Want to Know How To Overcome All the Real Estate Investment Challenges with Cutting-Edge Technology?
Reach out to our real estate technology consultants, and they will suggest the best real estate investing software solution!
Advances in technology are changing the way we analyze and invest in real estate. In the blog post: “The Fallout of the Covid-19 on CRE Sectors“, we already addressed some of the significant impacts on the real estate market that have resulted from the pandemic and were enabled by technology.
In this article, we would like to dig deeper into how real estate software technology is also changing how we invest in real estate and the overall investment landscape. Real estate is possibly the oldest investible asset class with unique qualities, which has rewarded investors with stable returns from reliable income streams, capital appreciation, stable returns, and a hedge against inflation.
These unique benefits of real estate investment have resulted in significant demand from institutional capital – demand that appears to be only increasing.
Our blog post will examine the following points:
Reach out to our real estate technology consultants, and they will suggest the best real estate investing software solution!
While investing directly in real estate might become the most rewarding of your undertakings, it also is a much more difficult money-making strategy due to a number of unique complexities that are not present in other investment classes, some examples include:
Historically, these barriers to entry were challenging to overcome and made it difficult for some investors – typically smaller investors – to enter the market. Some of these barriers were overcome in the past by offering alternative methods of accessing these investments, like public REITs that were functionally similar to investing in stocks.
Now, advances in digital real estate software technology are reducing some of these barriers and allowing new methods of accessing direct real estate assets through innovating investment processes and vehicles, making it easier for investors to directly invest in real estate and also access different property types.
Additionally, digital technology is also helping to limit the obsolescence of real estate assets and increasing returns. This is a broad topic, with many different technology solutions impacting different areas of real estate, so this article will take a high-level view of some of the best real estate investing CRM and the most interesting real estate investment software advances.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software unifies the basic functions every real estate investor needs to succeed. Real estate investment CRM systems may have various sets of functionality, but, usually, all of them have the following key features pertained to all CRM platforms:
Real estate investment CRM offerings are generally topped up with custom objects and fields, customized flows, and features that vary from vendor to vendor. Below are the best CRM tools available for real estate investors that satisfy various types of real estate investing needs.
Unlike other fit-for-all-size CRM systems, AscendixRE comes with already in-built features for brokers and real estate investors — you don’t have to pay extra to calibrate it for the real estate needs, so you can start using it from day one!
It is a unique collaboration tool offering secure virtual Collaboration and Deal Rooms for signing NDAs and contracts, protected information, documents, and data sharing, and centralized data management and communication with your stakeholders, clients, partners, and investors.
What also makes AscendixRE CRM stand out from other real estate investor CRM systems on the market, is that it blends 15-year experience in the real estate space with unlimited customization capabilities of SaaS moguls like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
Thanks to this, the company can offer a top-notch product that can be scaled to any organization size and grow together with your company, without disrupting the original version and guarantee your data protection with well-known high-security standards of Salesforce and Microsoft platforms.
AscendixRE Key Features:
Watch a demo of AscendixRE CRM
Learn how you can enrich the AscendixRE real estate CRM functionality with more tools, such as:
AscendixRE Pricing offerings range from $49 user/month for xRE Foundations plan (with no user minimum, billed annually) to $99 user/month for xRE Unlimited (also with no user minimum, billed annually). Free trial – 30 days.
“ Perfect CRM for my company
After several months of reviewing numerous CRM solutions, I was introduced to AscendixRE and instantly knew this was the perfect CRM for my company. AscendixRE has helped us in deal tracking as well as client/lender databasing. The team at AscendixRE understood our business and our needs and were able to tailor the CRM for our specific needs. More importantly, the team at AscendixRE is made up of true professionals who are thoughtful, helpful, and efficient. Their turn around times and ability to problem solve really allowed us to make a seamless transition. They were available to answer questions and make adjustments as we were learning the software. I highly recommend AscendixRE to all real estate professionals. ”
Pipedrive is another top real estate investing CRM choice built to harmonize the CRM experience for users. Its features include enhanced Leads and Deals management, composing information about properties and potential buyers, and centralizing relevant client information.
With Pipedrive, users can arrange deals in pipelines and adjust the stages to fit their sales cycle or integrate it with third-party apps like Trello, Asana, or Slack. Moreover, this real estate CRM offers a Live Chat with a ChatBot integration and robust synchronization with Gmail services.
Pipedrive CRM Key Features:
See Pipedrive CRM in action:
Pipedrive Pricing starts at $12.50 per user per month (billed annually) for an Essential Plan and goes to $99 per user per month (billed annually) for an Enterprise Plan. The free trial – 14 days.
