When it comes to finding real estate leads and converting buyers, the tactics of yesterday don’t always work today. Consumers constantly change where and how they buy. In the end, agents don’t have much choice but to adapt.
Fortunately, the world of real estate software makes this easy. Evolving alongside these wants and needs, the right software can give agents a shortcut to reaching consumers. We’ve honed in on five of the best real estate software programs that are right on the ball for realtors in 2016.
The Best Real Estate Software for 2016
Realtors have been creating IDX-integrated websites for a while now – albeit, somewhat crudely. An IDX real estate website automatically pulls listing data from your MLS, so your visitors can search for properties. A lot of the IDX web builders we’ve come across in the past have either been expensive (at least $150/month) and/or crudely designed on outdated platforms. That’s why we were excited to come across Placester. Placester not only uses WordPress, a best-in-class website platform, but it runs a bill of only $75 to $125/month. Click here to check it out or see our full review of the best real estate website builders.
On top of getting a fully functional real estate website from one of Placester’s 12 sleek designs (example above), you get tools for converting visitors into leads. You can capture leads with optional contact forms, or make the form a requirement to view property details. Then, use Placester’s back-end tools to send marketing emails, schedule follow-ups with leads, view their site activity, and more.
The largest real estate website continues to grow. Zillow Group websites (which includes Trulia, StreetEasy and HotPads) had over 142 million average monthly unique users in late 2015. That includes 70% of all mobile real estate traffic, according to comScore.
What makes Zillow so popular?
Zillow is a listing aggregator, so visitors can browse properties in any neighborhood in any part of the country. It offers a clean browsing experience without hoops to jump through – like registration forms – in order to view properties. It also empowers users to vet agents by reading and writing customer reviews. You could say it combines the consumer knowledge of Yelp with the shelf inventory of Amazon. That’s powerful stuff.
For agents, signing up with
Zillow is a no-brainer. Just by creating a free account you can “claim” your listings, which gets your name and contact information to appear at the top (pictured above). Unless you sign up as a Zillow Premier Agent, however, competitors are also able to advertise on your listing. Only by becoming a paid member can you have exclusive ownership of your listings.
Click here to give it a try.
This one may sound a little out of place. Of all the programs we’ve mentioned, Insightly is the only one that’s not solely for realtors. It’s a small business CRM that serves many different B2B and B2C businesses.
In our quest to find the best real estate CRM, however, Insightly repeatedly came out the winner. This is because many of its features can be tailored to meet the needs of real estate agents AND it comes without the high price tag and (let’s face it) clunky user experience that usually comes with real estate-specific software. Click here to try it for free.
So what makes Insightly great? Follow-up management & transaction management. Insightly builds detailed contact pages for your leads and clients, including a log of email correspondence that can be automatically saved from Gmail (pictured below). You can schedule follow-up appointments, then easily pick up right where you left off. Insightly’s “activity sets” can be used as task reminders for all the busywork involved in a house showing or closing. An activity set is like a custom checklist that automatically assigns new tasks to you or other members of your team as you progress through a sale.
What’s best is that the price tag is only $12/month – a far cry from the $60-$100 you’d spend on a real estate-specific CRM.
Insightly is great for it’s simplicity. It sticks to the basics, like contact and task management, and does them right. We realize that some real estate agents, however, will prefer a more powerful system: One that can integrate with their MLS, for example, or run drip email campaigns. This is why we also went out to find a good, high quality Real Estate-specific CRM. The winner of that search? REthink.
First off, the MLS integration is top-notch. You can automatically import your listings and data from other listings in the area. Using this, you can generate datasheets for buyers that include details like nearby amenities, run a “match” tool that automatically finds listings based on the customer preferences you have saved in the CRM, even generate a plotted tour map for showings.
Secondly, REthink is built on Salesforce CRM. This means A. You’re using a hugely popular system that’s polished/well developed and B. You have access to literally thousands of 3rd party add ons and can link up with many other business systems, like Quickbooks or Gusto (formerly Zenpayroll).
Here’s one example: You can use REthink to setup automated email campaigns, such as a newsletter. With the 3rd party add-on Cloud2You, you can even make postcards part of your campaign: Automatically send a thank-you postcard exactly 2 weeks after closing – a postcard that doubles as a friendly reminder to leave a review.
The price of REthink is a little higher than Insightly (starting at $59/month) but still much lower than their competitors.
I came across Zurple late last year and was immediately intrigued by what it offered realtors. For one, it uses incredibly smart email automation that puts its competitors to shame. Secondly, it can be used in combination with Zillow/Trulia for a very reasonable price.
So what does Zurple do? It’s primary package is a lead generation service. Zurple builds you an IDX website to capture leads as they browse for properties (example below). Once in your system, Zurple monitors their browsing activity and gets to know their profile: What’s their budget? What types of properties are they looking for? What amenities do they need? All of this information goes into your system.
The next part, however, is where the real magic happens. Zurple sends automated emails to your leads based on their interests and any updates on the market. For example, if a visitor named Suzi comes to your website and spends a while looking at properties, the system may send her an email that reads, “Hi Suzi, I know you are looking for a home greater than 1500 square feet and prefer 924 5th Street. Would you like to see it in person?” She may also receive updates of new listings that match her criteria, or be asked to set up a meeting when her browsing activity spikes.
You don’t need to buy a Zurple website to use their email automation, however. Zurple “Conversations” is a new product that does the same thing for your Zillow/Trulia leads. The price tag is $49/month, which is considerably lower than their main package yet just as powerful.
We asked 50 experts for their best real estate marketing idea. Click here to see what they told us!
The Bottom Line
There’s a number of reasons why you should you reconsider your real estate software in 2016. For one, it’s an important step to continue reaching your audience: You not only want to be on the same websites as them (ZIllow), but you want to be using the right tools to communicate with clients effectively (Zurple).
Secondly, tools that were once clunky and expensive – like an IDX website or a real estate CRM – are now a lot more robust and affordable. With Placester, Insightly and REthink as examples, you can now get a lot more features for a considerably better price.