Setting up an efficient workflow, from lead generation to the closing table, is absolutely essential for becoming a successful real estate investor. Many investors still use just good old fashioned Excel and` QuickBooks to track their leads and evaluate potential properties to buy. Others realize that they need more than that and try to add on CRM software meant for general business use to manage their contacts and calendar. But, it can be an awkward fit. There are, however, a handful of software solutions out there that are specifically geared toward investors. Let’s take a look at what’s hot right now.
Real Estate Software Options
I’ve researched the uses and capabilities of the top five most popular software solutions for real estate investors. In my opinion, here’s a rundown of what the software might be able to do for your business. After all, it’s the nitty-gritty details that can help you make a decision on which software solution fits your business strategies and goals.
Cost: Currently $109.00 per month
The value of REIPro stems from its marketing and lead generation potential. The program gives investors the ability to easily create templated direct mail campaigns, print mailers on demand, and order postcards directly from the company. REIPro will even mail them for you! To find leads yourself, you can search through their database of over 120 million properties, including foreclosure listings, absentee owners, and distressed properties. If the owner of the property cannot be located easily, REIPro offers a “skip tracer” feature to track them down as well as phone scripts for approaching the homeowner. Once you find a property and its owner, you can use REIPro to research property details and comps before making an automated offer.
Buyer beware that this is not an all-in-one solution. If you want to do more than just make an offer on a property, you’ll need to find another software solution. REIPro cannot help you evaluate property rehab costs or potential returns. In addition, you are going to need some kind of CRM software to manage your contacts and communications. All that being said, you can expect to spend quite a lot of time sorting through REIPro’s “leads” and developing your direct mail campaign, which is a real estate marketing tool with one of the lowest conversion rates. This software seems to be geared toward new investors who are eager for their first deal but don’t know where to start. Unfortunately, they may end up chasing their own tails with REIPro.
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT ANALYSIS
Cost: Currently $495 for Pro Edition/ $159 for Express Edition
An Excel-based investment property software for both PC and Mac, Real Estate Investment Analysis is geared toward helping investors evaluate residential properties. Some of its perks include the ability to create complex reports detailing cash flow projections according to different mortgage types, before- and after-tax cash flows, resale calculations, and even comprehensive 20-year projections. As a safety feature for investors, Real Estate Analysis delivers on-screen alerts for deals when, for instance, you have a low debt coverage ratio or projected sale proceeds are lower than your investment cost. In addition, the software can calculate the highest purchase price that will give you a specified return. All of this data can be converted into branded presentations including your company logo and photographs of the property that should help when you approach lenders.
While the analytics capabilities are fairly comprehensive, Real Estate Investment Analysis is only useful for a certain type of investor—those who are investing in real estate rentals to build their portfolio. The software can provide a “short term analysis” that takes a month-by-month approach over two years, but this is not especially useful if you buy multiple investment properties to rehab and sell each year. In addition, this tool does not have any CRM solutions. You will need to find a separate program for lead generation, communication with prospects, and managing your investment pipeline.
The biggest downside is the company’s tech support. There are a number of articles in their online “Knowledge Base” on everything from installation problems to creating reports. But, if you need more help than that, you may find yourself flying blind. When I called tech support during their limited hours of availability, an automated message said that they were not available and that I should send an email instead. Who has time to wait and see if help is coming when you are trying to get a deal done fast?
Cost: Currently $4,997.00
ProfitGrabber is a PC-based investor software solution that has some property search, lead generation, and deal-closing tools. You can import just about any property list of foreclosures, vacant houses, divorces and more into the system and the software will organize the data for you. Then, you can target properties to design and deliver direct and drip mail campaigns. When you find a property that interests you, the software can provide a property report and comps based on MLS-like data reportedly originating from large title companies like First American and Fidelity National. The program also enables you to automatically fax lowball offers on hundreds of properties at once—you could make an offer on every property on a list in seconds to engage the homeowner in a negotiation. You don’t even need an agent to close the deal, as ProfitGrabber will autofill the information into all the legal documents you need and fax those, too.
