Using Google Docs in the CRE World

All of us have exchanged documents. Back and forth they go…tracking…red-lining…renaming…phoning the other party for clarification and, in the end, many times, we simply end up saddling ourselves with another job managing multiple versions of an original document.

Off-and-on for the past couple of years I have been experimenting with how I might use Google Docs in commercial real estate. I have collaborated with Brokers and clients on performance spreadsheets, operating budgets and even listing agreements via the document sharing and editing features of Google Docs.

The Upside. The upside of Google Docs is that I can truly control my documents…a true plus to any CRE Broker!

Another great positive feature is that I can literally control who sees my document by giving them web access.

Finally, I think the greatest strength of the Google Docs platform is that I can create a document (WORD of EXCEL), load it to Google Docs and allow others to collaborate in the creation of the final products. All of this, while I am in full control the original no one can download. This is true teamwork and excellent document centralization and control.

Here is an example. Let’s suppose I want to create a property management budget for a small 20 unit multi-family property that is being managed by an onsite manager. One of us can create the base spreadsheet, load to our Google Docs folder and edit the document collaboratively, even simultaneously.

The Downside. Yes, all good things have downsides, even Google Docs and here’s one that I would like to mention to my readers. Google Docs is not yet suited to the development of complex contract documents and leases. This is due mostly to the fact that many times Lawyers are controlling the creation and approval of the final document and, you know how lawyers can be!

Another downside to Google Docs is that we are still an industry with participants who are simply not good with editing documents or collaborative technology and even worse, the marriage of editing via technology.

Nonetheless, I will continue to utilize Google Docs for sharing and collaborating on internal documents used by my Company, Arizona Commercial and select Brokers and Clients who are comfortable with this type of solution.

Here is a video I grabbed that can explain Google Docs better than I can. Watch it and learn. Then collaborate by giving Google Docs a test drive with a friend to discover its many features.


Donald Teel is a Senior Associate and Principal with Arizona Commercial, an Arizona commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm, headquartered in Prescott, Arizona. Need more information? Please call 1-877-777-9100 or, if you prefer, you may email Donald Teel

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