Natural-Disaster Proof: Even Real Estate Should Live in the Cloud
In the case of hurricanes or fires, though the physical structure of a building might be damaged or destroyed, important resident data can be kept safe.
With one of the worst natural disaster seasons in history, many people have lost their homes to flooding, storms and fire. While the physical structure may be unsalvageable, the data and information can be kept safe in the cloud. Important for investors and property managers, it is just good practice to use this technology when it comes to any real estate investment. After all, real estate is generally the most significant asset in a person’s portfolio. For those with multiple properties, or multifamily properties, this approach can be even more important.
Before the major disasters started hitting our nation, we encountered a small hiccup in our hometown that made the need for cloud based software abundantly clear. Some downed power lines near our office headquarters in Oregon put several hundred customers out of commission for a few days. In our building, a tech company was completely down and unable to access any of their data because they stored their resources on a local server. My company’s program and client data, however, was unaffected. Because we have a cloud-based model, our clients were still able to access their information and our software. And, even better, their information was secure.
The cloud is nothing new. In a recent Forbes article, the author says “the cloud has passed the point of critical mass.” Most companies have adopted a cloud strategy, and moved away from device storage of information. But some are still concerned about cloud security. For real estate owners and property managers, this is a concern due to the high amount of personal information surrounding real estate transactions, rental agreements and resident data.
My business works with 13,000 property managers across the nation, and we’ve found that the cloud is the way to go. Why? For us, the cloud provides unlimited online file storage, secure backup all client data, redundancy-offsite backup to safeguard against disaster or malfunction, flexibility based on client size and needs, automatic rollout of software updates and more. Better yet, it is the best way to manage the type of sensitive information that comes with owning or managing real estate investments. For property managers and landlords, cloud-based solutions can safely keep information like:
- Renter Information—Property managers keep records of their resident’s rental applications, which can contain social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, bank information and other personal data. Most state laws actually require that rental owners and managers keep rental applications for all applicants, not just renters, for four to seven years.
- Owner Files—If you provide property management services for owners, you will need to keep records of your management agreements, property files like those listed below, and payment records related to rental income, management fees, or property maintenance.
- Property Files—Depending if you own rental property or simply manage rental properties for other owners, your record retention requirements regarding property files may be different.
- Vendor Files—Property managers and landlords work with all sorts of vendors related to their properties and business. Organizing and storing vendor files appropriately will help you come tax time when submitting your 1099-MISC documents and if a dispute ever arises.
- Financial Records—Whether you manage your own rental properties or provide property management services for your owners, maintaining proper financial records is important for completing your taxes appropriately every year, ensuring proper trust accounting compliance and surviving an audit.
- Business Documents—Maintaining files that relate specifically to structure of your property management business are essential for ensuring legal compliance, securing new clients, or surviving an audit.
These files are all examples of data and information most property managers and/or real estate owners would want to have not only safe and secure—but also keep at their fingertips if needed. The cloud provides this capability.
Natural disasters have proven the necessity of cloud-based solutions across industries, and the real estate space is no different. Although real estate is arguably one of the most tangible, concrete things in our daily lives—bricks, mortar, roof, walls—even this industry should live on the cloud.
Kaycee Wegener manages marketing and media relations for Rentec Direct and shares industry news, products, and trends within the community. Learn more about Kaycee at www.rentecdirect.com and on Twitter at @thatrentergirl.