Here is what Pipedrive’s clients are saying about the platform on Capterra.com:
Easy to manage different pipelines for different sales projects. The email template is one of the key features we like as it allows us to format our emails and the fields are filled in automatically, so every client receives a quality email without spending time typing out individual emails. But the emails received are not automatically assigned to a client and sometimes land on other client's deals in Pipedrive. There seems to be a lot of downtime of late and we have had several clients confirm that they have not received the email off Pipedrive. The support is not always available for immediate help.
SyndicationPro is a real estate CRM solution designed specifically for investors who are raising capital for a real estate investment syndication. This relationship management platform provides a vast scope of CRM capabilities together with a customizable landing page to fulfill the company branding needs while staying compliant with SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) regulations
SyndicationPro CRM Key Features:
SyndicationPro Pricing ranges from $95 per month to $500 with a promotion to try for free.
This is a customer review submitted on Capterra.com:
SyndicationPro is an incredibly effective tool. The software manages all of our leads and investors, calculates distributions, has integrated email tools, and handles all of our e-signing needs. It does all of this while still being more competitively priced than their competitors. There is a little bit of a learning curve at first with the software. After you spend a few hours exploring the product it is very simple and user-friendly.
Copper is another CRM tool option that can be useful for real estate investors, especially those who use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Google Drive, Google Docs, or Google Slides on a daily basis. On this platform, you can customize your pipeline, automate tasks, and sync with several common email services, calendars, and even e-signature solutions.
Copper CRM Key Features:
See the video demo of Copper
Copper CRM Pricing: starts at $25 user/month (with 3 user seat limit) for a Basic plan to $119 per user month for a Business Plan. The free trial – 14 days
There is customer feedback found on Capterra.com:
We bought Copper (previously Prosperworks) to get a CRM integrated with GSuite. Copper excels here: using the Chrome extension, you get transparent integration of Copper contact and activity tracking into GSuite, which works especially well with small teams. You can set up your own sales funnels, forecasting, and project tracking, and everyone can see all the activities they are authorized for. We wanted email tracking. While Copper offers rudimentary and amateurish tracking, they have completely abandoned the feature, despite continuing to describe it on their site. Worse, the feature is getting worse over time, which points to an out-of-control development process.
While land typically has inherent value for future development, buildings themselves are subject to obsolescence, either through changing consumer patterns, supply chains, or the form of work.
All these effects can be seen in the decline of U.S. manufacturing, the rise of e-commerce, and potentially the future of office work following the pandemic. These changes inherently impact buildings and have made some obsolete and difficult to lease, and these trends are only accelerating.
Probably the most typical effect of digital technology is its continued creep into our daily lives with the growth of the Internet of Things. Among real estate technology investors, the Internet of Things was the most popular in 2020.
These real estate technology companies are leading the drive to create “smart buildings” that integrate digital technology with hardware and sensors that allow owners to significantly increase their understanding of the usage and are a key component of implementing the latest green building technologies.
These smart buildings can more easily respond to tenant needs, weather conditions, and improve operating processes, all of which can be monitored in real-time by the owner, which has the effect of improving tenant satisfaction, reducing energy needs, and consequent improving investment performance.
Five years ago, developers could be forgiven for excluding some of these technologies from even the best new developments; however, the current market demands the latest environmental technologies. These technologies are becoming the standard for new institutional-quality developments and are being retrofitted into older buildings where possible.
The use of these technologies and green building considerations, in general, helps to offset potential obsolescence, especially as more institutional investors implement policies directed at achieving net-zero goals.
Possibly less exciting and less noticeably impactful is the use of digital technologies when analyzing potential or existing real estate investments and managing existing assets.
That said, there is a point to highlight that software companies are helping investors generate better returns by improving real estate investment underwriting.
For years, real estate investors have had valuation aides like Argus software (or even just Excel).
However, while not replacing the financial models yet, recent developments have utilized Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support underwriting and management of investments.
These AI underwriting platforms can use a variety of publicly available information cross-referencing it with locational information and other market transactions to inform a valuation.
Other AI technologies can help support the management of the buildings through examining broad climate risks of various locations, for example, risk of sea rise for coastal properties, and more granular information like a detailed analysis of annual sunlight, lighting during the day, estimated sound disturbance levels, and parking space availability.
Owners can also leverage other technologies to improve the tenant experience. For example:
One of the key things resulting from this growth in technology is the expansion of the investible real estate universe, not only through new investment vehicles but also the creation of assets themselves.
An old example at this point, one of the first asset classes that technology opened to institutional investment was the data center. As the world digitized and developed infrastructure to support the growing demands of the internet, this created the need for specialized facilities to house servers in close proximity to digital infrastructure and urban centers.
