Looking at the pros and cons of 6 of the most popular real estate CRMs
It wasn’t terribly long ago when a Customer Relationship Management (CRM system consisted of a Rolodex, a calendar and a telephone. Before email, before the internet, even before computers (the “BC” of the business world), real estate agents understood the importance of developing and maintaining relationships with their customers.
Since the tools available for managing the information agents had regarding their customers were primitive in BC, their greatest activity was to send a birthday card to Bob or an anniversary card to Karen and Don. Even for top agents, staying in touch with their sphere and past clients was a manual process that occurred infrequently. Usually, the only way they could even attain a modicum of connectivity was because they had great assistants working for them.
Today, the “great assistants” in real estate agents’ lives are their CRMs.
These CRM systems are either specifically designed for real estate, or are general created from spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel and database programs like Microsoft Access.
In this blog, I’ll be examining several CRMs created especially for the real estate industry. I’ll look at the features of each and report what actual users have to say. I admit to having biases; however, I’ll try my best to not let them interfere with a subjective analysis. (If you find I’ve allowed any prejudices to seep in, please call me out.)
Wise Agent is a “real estate CRM” created by a real estate agent and his computer programmer friend in 2002. They wanted to build a system that makes it easy for agents to automate and systematize their businesses. As a result, they designed a very comprehensive program that goes far beyond contact management.
Within the Wise Agent CRM is a program that assists you with your marketing, including everything from flyers to newsletters to text messages, emails and more. Other primary features of Wise Agent are customizable lead capture solutions, a sophisticated contact management system, an appointment calendar, social media assistance and more. To provide all of its features, Wise Agent integrates with a number of software programs.
The question is, “Are all the Wise Agent features necessary?” According to Inman’s analysis:
“It certainly combines contact management with lead monitoring and outreach, which is what a CRM should do. It also offers transaction management, direct marketing and listings management, which is more than what a CRM should do.”
As you’ll discover as you read this blog, all real estate CRMs offer more than what a CRM should do.
Among sites that rate CRMs on scales from 1-5, Wise Agent’s average ratings varied from 3.6 at G2.com to 4.7 on Facebook reviews. As with any system, Wise Agent users are both positive and critical. On the positive side, I’ve found comments like this to be typical:
“My wife and I absolutely love Wise Agent and all the great features they have incorporated into the system. We have been using Wise Agent for a number of years and they are always working on improving and making the system better. Their support is by far the best in the industry. I’ve tried a number of CRMs in the past and none match the power or feature set that Wise Agent offers.”
One reviewer who brought the ratings down at the G.2 review site complained about their customer service. This was not a typical response. Overall, the experiences with Wise Agent’s customer service department have been extremely positive. Even those who voiced concern about the marketing platform being outdated or the instructional videos being hard to find had nothing but praise for the company’s customer service.
Wise Agent is priced at $29 per month when billed monthly or $299 annually. The company also provides a custom “white label” solutions product whose price is not advertised.
Top Producer is a cloud-based CRM offering a range of integrated contact management, lead generation, lead incubation, postcard marketing and an optional IDX website feature. Other features include built-in sales buckets, email templates and action plans, drip campaigns, a mortgage calculator, HTML editor, site stats and reporting. It allows users to attach documents to contacts, listings or closings with Dropbox and Google Drive. It is designed for use with mobile devices, PCs and Macs.
The CRM has been around for a while. In the early days, the program was slow and many features didn’t work properly, so a number of real estate agents found issues with the earlier versions and developed negative feelings about the company and its customer service department. In 2011, the company made major changes to its platform, so the question became…did the company make enough changes to make it a valuable CRM?
In an article entitled, “Is Top Producer Worth Another Try?”, Suzanne Roy at Inman provided her readers with the good and bad of Top Producer and basically told them they would have to judge the new product on their own. You can read her evaluations here: https://www.inman.com/next/is-top-producer-worth-another-try/.
User reviews for Top Producer average 3.5 (out of five) at Capterra and Software Advice. (Note: another website, Fits Small Business, gives the CRM a user rating of 2.5 (out of five) but only offers 4 reviews.)
One happy Top Producer customer said, “I have used Top Producer for several years. I have gone back and forth with trying new CRMs and I always come back to Top Producer. It has absolutely everything in there that I need to run my real estate business. I especially love the action plans I can have for both sellers and buyers, so no steps are missed.”
