Check out our amazing new way to save you time and money

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It’s new, it’s exciting, and it will change the way you do business. It might even save you money. Introducing our latest upgrade to your MLS package, TransactionDesk® by Instanet.

Imagine being able to start a transaction directly from the Matrix listing. Storing all of your documents in the cloud and having them automatically assigned to the corresponding transaction. Writing contracts and getting them signed on the fly. Keeping track of your calls, contacts and activities related to a transaction. All in one place. Without any extra fees.

Now included in your MLS dues, TransactionDesk is a complete transaction management system and it’s fully integrated with Matrix for a seamless user experience. For instance, if you fill out the Residential Data Input Form on TransactionDesk for a new listing, it will auto populate your incoming Matrix listing when you’re done. Any affiliated documents can be stored with TransactionDesk, too so they’re right where you need them, wherever you are.

TransactionDesk® includes

  •     InstanetForms® Replaces the need for ZIPForms. Complete online  forms and contracts on any device.
  • DocBox® All of your documents in one place. No more muddling between two different uploading platforms. Now you can upload any document and have the ability to edit them online. DocBox is a complete paperless online document management and storage solution. Enjoy unlimited storage forever. You’ll no longer need a separate cloud storage system like Dropbox or Google Docs, although they are compatible with TransactionDesk if you need them. Keep them private, for MLS users only, or mark them as public so potential buyers can see them. You’re in control.
  •  AuthentiSign® E-Signature Tool. Do you use DotLoop, Docusign, or Inked? There’s no need for another service now. With unlimited signatures and transactions, you can legally e-sign documents and forms online.
  • InstanetFax®. Unique fax cover sheets with each transaction ensure that incoming faxes from inspectors, appraisers, and anyone else gets correctly filed instantly. Then, take those documents and have them signed, make changes, or save pages to unique files all in the same system. Unlimited inbound and outbound including paper fax to email. 
  • Customer Portal. Online collaboration and service tools available to clients 24/7.
  • Calendar, Appointments, Contacts, Tasks, & More. Track your to-do list, keep records of your calls, store your contacts and calendar all in one place. Takes over a lot of the tasks of a typical CRM software package. Get automated reminders to complete tasks. Managers, you’ll be able to keep track of and review your team’s transactions from any location.
  • Start transactions directly from the listing. Simply click on the green Instanet logo under the listing photo and start a transaction instantly. Information from the listing will be automatically added to the transaction, so you don’t have to input it yourself.
  • Create your own transaction templates. Customize your templates for the transactions you use most, or use your broker’s templates. If you’re starting fresh, use the wizard to guide you through.

To access this great new benefit, simply log in to NTREIS and click on the Instanet button on the right hand side on the home page. Or, if you’re already in Matrix, click on the TransactionDesk link under External Links on the lower right hand side of your Matrix home page.

Go ahead, give it a try. It’s pretty user-friendly. And watch our e-news for updates on training classes and webinars to teach you all the tips and tricks of TransactionDesk. With its cross-platform flexibility and full integration with Matrix, you’ll be sure to save time and effort with every transaction.

We’re excited to bring you this great new benefit. For questions and technical support, contact the MetroTex MLS-Tech Support line at 214-540-2755.

Listen to your FOMO: Register today for Forecast 2017 and you won’t miss a thing!

You’re a REALTOR, and you know that our local economy is critical to the ebbs and flows of your business. Prepare yourself for changing market conditions in 2017 by attending our perennial favorite Forecast event. Forces Shaping Tomorrow’s Economy will consider the DFW economy from many angles.

Will there be housing for all? With the rise in median prices quickly outpacing income levels, the ability to obtain housing is becoming increasingly difficult for hard-working families. Did you know that in Dallas, the median household income is $50,118? That equates to a home purchase price of less than $200,000 for the average buyer, a prospect that is becoming increasingly difficult. Join us as we welcome Bill Hall, CEO Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity to discuss the housing needs in this area and what is being done to ensure safe, affordable housing for all.

What about the economy? The DFW area is experiencing tremendous growth in business and in population. What lies ahead and what factors will influence our future economy? Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist realtor.com will be here to address the dynamics of the North Texas economy.