The best real estate investments are ones leased to successful tenants that have significant difficulty and/or cost to replace the facility. Investors soon entered this specialized real estate market, which has grown into a sector with companies and funds that invest exclusively in data centers.
CBRE’s research department even follows it as a separate asset class. All this to say: when technology creates or opens up a new investment class, investors will be ready to fill the space.
Technology is allowing automated underwriting, a quick analysis of markets, and time-efficient responses to grow the investability of other asset classes. The best example of this is the single-family residential market, which has historically been an asset class that was difficult to scale and was therefore avoided by larger investors.
Digital underwriting and management solutions have made scaling single-family residential portfolios feasible. Companies like MainStreet Renewal uses AI technology to identify and bid on as many as 30 properties a day in target markets that don’t require extensive remodeling or are unlikely to spark bidding wars.
These homes are then renovated and rented.
Other companies, like Opendoor in the U.S., offer an instant buyer service for homeowners that want to sell their properties quickly. These platforms receive information from sellers and then utilize algorithms to analyze a property and submit a firm offer to the seller within a matter of hours.
These platforms generate revenue by buying homes at a discount to the current fair value and then selling later at a market price. Digital analytics and buying technology has helped companies expand the investablity of the single-family home, creating an institutional investment market for the asset class.
While some institutions have partnered to acquire their own portfolios in the sector, public REITs (Innovation Homes REIT and American Homes REIT) have also been created allowing retail investors to access the sector.
Setting the potential negative effects on private homeownership and home prices aside, technology has been the means to unlock this asset class to a broader range of investors, even to those who may not be able to afford a single-family home in their desired market.
The complexities of real estate ownership and costs to acquire real estate can prevent many small investors from owning real estate investments. Significant democratization of real estate investments occurred in 1961 with the foundation of the first REIT, which subsequently gave rise to hundreds or possibly thousands of REITS.
Technology is allowing the continued democratization of real estate investment by creating more and different ways for investors to access real estate investments. There are a number of platforms offering peer-to-peer real estate lending and fractional ownership of real estate assets. These platforms allow small-scale investors to invest directly in specific real estate assets.
The platforms will often deliver robust opportunities for due diligence and underwriting allowing investors to thoroughly analyze the opportunities as well as providing them with management services and limiting the investor’s need to provide management oversight.
Some of the platforms will allow the investor to trade out of the investment at a time of their choosing, but they can be limited by the funds locking in an investor for a specific term or by limited withdrawals when cash is low; though, neither of these drawbacks is that dissimilar from wholly or partially owning a real estate investment directly.
This article is now going to explore the hypothetical future of the intersection of technology and real estate investments. Further evolution of peer-to-peer and fractional ownership is likely to utilize blockchain technology to effectively digitize the process as well as facilitating ownership and transferability of the assets.
An evolution in the digital space has been defined by the development of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – crypto tokens that represent a unique asset like a piece of art – which have become big news following the sale of one for $69 million.
The value of NFTs in the art space is still debatable and may potentially be an expensive fad; however, it is at the forefront of how assets can be digitized and transferred. Real estate is by its nature non-fungible and therefore potentially ripe for digitization as NFTs.
Venture capitalist, Tim Draper had the following to say about NFTs in real estate:
“ I am excited about how NFTs in the virtual world are going to be applied to real estate in the physical world. I suspect that people will soon be able to buy a building, buy the air rights and buy the virtual rights of any physical space. ”
Real estate is obviously more complicated to transfer than digital art as it is required to be registered with utility providers and municipalities for servicing and tax purposes (and you almost always need a lawyer involved to facilitate the transfer) and an investor needs to manage the asset rather than just hold it digitally in a wallet.
An NFT that represents a single real estate asset, therefore, would be required to be transferred both digitally and in reality, with the proper paperwork. Another possibility is to form a company or trust with management in place and provide ownership of the property through multiple tokens that represent a percentage or unit within the property and that are tradable with other investors who pay regular dividends (likely in the form of cryptocurrencies).
This might be effectively similar to a single-property REIT, but with the purchaser able to choose individual properties through different token offerings and diversify their portfolio themselves. There is, of course, a number of technical and legal considerations to overcome before all this would be possible.
Digital technologies are transforming the way investors access real estate and the way things are going. It seems like only a matter of time before some of these more novel forms of investment become mainstream.
It is also likely that technology advances will continue to reduce transactional friction, improve analytics and underwriting, and limit the environmental impact of buildings in addition to supporting both the institutionalization and democratization of real estate investments.
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We are a team of CRM consultants, developers, data analysts from the United States and Ukraine. Since 1996, we've been helping companies make the most out of CRM software and improve their software systems.
We'll help you assess your current CRM instance and define the best approach for its optimization or select the best Real Estate CRM platform for your vertical.