Industry Watch

Properly documented

Most real estate transactions involve lots of running around to exchange documents — which is where Asset Record spotted opportunity

Every real estate transaction involves a significant number of players, including the buyer, seller, lender, title company, and various vendors. It also involves lots of running around to exchange official documents and paperworkwhich of course are easily misplaced.

But what if there were a tool to help organize and store all of the important documents related to each real estate transaction? That's what Josh Schwingler and Chad Wiech were thinking when they developed the concept for their software venture, Asset Record Company.

In 2010, after working in the commercial real estate industry and becoming frustrated with the amount of paperwork involved with complicated transactions, Schwingler and Wiech founded Asset Record. With a vision to create a simpler way for real estate information to stay with the property and the people connected to it, the duo created a software system for loading, organizing, and accessing real estate documents.

"Real estate is generally most peoples' largest asset, whether it's residential, commercial, or investment," says Asset Record president Sam Rosen. "And it's hard to transact, finance, and manage because of a lack of data standards." 

So how does the Asset Record software work? The company has a secure, private digital container for every parcel of land in the United States. Asset Record allows the people who are involved in the transaction of that piece of land to come together and collaborate in a secure place to get their work done. You could think of it as a digital safety deposit box of sorts.

"But we're also tech guys," says Steve Ladin, the company's vice president of marketing and business development. "We have a strong focus on bridging the gap between the antiquated real estate process and becoming more efficient."

The easy-to-use interface has also helped put Asset Record on the map. With an intuitive system that can be accessed on a desktop or mobile device, the software often catches people off guard with its simplicity. With the Asset Record system, users just drag and drop files into the appropriate place. And since it's mobile, users can even upload photos of a property from their phone and add them to the hub with all of the other documents.

Many real estate companies have their own tools for assisting in transactions, and Asset Record isn't a replacement, Rosen notes. However, it does help to break down the silos of all of the involved parties and their information. 

Asset Record also helps people save time and money. There's a lot of running around before closing on a property. Generally speaking, the bigger the deal, the greater number of parties involved. Asset Record stores all the necessary information in one centralized place that is easily accessed by everyone involved.

Todd Geller, president of the St. Paul–based commercial real estate firm Victory Capital Corporation, has used Asset Record since 2012 to organize propertyrelated files into one central electronic database. "This includes everything from leases to title and survey information, finance-related documents, environmental and engineering reports, property plans, and much more," Geller explains.

Through the Asset Record website and mobile application, Geller and his team have been able to access information easily and quickly, making their operations more efficient. For example, Geller used Asset Record in conjunction with the sale of an industrial property in New Hope. "Rather than sending all due diligence information via hard copy or email, I uploaded everything to Asset Record and provided the buyer with access to the property record," he says. "It gave the buyer the ability to use the property record and associated files both before and after the sale was completed."

Most of Asset Record's clients fall into one of two categories: property owners or real estate professionals (lenders, brokers, appraisers, management). Homeowners pay a one-time fee to use the software, which is good as long as they own the property. Most professionals pay a monthly subscription fee. All invited users can use the system for no charge. 

Since its inception, Asset Record has been gaining clients and is now being used in cities across the country. The company has increased the size of its team, which has allowed it to reach new markets such as Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

Says Ladin: "Our hope is that Asset Record is changing the way real estate should be done."