Top Ten Online Real Estate Tools

It’s that time again… time for another top ten list! Here are ten real estate tools I can’t live without, based mostly off their incredible usefullness (and also sheer awesomeness as in the case with Animoto). In no particular order, the top ten are…

It’s that time again… time for another top ten list! Here are ten real estate tools I can’t live without, based mostly off their incredible usefullness (and also sheer awesomeness as in the case with Animoto). In no particular order, the top ten are…

#1 Animoto

animoto-real-estate

Hands down Animoto is the coolest real estate technology tool on this list.  Just upload your photos, pick from one of hundreds of top shelf soundtracks, and they’ll automatically create a stunning slideshow.

Seriously, it’s way beyond your run of the mill real estate slideshow.  Designed by former film and TV producers, it combines music and original transitions to make things pop.  Only downside: the Animoto eyecandy will  cost you $250 a year, since it’s for commercial use.  A bit steep for just making listing slideshows, but if you make a personal video and maybe a few area videos, then it would be worth it.

#2 Docusign

docusign-real-estate

Docusign doesn’t just save you time; it saves your clients time.  And sometimes the difference between goading your client to sign an offer right now and a few hours from now can make all the difference.

Docusign is an electronic signature provider (check with your broker to make sure it’s ok in your area), which lets you sign just by logging in and clicking where you want to sign. It’s perfectly legal in most areas (though again, go double check this), and it’s fast and easy to use.

I remember meeting with a buyer once. They casually strolled in 22 hours after getting a counter offer from the seller, ready to sit down and sign the thing.  Literally while they were signing, a fax comes in from the seller withdrawing the counter because they received a new, better offer.  Now I email documents through Docusign, and usually get it back in about 20 minutes. End of story.

#3. MyFax

myfax-real-estate-fax

The unglamorous workhorse of the group, but nonetheless one of the most important.  At the end of the day, any of the major electronic fax providers will work.  What matters is that you’re using efax, and not still relying on actual fax machines.

Efax lets you get your faxes through your email, save them as a pdf, and forward them to clients or other parties without the quality loss you get from refaxing a contract again and again.  Combined it with Docusign, and you’ve got a killer combo that will save you hours of time and a small forest’s worth of paper.

#4 Highrise

highrise-real-estate-crm

I shudder every time I get a phone call/ email from Top Producer inviting me to attend one of their “webinars” on how to use their program.  My simple rule of thumb for technology products: if I have to: 1) attend a webinar 2) pay a “certified expert” to teach me 3) purchase and read a 300 page book, just to learn how to use it, then I pass.

Technology should make things easier, not harder, and the guys who make Highrise took this to heart.  It’s a drop dead simple web-based CRM, and while it’s not custom made for real estate agents, you can easily tweak it to fit your work style.

#5 Basecamp

basecamp-real-estate

From the same guys who made Highrise, Basecamp is a real estate technology tool that lets you manage transactions.  You can view to do lists, time lines, etc, and you can invite your clients, escrow agent, lender etc so everyone is literally on the same page (webpage, that is).

#6 WordPress

wordpress-real-estate

One of the original blog frameworks, WordPress is now all all grown up and is great for making real estate websites.  Because it’s open source and worked on by thousands of contributors, it has one of the best content management systems out there.

The beauty of using WordPress is that you can roll your website and blog into one, saving you money and time.  And since content is the key to getting traffic, you’ll find it much easier to continually add to your website/ blog.

#7 Mailchimp

mailchimp-real-estate

There are many great email newsletter providers for the real estate industry, so why MailChimp? Simple: I like monkeys.

Child-like love of monkeys not enough to sway you? How about: 1) one of the easiest to use email marketing programs out there. 2) powerful features like a/b split testing, google analytics integration 3) turning producing your monthly newsletter into a fun project.

#8 Facebook

facebook-real-estate

I’m starting to wear out my f,a,c,e,b,o, and k keys form typing about facebook so many times, so I’ll keep this brief: real estate is about relationships, and facebook is currently the best online relationship/ social network tool out there.  Ken Brand has an excellent facebook article, and he mentions an incredibly useful guide to facebook privacy, that I strongly suggest you check out before those photos of you doing a keg stand get broadcast to all your clients.

#9 ActiveRain

active-rain-real-estate

The facebook of real estate.  It’s great for making connections with other agents, but don’t make the same mistake I did: only using it to reach other agents.  The real power of ActiveRain is the ability to write blog posts that quickly reach the top of google for long tail search terms like: “Real estate prices in Noe Valley neighbrhood San Francisco”.  Make sure you check the box to make your blog posts fully public, and focus on niche and local real estate keywords to get the most bang for your buck.

#10 My Single Property Websites

single-property-websites

Full disclosure: this is my company.  I thought about keeping it off this list to avoid compromising that whole “objective” thing.  Ultimately, I created My Single Property Websites to be a useful, inexpensive tool for modern real estate agents, and it is now truly one of the top ten real estate tools I use.

You can easily make a single property website for your listings, auto-post them to the big RE search engines, and it makes a template for posting to Craigslist and Facebook.  You get a custom domain name, and you can order a sign rider too.  If you’re not using single property websites for your listings(regardless of which provider), they’ll impress your sellers and potential buyers, and they make a great centerpiece to your marketing efforts.