The Best Real Estate Technology for Top Producers in 2017: Part 1
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
We don’t need to tell you the enormous role real estate technology plays in modern agents’ and brokers’ marketing and sales today. What we do need to tell you, though, is that not every single tech option will work to help you reach your business goals.
The latest trendy apps or highly publicized operating systems may seem like optimal choices to help you craft an online strategy that separates you from competing agents in your housing market, but the truth is you can’t take your technology selections lightly.
Picking the right all-in-one real estate software and, later on, additional tech resources, requires a keen understanding of the types of technology top producers use to better their businesses from top to bottom — everything from attracting more website visitors to managing existing leads.
In Part One of our tech series for 2017, see five essential real estate technology tools the best REALTORS® use for their digital marketing below, along with some specific examples of programs and platforms that can upgrade your internet marketing in no time. Then, check out Part Two of our series featuring the next handful of the best agent marketing solutions on the market.
1) Get a responsive IDX real estate website that acts as the center of your digital universe.
In Inman News’ end-of-year industry forecast report for 2017, Coldwell Banker CEO Charlie Young said real estate technology “will continue to have a major impact on agent productivity” through this year and well beyond — and he couldn’t be more on the nose.
The backbone of any modern agent’s tech anatomy is, of course, the agency website. Thus, securing and optimizing an intuitive, easy-to-manage IDX website is a must. Even with the portals continuing to test new tools seemingly intended to leave agents in the dust and prospective home buyers and sellers doing more housing research on their own, agents remain at the heart of every real estate transaction … and more and more consumers are finding agents websites and visiting their sites organically.
Specific Features to Look For
- Pre-made site themes: Unless you studied web design, chances are you’ll need a site provider that offers pre-designed themes. You’ll need to optimize your site accordingly for your specific brand, of course, but having the foundation of your site already built is a big, big plus (not to mention time- and money-saver).
- IDX integration: Long gone are the days of manually uploading your listings and those around your market to your real estate website. Now, it’s all about automation — that is, tapping into your MLS database to sync only the listings you want featured site-wide via IDX integration. To save you time (and headaches), look into website providers that take care of half the site optimization for you when it comes to integrating listings from your MLS.
2) Secure a comprehensive lead management system that simplifies your nurture and conversion.
“Why do I need a real estate-specific CRM for my agency?” That’s a fairly common question among the REALTOR community — and a fair one, at that. The answer is simple, really: You don’t need the majority of the countless features major enterprise CRMs supply. Take a quick glance at the lead management solutions the biggest corporations worldwide use to nurture and manage their prospects and clients, and your jaw may very well drop at the sheer number of tools these systems include that aren’t relevant for what you’re trying to achieve. Luckily, there are real estate CRM software solutions, like Top Producer, Contactually, and (of course) Placester, that are tailored specifically for agents and brokers and their particular business needs.
Specific Features to Look For
- Lead activity monitoring: The first (and obvious) step to making the most of a real estate CRM system is to add your prospects (and their specific housing-related details) to your database. From here, it’s all about tracking their online activity — specifically, on your agency website — so you can nurture them in the best manner at the best possible time. Without knowing what actions your potential clients take on your site, you won’t ever really understand if they’re ready to sign on with an agent or in “still-browsing” mode, so find a lead management platform with this feature built in.
- Lead source integration: You’ll also want to be able to add leads from your non-website lead generation locales online — Zillow, AdWords, Facebook, etc. — to your CRM. Too many agents today have multiple places where they track their leads and contacts, most of which don’t sync with one another. This can make it very difficult to keep tabs on all prospects and narrow them down into lists of ones to nurture ASAP and ones to hold off on. Your best bet? Find a CRM that offers you the chance to add prospects from all of your lead gen activities into a single database.
3) Obtain comparative market analysis and home valuation tools that position you as an expert.
Home sellers not only want to know you’re a rock-star sales rep who’s aided dozens of clients over the years, they also want to be able to learn about their residences’ values from agents themselves.
Sure, they can use tools like Zestimate to gauge their rough home values, but given that particular tool has received many iffy reviews (and even started a lawsuit), due to dated or just plain incorrect information, a seller’s best bet is to find a premier agent in their market who can actually provide relevant, timely, and — most importantly — accurate and up-to-date information on their homes.
This can be accomplished by getting a comparative market analysis (CMA) and home valuation resources you can use on your IDX website.
The former solution can help give prospective clients an idea of how desirable or competitive their property is within the market, along with other relevant real estate market info (e.g. monthly and yearly sales, price, and buying trends).
