The Best in Tech for Real Estate

by Natalie Terchek

BEST APP/SOFTWARE FOR SHOWINGS

Having showings is more than just keeping showing appointments organized; feedback is important, too. The apps/software below balance both, plus other features.

Winner: LeapRE Scheduling App

The LeapRE Scheduling App manages, tracks and reports on all the activity that real estate agents generate for their clients from list to sale. The company has reported that agents who use this app are less likely to have their showings cancelled. Dollinger says the app is fairly easy to use, and integrates with both Google and Exchange calendars, which simplifies the process. It also automates feedback reports that are delivered to the agent with custom questions shortly afterwards.

The LeapRE website requires you to register before giving you more information about the app, such as the different software capabilities and the specific pricing (although a free account is available). It’s also important to know that this app is not a call center provider.

Price: $55 per month.

Where to buy: http://apps.leapre.com/marketing/default.aspx

Runner Ups: Showing Suite and ShowingTime 

Showing Suite

Showing Suite is a cloud-based productivity program that automates the numerous components of the buying and selling process. The app collects feedback from potential buyers and their agents, and organizes them into an easy-to-navigate dashboard. It also syncs listing information with your MLS account and integrates your electronic lockbox. You can try it with a 30-day trial, too. For large brokers who want to give agents a showing tool of value.

This isn’t really an agent-specific product like LeapRE’s Scheduling App, and therefore, not as useful as it could be to agents, Dollinger says – it’s brokerage-focused and an agent can’t really buy it without the broker. In addition, there have been complaints about its user interface as “a bit clumsy” and it doesn’t show data well. In addition, its incorporation of Sentrilock is a plus, but city agents may not benefit much if they opt not to use lockboxes.

Price: You can sign up for a free trial on its website, and prices start at $39.95 a month.

Where to buy: www.showingsuite.com/pricing

ShowingTime

A suite of software programs for showings, ShowingTime includes a number of features, including the ShowingTime Appointment Center, which answers calls for agents as if from your office; ShowingAssist, which works exclusively with MLS sites and is an online showing request system; and ShowingTime Call Coordinator, which is a virtual staff for general inquiries.

Strangely, all of the features for ShowingTime seem to be restricted to Web and desktop access, and there does not seem to be a mobile version of the software. With more and more agents forgoing offices for the freedom of iPhones and iPads, it’s a curious omission.

Price: Prices vary; demos available online.

Where to buy: www.showingtime.com

BEST LEAD GENERATION SOFTWARE

Lead generation is essential to an agent’s business, and lead generation software can help.

Winner: TigerLead

A search engine company, TigerLead uses a database of a million keywords to attract leads through sponsored ads in Google, Bing and Yahoo! searches. In addition to creating the marketing campaigns and generating keyword combinations, TigerLead also manages the leads as they are gathered and includes detailed information about specific leads, such as what search terms they used to find your site. Haran says the software has been available for a long time, and “many people say it’s still the best out there for quantity.”

TigerLead will only be as effective as agents allow it to be, and if they do not engage with the leads TigerLead generates, they will not find success. It is also very costly. The price is dependent on how many leads the client wants to accrue and can vary from $500 per month to $1,800 a month. In addition to that, Haran says you may need to hire someone to help you with the screening and converting.

Price: Ranges from $500 to $1,800 a month.

Where to buy: www.tigerlead.com

Runner Ups: Market Leader and a Great Website

Market Leader

An integrated lead generation and contact management system, Market Leader offers a number of services to its clients, including a personalized website, thousands of design templates for flyers and brochures, IDX/MLS incorporation and Craigslist postings, in addition to search widgets and neighborhood data.

Some users have criticized Market Leader’s features as being overly broad and basic, and not allowing for any customization for the unique aspects of an agent’s business. And as with all lead generation programs, some have stated that the leads themselves are of low quality.

Price: Full price options are available at www.marketleader.com/buy-professional

Where to buy: www.marketleader.com/buy-professional

A Great Website

A website with quality content can generate quality leads for agents. This option gives agents creative license – they can write blog posts or pages on their website about what’s going on in the industry, answer questions for consumers, write about popular neighborhood landmarks and keep updating the site for consumers. The more the site is updated, the greater chance it has of showing up in certain keyword search results. It may take up some of your time, but Mark Steward, the director of IT for Baird & Warner, says it’s worth it: “It takes a little more effort and it takes a little bit longer, but you get better quality leads overtime.”

Lead generation could take six months or more, and then the website/blog must be updated daily, if not more often, to generate fresh, different, unique content to keep users interested and get them to come back.

Price Varies. GoDaddy and HostGator have relatively inexpensive options (as low as $3.96 a month for a three-year contract) to host a website.

Where to buy www.godaddy.com; www.hostgator.com