While this all sounds awfully handy and convenient, I have some significant hesitations about ProfitGrabber. First, unless your partner or best friend is a real estate agent, you are going to be spending a good chunk of change acquiring those precious lists. Then, you’ll spend additional time organizing and scrolling through the lists to find a decent investment opportunity—unless you decide to take the company’s apparent advice and spam entire lists with lowball offers without ever having seen the property. The property detail feature seems appealing, but it costs an additional $50.00 per month and the data accuracy is not guaranteed.
My biggest concern with ProfitGrabber, however, is the automated handling of legal documents. Real estate laws vary from state to state and are constantly changing. Once you buy the program, you are stuck with the forms provided—and the legal language that is integrated. Within even a few months, these forms can be outdated for your particular investment region. Missing a legal detail can be tremendously costly for your business.
REAL ESTATE INVESTOR 360
Cost: Currently $97.00 per month
REI 360 aims to be an “all-in-one” software solution for real estate investors. For a monthly subscription fee, you can stay on top of all your business activities, from emailing contacts to managing your calendar and even tracking contracts. Marketing help is available with the automated email broadcast feature that can be set to target specific contact lists such as leads, wholesale buyers, or lenders. In addition, the software can auto-generate bulk flyers to promote your business. The company also offers investors a free branded website and you can select one of four “unique” designs. If you do get a lead, one of the more useful features of REI 360 is the ability to pull comps on the fly via mobile phone.
That being said, the same question about the reliability of data that I have about PriceGrabber comes into play with REI 360. Where does their data actually come from? How up-to-date and reliable is it? Getting inappropriate comps for an investment property can make your business go broke in a hurry. In addition, the number of comps that the program provides gives me some pause, especially for new investors (which seems to be the product’s target audience). REI 360 can deliver up to 20 comps on a property, but unless you know the neighborhood and local sales trends well, it is entirely too many. You will be faced with trying to sort through the data “noise” to determine the top three most like your property-of-interest to determine what to offer the seller.
While REI 360 enables you to evaluate the potential return on an investment, one feature that the software misses entirely is the ability to estimate costs for property improvements. You can use the calculator to determine holding costs like property taxes and utilities, but these expenditures are a drop in the bucket compared to rehab projects. For investors who buy houses to renovate and resell, this software is not going to save you a lot of time or money.
HOMEVESTORS® PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE
Cost: FREE for HomeVestors® franchisees
HomeVestors provides comprehensive software solutions for investors to buy and sell distressed homes. Leads generated from the nationally branded “We Buy Ugly Houses®” marketing campaign go directly to their HVA MAPS software, a lead management system utilized by franchisees to increase conversion rates for seller leads and track how they are producing month over month. Through HVA MAPS, you can locate the lead in the pipeline, quickly see action items for the day, and access tools for communicating with prospects including scripts for calling them and email drip campaigns for remaining in touch.
When you are ready to evaluate the property, the best real estate investment valuation tool to have on hand is HomeVestors’ proprietary ValueChek® software. ValueChek® has been designed to allow investors of all experience levels to value a house that needs repairs, without needing to be experienced in construction. It enables you to combine several facets of information: realtor-provided MLS information, data on sold properties near the sold property (from a realtor or other outside sources), and geographically-specific estimates for necessary repairs. This helps you to confidently make an offer to the seller that is safe. In addition, you can actually apply for a loan right from the ValueChek® app! HomeVestors also offers ongoing training on the use of all their different tools and continual support for maintaining best practices.
In order to benefit from this best-in-class real estate investor software, however, you need to become a HomeVestors® franchisee. Franchises are independently owned and operated businesses, so you do business at your own pace—but you have access to leading-edge resources, guidance, and support from the nation’s leading buyer of homes. If you are ready to boost your real estate investing game, give HomeVestors a call today!
In a Nutshell: How They All Stack Up
|REIPro||Real Estate Investment Analysis||ProfitGrabber||360 Real Estate Investor||HomeVestors|
|Rehab Cost Estimate|
|Business Performance Tracking|
|Tech Support||By Phone or Chat During Business Hours||By Phone but Very Limited||Submit Online Ticket||Online Tutorials Only||Available by phone, and in person during training.|