Building Equity Management

Using Technology to Streamline NYC Property Management


Having recently been featured in a user profile for Evernote, a technology company focused on helping you “organize stuff,” I thought it appropriate to crow a little about how we are using technology to make our property management business more efficient. With Evernote we have been able to make much of our operational workflow paperless. We still maintain physical hard copy leases for legal reasons, but whenever a digital image of a document is just as adequate as a paper version, we scan the original and throw it out. As you’ll read below, we have come up with a system where we now can retrieve any document related to any building from anywhere at anytime (as long as we have an Internet connection). So, when we’re looking for a DHCR registration, a lease, a vendor contract, a bill, a correspondence, a SCRIE statement, or a court stipulation agreement, we can always find it, even if the physical file is buried on someone’s desk. We’re also able to catalog key email communications with tenants, without having to print out and physically file them. Additionally, we are using the technology via a mobile app to record and catalog conditions in apartments when we visit and do inspections, either via phone or iPad. In a future blog I will outline some of the other cool things we’ve adopted for electronic rent payments, tenant applications, tenant screening, renewal lease delivery, and invoicing.

Here is the Evernote interview in its entirety:

Streamlining communication by going paperless.

Building Equity Management LLC is a next generation Manhattan-based property management company whose cloud-based workflow allows for improved communications with both building owners and tenants. We spoke with Michael Vinocur to see how Evernote Business is helping their company eliminate paper and take communication between owners and tenants to the next level.

Evernote Business: Tell us about how you discovered Evernote Business.

Michael Vinocur: Real estate property management is a paper-intensive industry. I knew by following the traditional storage route, we’d quickly get overrun with paper and filing cabinets. Our Manhattan office didn’t have room for that. So I started searching for paperless storage solutions and found Evernote Business. Now we store everything there. Even large legal documents.

Evernote Business: How did that change things?

Michael Vinocur: Before, each building had a specific drawer in a specific filing cabinet with folders for each tenant. Now, with Evernote Business, we are able to use its tagging capabilities to create a “virtual drawer” for each building and a “virtual folder” for every apartment we manage. We also can archive all invoices, contracts, and regulatory filings. Everything first goes into a “pending” notebook where our admin “files” each document using tools within Evernote.

Evernote Business: What does going paperless mean to your company?

Michael Vinocur: We scan everything and put it into Evernote Business. Other than signed leases, which we need to keep for legal reasons, everything else gets recycled. Our whole repository of documents is available to us at all times while out in the field visiting buildings, tenants, and property owners. In the field we have the freedom to access whatever we need, when we need it, from anywhere. And nothing gets lost or misplaced.

Evernote Business: Do you use Evernote Business to communicate with your tenants and building owners?

Michael Vinocur: If a tenant has a question, we can pull up their lease or other correspondence at anytime from anywhere. Also, it’s a great tool for capturing maintenance issues.

Evernote Business: Can you give us an example?

Michael Vinocur: If there’s a ceiling crack, we can use the mobile app to take a picture, add a text note, and all the surrounding contextual information. Our office sees that immediately and a work order is generated—almost in real time. The great thing is that anyone reviewing an issue now has access to the whole story. It’s a great way to document tenant issues and needed repair work.

Evernote Business: How did you document maintenance issues before Evernote Business?

Michael Vinocur: We tried attaching photos to text messages or emails, but those get lost and can’t be easily searched by others. And using photos by themselves isn’t the answer either, because there’s no text to accompany the photos to make them searchable.

Evernote Business: In what other ways is Evernote Business helping your business?

Michael Vinocur: Generally, our industry is dependent on outdated processes. So Evernote Business not only is helping us stay organized, it’s helping us stand out. Potential clients see how we’re using all the latest technology to work more efficiently and it gives us a competitive edge.

Evernote Business: Decrease paper and increase business.

Michael Vinocur: It works brilliantly for us.