Jul 192010

Piles of Paper - Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/loty/326761635/A lot of people don’t realize how much paper is generated when buying or selling real estate – there are hundreds of pages of contracts, inspection reports, lender documents – the list seems endless! I think I’ve gone through at least two reams of paper in the last few weeks alone. However, after reading an article posted on the Arizona Association of Realtors blog about the importance of having a professional PDF writer program when working in real estate, I decided to start looking into buying one for our Peoria AZ real estate home office.

WOW! I knew that these programs didn’t come cheap, but some of these prices were staggering! $899 for ActivePDF Toolkit and between $299 and $699 for the grandfather of all PDF programs, Adobe Acrobat. Even the “budget” alternatives, CutePDF and NitroPDF, run $89 and $99, respectively. So, I decided to do a little research for free alternatives to these very capable programs.

1) NitroPDF has a great set of free PDF tools available straight on their website! My favorite of these is PDF Hammer, which allows a user to upload a PDF to their website, rearrange and delete pages, and then save the new PDF straight to their local hard drive. However, because PDF Hammer is online, it does fall prey to server accessibility issues at time.

2) PDF Split and Merge (PDFSAM) is my solution to the PDF Hammer “server down” messages. PDFSAM is a free, open source tool for splitting and merging PDF files. It may not have the slickest GUI around, but it’s super functional and easy to use.

3) Another really nifty free tool from NitroPDF is the NitroPDF Reader. It’s officially “beta” software, so there are bugs, but I haven’t really run into many show-stoppers. NitroPDF Reader does almost anything you would want out of a PDF editor. It creates PDFs from other documents, extracts text and images from the PDF, and allows you to type on the PDF and stamp pages – immensely useful when working with short sale files.

4) A tool that I don’t have to use often, but does come in handy, is one that will convert whole PDF pages into images. There are more than a few products that will do this, but I happen to like the simply namedConvertPDFtoImage. It’s also an online product, so could go away at a moment’s notice, but there are a lot of others that would slip into its’ place, in that case.

5) Occasionally I’ll run across a PDF that is password-protected against changes – frustrating when all I want to do is stamp the pages with my seller’s short sale information. In these cases, I’ll use Freeware PDF Unlocker to gain editing access to the file. Like most freeware, it may not work 100% of the time, but I haven’t had a problem yet.

Toolbox - Creative Commons License - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lara604/3271669689/

So that’s my free PDF toolbox – what free tools do you use to make your work easier?




Photos distributed through the Creative Commons License.


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