The Power of the Real Estate Checklist

Feb 27, 2015 | Asset Management, Career, Entrepreneurship

A few months back I listened to a great book called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande which completely changed the way I work. Gawande, a surgeon by trade, provides a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have become so incredibly complicated that mistakes are virtually inevitable. It’s too easy, for even the most talented doctor, to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question, while under immense stress. Gawande shows how checklists, literally written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure, can be the difference between life and death.

While real estate is nowhere near as complex as medicine, real estate can be an extremely complicated business, and in line with what the author sees in the medical world, the real estate world has its own culture of ego and confidence that sometimes can result in basic errors.

I’ve created a series of basic checklists which are part of my daily/weekly work routine and have completely shifted the way I approach tasks. Something as simple as 3 checks before sending an email can make the difference between complete embarrassment and a clean reputation within one’s firm.

Here are just a few of the checklists that I use on a weekly basis:

  • Weekly Goal List
  • Asset Management Checklist
  • Acquisition Checklist
  • Due Diligence Checklist
  • Marketing Sweep Checklist
  • Investor Memo Checklist
  • Quarterly Investor Letter Checklist
  • Weekly Business Plan Checklist

Checklist don’t only help avoid mistakes by distilling detailed processes, they help me work more efficiently. For instance, 3-5 deals come across my desk each week so I created a simple checklist that allows me to easily screen deals and determine which are worth a bit more time.

□ Off-market / limited marketing / mis-marketed?
□ Competitive advantage / inside track?
□ Ability to add value at the property-level?
□ Does the story make sense?
□ Know why this great opportunity is coming to us?
□ Good in-place cash flow?
□ Downside protection?
□ Upside potential?

In a recent guest post, Kevin Vaughan shared his checklist of daily action items from his job search.

□ Email one real estate contact a day
□ Follow up with one person that you haven’t spoken to recently
□ Read three real estate articles
□ Work on one type of model

A simple checklist like this can have an incredible impact on your job searching success.

The modern workspace requires us to revisit what we mean by expertise. Experts need help. I’d love to hear more about the use of checklists in your business.