Who needs Houston? With the rapid expansion and development of Texas on the whole, it’s no surprise that the triangle formed by San Antonio, Houston and DFW is quickly becoming a vital part of the nation’s economy. Meet David Winans, author of Texaplex and listen to what he has to say about the vibrant, vital and interdependent Texaplex economy. (For a video previewing his book ,visit https://youtu.be/FC16-4fh-Qc).

What will the real estate market do? The always popular Dr. Jim Gaines, CEO Real Estate Center at Texas A&M will be discussing future real estate trends for Texas as a whole and North Texas in particular. Know the current market and what to expect in the coming years.

Friday, October 21, 2016 at the Marriott Las Colinas from 8:30 – 12:00. Includes continental breakfast and 3 hours CE credit. $35 for members and $45 for non-members. Register today at mymetrotex.com or call our Professional Development Dept. at 214-540-2751

Protect your business! What you need to know now about ransomware

There is a tremendous advantage to having a paperless, mobile office. You can work from anywhere, any time, and can act quickly to keep your deals alive. It also makes your business a victim of cybercrime. Ransomware is rapidly becoming a common – and profitable – tool for criminals. Most frequently it comes in the form of an infected email or a malicious web site disguised as something entirely different. If your computer becomes infected with ransomware, the program will encrypt critical files or your entire hard drive. You’ll find yourself locked out of your system, losing access to photos, contracts, and client contacts. Once the encryption is in place, you’ll get a message that you need to pay if you want to access your files again, and most often payments must be made in Bitcoin.

If you fall victim to ransomware, deciding whether to pay the criminals for the unlock key is a tough decision. After all, the more victims that pay, the more common this crime becomes. On the other hand, if your business depends on having access to those files, you might not have much choice. There is no guarantee that the cybercriminals will actually release your files, or that the decryption process will work on your computer. And there’s a good chance that you have other malware or viruses on your computer in addition to the ransomware. You should certainly report the crime to the police before you do anything. If you do manage to get your computer unlocked, it’s vital that you make sure it’s clean from viruses and malware before you start using it again.

You can protect yourself and your clients by regularly backing up your files. Use an online service to back them up for the best protection, or back up files on external drives that are then disconnected from your system. You can restore your files to a wiped computer if necessary. Remember to test your backups to make sure they work before an issue arises. Make sure that you routinely update your malware and anti-virus protection software. And if your computer is asking for a system update, don’t put it off. System updates will often offer some protection against the latest malware codes. Using a cloud-based server for the majority of your business files will offer you protection as well. You’ll be able to access your files from another device even if your primary device becomes locked.

Protect yourself from malware attacks in the first place by using an abundance of caution when opening email. Don’t open suspicious emails or click on links that come from unknown sources. Email hackers will often make it look like the email comes from a known source, like your friends or your bank. If the email seems a little off, or if it’s confusing, don’t click on a link in it. Call the sender or go directly to their website and connect with their customer service to verify the information in the email first.

Learn more about protecting your business, your identity, and your health during the annual MetroTex Wellness Month in October. Sign up for the MetroTex REALTOR Safety Training Course here, and join us throughout the month for more great events. We’ll lunch and learn with our favorite personal trainer, join the Race for the Cure, and donate at the Carter Blood Care drive. Stay safe, stay well and do good with MetroTex!

Attention Realtors! You and your clients are a prime target for cybercrime.

Take steps today to protect yourself, your business and your clients from these silent and malicious thieves. And make sure to tell your clients how you protect their information and their transaction and give them tips to protect themselves as well. 

