Over the past few years, web technology and mobile devices have led many consumers to take a more hands-on approach to the real estate search. Today’s clients are looking for an agent who’s interested in collaborating to find their new home, and uses tools that make this process simple and convenient.
As it happens, there are plenty of solutions out there for client collaboration–maybe too many. Just because you’re accustomed to using Skype, Dropbox, Gmail, and a dozen other apps, doesn’t mean your clients will be. In fact, they’re probably overwhelmed, or even frustrated.
Fortunately, a few software developers are bridging this gap with tools that allow agents and clients to do everything in one place, from scheduling and messaging to managing documents and favorite listings. Here are four all-in-one client collaboration apps for the real estate industry.
“Engage the end user in the design process. [Don’t] just ask him what he needs, but ask him how he thinks it can be achieved.”
— AMOS WINTER, MIT PROFESSOR
Collaborative Search (iOS, Android)
Price: Free (with Realtor.com account)
In addition to all the marketing, advertising, and property search tools we’ve come to expect from the real estate giant, Realtor.com also offers agents a mobile app with a host of tools for collaborating with clients. With Mobile Collaborative Search, you can invite clients to a personalized version of the Realtor.com app branded with your photo and contact information. Here, you can suggest one or more listings, while your clients can choose the properties they like and request showings. The Realtor.com app also supports instant messaging and mobile push notifications.
As a bonus, the app integrates deeply with Top Producer, one of the most popular real estate client relationship management (CRM) applications out there. (See a more complete list of real estate CRMs here.)
Agentfolio (iOS, Android)
Price: $25/month; free for Zillow Premier subscribers
“The home search is too complicated to be managed in the email inbox,” Agentfolio’s website declares. Founded as Buyfolio in 2011 and acquired by Zillow last year, Agentfolio allows agents to invite colleagues, clients, and leads to ad-free “folios” using email addresses and customized landing pages. Agents can create custom searches for each folio and get instant notifications when a new property enters the system that might be of interest to their clients.
As with Realtor.com’s app, users can add branding and receive mobile push notifications. Agentfolio also adds the ability to see clients’ activity, giving agents insight into how buy-ready they might be.
DreamPro (iOS; Android coming soon)
Price: Free for basic version; $15/month for “Social Plus” edition)
Relatively new on the scene, DreamPro is a mobile-only “social real estate” application designed with smartphones and tablets in mind. DreamPro integrates with consumer-facing companion app DreamHouse, allowing both agents and clients to search and share listings. DreamPro’s paid version also takes the branding elements of Realtor.com and Agentfolio to the next level, allowing agents to create their own personalized app with company logos and custom background images featuring your best property photos.
DreamPro’s signature feature is its “DreamScore” property rating system. Clients can identify preferences according to dozens of criteria, including third party metrics like WalkScore and school ratings from Education.com. DreamPro then measures these preferences against listing data and other agent/client ratings to generate a DreamScore out of 100 for each listing.
The downside? DreamPro’s IDX real estate data provider only covers around 120 MLS databases. (For reference, Placester covers over 200 MLSs, accounting for over 90 percent of US agents.) Make sure your MLS is covered before signing up for DreamPro.
While the rest of the client collaboration apps on this list focus on the early stages of the real estate search, Closing Time takes aim at the final step: closing.
Even after you’ve found your clients their dream home, there are still many obligations to fulfill, often on strict deadlines and in a precise order: submitting financial paperwork, getting approval for a loan, arranging home inspections, etc. Unfortunately, many buyers and agents slack off once a seller has accepted their offer, making closing a hectic and confusing process. With Closing Time, you can create a comprehensive to-do list of closing tasks for you and your buyer just by filling out a survey. You can then assign tasks and due dates, set email reminders, make notes, ask questions, and check off each item via Closing Time’s web application (there’s no mobile app yet).
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
— HENRY FORD
Of course, each transaction is different, and each property type and region requires different closing tasks. Closing Time accounts for these differences and local regulations to create a to-do list that’s unique to your buyer. Finally, you can use Closing Time to help your buyer find qualified professionals like mortgage lenders, contractors, and inspectors to fulfill closing tasks.
Which tools and apps do you use to collaborate with your real estate clients? Tell us your system in the comments!