How SaaS Can Transform Real Estate Businesses and the Top 10 Solutions

SaaS (Software as a Service) refers to an online cloud service that helps consumers access various software online. Such services are usually hosted in the cloud and are used for several purposes by individuals and businesses alike. 

SaaS is also a very popular option for existing software deployment systems and is often considered to be a consumer satellite dish where the user connects to an online remote server to use the software.

The concept of SaaS can be traced back to the use of open-source software in the past. The use of such software has gained popularity in recent times and has been adopted by many large organizations and individuals. This technology allows complete control and monitoring of the software installed in the server. The software is also completely updated at regular intervals without the need of using the actual hardware.

 Companies that provide their employees with email and chat facilities may decide to implement SaaS in order to authorize access to these facilities without them being necessarily online, enabling them to efficiently manage their tasks. These are only the beginning of the many benefits that property software, like Console, promises to bring.

It’s estimated that the number of software vendors in the market is increasing annually. The popularity of SaaS has given rise to many new and fresh SaaS vendors. However, it’s important for buyers to do some careful research before choosing a vendor for their company. 

This article gives you a quick run-through of everything you need to know about using SaaS for real estate businesses.

Introduction

Cloud Computing in general and SaaS (Software as a Service) in particular are increasingly becoming popular as the preferred method of service delivery. Gone are the days when cloud computing was limited to large enterprises. Subscription-based SaaS solutions allows businesses of all sizes to use the technology and improve efficiency. Real Estate is just another sector that has witnessed massive ROI on investment in SaaS solutions.

Why Real Estate Businesses Should Consider SaaS?

We have already covered the benefits and challenges of using SaaS in detail, which also apply to Real Estate SaaS solutions. Since businesses don’t have to heavily invest in the hardware, software and maintenance, small and medium businesses can get started quickly without having to spend large sums of money. Some of the major benefits SaaS solutions offer to real estate businesses include:

Access from Anywhere, Using any Device

Real Estate businesses are data driven and employees rely on up-to-date information to make important decisions. Offline systems make it difficult to access data from anywhere, creating a big hurdle in the decision-making process. SaaS solutions on the other hand only require an internet connection and a browser to work and allow users to access information from anywhere, using almost any device.

Another important thing to consider is the fact that the real estate businesses are field based for the most part, which means employees rely on their mobile devices to access information and keep connected with the clients. SaaS solutions make things a lot simpler for both employees, clients and stakeholders and allow them to get things done while on the go.

Transaction Management

Transaction management tools and software – for example Paperless Pipeline – allow real estate agents and brokers to automate the transaction process. This may involve generating checklists to highlight documentation required to complete a transaction, set critical dates or deadlines, and make sure that each step of the transaction is in progress. This allows agents to focus on winning new business and building relationships with clients, rather than being weighed down by manual administrative tasks.

Third Party Integration

Easy integration with other systems such as payment gateways, CRMs and databases enable real estate businesses to get more done without having to switch between different systems. This makes the job easier for employees, minimizes data duplication and ensures accurate, consistent and up to date information across different platforms.

Scalability and Automatic Updates

Scalability is inherent to cloud computing and allows businesses to easily scale their operations as they grow. Businesses can upgrade their plan without having to upgrade any hardware and effortlessly meet their growing demands. Most SaaS providers offer automatic and seamless upgrades that are instantly available to all users at the same time. This saves a lot of time usually required to deploy and test upgrades.

Instant Access Boosts Efficiency

With a strong focus on efficiency, real estate SaaS solutions provide instant access to important data and metrics, including rent data, inventory stats, construction reports, payment status and marketing information. Most large real estate businesses have already moved completely or in part to SaaS solutions, while small and medium businesses are also catching up with the trend.

Types of Real Estate SaaS Solutions

The real estate sector involves agencies and property managers who specialize in different types of properties such as single family, multi family, commercial, short-term and vacation properties. Many businesses exclusively deal with occupational areas including property management, sales, leasing and investing. That’s the reason it’s hard to suggest a one-size-fits all kind of solution.

It’s important to consider business requirements before choosing any SaaS solution. Real estate agents have to deal with a lot of clerical responsibilities, clients, property inspection, maintenance and a whole bunch of other stuff. Real estate SaaS solutions are designed to help them focus more on closing deals, by automating workflows and minimizing manual input. However, different solutions are designed to serve different purposes. The three main types of real estate solutions include:

CRMs

Real estate CRMs help agencies and property managers build and manage relationships with clients and stakeholders. While CRMs generally revolve around workflow automation and contact management, they help optimize the whole sales lifecycle and include other features such as task management, collaboration tools and sales forecasting. Depending on the individual needs, businesses can choose between multi-purpose CRMs and industry specific CRMs.

Examples of industry specific CRMs include Propertybase and Wise Agent while Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce are multi-purpose CRMs, which provide more features and allow users to create custom workflows and fields.

