Dropbox Upload Files ScreenDropbox is a service and mobile app that every real estate agent should have in their toolkit. At its core, Dropbox is a cloud-based file backup service, of which there are hundreds out there. Sounds boring, right?

Well, what sets Dropbox apart is not just its ability to backup your data to the cloud (over the internet), but its availability and sharing features. In other words, Dropbox makes any file that you mark for backup available on any device, whether it is your PC, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. The devices can be Windows, Mac/iOS, or Android based, it doesn’t matter. Plus, you can share the files with other people, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account.

I’ve been using Dropbox for over 1-1/2 years and swear by it. Here’s what I like most:

  • It’s great for backups. I don’t have to worry about scheduling backups for my critical files. They are always and immediately backed up without me having to think about it.
  • It’s a file server. I downloaded Dropbox on all my home computing devices and can now access the files no matter which computer I am on. In our company, we also got rid of our office file server over a year ago and use Dropbox to save and share all of our files.
  • It’s platform independent. It doesn’t matter if I’m using a PC, laptop, Mac, iPad or Android device. I can access my files on any device I pick up.
  • Files are kept locally. On PC’s and laptops, your files are kept locally, so they are always available, even when you don’t have an internet connection. Dropbox syncs any changes you make when you get back on the internet. On tablets and smartphones, you can mark important files that you want available for “offline access” to save space on your portable devices.
  • It’s economical. For free, you get 2GB, plus 500MB for everyone you refer. Or, for as little as $99 for the year, you get 50GB, plus 1GB per referral.

For your real estate business, here are a few ways you can use Dropbox to be more efficient:

  • Create Share folders for transactions. For each property, created a shared folder where you keep all of your documents related to the transaction. You can separate the documents into subfolders and then share folders with buyers, sellers, title reps, loan officers, escrow, or everyone.
  • Maintain a folder of key documents. For those documents that you need to access on a regular basis while out of the office, create a folder where you can easily get to these documents from your laptop, home computer, smartphone or tablet. Examples are listing presentations, market reports, neighborhood information, contracts, templates, approved vendor lists and policy documents.
  • Share with assistants, teams and office staff. Set one folder where you share documents with others. This is a great way to make sure that documents don’t get lost in emails or accidentally deleted, and team members will always know where to find the latest versions of a file.
  • Picture backup. Dropbox can automatically store and backup all pictures you take using your smartphone or tablet. This allows you to take pictures of a property and easily retrieve them for creating flyers, uploading to the MLS, or sharing with others such as team members or buying clients. In other words, no more worrying about how to extract files from your phone or messing with emails.

Finally getting started with Dropbox is a snap. Just follow these steps:
1. Go to https://www.dropbox.com and sign-up for your free account.
2. Follow the instructions and download the software to your computer/laptop.
3. Choose files that you want to make accessible, share and/or backup
4. Download the Dropbox app to your smartphone or tablet.

It’s that simple. You’ll now have access to all of your important files no matter where you are.

I’ve listed just a few of the ways that you can become more productive using Dropbox. If you have ways you use Dropbox (or tips and tricks), particularly related to real estate, feel free to share them in the comments.

(This post originally appeared on the miniListings blog, where you can get smartphone tips, learn about more useful apps, and discover miniListings – a mobile IDX property search application that can help you grow your business.)