The latter tool can give you the chance to do some digging on a lead’s particular home and follow up with them via email to provide further information about their property. This, in turn, can help you get in front of your seller prospects, once you convince them you have a great deal of knowledge about their niche home and the market.
Specific Features to Look For
- Lead capture capabilities: Yes, a major selling point (pun intended) of a home valuation tool is to be able to show off your housing market expertise and general real estate acumen … but another big one is to actually get new leads from this resource. Whether it’s presented via your real estate website provider or a third-party app, see if you can integrate with a form to capture lead information that allows you to follow up.
- Local market data access: When it comes to a CMA tool, you will need to have the housing data dating as far back as possible. This is typically offered in a number of places, including your local municipality. Regardless of the source(s) of your market’s housing stats, simply ensure you can access this information with relative ease and infuse it into your real estate marketing geared toward your seller audience.
4) Download open house software that helps you collect walk-ins’ info and follow up with them after.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going the old-fashioned route and placing sign-in sheets at the front of your open houses, the (far) easier means today to capture these individuals’ contact information and housing interests is to use software that makes it quicker for potential home buyers to enter in their demographic details and what they’re looking for in a new abode.
For instance, Open Home Pro is one such solution that allows soon-to-be buyers to use an agent’s iPad or Android tablet to briefly view photos of the residence and then add their name, phone number, and email address in a profile set specifically for the listing in question. From here, you can send an automated thank you email to these folks to stay top of mind and store their details to nurture them at a later date.
There are other solutions just like this on the market. The key is finding one that a) makes it quick and painless for buyer leads to share their info with you so they can get on to, you know, actually touring the home for sale you represent and b) allows you to add these prospects into your digital database, where they are ready to be scored and prioritized once your showing is complete.
Specific Features to Look For
- White-label, customized branding: One of the premier ways to better your branding is to use software that offers white-label capabilities. This basically means you have the option of adding in your own agency logo (and other aesthetic brand materials, if you have such assets) so this collateral appears to your audience on the consumer-facing end of said software. This isn’t the most vital component of any real estate technology solution you use, but the benefits of branding anywhere you get the opportunity to do so are clearly substantial.
- Autoresponder emails sent to leads: As mentioned, sending automated messages to buyers who enter their info at your public showings is a top-tier method for remaining on the minds of these potential deal-closers. So, ensure the tech tool you put into play for your open house lead capture affords you the chance to send quick response and drip emails to them right after they end the tour so when they next open their inbox, your home for sale is the first thing they see.
5) Buy a modern listing presentation solution that enhances your in-person and digital sales pitches.
The modern listing presentation differs considerably from the ones agents used to conduct back in the day. Whereas REALTORS used to make their case to possible clients using a pointer and easel and showing bare-bones housing and sales figures from the past year, today’s REALTOR does it quite differently — and, without a doubt, more efficiently and convincingly.
It all starts with — as you might’ve guessed by the theme of this guide — the right real estate listing presentation software. PowerPoints and Keynotes are certainly viable choices for creating stellar-looking, detail-oriented decks to present to one’s leads … but since there are dozens of apps that simplify the design process for agents today, why bother developing an entirely fresh presentation from scratch?
Prezi, TouchCMA, Haiku Deck, and the like can augment the power of your listing presentation by helping you jazz up the aesthetic and formatting of your digital pitch and make it easier for you to develop an enticing spiel with a solid flow (in other words, a pitch that doesn’t fall flat and keeps the sales narrative moving along — thus preventing your leads from drifting off or falling asleep mid-presentation).
Specific Features to Look For
- Intuitive design functionality: Unless you went to school for graphic design or took courses at the local college to brush up on your Photoshop skills, odds are you need one of these software solutions to better your sales presentations (and, while you’re at it, other lead-generating and -nurturing content for your website). Simply put, identify a presentation program made for novice designers who need some guidance completing a deck.
- Sleek design tools: You’ll see a wide variety of presentation software options out there: from ones with basic deck creation features to those with animated video capabilities. Whichever avenue you choose, just be certain the design elements and templates offered allow for some tinkering to add in your own visual branding and, similarly, don’t make your brand look corny or unprofessional. Bright, neon colors may pop off the screen, but if they don’t align with your branding, chances are they’ll just confuse your audience.
Learn how Placester is the perfect real estate software for agents, brokers, and teams in our special webinar:
We know these aren’t all of the tools the best REALTORS use today. Share other real estate tech you love below!
Published on June 15, 2017
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.