What is a Real Estate CRM? A Definitive Guide

Real Estate CRM

Are you using Excel spreadsheets to organize sales opportunities for your real estate agency?

If the answer is yes, then you’re probably wasting time and revenue using outdated systems. Which is why you’re looking for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to optimize your real estate processes.

A real estate CRM is a realtor’s and property manager’s secret deal-closing weapon. It’s a way for top realtors to stay organized, move tenants and prospective buyers down their sales funnel and, most importantly, close sales on properties. 

In this comprehensive guide to real estate CRMs, you’re going to learn:

Let’s dive in.

What is a real estate CRM? 

A CRM tool helps any organization interact with leads, prospects and existing customers. It keeps all the information about customers on file (buying history, communication, email trails) so companies can keep on top of relationships, improve customer retention and, hopefully, build their bottom line.

In the world of real estate, a CRM platform can help realtors automate mundane tasks (such as data input) and help them keep on top of buyers who are keen to invest in a property. 

Think about all the tasks you must manage on a day-to-day basis as a realtor. You’re juggling meetings, property proposals, emails, payments, open houses… the list is endless. Read our article on real estate task management for more insights.

CRM systems are built to automatically collect important data, showing you how relationships with your customers are being managed. This, in turn, helps you analyze performance and address any leaky holes.

So in the simplest terms, think of modern CRM software as a unique system for managing client relationships.

But to find out how a CRM can benefit realtors, agents and property managers, let’s start with the basics: data input.

Real estate flow

It’s an unavoidable time suck. Adding customer data into your workflow takes up precious time when you could be closing or nurturing potential buyers. 

With a real estate CRM, data input is done automatically. For example, when a buyer fills out a form on your website, their data will be automatically uploaded into your CRM. Any future communication will be tracked from the first time you make contact. 

The software automates your entire sales funnel, from inquiry to handing over the house keys.

real estate sales funnel

A CRM keeps track of where every potential deal stands at every stage of your pipeline. It allows you to organize all of your sales activities: from cold calls and open houses to deal signings.

Why should I use a real estate CRM? 

First off, using a CRM for real estate will make you much more productive. 

According to a 2018 study by Software Advice, 45% of buyers of CRM software are in either the real estate, consulting or insurance markets—the largest percentage, 21%, is real estate. What do these industries have the most in common? The need to centralize contact management. 

Realtors deal with a lot of issues in their daily workload. Anything that will cut back on the stress and make life more productive for agents is a plus.

CRMs built for Real Estate have eliminated daily issues faced by realtors. Some of the biggest challenges real estate companies can solve with a CRM are:

  • Agents who have to juggle high volumes of information all at once
  • Clients and landlords who want immediate responses to their queries
  • Agents who are on the go and need a cloud-based software solution
  • Agents who wish to keep in contact with former clients to boost relationships
  • Agents who need to quickly identify what is working and what is not without mulling over Excel spreadsheets

For example, real estate managers must spin many plates during their work day. CRM software can give real estate managers a way to keep track of the status of all buyers and leads.

If you’re a real estate agent, it’s likely you spend most of your day “on the go.”

A typical day will be a whirlwind of client meetings, catching up with other agents, conducting open houses and scrambling to fulfil other duties like data entry in between it all. One thing is certain: real estate agents don’t have the luxury of spending their 9-to-5 in front of a computer, so keeping on top of paperwork is often a challenge.

The advantages of a CRM can be a godsend for realtors on-the-move. CRMs are cloud based, so you’re able to effectively take your office with you and have any relevant data on hand, fast.

Real estate mobile CRM

Working in real estate, you understand the importance of strong relationships. They can give you a head start on a new property before it’s listed. Good relationships also help you calculate a fair price, gauging what’s hot in the market.

But most importantly, great relationships spark word-of-mouth referrals. To maximize your relationships, you must check-in frequently. Providing new ideas and sharing potential properties with clients are all activities that can strengthen these strategic relationships.

You need the right information, at the right time, at your fingertips, be that on available properties, active and potential clients or neighborhoods. This information must be available to as many of the right clients as possible.

How can you keep track of all this? By using an excellent real estate CRM. One that’s easily customizable for your specific needs.

What are the benefits of using a real estate CRM? 

Improving efficiency and organization are some of the biggest “wins” most realtors can achieve by using a CRM. Many realtors turn to CRM software to boost company growth, along with the powerful features the software offers.

Real estate CRM software

But these wins go beyond improving efficiency and saving time. Here are the top five benefits of using a CRM in your real estate agency.

1. Smarter reporting

To meet annual quotas, realtors must know how well they’re performing, and which areas need the most work.

With so many variables in a realtor’s sales target (such as commissions and selling fees), it can be a nightmare to keep costs in check.

That’s why CRMs are ideal for smarter reporting. The software automatically creates clear, precise, colorful charts and graphics to make that information easy to see and quick to comprehend.