Now the act of managing and organizing data is challenging in itself. As most of your real estate data pertains to crucial business operations and strategies, you cannot afford any form of incompetency while recording data in a CRM tool. You could assign an employee to undertake data entry as a specialty or hire a full-tme expert to take care of it for you. However, both these options can prove to be time-consuming and costly. Thankfully, there are third-party service providers who do offer CRM data entry services at affordable rates, thus ensuring you get affordability with quality error-free work.

Marketing Automation

Many large businesses use a marketing automation solution in conjunction with a CRM. Marketing automation solutions allow creating highly targeted campaigns and make it a lot easier to engage prospects across different channels. Many businesses view a marketing automation and CRM solution to be codependent.

However, some CRMs also offer basic marketing automation functionality, which works well for businesses that only need basic functionality and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a standalone marketing automation solution. Popular marketing automation solutions include Marketo, HubSpot and Salesfusion. A comprehensive marketing automation solution includes the following key features:

  • Email campaigns
  • Drip programs
  • Auto-responders
  • A/B testing
  • Landing page builders
  • Lead management
  • Social media campaigns
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Content management and SEO

Property Management Solutions

Property management solutions cover the administrative side of real estate businesses and provide tools necessary for managing leases, properties and maintenance. It’s important to consider the type of property a solution is designed for such as single-family, multi-family and commercial properties. Some property management solutions only cover specific business segments such as maintenance management or rent collection, while others are integrated and offer end-to-end usability.

Yardi, Buildium, Appfolio and Landmax.pro are some examples of leading property management solutions. Common features of property management solutions include:

  • Applicant screening
  • Accounting and financial management
  • Contact and tenant management
  • Rent processing and automatic reminders
  • Self-service portals
  • Maintenance management and work orders
  • Document management
  • Inspection forms
  • Lead tracking
  • Prospecting
  • Internet Listing Service integration
  • Reporting and analytics

Top 10 Real Estate SaaS Solutions

Many multiple-industry SaaS solutions such as CRMs and Marketing Automation are also relevant to real estate businesses. However, we will only cover solutions specifically designed for real estate businesses.

Propertybase.com

Built on the proven robustness of Salesforce, the comprehensive property management solution combines CRM, lead generation and marketing in a single package with a branded website at the front. The platform is more than just a CRM, is highly scalable and versatile and is available for brokers, teams as well as agents.

Key features

  • Premium IDX Websites
  • Marketing automation
  • Transaction management
  • Real-time dashboards and reports
  • 200+ integrations
  • Lead and contact management
  • Centralized contacts
  • Lead routing
  • Smart lists
  • Listing management
  • MLS integration
  • Portal syndication
  • Calendar integration

Buildium.com

Buildium is another comprehensive property management solution that helps businesses grow their portfolio and save time and money. Pricing starts from $47/month (for one unit) and depends on the number of total units. Additional services are also available for a fee including renter insurance, remote check printing, 1099 eFiling and mailing services. Integration support includes apartment list, Forte, HotPads, Lovely, TransUnion and Zillow.

Key features

  • Accounting and financials
  • Online and cash payments
  • Owner portal
  • Document storage
  • Maintenance tracking
  • Property inspections
  • Rental listings
  • Tenant screening
  • Violation tracking
  • Board communications

Yardi Property Management

The integrated property management solution is designed for all verticals and is available in two different versions i.e. Yardi Breeze and Yardi Voyager. Breeze is custom built for small and medium businesses that deal with single, multi-family and commercial properties. Voyager is a comprehensive suite for large real estate businesses and supports multiple products. Pricing for Yardi Breeze starts from $1/unit/month and there are no onboarding or training fees involved.

Key features

  • Marketing and online leasing
  • eSignatures
  • Rent collection
  • Automated fee posting
  • ACH/Credit card payments
  • Maintenance tracking
  • e-maintenance requests
  • Accounting
  • Batch receipts
  • Custom reports and owner tools
  • CAM reconciliation/recovery

Propertyware.com

Designed keeping needs of landlords who have small residential units to manage, Propertyware is an easy-to-use solution that’s also versatile and scalable. It combines property marketing and accounting and simplifies tenant communication, leasing renewals and rental management. The solution fully covers the property lifecycle and provides landlords/asset managers with everything they need to successfully run a business. Pricing starts from $1/unit/month plus a $250 (minimum) fee and implementation fee.

Key features

  • Accounting
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Fee management
  • Reporting
  • Tenant screening
  • Online/cash payments
  • Tenant and owner portals
  • Marketing and lead tracking
  • Maintenance management
  • Inspections and work orders
  • Mobile app
  • Asset protection plan
  • Vendor credentialing
  • 2-way Text messaging
  • eSignatures
  • Vendor portals

RentManager.com

The solution allows rental service companies and property managers to manage operations more efficiently without having to deal with multiple solutions. The robust and self-contained solution covers accounting, property database, contact management, marketing and more. The cloud-based solution is also available as a standalone/perpetual software for businesses who need complete control over their data. Pricing for all solutions is available by quote.

