Digital tools have become indispensable when it comes to automating time-consuming operations, improving business processes, and better-serving your existing and prospective client base. And, of course, improvements in efficiency and quality almost always lead to improvements in your overall profit margin. Both inside and outside the real estate sector, the proper use of digital tools is absolutely essential for those who want to boost their bottom line.
That said, if you do a quick Google search, you’ll see that there are hundreds of real estate tech tools, apps, and software programs out there. So how do you sort through all those options to find the real estate tools that best fit your needs? To help you out, we spoke to 9 real estate pros and asked them to share their recommendations for the best tech tools they absolutely can’t live without -- and why they swear by them.
Let's find out what the experts had to say!
The Best Tools for Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Price: Packages depend on the size of your business
- What It Does: Boomtown is a tool that helps real estate pros generate leads and manage existing client relationships.
- Why You’ll Love It: Stephanie Katarivas, real estate agent at RE/Max Edge New York, says she loves that you can view (in real time) who is on your website, as long as they’re in your basket of leads. Boomtown also lets you know what property each lead looked at and whether or not they favored it. “Boomtown is an amazing program that nurtures your leads with campaign drips, e-alerts, and mass emails,” she says. “It keeps up the good work (based on how you set it up) until the customer is ready to buy.” Katarivas says that within three weeks of using Boomtown, she had five new contracts signed.
- Price: 2-Week Trial, Free | Professional Plan, $69/month | Accelerator Plan, $199/month
- What It Does: Created by a real estate firm, this is a CRM tool that was built to help agents and brokers keep better track of each client relationship. By syncing your communication history with each client across multiple devices, it analyzes, tracks, organizes, and prioritizes your relationships. It also provides communication templates for marketing, messaging, and recruitment.
- Why You’ll Love It: Contactually sets itself apart from its competitors in the overcrowded CRM market by catering specifically to real estate brokers and agents. Michael Opyd, managing broker and owner at RE/MAX Next, has used Contactually for almost 10 years. Specifically, he's set it up so that he gets a reminder email everyone morning on who he needs to follow up with that day. “Its bucket system also makes it easy to put clients and potential clients into the right categories,” he says. He sets up his own specific set of individualized rules per “bucket,” allowing him to message each relationship individually. Its key advantages are its extreme versatility and unique ability to tailor communications to meet the exact wants and needs of each client you have. Even better, Contactually actually remembers when you don’t reach out - it tracks your communication timelines and reminds you to complete unfinished tasks, essentially allowing you to maintain and/or reinvigorate customer relationships. It’s also easy to set up, provided you already have a customer database in place.
- Price: Starter Subscription, $50/month | Professional Subscription, $500/month | Enterprise Subscription, $1,200/month
- What It Does: HubSpot offers a cloud-based CRM platform that allows brokers and their agents to track leads, marketing initiatives, and customer communications using a timeline format. It provides email templates that teams can use to connect with clients, plus analysis tools to determine which assets are performing well and which need to be revamped.
- Why You’ll Love It: HubSpot keeps on top of leads and customer interactions in real time. It sends alerts and reminders about communications sent, received, and responded to so that you can easily determine which leads are growing cold and which clients aren’t getting back to you and may require additional hand-holding. William Himmelstein, broker for the Tenant Advisory Group, loves Hubspot because he says it helps his team keep in touch and control the narrative they have with all their clients and prospects.
The Best Tool for Human Resources Management
- Price: Packages are priced out only after a consultation has been provided.
- What It Does: Brokerkit is a relationship management tool that brokers can use to recruit, onboard, and retain agents. You can send emails, set up calls, update notes on recruits, and make appointments all in one place. Brokerkit automates the entire onboarding process with prebuilt checklists, an onboarding email, and text drip campaigns. It gives the broker a task to follow up with a retention touch with each agent every 30 days, plus it sends a blast email and/or text messages out to all of your agents or groups of agents as needed. It also prompts you to track tasks for the internal office team and assign them to each other.
- Why You’ll Love It: Brokerkit helps to organize interviews, follow-ups, and candidate background checks from any device. Amy Horton, real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty, says she loves using Brokerkit to track her recruiting efforts. She finds it to be a seamless system for communicating with your pipeline efficiently and effectively. She also says their customer support team is responsive and helpful.
The Best Tool for Lead Generation
- Price: Spark is priced according to the size of project and client needs. User fees are $100 per month per user, plus additional set-up fees for training, on-boarding, and support.