Another user was not as enthused: “So many things I don’t like, it was not an “easy” program to use. We had used it in 2011 and switched, we tried to go back and it was the exact same as 2011 and still not easy to use.”
The basic price of Top Producer is $40 per month. Individual add-ons like Market Snapshot, the IDX website and additional websites can significantly increase the price.
Follow Up Boss
Follow Up Boss is a well-reviewed CRM created for and used by teams. In addition to the tools individual agents use to keep track of contacts and leads, the program enables team leaders to assign leads to agents based on geography, team metrics and priorities. So, in addition to allowing agents to connect with clients, leaders can text or send push notifications to agents.
This follow up CRM software focuses on four specific types of follow up for the team leader to manage individual agents:
- Manage leads by sorting them as brand new or according to their last activity on your website.
- View emails from active leads and contacts.
- View appointments, showings and other activities.
- Track communication with older leads.
Emile L’Eplattenier writes in The Close:
“Over the past few years, real estate CRM Follow Up Boss has quietly started to dominate the team market. In fact, they’ve been so successful that an amazing 9 out of the top 50 Real Trends teams for 2018 use Follow Up Boss to engage, nurture, and close leads. There’s a good reason for this success, too. Follow Up Boss offers top shelf lead organization, marketing, outreach and nurturing options for teams and small brokerages alike. It also does it in (a) sleek, easy to use platform that most agents will feel at home in very quickly.”
Users have made Follow Up Boss a highly-rated CRM. Among reviewers utilizing 5-star rating systems, the Capterra average user rated it a 4, the average Facebook user rated it an amazing 4.9, and it scored an average 4.3 rating on G2.com.
Positive comments were easy to find. Generally, everyone loves the ease of use:
“Unlike most CRM platforms, the user interface and the efficiency of being able to keep track of all your leads is GREAT. It’s really easy to use which makes the task of following up with your clients a whole lot easier. I also like being able to text from my laptop.”
On the negative side, several users recommended that additional features be added. Perhaps the angriest criticism was based on price:
“The new pricing is so astronomical compared to what I was paying (which was already high). From $300 to now $690 per month if you have just 10 users.”
According to the website, plans range from $49 per user per month to over $100/user/month for their most advanced plan which touts all the features of lower-priced plans plus priority support and functions for teams within teams.
Predictive analytics combines with big data to determine which of the leads in your database are more likely to be “hot” and ready to buy and which need more time to nurture. This automated CRM looks at the properties hot leads are searching for and sends the leads information on similar homes for sale. That, alone, is an interesting USP (unique selling proposition) for BoomTown, but there are even more features that make this CRM worth a look.
When you examine their features on the BoomTown website, the first feature to appear isn’t their predictive CRM. It’s Lead Generation. By guiding the real estate agent or team to place ads on Google and Facebook, BoomTown proactively seeks to help the agent generate leads. Other Boomtown features include a consumer website, a team to provide advice and assistance, a mobile app and coaching.
While users are happy with the ease of use of the various Boomtown packages, www.fitsmallbusiness.com summarizes the main complaint:
“Priced at $1,000 or more, BoomTown is missing an affordable package for individual agents. The inability to start with an affordable entry plan and increase on a per-agent basis makes BoomTown the most expensive option…”
Here’s what one positive reviewer had to say:
“They make my life easier on a daily basis by allowing all of my lead sources to funnel into 1 place. No more spreadsheets. My agents know exactly what to do each day thanks to the system features (drip campaigns, to-dos, etc.) and the staff support is really amazing! If I ever need any help, someone helps me right away.”
One of the disgruntled BoomTown reviewers didn’t feel he received value for what BoomTown cost:
“Very poor quality leads mostly with wrong information, so there is no way to contact the person. I have spent $18,500 in the last 8 months and my team has not recovered any of this money. Waste of time and money. You are locked in a 12 month agreement…Don’t do it!”
Another reviewer cautioned about BoomTown because their prices aren’t advertised. From my research, it appears the company’s basic “Launch” product is $1,000 per month for up to 3 agents, while the “Grow” product costs $1,750 per month and has a couple of extras not found in the basic plan.
Brivity is the brainchild of Ben Kinney, a friend of mine and long-time supporter of Happy Grasshopper. I will do my best to look at the product as objectively as I have the others.