Key features

  • Open API for partner integrations
  • Voice recording/broadcasting
  • Virtual post office
  • Mobile apps
  • Accounting
  • 250+ built-in financial reports
  • Custom reports
  • Work order management
  • Website integration
  • Online portal tools
  • EPayment processing
  • VoIP integration
  • Automated reporting
  • 2-way text messaging
  • Prospect manager
  • Hardware: check scanner and hand-held meter reader

TurboTenant.com

TurboTenant is Available as a free-to-use property management tool and allows landlords to streamline the rental process. Landlords pay nothing, but applicants have to pay a $35-45 fee ($45 includes eviction report). Although basic marketing is included in the free solution, landlords and property managers who want to opt for premium marketing services can have that by paying an additional fee (premium marketing is available in selected areas)

TurboTenant also offers additional services for a fee including rent estimates, forms, online signatures and lease agreements. Since applicants pay the application fee when they apply for a property, landlords get the screening report and relevant information in the beginning instead of leaving things to the future.

Key features

  • Online rental applications
  • Applicants can apply from any device
  • Criminal, credit and eviction report
  • Soft credit check
  • Property listing pages
  • Pre-screening questionnaire
  • Automatic reference requests of the past landlord

TenantCloud.com

TenantCloud is another free-to-use solution that connects landlords with tenants and allows them to create a listing website, screen applicants, receive payments online and manage accounting and financials. Tenants can easily pay rent online, create rental applications and submit maintenance requests. The solution is free for landlords who own a small number of property units.

Standard package costs $9/month and is suitable for landlords who manage up to 150 units. The advanced package is suitable for property managers and landlords having more than 500 units and includes QuickBooks integration. Other services available at an additional fee include rental reports and insurance. All plans include:

Key features

  • Rental applications
  • Tenant screening
  • Accounting
  • Automatic late fees
  • Online payments and leases
  • Maintenance requests
  • Service and equipment reminders
  • Insurance tracking
  • Website marketing
  • Email and feed notifications
  • Chat with tenants
  • Owner portal

BrokerMint.com

The back-office solution for real estate businesses makes it easier to automate operations and helps businesses focus more on what matters the most i.e. closing more deals. From transaction management to commission tracking and agent management, BrokerMint provides everything businesses need to manage operations using a single platform.

The solution comes with a strong integration support as well as a powerful API that allow businesses to connect BrokerMint with other solutions. Integration support includes Google Calendar, QuickBooks, Xero, Propertybase and Dropbox. Pricing plans include Simple Start, Standard and Enterprise (pricing is available by quote).

Key features

  • Transaction management
  • ESignatures
  • Email templates
  • Commission tracking
  • Agent statements
  • Reports and analytics
  • Vendor and franchise reports
  • Agent management
  • Agent on-boarding
  • Goal management
  • Custom domain name
  • Multiple office locations
  • Single Sign-on
  • QuickBooks integration

EyeSpy360

Although not really a SaaS software, EyeSpy360 is a tour-as-a-service solution that allows property managers and landlords to upload 360-degree photos from any compatible camera/smartphone and turns them into virtual tours. The platform allows users to create virtual tours and invite clients to view the property over the internet in 3D. This saves most of the time associated with physically showing the properties to clients.

Users can also create narrated tours, allowing them to pause-and-walk around the virtual tour. The free plan allows creating up to three active virtual tours, while pricing for premium plans start form $13.99/month.

Key features

  • Virtual property tours
  • Pause-and-walk functionality
  • Floorplan designing and 3D modeling
  • Google Cardboard compatible tours
  • Information labels
  • Branding
  • Analytics
  • API and SDK

Wise Agent

Wise Agent is a robust CRM build keeping needs of real estate businesses in mind. The AIO CRM helps automate leads, appointments, responses and transactions and comes with all the essential modules. Pricing starts from $29/month and includes one-on-one onboarding. The subscription is based on month-to-month payments so there are no long-term contracts involved in using the solution.

The platform can be seamlessly integrated with a variety of other systems, including Zapier, MailChimp, twitter, Facebook, CloudCMA and Gmail.

Key features

  • Marketing automation
  • Contact management
  • Lead automation
  • Automatic pulling of social media info from email
  • Transaction management
  • Commission tracking
  • Landing pages
  • Team features
  • Time management
  • Text messaging
  • 24/7 live support

Final Word

SaaS refers to the means of delivering software applications to the end-user by utilizing the Internet. When used for real estate businesses, SaaS has quite a lot to offer to increase the competitiveness of a business. 

When all other businesses are going digital, there’s also no reason why you shouldn’t do the same. Now that you’ve been presented with the different forms above, you now have a good start on how to go about with the different SaaS options and which one to select. All that’s left for you to do is to go full blast with applying these to your advantage.