Welcome to the inaugural edition of the T3 TECH Guide!
Software, as it becomes more sophisticated, dynamic and responsive, is increasingly affecting the operations of the typical real estate business. Whether a solo agent, team or brokerage, most of us use a number of software tools each and every day, in a variety of ways.
We use GPS to navigate to showings. We purchase leads and seamlessly import them into systems that route, track, score and nurture them. We attract sellers by offering free home valuations using automat- ed valuation models (AVMs) that do the math for us. We use a variety of tools and technologies to generate leads on our own websites.
We create documents in a matter of seconds because of the integration between forms, products, MLSs and other data sources. We are notified of events that may indicate a consumer is about to require assistance in buying or selling a home. We acquire lists of high-value targets and tailor marketing strategies specific to them.
We prepare contracts and execute them digitally, from anywhere. We carry in the palm of our hand every document, record and file we have ever created or possessed in our entire career and we can access it all instantly.
We could go on and on. Software drives all of those things, and thousands of other processes small and large that directly influence how and, often, how well we do our jobs.
This guide is a hands-on, practical tool covering the full spectrum of the most important elements of the software technologies that impact your business: from portals to real estate CRMs, from lead management systems to digital signature solutions and a number of other key categories. We’ve targeted the very things that increasingly shape and transform the real estate industry in which we live, work and earn our keep.
THE 2015 GUIDE
For this inaugural edition of the guide, we selected what we believe are the categories of software that have seen or are experiencing the most significant levels of change and innovation, and that have the broadest and deepest impacts on the lives and business practices of agents, teams and brokers.
Not every category of software is covered in this edition, and in future editions we will endeavor to expand the reach of the guide to include all major areas commonly utilized within the industry. We also recognize that some products solve multiple business problems, and, therefore, qualify for coverage in more than one category of software. Because of this, we covered several products in more than one chapter. Where that occurred, we specifically limited our coverage to keep the discussion within the parameters of the chapter in question.
SELECTION OF PRODUCTS TO COMPARE
The guide is not intended to be a comprehensive resource covering all products in any given category. In each chapter we state our basis of selection for that particular class of software. Beyond that, other factors that helped shape our selection process were as follows:
• Extent to which products were asked about or mentioned by members in our T3 Experts educational programs
• The results of our interviews with vendors
• The results of the surveys we conducted with vendors
• Observations made during product demonstrations with vendors
• The results of our interviews with many users of many different products
• Longevity of products
• Anecdotal feedback and street-level buzz
• Professional judgment
Our criteria, in the end, and in almost every case, came down to this: If we were selecting a product for a client, or for ourselves in an agent, team or brokerage scenario, the products we included for coverage are the ones we would start with in terms of our population of possible solutions.
No vendors paid us to be placed in the guide, and no vendors who advertised herein received any preferential treatment from us. As consultants and educators, we believe it is our responsibility to be objective, fair and unbiased in making any commentary about any vendor, product or service in the real estate industry.
We considered and specifically excluded from coverage far more products than we actually included in the guide. We did this for reasons of practicality, and also because of the significant resources that were ex- pended to create this guide.
It should also be noted that just because a product was not covered in this guide, it should not be construed as any indication of negative judgment or assessment on our part. While we made every effort to do so, it is impossible to ensure we considered every product, and in some cases, products were excluded simply because they were too new, because it was clear to us from speaking with the vendor that they had more development to do before they considered the product “done,” or for a variety of other reasons.
With respect to accuracy, we took great care to share our fact-based commentary with every vendor referenced herein before publishing the guide in an attempt to identify any errors or omissions we may have made. If we subsequently discover any such inaccuracies, they will be posted at the following URL: www.t3techguide.com/updates
If you are a vendor and would like to be considered for inclusion in future editions of the guide, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW PRODUCTS WERE COMPARED
Near the end of each chapter, we provide a comparison grid which (1) identifies the key functionalities within a category, and (2) shows how each of the products compare against one another with respect to those key functionalities.
The key functionalities were determined by do- ing extensive research about the category in general, and by studying key product offerings within each category. We augmented that by surveying vendors, interviewing key members of management at each vendor, participating in demonstrations of products and by interviewing other people within the industry to obtain additional anecdotal and unbiased perspectives.
From the performance of these actions, we learned which functionalities were the most important within a given class of product, and the particular strengths and weaknesses within a given individual product.
Obviously, it wasn’t possible to include every feature every person may consider important in a given category. In some cases, we know our judgments of “importance” will conflict with the views of the vendors themselves. That said, these comparison grids are intended to be a reasonable starting point for most agents, teams and brokers to help them quickly evaluate products in a given category of software.
It should also be noted that we intentionally excluded product pricing from the guide. We did this for the following reasons:
• Prices change frequently
• Products change frequently
• Packaging and bundling of products change frequently
• Products are very often not “apples to apples” comparable (because of feature bundling and large systems which sometimes include stand- alone products, etc.)
Accordingly, we felt it more prudent to exclude pricing rather than to attempt to work around these is- sues, which will always serve to make such comparisons difficult, if not impossible.
Technology never stops evolving, and it’s nearly impossible for any one person to stay abreast of every product in any one software category, let alone within the myriad of software categories that touch the real estate industry in some way. We created this guide to help educate you, to help you make better decisions, and to ultimately help you run more efficient, more effective and more profitable businesses.
Jack, Michael & Stefan
Swanepoel | T3 Group April 2015