- What It Does: The Spark software platform combines real estate leads and inventory management into one system. It helps you design, build, and use registration forms for lead tracking, customizable sales reports, and it has an email marketing tool.
- Why You’ll Love It: Spark is a one-stop shop for capturing and tracking client leads from multiple sources. It also provides in-depth, easy-to-read reports on sales, demographics, web traffic, and other filtered variables that are important to your bottom line. The Spark platform provides tools for building effective, easy-to-use registration forms, and you can even schedule daily events. It also lets you access an ongoing list of buyer and seller contact information, plus it includes a custom template builder you can use for marketing and emailing. David Newcomb, co-founder and associate broker at Launchpad Sales & Marketing Group, says he loves Spark’s simplicity. He finds it to be an all-inclusive system that doesn’t need tweaking, plus he loves working with the Spark team. “They’re a breath of fresh air,” he says.
The Best Tools for Marketing Your Brokerage
- Price: Individual Plan, $39/month | Individual Plus Plan, $49/month | Prompt Plan, $1,499 annually
- What It Does: BombBomb creates video emails with the aim of boosting your email open and view rates. With it, your agents can record and email video messages to current and prospective clients, adding some personalization to the house tour. The videos don’t even need to be downloaded to be viewed; they play right in the email, which increases your view rate. BombBomb also provides tracking and scheduling tools for emails, social sharing, and screen recordings. (As in, you can virtually walk clients through a house and overlay the video with audio of you sharing your insights.)
- Why You’ll Love It: According to Katarivas, video is a must in real estate sales, and BombBomb gives her agents face-to-face opportunities with prospective clients, providing a warm, human touch in a stressful process. And that personal touch can ultimately lead to more sales.
- Price: CORE ListingMachine is priced according to the size of project and client needs. Demos are available free of charge.
- What It Does: A great all-around real estate tool, CORE ListingMachine offers lead generation, automated social media posts, and a “live tour” function that you can embed in property websites -- all in one convenient package.
- Why You’ll Love It: Opyd says CORE ListingMachine (formerly “Circlepix”) is a great basic program, tailor-made for agents who are newer to the industry. “[It’s] a one-stop listing marketing platform. It can do social media and automate everything, plus is super easy to use,” he says, adding that by using this tool, your agents can connect via chat with potential buyers and sellers on multiple devices, plus automatically generate each listing’s marketing campaign across every social networking platform you use. Though CORE ListingMachine doesn’t offer the specific focus, targeted functions, and extensive solutions that some of the other tools on this list offer, it is quite comprehensive and effective for a single, “all in one” tool.
- Price: Professional Subscription, $49/month | Team Subscription, $129/month | Business Subscription, $599 per month | Enterprise Subscription pricing is assessed on an individual basis
- What It Does: Going far beyond a simple multi-channel scheduling system, Hootsuite offers a range of powerful and customizable reporting features. Perhaps even more importantly, it particularly excels at social media management, giving you the opportunity to populate all your social media from a single, convenient place.
- Why You’ll Love It: Its specific focus on social media communications makes Hootsuite particularly indispensable to real estate professionals who are widely and wisely using Facebook and other prominent social media sites to network and communicate with both existing and potential clients. It’s great for anyone who wants to make their social media interactions easier, as well as more sophisticated and effective. Perhaps this is why Brian Adams, real estate broker and authority on real estate software and best practices, ranks Hootsuite so highly on his list of must-have digital tools.
The Best Tool for Mortgage Calculation
- Price: Free
- What It Does: This free web tool lets you calculate mortgage amounts, affordability, amortization, refinancing, and early payoff rates. It also calculates mortgage comparisons to help users find the best mortgage for them.
- Why You’ll Love It: Elegantly simple, extremely user-friendly, and absolutely free, this is just the best tool on the market for calculating mortgages. It’s quick, easy, complete, and free, providing you and your buyer with immediate information, including comprehensive calculations on early payoff and interest-only mortgages. As director of a brokerage, Samantha Scalzo, director and broker at S&S Global Corporation, uses the tool with clients and her agents. She finds it to be the simplest way to estimate monthly payments for purchase.
