Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson

By Connie Adair

The agent was relieved when she found out that 70-year-old Edward G. Robinson was the iPad for Realtors course instructor – she had expected a 22-year-old, and that would have been intimidating.

Robinson has the enthusiasm of a 22-year-old combined with the experience that being a Realtor for 33 years brings. He has been a computer buff since he got his first computer in 1984 and began writing programs, such as amortization schedules, for it.

After seeing a real estate agent in Florida demonstrating the use of an iPad and figuring he could do a lot more with the device, Robinson bought an iPad 2 and went paperless. The only paper he uses for the transaction is the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, but when expected regulation changes in Ontario come into place next year and electronic signatures are accepted, more trees will be saved, he says.

In 2011 he approached the Toronto Real Estate Board’s education department about creating the course, which is now accredited.

He taught 69 courses last year and has 60 bookings so far this year. He has travelled from Halifax to Winnipeg, including two visits to Ottawa last year and two scheduled courses there this year. The course is applicable world-wide, he says.

When the class started last year, five out of 25 people had an iPad, but since then, the use of iPads has grown rapidly, he says.

Some people still attend the class to see if the paperless system is for them. Usually at the end of the course, they want to buy an iPad, Robinson says.

Robinson talks the talk and walks the walk – his two-door filing cabinet is gone and so are his old paper files. He has 70 deals stored on his iPad to be called up at any time without Internet connection, he says. “The phrase ‘have to go back to the office to get that’ does not exist.”

In addition to being good for the environment, going paperless will save you money because it’s more efficient and you can save 50 per cent of your assistant’s time, he says. For example, you can get a waiver at Starbucks, acknowledge it, and send it to the seller, the seller’s lawyer and your office administrator in one shot.

You can take notes on an iPad, take a picture of the house and have your assistant do an evaluation and get it to you while you’re still with your clients, he says.

You can also call up past deals, complete with pictures, so you can discuss the details with your clients. Some agents may want to start fresh; others may want their past deals readily available. A lot of people will have the information on their hard drives. “If not, scan one or two deals a day and you’ll have 60 in a month, and then shred the paper,” he says.

Going paperless doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. The minimum you will need is an iPad mini with Wi-Fi and 16 gigs ($329) but Robinson’s tool of choice is Wi-Fi with retina display, 32 gigs and cellular for around $730. And go for the extended warranty, he says.

An external keyboard (about $100) is handy, especially when writing long documents.

Everything is saved on the cloud as well as on the computer so everything is backed up.

Robinson says he loves teaching the course, and jokes that he’d do it for free because it’s so much fun. He promises students will get their money’s worth.

The changes in real estate in the last two years have been amazing, he says. “If you said I’d be doing what I’m doing now, if you asked me two years ago, I (would have said I) couldn’t imagine I would be doing it.”

And if teaching the courses doesn’t keep Robinson busy enough, he is also a full-time Realtor, with three closings pending when REM interviewed him. A real estate broker at Right At Home Realty in Toronto, Robinson has been a TREB member since 1980. He owned a franchise office for 10 years and has also been a sales manager. He was group leader in writing the Basics of Real Estate in the mid-1980s for new members, has served on the Education Committee and Education Task Force at TREB.

The four-hour class costs $45. Robinson also recently completed an Apple-approved iBook to explain the process step-by-step. In 2.5 weeks, 100 copies sold and the “feedback is really great,” he says. “If (agents) do what is in the book, they’ll be paperless.” The book is now published in four countries.

The book is $18 and if offers four days of lessons in an iBook. Future updates will be provided free.

A list of scheduled courses and more information can be found on his website, www.ipadforrealtors.ca. Or email him at Ed@EdRobinson.com.