The busier you get in commercial real estate brokerage, the greater the importance of note taking and record keeping. Every meeting and key conversation should be supported by detailed notes.
Frequently you will find that the process of note taking will help you stay on track through complex property challenges and disputes. It is hard for someone to refute documented facts. It is also easier to see how to handle solutions when you write things down.
Why is this so important today more than at any time previously? Litigation and the risk of a sale negotiation or lease deal being misinterpreted are real possibilities, as the property transactions we are involved with become larger and the properties more complex.
A Common Problem
It is a common problem that some property ‘involved’ people and clients ‘selectively’ remember only certain facts and conversations for their own benefit as part of any negotiation. When you are working with complex property events and with that the possibilities of thousands if not millions of dollars hinging in any decision or deal, the selective memory of one person can have a costly impact on an outcome. Proof is required to support what was said and decided.
Arguments and negotiations go hand in hand in commercial real estate; a simple discussion today can be a critical conversation in the future. The only way to protect situations and the positions of the parties is through accurate documentation supported by the strategy of note taking.
Here are some ideas to help with record keeping in the property industry:
- EXERCISE BOOK SIMPLICITY: Keep an exercise book with you at all times. The exercise book should be a record of every meeting and critical conversation that you have on a monthly basis. At the end of the working day, any critical comments can be copied from the book to the active negotiation or client files. At the end of the month the book can be changed over for a new monthly note taking book. In that way you are logically keeping monthly records in booklet form for timely access. If all else fails you have plenty of backup in case of conversational dispute or complex discussion. If the main file gets lost you still have your note books.
- ONLINE BACKUP: Transfer important issues to your online storage facility and note keeping program. Evernote is one of the best programs to use given that it is accessible across multiple platforms and devices. If you are really worried about a property event you can take photographs of a key issue and save it to the web.
- DISAGREEMENT: If someone tells you they are ‘unhappy’ or ‘disagree’ with property processes and events, that is the start of a potential property problem. Be sensitive to potential threats and disagreements. Look for negotiation positions in client and prospect conversations.
- MANY ISSUES: You will be asked questions each day on a wide array of issues across many property and listing situations. If you are lacking information or clear facts, don’t guess the answer. A simple statement in error can be the foundation of a legal claim.
So the message here is that you can protect yourself quite well from disputes and disagreements providing you keep plenty of notes in a logical and reliable way. Stay safe from a business perspective and legally correct in all your property discussions and activities. Keep good notes from all your meetings and conversations.