The Best Tools for Open Houses & Virtual Tours
- Price: Video creation with standard features is free | Professional Plan, $15/month | Team Plan, $39/month
- What It Does: Despite the continuing importance of photographs, more and more people are demanding videos as an essential part of the property vetting process. An extremely easy to use video-making tool, Animoto employs “drag and drop” functionality to help you make professional grade videos yourself. Capable of making your self-shot videos look and sound better than you’ve ever imagined, it allows you to customize color and add elements such as soundtracks, logos, and text.
- Why You’ll Love It: Animoto gives you the ability to provide incredible virtual tours. It isn’t only extremely user-friendly, but it enables you to produce videos extremely quickly. Scalzo says she adores Animoto because it’s intuitive to use, with little to no learning curve. “Imagine if you were your own videographer with film and design at your fingertips,” she says. “Animoto is a user-friendly program that makes video easy!”
- Price: Pricing depends on the type and number of services that you require: Image enhancement, $1.60/photo | Virtual staging services, $24 | Virtual object removal, $4/photo for 1 or 2 small items and $8/photo for 3 or more items | Full virtual renovation, $24-$176.
- What It Does: BoxBrownie is a digital web hub that provides photo enhancement services at a per-photo cost. With this service, you can virtually stage digital photos, take an exterior scene from daylight to dusk, remove items, add digital furniture, and even enhance images like floor plans. Just send them a photo, let them know how you want a virtual room staged and in what style, and they’ll work their magic.
- Why You’ll Love It: BoxBrownie makes good spaces look great and great spaces look amazing, giving your selling materials a major upgrade. Amy Herington, Realtor for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, says she finds BoxBrownie nothing short of fabulous and their staff is great to work with. For example, one time she used the service when she was trying to win over a client who had already sold all their furniture. Instead of offering staging services at an increased expense, she tapped into BoxBrownie and created photos of their house perfectly staged. “I was able to ‘WIN’ a listing because of the ‘outside-the-box’ thinking of creating photos that showcased the home by using this service,” she says.
- Price: Basic Subscription, Free | Plus Subscription, $5/month | Pro Subscription, $29/month | Team Subscription, $59/month | Business Subscription, $179/month | Enterprise Subscription, $599/month
- What It Does: Magic Plan is an iOS app that lets you effortlessly make floor plans with your phone -- no tape measure needed. The Magic Plan app for mobile allows you to draw floor plans and make 3D tours using your camera, which measures the dimensions of each room and then combines it all into a PDF. Pair this app with Floorplanner, and you’ll be able to add designs and drawing tools into the mix. Once synced together, you can edit and decorate each room you’ve measured. You can even generate 2D- and 3D- views of interior and exterior areas, then upload them onto websites and social media platforms. The basic free plan is pretty scaled down. To get full access to PDF and 3D-making tools, you’ll need to go for the Pro Subscription.
- Why You’ll Love It: When integrated together, these two tools can create individualized, client-focused renditions of properties to scale. With the Pro Subscription, you can create a virtual walk-through experience. Scalzo says she loves using it for the ease of creating floor plans with no measuring tape, and finds it fun to play with the design tools for the different rooms.
13. Showing Suite
- Price: Ultimate Plan, $24/month | Enterprise plan pricing is assessed on an individual basis | Customers can also “pay as they go” for $30 per listing
- What It Does: Showing Suite provides a key link between the virtual world and the real world by aiding in the open house and physical showing process. It can help you manage showing schedules, organize your notes, and distribute lockbox codes with Sentrilock and Supra eKey lockbox software.
- Why You’ll Love It: In addition to making physical access to home tours far easier and more efficient, Showing Suite stores and showcases your real estate pictures and videos. This truly allows you to center your virtual and “real life” showing and open house initiatives in one central location.
The Best Tools for Streamlining Your Team’s Workflows
- Price: Basic Subscription, Free | Premium Subscription, $10.99/month | Business Subscription, $24.99/month | Enterprise subscription pricing is assessed on an individual basis
- What It Does: A web-based software tool, Asana facilitates open communication between team members and streamlines their workflow processes. Its suite of tools allows you to track projects in real time, as well as assign and receive tasks with due date reminders. It’s also a great place to store important documents.
- Why You’ll Love It: Asana takes very little training to use artfully. As a managing broker, Opyd uses Asana to organize group projects and keep everyone on point. He loves that it can be used on phones, tablets, and computers. He also likes the easy-to-create templates for tasks like onboarding new agents.
