Why CRM Usage is More Popular with Real Estate Professionals

A new Real Estate customer relationship management survey by a software ratings company has shown that a majority of industry professionals searching for a CRM service are looking to replace an existing product, while more than half of those surveyed still use basic methods like spreadsheets and paper to manage their contacts and business.


The 2014 Real Estate CRM Software BuyerView report, released by Software Advice, a CRM review expert, analyzed CRM buyer trends, including the tools Real Estate brokers, agents and property developers desire most in a CRM product, and their motivations. The data was collected from 385 phone interviews collected by the company.

“CRM is finally catching on among smaller buyers, with more and more small to midsize businesses beginning to understand that there are high-quality, affordable options out there to replace more rudimentary methods of contact/sales/marketing management,” lead researcher Jay Ivey said. “For these smaller companies, cloud-based CRM software is nearly always the best option because it’s more affordable, it doesn’t typically involve expensive installation, and it doesn’t require the business to have IT resources to maintain the system on-site.”

Included in the key findings, a majority of prospective buyers — 51 percent — were looking to replace their current CRM. Real estate buyers were far more likely than other CRM buyers to have previously used industry specific CRM software, the survey found. A majority of those wanted to improve efficiency and organization, with 16 percent expressing frustration with their current system.

About 53 percent of potential Real Estate CRM buyers were managing their contacts and business with basic methods. And 19 percent had no system in place whatsoever at the time of the survey.

“Those using manual methods commonly made remarks such as, ‘My email is a mess,’” the report states.

Prospective buyers’ current methods for managing contacts and business:

Real Estate professionals were also much more apt to request industry-specific CRM software than general products. About 28 percent said they were using Real Estate CRM software, typically provided by their brokerage or franchise firm. Only 8 percent of non-Real Estate CRM buyers said they wanted industry-specific services.

Ivey said it was surprising that the percentage of Real estate CRM buyers was — still — as low as it was.

“It’s typically very important that your CRM system at least integrate with your MLS … systems,” he said. “Several buyers … wanted a more generalized CRM system because their current Real Estate-specific solution had inadequate … automation functionality, (such as) lead tracking, pipeline management and sales reporting.

“Or it could be that some Real Estate buyers are evaluating CRM software without understanding just how important it is that their CRM integrates with their other systems.”

About 18 percent of Real Estate and mortgage CRM buyers cited company growth or movement to a different firm as a primary reason for evaluating software. Many of these buyers were looking for a new product because they had left their agency and no longer had access to software offered by their former employer.

The survey includes proprietary programs like Keller Williams’ eEdge, or alternative programs like MLS software with integrated contact management functionality. Some of the Real Estate professionals seeking new software remarked that they were unable to manage all their customer relationships using MLS software.

“MLS software does not allow you to track prospects, interactively engage with your clients and market your listings,” said Max-Michael Mayer, CEO of Propertybase, a Real Estate CRM provider and operator of this new blog. “And most MLS software is not available via mobile.”

Many of the others who did not fit into any other category said they wanted a CRM system for themselves or their firm because they wanted ownership of leads and other vital data.

The top business needs for buying or subscribing to a CRM service began, unsurprisingly, with contact management (90 percent of those surveyed named it). The second most-important feature was the “R” in CRM — relationship tracking (52 percent) and the third was the feature that makes relationship management feasible: Email automation (41 percent). Of that, 24 percent of those surveyed wanted drip marketing, while 12 percent were interested in the ability to mass-email large groups of people.

Most valuable real estate CRM features:

Because Real Estate professionals deal with so many clients on a daily basis, many of them risk losing track of client pipeline status and letting potential deals slip through the cracks if they don’t at least automate email follow-up,” Ivey said. “And naturally, more advanced email and marketing automation offers even more nuanced ways to segment clients and maintain relationships on a large scale.”

Lead-tracking, email integration, marketing capabilities and Real-Estate-specific features, such as the ability to send reminders when a client or lead’s property is about to expire, as well as integration with Zillow or Trulia, also made the list.

Of the 77 percent of Real Estate buyers who expressed a deployment preference, all desired Web-based software. —not a single buyer in our sample explicitly asked to evaluate on-premise solutions. That’s not unusual, because of the firms sampled, most had no more than 10 employees (87 percent) and are not large enough to support their own CRM IT maintenance on-site. Web-based CRM solutions typically include support services.