Real Estate

The 5-Star Apps That Can Better Your Real Estate Business

There have been only a handful of 5-star ratings since I began writing this column in 2015. That rank typically means an innovation is standing on its own, and that within its category, it shines.

Show us your tech! All August long, Inman will be talking to agents about the best technology they’re using now — everything from their favorite CRM platforms to the hottest 3D tours and everything in between. Plus, Inman tech reviewer Craig Rowe will work overtime on extra product reviews on the latest and greatest tech. 

My take on a product is not challenged very often, even though I welcome it. I’ve always hoped that the companies I review don’t put too much stake in the number of stars I award their products; it’s what I say in the column that I hope gets the most consideration. The rating is actually a way to compare a product to others, a way to establish a standard.

I’ll notice positive reviews get shared on websites for promotional reasons (and I very much appreciate that), but it’s usually only the star rating, not a quote or snippet about something that stood out or needs improvement. Agents want to know what features or items specifically relate to their business.

There have been only a handful of 5-star ratings since I began writing this column in 2015. That rank typically means innovation is standing on its own, and within its category, it shines. Sometimes it’s an entirely new concept the industry isn’t always ready to receive. Maybe there were sales failures. It happens.

Given that this is Agent Tech Month, it’s important for readers to understand what products out there shine brighter than some others, in my opinion, anyway. And rest assured, if what’s here doesn’t work for you, plenty of others will. It’s a big market.

Let’s look at 2022’s top-rated products and why they earned that 5-star review.

As I mention in the review, Jointly is farther along than most products are at their initial launch. This lets me know that the team behind it is product-first, wanting to ensure they deliver right out of the gate, not after their second or third release.

Jointly is squeezing itself into a unique niche. It’s not a transaction management solution in the traditional sense, but it does ensure the most convoluted parts of managing offers to closing will be supported through tight communication and accurate documentation.

The company gives deal parties and teams the opportunity to collaborate, mobile flexibility and an impressively spartan and visually ergonomic user interface at each step. I can’t think of a feature I was shown that I couldn’t immediately attach to a critical component of offer management and recognize as a better way to do it.

Jointly doesn’t merely digitize what you already do; it saves time by reducing redundancy and catalyzing activity.

Baselane’s big differentiator is that it combines online banking with tools to run small landlord operations. Private, owner-operated apartment communities are a lot of work to run and profit from, and managing the finances of a bunch of different LLCs, fueled by countless leases with varying rent amounts paid on different days is usually the hardest part, bad tenants notwithstanding.

The FDIC-insured Baselane account provides savings and business checking, debit cards per property, and it’s essentially what gives the software such property-by-property flexibility. Landlords can finally consolidate their banking and handle their operations in a single, super sharp experience.

Maxa stands out for a number of reasons, the first being the quality of the content it produces for clients. The second is that all of its designers are in-house, in Los Angeles, a rare trait in a sector so easy to outsource to a random cubicle bank using mainly tools like Canva.

These are fresh, compelling designs, and the ordering, editing, and delivery process is bang-on.

Although there’s no doubt Maxa is a great solution for in-house design teams and marketing managers, its intent was to hand over creative services directly to agents. The user experience is that easy. You can even connect all brokerage and agent license information, as well as IDX account data so creating property flyers is that much faster. Simply enter the address or MLS ID# to push listing information into a template.

This software is akin to online presentation solutions like Studeo and Agent Image’s Access. The “flip” stands for flipbook, the term used for digital brochures with page-turning interactions.

Flipsnack stood out for its ability to turn existing PDFs into dynamic online books, how easily it scales from a small group of agents to an entire brokerage and its built-in performance metrics, something any serious marketer should embrace.

As I say at the top of just about every software demo with a company, don’t consider my take as a reason to quit the business. Or to think you’re on top of it.

Software is always evolving, it can get better and sometimes, worse. I want today’s companies to make adoption an actual business line and help busy agents and bottom-line obsessed brokers truly embrace your product.

And agents, as I’ve said countless times, the business you have in the future starts with the business you do today. Take the necessary time to learn how technology will better you as an agent because it can.

But, no innovation is worth your time and money if it doesn’t support the way you already do business. Your needs come first, and the best software executives know this and will hold themselves to that account.

Email Craig C. Rowe

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