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- Online archiving of transaction files has become the norm.
- Quick access to all business content is critical for real estate agents.
- Sometimes, the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented.
My House in the Cloud is a Web-based real estate information and document storage service.
Platform: Web, browser-agnostic.
Ideal for: Individual agents and small brokerages needing an easy, more organized system for storing records.
Top selling points
- High touch: My House in the Cloud is a small company, developed and run by a former real estate agent.
- Easy access: Software is accessible via any browser.
- Everything in its place: Does a suitable job of using icons to access categories of documents.
Things to consider
An organized agent could replicate the software’s value rather easily with a Box.net or Evernote account, or with other similar Web-based storage services.
My House in the Cloud isn’t technically sophisticated software.
Its purpose is simple: to serve as a place for agents to store documents related to their sales.
Users can enter and access contact information on lenders, insurance agents, homeowners association (HOA) contacts, home warranties, and other stakeholders for each transaction, or “Escrow.”
What I found challenging about the solution was that there isn’t a built-in connection between an Escrow and client, or vice versa.
I believe most agents will connect with a name before an address. I suggest allowing users to sort the system either by name or address. Some customization would do wonders for usability.
Granted, it’s not trying to go above being document retention software. Client follow-up isn’t this tool’s intent.
The software’s accuracy is based heavily on users’ data entry skills. There are no hard field controls, formatting parameters or user interface (UI) elements to ensure categories of information are entered according to systemwide standards.
To clarify, when you enter the address of an “Escrow,” the user experience (UX) has no role in ensuring you also enter the name of the seller, or the connected lender, for example. It’s on the user to scroll down and type it in. Or not.
The record can be saved with any amount of data the user chooses to enter.
I find this easily leads to a database of partially completed records. The overall workflow is severely disjointed.
There are notification date fields for inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies within the Escrow record. However, there is no automatic system alerts for these dates.
Users manually enter and monitor when to notify a buyer or seller of an upcoming milestone.
Documents should be uploaded well after closing because there are no native version controls, other than the minimal standard of date of upload.
My House in the Cloud does an OK job of facilitating the storage of documents for homeowners, who I think will benefit most from the software.
The categories included are Documents, Receipts, Vendors, Amenities, Valuables, Insurance, Escrow.
I find there to be overlap in the repository titles. Receipts are Documents, for example. Where do documents about appliances land: Valuables or Amenities?
These sound like minor semantic tweaks, but it reinforces an overall issue with systemwide user experience design, or UX. Users shouldn’t have to create their own system for using it.
It should be immediately clear where to put what, especially so in software intended to store critical files about the home and its purchase. Decisions need to be made by the software.
This leads me to further question why the nomenclature uses “escrow” and not “sale” or “transaction.”
Escrow is a temporary state of being during the process of selling a home; it’s a fluid process, informationally volatile. Prices and dates are constantly in flux.
An agent consistently uploading documents during Escrow is going to run into version control issues.
A software’s terminology is part of its design, crucial for user adoption.
I do like My House in the Cloud’s clear intent to not be misconstrued as a CRM or transaction management tool.
It doesn’t offer reporting or email templates or anything to make you compare it to solutions you’re currently using to help manage the office. It stands on its own.
The most evident hurdle this software needs to overcome lies in the fact that most of the popular transaction management tools and CRMs include document storage and retention, and they do it at a level of technical sophistication My House in the Cloud currently has a hard time matching.
That aside, My House in the Cloud is very easy to learn and will securely store everything you choose to upload to it.
I’m onboard with the intent of this software. Managing documents online for perpetual access and to abide by state record retention laws should be a given for any real estate office.
If that’s all you need, then put your house in the cloud.
Do you use My House in the Cloud — and what do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.