A REAL ESTATE BUYER'S GUIDE
What to look for when choosing a transaction management software for your real estate business
The term “real estate transaction management” has a wide-ranging connotation in the real estate industry to describe a software app that, at a minimum, provides an eSignature platform with autoﬁll, maybe some storage capabilities and possibly integration with a CRM and/or back-office app.
However, to compete in the current 2021 market and beyond, your software should oﬀer brokers, agents, teams, admins and transaction coordinators a true end-to-end, collaborative solution that provides all of the above and more in a single, agent-friendly system that the entire real estate office will adopt and actually use from day one.
The best choice for brokers will enhance recruiting, automate compliance and decrease overhead costs by helping your real estate brokerage or team work more efficiently and effectively.
Agents should be able to complete a full transaction on any mobile device wherever they are. Transaction coordinators should have the ability to review all their agents’ deals on a single platform with a single log-in and support their agents by managing tasks, editing and sharing documents with clients as well as creating the transaction if desired.
So how do you know which real estate transaction management software is the best choice for your independent agent operation, team or brokerage? You just have to ask the right questions.
Look for special features like customized workflows that help move your transaction into the next review phase and set up the compliance process for broker approval. Automated notifications help ensure every person is alerted when they need to take action at speciﬁc phases, such as commission payouts or closing documents.
Look for software that offers an easy submit for review process for agents, including the ability to do it from their phone or mobile app.
Transaction templates make it easy for agents to ensure all required documents and information make it to the closing. The best solutions allow admins and transaction coordinators to insert placeholders for documents that don’t originate in the program, such as earnest money receipts. Also, look for required fields to capture transactional data that’s essential to your brokerage.
Ask if the system provides eSignature verification, document history, activity logs and downloadable .csv files for texts.
Make sure there’s a seamless process for admins and transaction coordinators to easily carry out agent functions without having to log in and out of their profiles.
Having multiple means of communicating with agents through notifications, text messages and task lists will help keep the deal humming seamlessly.
Brokerages and teams who find “holes” in their data are often working off disparate systems with information scattered across programs. Centralized data is key. A collaborative single workspace that brings all parties, including agents, admins, transaction coordinators and brokers, to the same centralized platform helps keep data accurate, updated and easily accessible.
Also, insist on required fields, like important closing dates, offer dates and lead sources, as well as required documents, such as earnest money checks, to prevent any oversights.
Look for features that help visualize your agents’ pipeline, specific transaction data, multi-office views, geographic location of inventory, required fields, property types and more.
Brokers, team leads and transaction coordinators shouldn’t have to wait for an email from their agents to learn of a new deal. A platform that issues instant notifications will help keep everyone on the same page, at the same time.
Look for a tool that provides oversight and visibility at every step, such as how many potential sales fell through, the number of deals started and more.
The best systems can also ingest data from a CRM to track ROI from lead sources and connect to a back office app to push transaction data for streamlined commissions and financial reports.
You should be able to sync your transaction data with visualization tools, such as Google Sheets and Google Data Studio that offer at-a-glance views and easily navigable analysis.
Additionally, you should be able to analyze the transaction data with a .csv extension for easy downloads into Excel spreadsheets and more granular reporting.
A great transaction management system has great support personnel — knowledgeable, helpful professionals who are with you not just for the first three months but the lifetime of the business relationship.
As your business grows and scales, you’ll want periodic reviews, such as an Executive Business Review, to ensure your brokerage or team is hitting its objectives and keeping everyone up to speed on new features and functionality.
The virality of a platform supports the network effect it has in the entire market, meaning the more people who are on the platform, the easier it is for others to collaborate regardless of the brokerage or team. For instance, dotloop touches over 50% of all real estate transactions in the U.S., which makes it easier for agents to collaborate regardless of the side of the transaction they are working.
Different people learn differently so you’ll want to offer agents and support staff the option of a wide variety of training formats like webinars, eBooks, video learnings and online certifications, including continuing education (CE) credits.