A real estate CRM will give realtors the tools to master key metrics such as conversion rate and other sale factors through visual charts and reports. Smarter reports will give your agency a clearer picture of your current customers, their financial status, and where you need to be hitting your revenue targets.

Sales Pipeline

2. It’s easier to segment leads

No matter what size your real estate agency is, dealing with an inundation of inquiries and listings can be a drag.

Segmenting lists can save you time, and a decent real estate CRM will give you the tools to do so in your lead capture forms.

Controlling where a lead lands in your sales funnel and what list they belong to is up to you. You can choose whether you want to segment a prospect by their budget, their timeline or even their zip code. 

Segmenting lists from the moment a prospect enters your funnel can be a gamechanger for your agency. Let’s say you’ve got a property on the market in downtown Los Angeles and you’re wanting to send an invite for an open house. In just a few clicks, you will have a list of prospects who are looking to buy in that zip code available to you.

3. Follow-up automatically

Not all leads are of equal value. Especially in the world of real estate.

But one thing to keep in mind is that every lead needs to be nurtured, which means following up with them consistently. 

The easiest way to get it done? Use a real estate CRM.

real estate open house template

Following up with potential house buyers or tenants is key, but it also takes up a good chunk of a realtors day. A CRM will allow you to automate your follow-ups using pre-made templates, enabling you to keep your own tone and style.

Schedule the follow-up email and you’re good to go. Whether it’s five days after an open house, or if you’re following up with a new tenant after they’ve been in their new lease for six months, your CRM will remind you and potentially even follow up for you.

How can I set-up a real estate CRM? 

Real estate CRM software isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Every agency is different and has its own needs, so having the ability to set up a CRM and have it work for you exactly how you need it to is essential.

Here are some examples of how you can set up a CRM for your real estate agency. 

1. Customize your CRM for when a lead first hits your funnel

When you are building a web form, a CRM has the functionality to add custom fields, so use them to your advantage.

You may want to segment leads by the number of bedrooms they’re looking for in a property, their budget, or even if there is a school or hospital nearby.

real estate web form

You’ll now have their details on file, and because you know exactly what the buyer is looking for, it’ll be easier to follow up when a suitable property comes onto the market. It will also help you keep on top of your real estate prospecting activities, ensuring you don’t let any opportunities fall through the gaps.

2. Follow up with a call

Let’s say a new lead has just filled in a web form and entered your funnel. Now it’s time for you to follow up with a warm call to welcome them and let them know that you’re already hunting for their dream property.

Once you make contact with them, all you need to do is click a button, and your CRM will advance the prospect to the next stage of your pipeline.

You’ll also get a reminder of when it’s time to take the next step with the prospect: when a suitable property pops up.

3. Keep an eye on potential properties

As a real estate agent, you’ve always got your ear to the ground when it comes to the property market.

If you’re expecting a listing to hit the market soon, enter this information into your CRM. Just input the property’s information, and your CRM will remind you when it’s time to take action. It will also pull in all related information you’ve collected about the property and any potential buyers who might take an interest.

When you find a property that matches a buyer’s needs, your CRM will automatically alert you to let you know. Following up has never been easier. 

4. Make contact with potential buyers at the right time

You’ve got a killer property that’s fresh on the market and you’ve got a lead in your pipeline that would be the perfect fit.

The next step is to make contact. Every point of contact you’ve had with the lead so far will be archived in your CRM, so when you make contact, the software will pull up your notes on the client.

Once they’ve booked in to view the property or attend the open house, you can move them into the next stage on your CRM’s sales pipeline. 

5. Seal the deal in the negotiation phase

The time has come to close the deal. You’ve kept the buyer interested and the seller is happy with how the deal is progressing.

A good CRM gives you the ability to quickly respond to inquiries, arrange meetings with the buyer and seller, and track your results.

real estate CRM pipeline

The close is a stressful time in any real estate deal, but your CRM has your back. You can store contracts and email templates to make following up with potential buyers more efficient.

This will ensure you’re on track to conduct a final walkthrough with the potential buyer before you hand over the keys and sign the contract. Once it’s clear they’re happy with the property, you can move them to the final stage of the deal on your CRM: signing the after-sale paperwork.

6. Add a personal touch once the paperwork is signed

As a real estate agent, you know that both parties in the negotiation signing the appropriate paperwork is the most crucial phase of the deal.

Although you understand the jargon within those contracts, it’s unlikely the buyer or seller will. So make sure you take the time to explain any terms or portions of the deal they’re unsure about.

Once all of the papers are signed (and escrow gives the all-clear), it’s time to hand over the keys. Your CRM will then automatically move the deal to the end of your sales funnel.

Real estate won lost

But it’s at the end of a real estate deal that your CRM really shines. You can set up custom fields in your pipeline to alert you when it’s move-in day for the new buyer. That way, no deal is ever forgotten, and you can send the new homeowners a move-in gift (along with a gift for the seller).