15. Dropbox Business
- Price: Starts at $12.50/month per user
- What It Does: Dropbox Business is a web-based document management and file storage system for documents and photos. It password-protects all of your team’s content and allows you to remotely wipe files from lost or stolen devices. It also lets members share content effortlessly across multiple devices, keeping everyone in the loop.
- Why You’ll Love It: Storage and time-saving are top of the list. As a brokerage owner, John Myers, owner and qualifying broker for Myers & Myers Real Estate, says he uses Dropbox because he loves to go paperless and can store every document required for every transaction in an orderly fashion. “You have access to every document in every file (on your phone) at your fingertips,” he says. “Implementing this technology into your business can save you a ton of time.” Opyd adds that Dropbox is hands-down the best storage tool around because it provides tons of storage at a reasonable price and is more efficient than using an external hard drive.
The Best Tools for Transaction Management
- Price: Real Estate Starter plan is $10 per month | DocuSign for NAR member REALTORS is $20 per month
- What It Does: DocuSign automates the entire contract and agreement process, including preparing, signing, and managing all the various documents. It also handles payment requests via cloud, mobile, and web platforms.
- Why You’ll Love It: Opyd says he loves DocuSign’s e-signature program because he can quickly sign forms from his computer, laptop, or phone from anywhere -- and so can his clients. Need a P&S signed quickly? DocuSign takes the printing and scanning (or faxing!) out of the process. Opyd finds the program simple and easy to use because of the quick drag-and-drop function that allows him to add signing areas to documents. This allows real estate brokers and agents to solidify binding agreements virtually anywhere and at any time. The NAR (National Association of REALTORS) version of this tool includes a comment section and reminders/notifications section, as well as REALTOR®-logo branding and the ability to include signer attachments.
- Price: Plans for individual agents start at $29/month. There’s no standard pricing, and all other plan levels require a consultation, followed by an individualized quote.
- What It Does: Dotloop is an end-to-end real estate transaction management software program. It consolidates storage, compliance, digital signatures, and form editing onto one intuitive platform.
- Why You’ll Love It: Katarivas says she relies extensively on DotLoop. “Dotloop is an online workspace that connects everyone and everything needed to complete a real estate transaction in one place,” she says. “It allows you and your agents to edit, complete, sign, and share documents without ever needing to print, fax, or email.”
- Price: Value Plan, $3,599 yearly | Professional Plan, $7,999 yearly | Premium Plan, $19,999 yearly
- What It Does: Qualia is a cloud-based all-in-one real estate closing management platform. It streamlines transactions and provides real-time updates on closings for buyers and sellers via web and mobile apps. With a Qualia account you can manage, pay, and reconcile vendor transactions in one place. Surveys and lien searches are also integrated into your account.
- Why You’ll Love It: According to Scalzo, Qualia is the easiest way to track your entire real estate closing timeline with all your contacts, communications, and deadlines in one place. “Being able to partner with a title company that closes with Qualia tells me that they're looking to do tech-forward things that streamline the entire sales process, especially the contract-to-close process,” Scalzo says. “The platform is seamless, user-friendly, and helps everyone know where they're at in the transaction.”
Choosing the Right Real Estate Tool for Your Needs
Considering the wide array of digital real estate tools on the market today, you shouldn’t be surprised that they specialize in a broad spectrum of functions and contain a dazzling array of different features and solutions. So which of these tools is the absolute best? The answer to that question depends entirely on your unique wants and needs.
Are you lacking in overall client or property management, or can you most benefit from honing your specific lead generation, home-showing, document production, or firm administration capabilities? By cherry-picking the particular digital tools that are best for you, you can turn your weaknesses into strengths and make your strengths even stronger. The tools on this list are a great place to start!
The Real Estate Experts
Here’s who we interviewed for this piece:
- Amy Herington, Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
- William and Diana Himmelstein, brokers for the Tenant Advisory Group
- Amy Horton, real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty
- Stephanie (Paulie) Katarivas, real estate agent at RE/Max Edge New York
- John Myers, owner and qualifying broker for Myers & Myers Real Estate
- David Newcomb, co-founder and associate broker, Launchpad Sales and Marketing Group
- Michael Opyd, managing broker and owner at RE/MAX Next
- Brendan Ross, Realtor, Realty Austin
- Samantha Scalzo, director and broker at S&S Global Corporation
Originally published on August 22, 2019.
Updated by Chad Deitchley on July 25, 2021.