The Best Mobile Apps for Flippers

This is a good topic to revisit every once in a while because apps are always improving, and they’re always coming out with new ones. Thinking back even 10 years now, I don’t know how we managed without smartphones! If you’ve been wanting to leverage technology into productivity and profitability, here are some proven solutions for real estate flippers!

Expense Tracking and Reporting

If you’re serious about home-flipping, you’re going to run up a lot of deductible expenses. But if you’re not careful about capturing and documenting your deductible expenses as they occur, you’re going to wind up throwing money away to the IRS.

I looked at two prominent mobile-device-friendly expense trackers: Expensify and Concur.Expensify is free for individual users. Once you have two or more users logging into one account, though, the model changes to a paid one, with plans beginning at $6 per month. It’s still dirt cheap compared to the tax benefit you stand to receive if you are diligent about using it!

In very basic form, here’s how they both work: You treat your contractor to a nice lunch. You talk shop the whole time. When the tab comes, you pull out your phone and take a picture of your signed credit card receipt. With the click of a button, the phone transmits the image to their servers. Boom. You’ve documented your expense, which is 50 percent deductible. You download a report later when you do your taxes.

Expensify also has a feature that helps you track mileage on your car. This is a major item for flippers, because every mile you drive from your office to an appointment or to buy materials is worth whatever the taxes would be on 56.5 cents per mile. That means if you’re in the 28 percent marginal tax bracket, you’ll be paying yourself 15.82 cents per mile. If you drive 10 miles per day for business purposes, that’s worth $577.43 per year, right back in your pocket, after taxes, in mileage deductions alone.

Some of the people I’ve quizzed about their apps this week report that Expensify is terrific, overall, but a little buggy when it comes to integration with QuickBooks.

If it’s scalability you’re after, go with the “My Travel & Expenses” solution from Concur. Concur also integrates travel arrangements very well. Concur works best for those who use AMEX business cards because of very close integration. If you work with EverNote, Concur integrates with it very seamlessly.

Another Concur advantage is that major rental car and hotel companies can “push” receipts into your system – which saves you time on the road.

The basic, stripped down version of Concur for mobile is free. They rope you in with the free version, then figure you’ll be buying the substantial add-on capabilities for $5 to $10 per month in most instances.

Document Management

Among the road warriors I quizzed for this article, Dropbox was a nearly unanimous “must.” This program allows for instant access to all manner of digital files stored from any device in the cloud. It is compatible with digital signature technology. It also helps protect your valuable documents against loss by fire, flood, etc. This valuable mobile app lets you cut the chain from your desk and spend more time in the field.

Digital Signatures

Go paperless! DocuSign is a free download for your mobile phone, but you’ll need to subscribe to their real estate version to get it to work. That’s $14.95 per month. This valuable program lets you sign documents digitally using your mobile device. It keeps paper out of your car and off the construction site, where it can get lost, damaged, or destroyed. Integrating digital signatures can also save a lot of time, as you no longer have to drive across town to get a signature on a document from a buyer, seller or contractor. You can simply email a document and have them email you back in seconds with a digital, legally binding and fraud-proof signature.

To-Do List

Salespeople have been told for years: “Plan your work, and work your plan.”

If it were that easy, everyone would do it. They don’t. So I asked some friends in a variety of independent, sales-related jobs and industries what helps them be successful. My contacts responded with Any.do.  With Any.do you can call, text or email your contacts directly from the app. Just start typing the name of your contact and a list of suitable contacts will display. Then select your desired contact. Any.do will then give you options: call John, text John or email John.

This won Android’s “Best App” award of 2012. It’s a to-do list, yes, but it’s built to integrate seamlessly with Cal, a Calendar built by the same folks that looks a lot less cluttered and clunky than my iPhone calendar. Good news: It syncs well with Gmail, which has a good task program, as well.

Construction/Remodeling Project Management

I’d go with Co-Construct, which was specifically designed for custom remodelers and rebuilders. That’s you, if you do any renovations. It might be overkill if you don’t get into too many heavy projects. It’s designed to be a single-stop communications tool for contractors, subcontractors and clients to stay updated on any given reno project, including the status of any changes. A number of custom builders have reported that the software actually saves days and weeks on any construction project, once they get into the swing of it, and time is money in the narrow-margin flipping business!

Features include:

  • Scheduling.
  • Material specification.
  • Change-orders.
  • Client/contractor communications. You don’t have to translate info from the app into emails and texts. You can communicate directly from the app, and your counterparty has access to the same photos and other information you do.
  • Budgeting.
  • QuickBooks integration.
  • Photograph uploads.
  • Jobsite logs.
  • Color-coded deadline reminder system.

This is an industrial-grade software solution, and it isn’t cheap! Priced at $99 per month, this is for the busy flippers. However, just the documentation and communication features alone can potentially save a lot of headaches and miscommunication with contractors. If you keep a contractor team busy, while you’re not there to directly supervise (because you are going for the next deal), this may be a good solution for you.