Each, day thousands of real estate professionals go online to research real estate software. But what is real estate software, and how can it help you improve your real estate business? These are the questions we will address here.
What is Real Estate Software?
When we talk about real estate software, we're actually covering a wide spectrum of software products. In general terms, real estate software is any software that helps you manage some aspect of your real estate business.
The "some aspect" part of that definition is important, because to date there is no real estate software that will help you manage all aspects of your business. Instead, most types of real estate software are designed to help you manage a certain element of your business, like contract preparation for example.
Various Types of Real Estate Software
Below, we look at some of the most popular types of real estate software. As you will see, each type of software is designed to help you perform a certain part of your real estate business. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive. There are more types of real estate software than I could possibly cover in this one resource. So at the end of this guide, I've listed some additional resources where you can find any type of real estate-related software imaginable.
Content Management Systems
Some types of real estate software are designed to help you manage property listings on your website. Basically, these are content management systems (CMS) that have been adapted for real estate purposes. A good example of such a program would be Realty Manager by Interactive Tools.
Such programs allow you to add, edit or remove property listings (including house photos) within your real estate website -- without any knowledge of web coding. If you have listings on your website that require constant management, you can see the convenience of this kind of real estate software.
Real Estate Contract Software
As the name implies, this type of real estate software helps agents prepare real estate contracts. As you well know, contracts are a big (and often time-consuming) part of the real estate business. So anything that can streamline and simplify the process would be welcomed by real estate agents. That's what contract-management software strives to do.
One of the best features of real estate contract software -- a feature you should look for when purchasing this type of software -- is the ability to create contract templates by pulling in required disclosures and other commonly used items from your city and state. This way, once you have the real estate contract software set up how you want, you would simply enter new client details and listing prices to generate contracts.
Real Estate CMA Software
Once again, the name tells you what this type of real estate software does. CMA software helps you prepare comparable listings / sales reports that you can show to clients. The biggest benefits of this type of software are time savings, professional appearance, and basic mathematical functions. CMA software will help you produce an attractive and informative CMA report in less time than doing it without software assistance.
Contact Management Software
Contact management software is not to be confused with contract management software. Though they only differ by one letter, these two types of software have nothing in common. Contact management software helps you manage your contacts, or client communications.
Most of these applications are built around databases. You enter client information into the database (with details such as name, phone number, neighborhood of interest, etc.), and then you can easily search the data later.
When choosing a contact management solution, look for one that allows customization of the data fields. You want the ability to create whatever info fields for each contact that's important to you. All of these programs will let you enter the basics, like name, phone number, address and the like. But what if you wanted to also label people with buyer vs. seller? Or by price range? Or by the neighborhoods they're interested in? You'll need this kind of flexibility, and any good contact managements solution should offer it.
Real Estate Educational Software
This is another popular type of real estate software. As the name implies, this kind of software helps you advance your professional education. The most common types of real estate educational software are the test preparation programs. These programs help you prepare for state licensing exams and other real estate-related professional exams. For just about every real estate exam you can imagine, there's a piece of software that can help you prepare for it.
Virtual Tour Software
Virtual tours are extremely popular among real estate professionals these days. Home buyers love virtual tours, so when you add them to your real estate website, you've increased your website's value for your key audience. The only problem is, virtual tours are not an easy thing to put together. That's where this type of real estate software comes in.
One way to create virtual tours is to have a virtual tour company do it for you. With this option, you shoot the photos or film footage yourself, and send it to a virtual tour company who creates the finished product. But for the more adventurous agents, there is also the virtual tour software path. Using this software, the agent creates his or her own virtual tours, using photos taken by the agents themselves.
Real Estate Website Software
This software covers a pretty broad spectrum. Real estate website software can help you with many aspects of your website, from creating graphics to capturing leads. But one product rarely does it all. Most types of real estate website software are highly specialized, performing a certain aspect of website enhancement.
So we've seen that for every type of real estate business function, there's a piece of software to help you do it more efficiently and (ideally) more effectively. Does that mean you need all of the real estate software on this list? Obviously not. My advice is to look at the business functions where you spend the most time, and shop for a software product that can simplify that process for you.
It's also a good idea to play around with different types of real estate software before buying. Most software vendors have either a free trial or an online demo through which you can judge the product for yourself. If you come across a software vendor who offers neither of these trial options, then keep shopping. When purchasing real estate software, always follow the rule of "try before you buy."