The CRM comes with unique property websites, action plan templates, advertising templates, team management assists, client portals and custom email updates. It also comes with a calendar, organizers for tasks, transactions and projects as well as a basic people database.
Recently, Ben commented on his Ben Kinney Companies Facebook page:
“Brivity is getting smarter every day. We have begun the journey to help you, the real estate business owner, start to get your time back. We expect over the next 12-24 months through our AI, Machine Learning, and automation that we will be able to remove over 50% of the activities and tasks that you, your admin, your agents, and your broker have to do on every listing and transaction.”
The website Hooquest.com offers a complete review of Brivity’s strengths and disadvantages. The reviewer concludes:
“Brivity is an affordable real estate CRM that includes several optional add-ons like a lead generation IDX website, CMA software, and text lead service.The Brivity platform is versatile but has a particular focus on the customer experience once they are established as your client, including strong listing and transaction management solutions.”
According to the reviewer, the best features were the client portal and its transaction and listing management. The drawbacks are search engine optimization and “fewer marketing toys.”
A typical comment from a Brivity user:
“Brivity is the ultimate organization tool for teams and agents. Not only does it help to properly service our listings through tasks and checklists to keep accountable, but it also allows our sellers to see what has been accomplished.”
Complaints about the system were few. However, one client who actually gave Brivity a 5-star review said:
“Unfortunately what was once feasible with a $500 monthly budget is now several times that amount…”
Almost all Brivity pricing begins at $99.99 per month. That’s the Individual price for the CRM; 10 Brivity Valuations costs another $99.99 monthly fee as does the monthly “Kwkly” text service. Brivity IDX and CMA pricing depends on local MLS fees.
LionDesk CRM promotes its features at the very top of the home page of its website:
Simple Integrated CRM | Transaction Management | Tasks & Calendaring | Drip Campaigns | Auto-Responders | Email Tracking & Marketing | Click-to-Call | Lead Importing | Document Management | Sharing Across Teams | Video | and Much More.
The “much more” includes things like property management tracking, deal tracking and lead distribution.
Emile L’Eplattenier of The Close sings praises of LionDesk:
“If you’ve been putting off trying LionDesk, you’re missing out on a fully featured and powerful real estate CRM that’s perfect for keeping in touch with your sphere and leads, without overwhelming agents with the feature creep so common in the industry.”
One user is particularly proud that agents he’s recommended LionDesk to are now referring the program to others:
“This is the best CRM for the money, you definitely can’t go wrong and when I see that others I’ve referred to this program now also refer it, I know it’s great!”
Another reviewer, who brought the ratings down a bit at Capterra, complained that:
“LionDesk uses a third party email vendor (SendGrid) who does not directly support clients of LionDesk and the complexity of email delivery these days is beyond the skillset of most people including the LionDesk support staff. I have multiple CRM and Real Estate applications that send emails to my clients/leads on my behalf without any issues such as; Top Producer, Follow-Up-Boss, Pro Agent Website, etc., and only my emails from LionDesk end up in the clients spam or junk email folders.”
LionDesk pricing starts at $25 per month for their Pro product. Their Pro Plus product costs $49 per month and includes six features: A custom area code phone number, 2000 outbound texts per month (vs. 25), text 2 sell / call tracking, 20,000 outbound emails per month vs. 5,000, 100 video texting messages and 1 GB of storage vs. 200 MB.
Which CRM is right for you?
Happy Grasshopper works with all of these CRMs, so NO…I’m not going to recommend any individual CRM to you. More importantly, as you can see from the comments users have made, what works for some people isn’t right for others.
I wish I would have had the time to expand the list to include other CRMs such as Realvolve, Real Geeks, 5 Street, Real Estate Webmasters and a bunch of others, but I actually have another job to do!
What I will recommend is that, when you’re ready to choose a CRM, you go to our Happy Grasshopper blog post first so you know the “3 Steps to Pick the Perfect CRM.” Make sure you visit several CRM websites to compare features and benefits. But, don’t stop there. Read Google “reviews” for each CRM you are considering so you can check out what objective reviewers are saying, then look at what customers have to say.
Only you can make the decision as to which CRM is right for you. If you put the time and effort into your search, you’ll make the right choice and get a great return on your investment.