Use best business practices with your data at all times. In your office, make sure everyone follows formal policies for ensuring data security. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Create unique logins and passwords for your online accounts. Use an algorithm or online password generators to help you create stronger passwords. Keep the passwords secure in an app or program and never save them to your computer. Change them regularly.
  • Never use free WiFi to conduct business.
  • Avoid using free email account services for business. Clean out your email account regularly. Store important emails on your hard drive.
  • Create an office-wide document retention policy. Store documents in a secure, locked location. If several people have keys to your office, make sure file cabinets and drawers are kept locked. ID theft can happen anywhere. Do not store documents longer than necessary, especially those with personal information. Destroy documents that are no longer needed.
  • Use an email encryption program whenever sending confidential information.
  • Never trust contact information in unverified emails. Do not click on links and do not reply to emails that look suspicious.
  • Educate your clients on how to properly send wire transfers. Have them call the intended recipient before wiring funds and have them verify wiring instructions. If wiring instructions are sent by email, have your client still call to verify as scammers are getting very good at sending fake instructions in order to misdirect funds. If a money wire has gone out with the wrong information, immediately contact the bank to try and stop the funds and immediately notify all affected parties.
  • If you do find that your data has been breached, contact any parties who might have been impacted, call the police, talk to an attorney and report the breach to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center:  http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

Remember, cybercrime is no joke and it is here to stay. Do your best to protect yourself and your clients. For more information, visit the NAR page about realtor safety here and join us on October 20 for the popular REALTOR Safety Matters class to learn more about protecting both your physical and virtual safety. 

By 2019, cyber-crime will cost businesses an estimated $2 trillion annually. Don’t be a part of that statistic!

Wire fraud is a common occurrence in our industry here is an example of a notice you may wish to consider adding to your email signature line. This notice should not serve as a substitute for educating your clients and other participants in your real estate transactions about email wire fraud.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Never trust wiring instructions sent via email. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. These emails are convincing and sophisticated. Always independently confirm wiring instructions in person or via a telephone call to a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct.

George Jetson doesn’t live here – but you could.

Saving time, money, energy and effort, smart home technology is now available to the masses. And it’s easier to add into your home than you might think. Have an internet connection and a router in your house? How about a smart phone? Then you’ve already got the basics to get a smart home system in place.

Whole Home Smart systems often involve a dedicated tablet mounted to a wall that controls the home systems – things like heat and air conditioning, lights, audio systems, pool equipment and security monitors. Complementary apps for your phone will let you control these things from room to room or while you’re away. For instance, Smart thermostats can have sensors placed in a room to make sure that rooms that are often uncomfortable get heated or cooled properly. Furthermore, you can change the temperature or change the thermostat to other settings while away, so you set the thermostat to away settings when you leave and can revert to the right temperature before you board the plane to come home.

But it’s not just about climate control, Captain Picard. Smart kitchen features are here, too. Refrigerators can let you know when you’re out of milk. Ovens and even the simple slow cooker are now controlled remotely to adjust temperature settings and cook times. Even plumbing gets in on the action with motion sensors instructing faucets to turn themselves off when no one is in the room. And with remote monitoring, if you get a leak under your sink or from the water heater, remote monitoring can alert you to the problem and shut off the water until a plumber can be called.

There’s no danger here, Will Robinson. Adding to the safety and security of your home is easier now with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that send alerts to you if there is an alarm. Wireless security cameras with audio are now pretty affordable and can both see in the dark and record what’s happening in your house. Garage door openers and locks are also smart enabled. No more lost keys. You can even let your neighbor in to water the plants if you forget to give them a key before you leave on vacation.

Audio and Visual equipment, always at the forefront of technological advances is certainly no exception. Sound systems that play from room to room, and televisions that turn off when you fall asleep are only the beginning. Homeowners can incorporate all of the flexibility they can imagine with shareable content and delivery.

Rosie the Maid also gets a break with the newest technology. Robot vacuums have been around for a while and can link to your phone so you can adjust the settings without having to look for the instruction manual. Even feeding the dog gets automated with wi-fi enabled pet dishes.

Many of these systems are easy enough for the DIY crowd to install.  If you’re planning on adding a lot of systems to your home though, it might be best to consult with a smart home installer to make sure the products you’re considering are scalable and compatible with a whole home system.

If you are considering upgrading your home with smart technology, consult with your MetroTex REALTOR to find out which features are most popular in your area.

For information on buying, leasing or selling a home in Texas, visit dfwrealestate.com or call a MetroTex REALTOR.