to clear up a title issue?
        • Is a probate attorney needed to satisfy title requirements?
      • Did they need payoffs for mortgages or liens that you can assist with?
      • Is there an HOA/COA that needs to provide an estoppel? Can you send them the management company contact information?
      • Will anyone be on vacation on the scheduled closing date?
        • Title agent
        • Seller 
        • Buyer
      • Do you have a corporate resolution authorizing an alternative signatory in case you’re unavailable?
      • Who is their supervisor to contact if the title agent is out of the office?
      • Buyer lender:
        • What underwriting challenges/requirements are you aware of?
        • Second inspection?
        • Termite inspection?
        • FHA requirements?
        • VA requirements?
        • USDA requirements?
        • SBA requirements?
        • Did the loan origination period expire under the contract?
        • Did the buyer waive financing provision by not timely canceling the contract?
      • How will the closing take place? (In person, mail away, remote)
      • What is their preferred method of payment/disbursements? (Checks or wires, etc., and do they charge additional fees for another method of payment?)
      • Have you provided wire instructions?
        • Does the title company verify wire instructions verbally?
      • When can you request a preliminary closing statement?
      • When can you request seller docs/buyer docs for AB/BC closings?
      • What address do you need to have overnight documents for to title?
      • Will the title company provide you with shipping labels in advance?
    • Do they have one or more locations?
    • Are they able to come to the seller’s preferred location?
  • Calculating and documenting deadlines
    • Create deadlines for compliance with the contract:
      • EMD to the title company (never hand $$ to the seller or take $$ on their behalf, put that burden on the third-party title co).
      • Inspection: 
        • Invest in a professional inspector to come with you to see every property you enter a contract with.
        • Better value of assigning contracts, if assigning, when you can tell end buyers you’ve had it inspected professionally.
        • Your estimates for upgrades necessary for the end buyer are that much more accurate and VALUABLE.
        • Verified zoning?
        • Verified planned development if construction?
        • Verified access is sufficient for the project?
        • Verified permits pulled for existing construction?
      • Assignment (if wholesaling):
        • When are you receiving the assignment fee?
        • When are you delivering the contract?
        • When are you informing the seller that it has been assigned?
        • Does the assignee have any additional inspection period?
        • Is the assignee being funded with a loan?
        • Did you verify proof of funds for the assignee?
      • Closing date:
        • Is everything moving along to comply?
        • Did the original closing date foresee the time required to get back payoffs and estoppels, etc.?
    • Create deadlines for compliance with the assignment:
      • When to deliver the contract.
      • When to notify the seller of the assignment.
      • When to close (make it BOLD, send reminders, etc.).
    • Create deadlines for compliance with the title company:
      • Confirm EMDs by the contract date.
      • Confirm they’ve timely requested payoffs as soon as the title commitment is created.
      • Build in two-to-five days for the title to return a completed commitment into your chosen closing date.
  • Terminating an agreement with a seller or end buyer
    • What are the bases for getting your EMD back?
    • When should you seek an extension from the seller if it looks like the end buyer is not going to close?
    • Will you charge an extension fee? Is it in the contract?
    • Is your assignment fee non-refundable?
    • If you have to mediate, arbitrate, or litigate, do your contracts provide for attorney’s fees to the prevailing party?
    • If you have to mediate, arbitrate, or litigate, do your contracts provide for reimbursement of costs to the prevailing party?
  • Accounting for time, tasks, and value:
    • Break down the value of your time per task.
    • How much would you have to pay an employee to do each particular task? (You can use Glassdoor and Monster, etc. to create SKUs sheet)
  • Paying bills:
    • Rent
    • Appraiser
    • Inspector
    • Hired help
    • Bookkeepers
    • Annual tax preparation
    • Marketing (networking, signs, social media ads, etc.)
    • Education
  • Accepting payment:
    • Separate bank accounts.
    • How soon do you deposit the funds?
      • Is this scheduled?
      • Is this available via a phone app?
  • Monthly bookkeeping:
    • Spreadsheet for files closed that month.
    • Reconcile checks out/money in.
    • Appointment with the bookkeeper to verify categorization is accurate.
  • Monthly advertising:
    • Adjust for ROI (return on investment).
    • Get rid of marketing that is not working.
      • Check your numbers, always!
    • Increase $ into marketing that is providing you the highest ROI.
    • A referral CRM is marketing. (Do you send thank you notes? Do you set up lunches/dinners/breakfasts/coffee?)
  • Computer back-up:
    • Do you have your files on a cloud system?
    • What anti-virus protection do you have?
    • Invest in a portable hard drive.
      • Back it up every _____________________.
    • Do you have a backup computer if yours takes the black/grey/blue screen of death?
  • Computer file organization scheme:
    • Numbers and/or letters system.
    • Pending v. Open v. Closed v. Canceled.
  • Operating instructions for all technology:
    • Who has access?
    • Password logs.
  • Monthly review of all policies and procedures:
    • Remember to constantly improve.
    • Focus on efficiencies. (Your time is the only limited resource).
  • Monthly review of marketing, what is and what is not working?
    • Adjusting your target client as you learn who you prefer to work with for both sellers and end buyers.
    • This will help you niche, and the riches are in the niches!

This is not an exhaustive list of all of the things that you can systematize in your real estate business, but it will put you ahead of 95% of other real estate investors and give you more time to invest in truly thrilling opportunities. 

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Natalia Ouellette-Grice, Esq

Natalia Ouellette-Grice

Natalia successfully completed nearly a thousand Tax Deed cases and has skillfully represented foreclosure bidders in hundreds of cases, assisting them in recovering deposits, confirming foreclosure sales, negotiating lien payoffs, and re-foreclosing omitted junior lienholders. She was president of a Florida title company for nearly a decade. Her practice now focuses exclusively on helping small business entrepreneurs create, grow, and protect their business and families through comprehensive business and estate planning. She is fluent in Spanish and French, loves the business community, and enjoys traveling.

For legal help visit her website: or Call +1 (813) 480-2106

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