It’s small touches like this that set real estate agencies apart, so let your CRM help you to stand out from the crowd.

How do I choose the best CRM for real estate?

Let’s face it: you need to stay organized if you want to stay on top of all your deals. Like any real estate agency, you have leads, phone calls and open house viewings to deal with. That’s a whole lot of data to manage.

Unfortunately, many CRMs aren’t designed to work for small businesses. They’re too complicated, tedious to collaborate through, packed with useless functions that slow everything down and can take months just to learn how to use. Instead of speeding up your day, they have the opposite effect. You’re also unlikely to find a free CRM for real estate that provides you with all the functions you need.

In real estate, every minute matters. The last thing you have time for is wrestling with technology. Luckily, many CRMs (like Pipedrive) are built with businesses of all sizes in mind. The best CRM for real estate will help you organize all aspects of the real estate sales process, including contact management and lead tracking.

A CRM doesn’t just give you the tools to handle incoming deals. It helps you manage the entire pipeline.

Bulk email validation, automatic notifications as leads move through the deal cycle and advanced reporting that includes the number of opportunities currently available are all part of the package. 

Plus, a CRM will give you the tools to send out proposals, set up appointments and send contracts all within the same dashboard.

“We use a CRM to follow up with prospects to turn them into qualified leads. We ask them a series of questions to qualify and categorize them as leads, we then build a relationship by following up with leads over time,” says Julian Walker, Director at Spot Blue International Property Ltd.

A good real estate CRM also comes equipped with marketing tools. Agents don’t have the time to build fancy marketing campaigns, and if you don’t want to outsource to a pricey agency—you need to find a way to do it yourself. Using a real estate CRM, you can set up user-triggered emails and text messages, as well as drip email campaigns and autoresponders.

This is super handy for realtors and agencies who want to customize their marketing efforts and get rid of repetitive tasks that eat up time. With automated follow-ups and emails that tie into buyers having the ability to schedule their own meetings, it frees up a realtor’s time to close more sales.

Choosing the best real estate CRM integrations

Integrations are a secret weapon to making your CRM unstoppable.

Not only can the right integrations supercharge your real estate sales activities, but they can also add extra functionality that helps your team in every aspect of their job.

Here are some of the best integrations a real estate CRM should never be without. 

JustCall

You need to do more than phone your prospects. You need to be able to keep track of your conversation to keep the deal moving down your sales funnel.

JustCall is an incoming call tracking software that tracks and records incoming phone calls. It integrates with a CRM to automatically log call information, call source and call recording under your contacts and deals as an activity.

The Pipedrive integration does some of the heavy lifting for you when a prospect first reaches out. It can create a new contact and deal in your CRM account and log any call activity under that newly created deal. 

It’s a great way to keep on top of your phone calls (including your real estate cold calling activity), alongside any email integration you’re utilizing in your CRM. 

Autopilot

Use Triggers, Actions and Conditions to design highly personal marketing automation journeys for your leads.

Say a new deal enters your pipeline who is looking at properties in a certain area, you can set a trigger to automatically send them an invite to an open house your running in the neighborhood.

You can integrate Autopilot with Pipedrive.

Slack

You can also sync up with Autopilot with Slack, another great tool, to send messages to your team when leads are assigned.

Slack is a really useful chat tool, where you can send files and create chat rooms on desktop or mobile.

Check out Pipedrive’s Dealbot for Slack to automate even more of your process.

LiveChat

With the LiveChat app, you can integrate a chat widget into your website so that your sales or support teams can answer any visitor questions in real-time.

Link it up to your CRM so your team can add any interested website visitors straight into your sales pipeline. Has someone asked about a property advertised on your website? Make a note in your CRM to contact them later.

Xero

Manage your accounting on the go with the Xero app.

Bookkeeping can take up a lot of time in real estate, but with the Xero app you can stay in touch with your accountant, colleagues and staff so that all receipts and invoices are filed automatically.

Xero becomes even more powerful when integrated with your CRM, as it enables you to track the monies exchanged when deals close.

Asana

With project management tool Asana, your sales team can keep other departments up to date and track the progress of the business.

Although Pipedrive is the ideal place to track your leads and prospects, you could track non-sales-related real estate tasks in Asana. You can integrate the two apps to link up the entire process.

Wrapping up

A CRM is like having a virtual assistant taking care of all the stuff that realtors just don’t have time to do. Manually inputting prospect data, chasing up potential buyers and sending out contracts are all time-sucking tasks. 

A CRM is not just about saving time. A good real estate CRM is a lead nurturing machine. It automatically emails leads when they hit certain stages of a sales pipeline, and even prompts you to send a gift to a new home-buyer on move-in day.

It’s the little touches that make you a successful realtor, and Customer Relationship Management software is a secret weapon that will set you apart from the rest of the pack.

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