What’s the best CRM for real estate? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? TopProducer, BoomTown!, Contactually, Wise Agent, Realty Commander ― there are tons of great real estate CRMs, and it’s impossible to say which system is best. Every system is great, but they all may be missing something you want.
Choosing the right CRM is one of the most important decisions impacting the evolution and growth of your business. There are many factors that influence the choice of a CRM. All companies are different, so each business may need a different system with different functionality, a different user experience, and different pricing. For some, using a ready-made CRM can even be to their disadvantage. Yes, you read it right. Some agencies serve thousands of clients across different regions, have unique business processes, and want to maintain brand consistency across their product lines. Therefore, they decide to create a custom CRM.
Should you go with custom real estate CRM software or use a ready-made solution? We’re here to help you find out. But before we go deep into the cases when custom CRM development is the best way to go, let’s take a quick look at what customer relationship management in real estate is and how realtors benefit from CRMs.
What does CRM stand for in real estate?
More clients means more revenue. But at the same time, as your client base increases, it becomes difficult to stay connected with each client individually. You probably interact with dozens of existing and potential clients every day, and information about them may be stored in different places. Sometimes, important things can even be written in notebooks or on sticky notes. Whom should you call back and when? What do you need to talk about? You can easily get confused with old-fashioned client databases and even lose clients as a result.
Modern CRM software allows you to create a single contact database and have a 360-degree view of your clients. Specifically, a real estate CRM allows realtors to:
- Create a single database of contacts and segment them according to different criteria and parameters
- Have all important information on hand
- Dive deep into client needs and create accurate client profiles based on personal information
- Communicate with clients effectively and give clients their complete attention
- Measure efficiency by tracking conversions and creating sales forecasts
- Understand causes of poor business performance based on key metrics and make necessary changes
- Focus on the most valuable opportunities
- Reduce manual work
- Provide the best client experience throughout the entire buying process
Today, a customer relationship management system is a must for real estate agents, not a luxury. Now that you understand how important a CRM is, the key question is whether you need to use a ready-made real estate CRM or invest in a custom system.
Creating a CRM from scratch vs using a ready-made solution
Custom real estate CRM software development isn’t for everyone. Many off-the-shelf solutions offer basic functionality that may be quite sufficient for small agencies. But for some agencies, using a ready-made CRM platform may not be the best option. Let’s find out what’s right for you.
There are four major variables that should influence your build vs buy decision:
- Use cases ― What are you going to use a CRM for?
- User roles and access levels ― How many employees and departments are going to use a CRM?
- Budget ― How big is your budget?
- Design ― Are you maintaining brand consistency across your product lines?
First, you need to define and prioritize your goals for using a CRM. This will help you understand what CRM features you require and see if functionality exists that can meet them in ready-made CRMs. Typically, off-the-shelf solutions focus on covering the needs of a wide audience and may not be robust enough for your requirements. But if you don’t have any unique business requirements, buying a CRM will most likely be the best choice for you.
Conclusion: Don’t build a CRM from scratch if you need functionality that already exists in an off-the-shelf system. If you need to solve particular problems and don’t want to adapt your business processes to standardized software, go with custom development.
User roles and access levels
A ready-made solution isn’t always cheap. Though you won’t pay too much to start working with it, you’ll keep paying to use it. That’s why you may eventually find yourself paying more than you would if you built a system from scratch.
Let’s talk numbers. Realty Commander, a web-based real estate management platform, charges $65 per month for a two-user account. But you’ll have to pay somewhere between $15 and $24 per month for every additional user. TopProducer’s monthly pricing is $40 for the starter package, $70 for the professional package, and $80 for the advanced package. With Pipedrive, you can choose from four different plans, paid annually:
- Essential: €12.50 a month per user
- Advanced: €24.90 a month per user
- Professional: €49.50 a month per user
- Enterprise: €99.00 a month per user
Say you’ve decided to go with the professional plan of TopProducer CRM. If you have 10 employees using it, TopProducer will cost you around $700 a month, which sounds okay. But if you have 40 employees using it, you’ll spend nearly $2,800 every month.
