Shopping for a Broker Management Solution
Interested in some new software to help run your brokerage? Here are several factors to consider before you make your decision.
October 1, 2009
Brokerage management software is an investment that can help streamline operations, increase efficiency, and improve profitability for a real estate office.
Imagine a system that allows you to easily take care of all those accounting and calculation tasks, quickly analyze your brokerage's productivity and profits, and monitor the progress toward your company's goals.
Despite the benefits, given the cost of these systems and current market trends, some brokers and office managers may feel it's a move they cannot justify. When we last looked at office management solutions in January 2008, brokerage systems started just under $1,000 and then quickly climbed. But several free and budget-friendly options have since emerged that may cause your office to want to revisit your options.
6 Factors to Consider
You'll want to shop around to find the best broker management solution for your office. But first, consider the following factors:
1. Vendor: You want confidence the provider will be there over the long term to improve and upgrade its solution and support its user base.
2. Features: A management system should include or offer as modules the tools to manage front- and back-office functions. While you can cherry-pick solutions in areas like contact management and accounting, it's easier to implement a system from one provider.
3. Scalability: Business evolves over time, so the system should have capacity to grow and adapt with your company. You may prefer to start with a core module and to add functionality as you become comfortable with that system.
4. Smooth transition: If you're looking to switch or upgrade to a new system, you'll want to import data and records easily—ensure the new system you choose allows that. When starting fresh, consider the time it will take to set up and master the system. The amount of training that will be required to learn the new system should also be an important consideration.
5. Single entry: A single-entry system—enter data once and it's instantly available in relevant components of the suite—will save time and prove to be a convenience for all users.
6. Cost: Pricing structure varies from purchaser to purchaser. The price is often based on the size of a company and number of users, with additional or ongoing fees sometimes charged for set-up, service subscription, and technical support or training.
In a bold move, Taro Systems recently released the latest version of its integrated front- and back-office management system—for free. Pro Gold i2 is now offered as a free download—no strings attached. In one fell swoop, Taro Systems gave brokers access to a fully integrated management solution, at no cost, while posing a perplexing challenge to competing sellers of brokerage management systems, for which prices often range from $500 and upwards.
By giving the software away, the company hopes to gain presence in more offices and thereby create demand for integrated paid solutions for document storage and the ViewMyListings 9AE marketing and communications suite. Will other companies follow suit?
While a free solution certainly holds allure, you may find that a competing system may be worth the extra cost if it better fits your needs.
Here's a brief overview of other solutions currently available at various price points:
Broker Streamline From Decisions Inc.
A fully customizable, Web-based, back-office database solution. This system is designed to integrate with QuickBooks accounting software using an included real estate chart of accounts.
Price: $2,745 for offices with up to 10 agents
A front- and back-office solution that also integrates with QuickBooks. It handles scheduling, commission calculation, listings, and advertising, and includes tools for creating virtual tours and flyers.
The Realty Management System From Lone Wolf Software
Price: Starts with an $899 set-up fee, and costs $119 per month thereafter for up to 10 agents.
A back-office system for managing listing and transaction data, accounting, commissions, payroll, and all related financial activities. The company also offers several options to expand the system's capabilities.
Price: $1,250 set-up, $54.95 per month for each user of the complete suite
A Web-based suite. Front-office tools cover customer relationship management, leads, referrals, scheduling, and advertising. The back-office component addresses office administration, listings, transactions, and accounting. It includes Web site-creation tools with integrated lead management.
RealBroker From Borran Software
Price: Starts at $2,950 for 10 agents
A scalable system designed for a single office or multisite companies. This single-entry solution includes modules for managing all of the details of listings, transactions, business accounting, and customizable reports. There is also a software-as-a-service version of this product.