Look for continuing education (CE) credits and certification programs that can help market your business.
Look for on-demand and live options that can be viewed anytime.
For instance, a 1:1 consultation will help keep your top producers stretching beyond the mainstream agents’ goals.
Make sure to check the history, churn rate and satisfaction of the software’s real estate customers.
Ask for surveys or other ratings that help instill confidence in other customers’ satisfaction with the platform. Support can range widely from low-scoring platforms to those scoring in the mid-90 percentile range.
A high-star rating will help indicate how well the software sustains the satisfaction of other real estate brokerage and team businesses.
Make sure there’s a clear chain of command for reporting and compliance that supports the hierarchy between your offices and teams.
Make sure there are sales tiers that allow your operation to easily “size up” in groups of five users at a time, for instance, so you don’t have to constantly contact the provider whenever you add a new agent or admin.
Look for a variety of offerings to fit your business as you grow such as different platforms for teams, ability to expand and organize offices, and availability of professional services.
For instance, some providers offer services that include VIP phone support for agents, custom resources to help onboard new agents, custom training, custom forms, field calculations and expedited document turnaround.
Also, look for HR dashboards where you can digitally onboard agents on the same platform with agent onboarding “paperwork” solutions that ensure privacy and confidentiality.
The best products allow agents — including those on the other side of the user/subscriber — to edit docs and use eSignatures to help expedite the deal.
Look for third-party service provider collaboration to invite lenders, title companies, home inspectors, moving companies, attorneys and home improvement professionals to the conversation.
Look for a system that incorporates extensive forms coverage, templates and end-to-end collaboration tools to expedite transactions.
Also, make sure the software supports multiple users so agents and support personnel don’t have to log in, log out of disparate systems.
The best transaction management platforms allow real estate agents and transaction coordinators to track the status of the transaction process for clients and easily share documents; obtain eSignatures in-person on a mobile app; and refer third-party providers like home inspectors, home warranty and title companies.
Look for features that let you share, edit and eSign; submit for review; and text transactions from your phone. Don’t forget to check user reviews to ensure it’s a top-rated mobile app.
Look for a system that allows all your documents — in-house documents and those not available via forms coverage — to be easily accessible and interactive for all agents.
The system should auto-fill data for one-and-done syncing to eliminate data reentry and errors. For best results, look for helpful features like a document editor, document templates, a clause manager and easily navigable folders.
The best real estate teams transaction systems allow team leads, admins and transaction coordinators to view the progress of multiple accounts simultaneously and act on behalf of agents.
Look for a system that enables teams to customize their documents, checklists, and team-level review process.
Robust teams features provide insight into market performance, coaching opportunities and clear ROI on leads.
This valuable tool will allow admins and transaction coordinators to edit, add documents and seamlessly complete the transaction as themselves or as the agent to help move deals forward.
Look for system integrations that encourage and track friendly competition such as the highest number of converted leads from a new ROI source or most closings in a month.
The average broker uses 12.4 different technology systems to power their business (source T3Sixty). The ability to integrate with multiple real estate products not only saves time and eliminates disparate databases and human error from manual data entry, but it allows for automated workflows to work effectively. Events in one system can trigger an alert or event in another. Manual processes can be eliminated. This integration capability is particularly important when looking at whole company reporting and business ROI. Integrated systems allow leads to be tracked to close, show a future pipeline of business and allow usage of third-party reporting applications.
Make sure to ask the software provider if they offer an open API.This is important for a number of reasons: First, it ensures that you’ll have the ability to integrate with a third-party technology provider if the vendor doesn’t already have an integration (see above). Secondly, many brokers feel “stuck” with portions of their tech stack because they don’t have any way of getting their data out. As the customer, you need to be able to access your own data and get it into other systems. An open API enables this.
Note: it may be worth asking the provider if this service is free as some providers charge a fee for API access or integrations.
Lastly, as more companies employ data teams to maximize their business, an open API allows for the creation of a data lake when combined with data from other assets.