Conclusion: With off-the-shelf CRMs, you usually pay per user. This means that the more employees are using the CRM, the more you’ll pay. Therefore, we suggest you consider custom CRM development if you have a lot of employees and departments. Custom development will cost you, but you'll only need to pay a large sum once to get the system up and running, after which you'll simply pay for regular maintenance and support. You’ll have some expenses in the future, but only when you decide to make changes or implement new functionality.
Budget and time
Do you have thousands of dollars to be spending on your customer relationship management software every month? Or do you have only $300 a month or even less? Money is a big factor in making the build vs buy decision. Custom development takes a big bite out of your budget and time, especially when it comes to a complex software system like a CRM. If you aren’t ready to invest a considerable amount of time and money in CRM development, think about using a ready-made solution.
Conclusion: If you’re a small real estate business that’s short on money and requires a quick solution, check out the best CRMs for realtors and choose the most suitable option that addresses a wide variety of needs.
A custom design brings a lot of benefits. The first and most important one is improved efficiency and productivity, since you can focus on user-friendly navigation, readability, page loading speed, and mobile optimization. Additionally, custom design allows you to accurately convey the nature and philosophy of your business, create UI/UX concepts that align with your business logic and workflow, and maintain brand consistency across your product lines. The latter is quite important for big-name companies that have unique positions in the market.
Conclusion: Choose custom development if you want to decide on every design element of your CRM, need a user experience that resonates with your business processes, and expect your software products to reflect your brand identity.
Functionality to include in a real estate CRM
If you want to go with a custom CRM, you should decide on the feature stack. To understand what features you need, you should first define what specific needs you want to satisfy with your CRM software. Most likely, your system will feature several independent modules composed of similar features. Here are some of the modules you may want to consider:
- Contact management
- Document management
- Simultaneous access
- Access roles
- Marketing automation
- Mobile access
- Analytics and reporting
You should be able to track all your communications with prospects via phone calls, emails, and social media messages. Speaking of emails, you can create templates for specific situations and customize them to show that it isn’t a robot doing the work. Don’t forget about an automatic saving feature so your emails are stored in the system once sent.
Managing the document lifecycle is important in building client relationships. Consider adding a document management feature to be able to drag and drop digital documents into a contact’s record. This type of functionality allows you to handle communications and process documents in a single tab, share data easily within your organization, and reduce paperwork.
Simultaneous access and access roles
In today’s modern work environment, it’s becoming more common for employees working in different locations within a company to require access to the CRM or even to the same record. If this describes your company, enable concurrent access.
Additionally, you may need to consider the concept of roles. Define user roles and permissions so each role can be granted access to specific features. You can include such roles as C-level manager, VP of sales, sales representative, marketing specialist, and system administrator.
Marketing automation features can help you streamline marketing activities, increase customer engagement, gain insights based on customer data, and run effective campaigns. You can include functionality like email templates, an email scheduler, automated messages, and advanced email reporting and analytics.
Analytics and reporting
How can you effectively monitor your performance? Through an analytics dashboard with charts, diagrams, circles, and/or tables. This will help you get an overview of your to-do list and progress, clearly see your customer journey, get insights into customer satisfaction and retention strategies, and forecast and plan your sales.
Multi-device support is becoming a necessity, not a luxury. Make sure your CRM app supports common devices your employees are likely to use. There are two ways of doing this: by creating a native app for Android, iOS, or both platforms, or by building a mobile-friendly website. The latter will cost you less to develop, but it can be quite tough to use some features such as reports on a mobile website.
If you use third-party software, make sure you integrate your CRM with it to help you work smoother and faster. For example, if you use QuickBooks, integrate it so your CRM system allows you to create an estimate, convert it to an invoice, and send that invoice to QuickBooks.
These aren’t the only features you can build in your CRM system. Your agency likely has unique workflows and business processes that might require custom functionality. Additionally, you may consider adding the following:
- Pipeline view
- Built-in chatbot
- Referral tracking
- Social media monitoring
- Integrated calendar
To build or not to build a real estate CRM?
We hope our guide to real estate CRM software development has given you a better understanding of what impacts your buy vs build decision. If you decide your agency requires a custom CRM or if you have any questions about how to create your own CRM software, message us. We’d be happy to help!
Meanwhile, we suggest you read the following articles to understand the principles behind creating a CRM from scratch: