Skip to main content

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Real Estate CRM  

Sierra CRM illustration

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Real Estate CRM

The software you use to run your real estate business should center around a powerful CRM. In today’s software-driven world, though, CRM options to choose from are seemingly endless. That’s why we’re walking you through what a real estate CRM is, how to use it and why it’s worth investing in a CRM built specifically for the industry. Plus, we’ve done some research into the top real estate software CRMs on the market right now (so you don’t have to). 

What is a real estate CRM?

A real estate CRM is a dynamic software tool that houses your entire database of past, current and prospective clients, including your sphere of influence (SoI) and network. 

By centralizing this information, a real estate agent CRM enables you to nurture and convert leads to customers, market to them through the entire transaction process and maintain meaningful relationships with established clients. 

How do real estate agents use a CRM? 

By leveraging a CRM, real estate agents can streamline workflows and communication while enhancing interactions and engagement with clients and leads. Specifically, a CRM works by improving: 

Data organization

A CRM centralizes client and lead information, including contact details and preferences. When integrated with a real estate IDX website, it can even provide insight into specific web pages and listing information your leads have viewed online. This can help agents identify client interests related to buyers and sellers quickly and accurately, increasing the likelihood of conversion. 

Activity tracking and routing

A CRM tracks all communication your team has with leads and clients, whether it takes place through email, chatbot, text or call. This allows agents to follow up effectively with tailored communications according to their preferences. It also ensures effective lead routing per agent.
A CRM can automatically assign incoming leads to specific agents or teams based on custom rules and criteria for lead distribution. This ensures leads are routed to the most appropriate agent based on expertise, availability or skills, increasing the likelihood of a relationship that converts. 

Pipeline management

A CRM enables visual tracking of clients throughout the transaction process, including prospecting, negotiations and closing. It can assign and track tasks for agents to complete related to client follow-ups, showings and contract completions. 

Workflow automation

A CRM can set up automated responses, reminders and other follow-up methods based on predefined triggers. This can include automated email campaigns and text sequences to nurture leads over time based on a pre-set schedule.

These tools can also be used to send appointment reminders or follow-ups after property viewings to help keep clients and leads engaged and moving through the sales funnel. These tools can also be leveraged for ongoing relationship management, triggering the re-engagement of past clients based on milestone events, such as home sale anniversaries. 

Transaction management

A CRM can help manage and organize transaction-related documents, ensuring contracts, agreements and other paperwork are properly stored. This helps reduce manual work for agents, freeing up their time to focus on high-priority leads. 

Analytics and reporting

A CRM gathers data to give agents a clear view of their sales pipelines, lead conversions and client interactions. Customizable dashboards and reports can dig into key metrics such as lead generation sources, conversion rates and the status of ongoing deals. These reports can be drilled down to analyze specific data like property types, client demographics or geographical locations to help real estate professionals strategize and scale their business. 

Agent visibility

A CRM with mobile app access ensures agents can receive real-time updates and information while they are on the move. This can include client data, property details, communication history and task lists. This capability increases productivity and improves client satisfaction. 

Why do real estate agents need a CRM? 

A successful real estate business depends on effective relationships. A real estate CRM allows agents to strengthen relationships through management of client information, preferences and interactions in one place. Most importantly, a CRM helps automate tasks so that agents can focus more resources on relationship building. 

Real estate-specific features: Are they worth it? 

Unlike generic CRMs, industry-specific real estate CRMs are tailored to meet the unique needs of agents. Here’s how they differ – and why it matters. 

1. Industry-specific features.

Real estate CRMs include dedicated features for the real estate industry. These features can include tracking whether leads are buyers or sellers and tracking their transaction timeline and property preferences. And, industry-specific CRMs can track the return on investment from various lead sources, provide real-time insight into lead performance and agent effectiveness, and leverage automated action plans with text, email and voicemail touch points to move your real estate leads through the sales process. 

2. Segmentation

Real estate CRMs streamline lead distribution through intelligent routing, ensuring leads are assigned to best-suited agents. Using an industry-specific CRM, an agent can categorize leads based on buying behaviors, property preferences, transaction history and engagement, and can even allow for multiple lead assignments –  meaning your preferred lender can work with the lead at the same time that the agent is, for example.

A real estate CRM also allows agents to better categorize their audience using customizable tags, which can be used to segment leads by lead source, property preferences, lifecycle stages and more. This allows for the creation of highly targeted and personalized communication strategies which can lead to higher conversion rates. 

3. Ease of integration

Real estate CRMs can more easily integrate with other real estate platforms and tools, including your real estate IDX website. By tracking search activity and lead capture through your IDX website, for example, agents can better understand client preferences and know every property that was viewed, saved or shared. Other integrations might include AI-driven tools that help agents connect, nurture and qualify new leads, providing alerts to agents with high-intent leads. 

4. Industry expertise and support

While generic CRMs can offer robust features and  integration possibilities, using a real estate-specific version can ensure the tools are working specifically based on the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in the real estate industry. If your team requires support from the CRM, you can reach out knowing the team has been trained to support real estate teams, workflows and goals. This can be much more beneficial to real estate teams than trying to shape a generic solution to fit their specific needs. 

5. Cost

CRMs are an investment for any business. By choosing a real estate-specific option, agencies are paying only for the features they need to run their business – without any extra features that may be built into a broader, less hyper-focused solution. This ensures that agencies are receiving higher value for their investment. 

How to choose the right CRM solution

Choosing the right CRM system first requires you to understand what options are available. Here’s a high-level view of what your agency should consider. 

1. All-in-one solution or standalone real estate CRM

An all-in-one real estate CRM houses many tools and functionalities essential for real estate professionals. This can include lead management, contact organization, marketing automation, property tracking and website integration, all natively integrated within a single platform.

The benefits of an all-in-one solution:

The primary benefit of an all-in-one solution is that it provides the most insight for the least amount of manual work. It ensures any action your leads take on your website is automatically tracked and logged in the CRM.
In this instance, the CRM can track the exact properties and pages on your website to improve traffic. And, system performance across your solutions tends to be more reliable, as feature enhancements and releases are undertaken with a holistic approach, rather than different systems innovating at different times.

A standalone real estate CRM solely manages your real estate client relationships. Although it doesn’t offer native integrations, it organizes and stores client information and histories, can track leads, and automate tasks. 

The benefits of a standalone solution:

With this approach, real estate professionals can choose from different website providers, as there is no in-built IDX website provided. Typically, these CRMS allow for multiple front-end website connections – meaning an agency can operate more than one website. And, the API limitations are usually more flexible, so you can pick and choose from a wider range of generic integrations and tech partners.

2. CRMs based on agency size

An agency should consider its size when selecting a CRM to ensure it aligns with the agency’s needs and budget.

Single agents

A single agent, for example, will likely need a tool that helps organize their database and SoI. They can benefit from task automation features, including automated task scheduling and action plans, to help reduce some of the manual work required of a one-person shop. This can help ensure routine activities, like follow-ups and other communications, can continue even when the agent is occupied with other showings or is handling multiple transactions at once. 

Single agents also need a tool that can help them establish and build a personal brand. The real estate market is crowded, and single agents need an online presence that can compete with larger agencies and brokers. Cost is also a consideration, as single agents may be working with more limited resources than larger competitors. 

Residential real estate teams

Larger real estate teams require additional functionalities. They tend to need more analytical and reporting insights that can offer insight into team members’ activities, as well as lead routing features to help keep their team’s pipeline filled and balanced with the right type of leads. 

Larger teams also tend to require more integrations to help manage their higher volume of transactions. A CRM with native integrations simplifies the management of their tech partners and vendors, while still providing access to necessary tools like IDX websites, transaction management software, AI assistants and reporting software. 

Commercial real estate teams

Teams that specialize in commercial real estate tend to require CRM software that can accommodate complex transactions. CRMs should include tools that streamline commercial property portfolios, manage pipelines, improve prospecting, track relationships and communication histories, and allow for complete transaction management. 

3. Contact management vs. marketing automation features

It’s important to consider what your agency needs in terms of communication, outreach and follow-up. This can help you determine what features you need within your CRM: contact management or marketing automation.

Contact management

The idea of contact management primarily includes organizing and managing client information, communication histories, preferences and past transactions in a centralized database. It allows agents to maintain detailed client profiles, track activity and support personalized communication when nurturing relationships. 

Marketing automation hub

A marketing automation hub primarily includes automating and optimizing marketing efforts through various channels. It enables automated drip campaigns and action plans, tagging, e-alerts and dialers that can streamline operations and automate your follow-up tasks. 

Different CRMs can offer either of these features or even a mix of their capabilities. Understanding what your agency requires can help you understand what you need your CRM to be able to deliver. 

Key features to look for in a great real estate CRM

When choosing a real estate CRM, there are several industry-specific features you should include in your decision-making process: 

1. Contact management.

This is essential for organizing and maintaining your database of client information, communications, preferences and transaction history. Look for CRMs offering customizable fields and tagging capabilities, detailed client profiles and lead routing.

2. Marketing automation.

This feature is important to ensure your agency can effectively conduct marketing campaigns, lead nurturing and follow-ups, and action plans. Look for CRMs that offer email marketing templates and customizable drip plans, targeted campaigns, and automated property listings that you can use to drive prospects back to your website until they become leads. 

3. Scalable communication.

Depending on agency size, you’ll likely need a CRM that can handle mass communication at scale. Look for a CRM that offers mass email, text messaging and voicemail drop capabilities, as well as ‘dialers’ that can help streamline your outbound calls by automatically dialing numbers from a list and connecting answered calls to agents. 

4. Integration capabilities.

Your CRM should allow for seamless integration with other essential tools and software, including transaction management systems, reporting software and website platforms. Look for a CRM that offers native integration options to streamline this process and provide real-time, accurate data for agents to work from.

5. Dual lead assignments.

Assigning dual leads can help reduce transaction time. Look for a CRM that allows for dual lead assignments, specifically allowing for leads to be assigned to agents and lenders at the same time. 

These capabilities are some of the biggest differentiators that make real estate CRMs unique from generic alternatives. You’ll want to consider how other common features – task management, mobile accessibility, workflow automation, reporting and more – vary per CRM and determine what best meets your real estate agency’s needs. 

Recommendations for the best CRMs for real estate agents

When it comes to real estate, having a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system specifically designed for the industry can be incredibly valuable. We’ve compiled a list of the top real estate CRMs and what they have to offer.

Sierra Interactive

Pros:

Sierra Interactive offers an all-in-one real estate CRM. The software goes beyond basic follow-up by leveraging lead-specific action plans. It includes marketing automation tools for personalized 1:1 communications and equally effective mass communications. Plus, powerful SEO tools are built right into the CRM to help make the front end of your IDX websites rank higher on search engines, leading to increased traffic to your site.

Cons:

Sierra Interactive is likely not the most cost-effective option for single agents. Additionally, it has limited website template designs and native integrations, although these can be achieved through middleware like Zapier or API Nation. 

Follow Up Boss

Pros:

With a fully open API, Follow Up Boss allows seamless integration with other tools in your tech stack. Its detailed lead profile pages provide a comprehensive overview of all communication and data. Plus, the single-user interface makes it easy to navigate and use. 

Cons:

To track lead behavior, Follow Up Boss requires integration with a website. It’s not an all-in-one solution, increasing the need for multiple vendors and contracts to manage your business needs. And, it lacks mass texting capabilities in action plans, which is a preferred communication channel for many leads. 

CINC

Pros:

CINC offers robust reporting and accounting tools, which can be great for real estate teams. Its use of AI can help increase lead conversion rates by prompting lead responses. Plus, it’s an all-in-one solution, minimizing the need for you to seek out additional tools for your business. 

Cons:

Due to its robust offerings, CINC has a higher price point and may not be suitable for single agents. Some users may experience a learning curve with certain features. And, it doesn’t have an open API, which means if innovations are made outside of the system, you won’t be able to tap into the advancements in technology until the CRM catches up. 

Real Geeks 

Pros:

Real Geeks provides attractive agent websites that are designed to convert leads. Its CRM setup is easy and quick, which can lead to fast adoption for your team. Plus, the system has customization options so you can tweak it to your own specific business needs. 

Cons:

Real Geeks requires agent-driven lead location verification, which means agents are actively – and manually – involved in ensuring the right leads are directed to the right agents for follow-up. This can be time-consuming and runs the risk of manual error, which can lead to delayed response and lead loss. Although it has attractive websites, customization options are limited, as is the ability to create custom content and blogs. 

Author

Schedule a Demo

Thoughtfully designed features, intuitive workflows and stunning UX. You’re about to find out why top-performing real estate teams pick Sierra.

Sign Up

Previous Post

Next Post

Related Posts