For real estate investors and entrepreneurs, one thing remains constant: change. One area where I am always interested in tracking change is technology. How we use technology as investors and entrepreneurs speaks a lot about our willingness to be better at both. Technology is ever-evolving. While many innovations have great potential for real estate investors, like Google Glass, they’re not really practical or cost-efficient yet.
There is no reason to waste time as an investor and try to use technology simply because it is cool. That is a complete waste of time and focus. Still, you don’t have to wait to get up on technological advances that will make your investment career easier, from lead tracking to the nitty-gritty of property management and expense tracking.
My family’s companies have pushed the envelope in trying to use the changes in technology to our advantage. From technology focusing on data integration, storage and analyzing to technology designed to improve process and system efficiency, choosing how to use technology without getting caught up in fads is critical to growth. Whether it’s an app, service, or software, we’ve got a handful of innovative tech tools that just about any real estate investor can use to up their investment game.
For Properties & Management
We’ve talked about Magic Plan before, but we really can’t understate how useful this tool can be for some investors. We as a company took a long look at this program and others like it. This was the one we liked the most, but have yet to implement it. The concept is excellent and it can be a differentiator for some. For us, we didn’t need the tool at this time, but it is on our board as something to keep an eye on as we grow. This app is an innovative surveying tool. When you take photos of the corners of your property, Magic Plan “sketches” and compiles a floor plan. You can then tweak it for accuracy, change levels of details, display different measurements, and export your floor plan in a variety of formats, including JPEG and PDF.
Magic Plan is an innovative surveying tool. When you take photos of the corners of your property, Magic Plan “sketches” and compiles a floor plan. You can then tweak it for accuracy, change levels of details, display different measurements, and export your floor plan in a variety of formats, including JPEG and PDF.
When advertising your single family rental properties, the addition of a floor plan can help give you tenants a complete picture of what you have to offer. Many apartment complexes include floor plans in their listings, but it’s not as common for homes.
Is it practical for single family home investors? Possibly. It depends on how efficient an investor already is at either renting or selling their properties. For companies or individuals that are struggling to separate from other options in your market, this might be a way to offer something different. Especially if you are in a higher-priced market with a buyer or renter that may be looking for a more sophisticated option. A buyer may want to be catered to in a way that presenting them with details of the property layout in addition to pictures and numbers may make a difference.
This service would be extremely valuable for any investor that is investing in an out-of-state property. BPO essentially sends a licensed professional, in person, to survey your property of choice and create a detailed valuation report. This is an as-is evaluation so an experienced investor can use this to determine if they are making a sound front-end decision before buying.
It costs $110 per report, but you no longer have to fool with inaccurate estimates from real estate listings. The reports provide things like neighborhood and market data, comments on pricing strategy, comparable property reports, current photos, value forecasting, an overview of repairs, and more.
Whether you landlord yourself or think your current management team could use a modern update, PropertyWare seems like a great place to start. Not only does it help your managers with their day-to-day tasks, but it provides a portal specifically for you, the owner, to keep track of what’s going on with your properties.
Managers can automate tasks, keep track of maintenance requests, collect rent online, track listings, and instantly publish new vacancies, screen tenants, and more. It’s a one-stop property management hub that also includes owners in the conversation. After using a couple of different property management software platforms, PropertyWare is the program that we went with. It has worked very well and helped us to stay ahead of the management curve even as we were growing.
As we have grown, we have also outgrown the abilities of this great program. Of course, that is after eclipsing the 3,500-property under management mark! So it is certainly robust enough to keep up with small and medium-sized management companies and entrepreneurs looking to start new companies.
For Leads & Communication
Highrise is all about keeping track of your contacts, deals, and negotiations. It has an integrated team system where you can create tasks, organize information, and keep the ball rolling for your investments. You can set reminders, send emails, connect to third party resources, and generally keep track of all of your leads. This is a great application for the smaller investor simply interested in keeping track of their communication and deal flow.
For the larger investor and entrepreneur, I have a better suggestion.
Hubspot is by far the single best application our companies has ever added. We added it at a time when very few companies understood inbound marketing and the power of developing leads, tracking those leads internally, and understanding how our marketing affected their experience. We learned a lot from using Hubspot!
Today, we continue to use it for all of our inbound marketing. From developing content to tracking that content, conversion tracking and complete funnel reporting, this one app has allowed us to hone our message to reach a very detailed and specific audience and then tailor our message and funnel to that audience. For companies that want to get very detailed building a loyal client base with a specific message, this inbound marketing application is a must-have.
Moo is your one-stop shop for all things advertising and marketing. One of their biggest draws is their high quality, highly customizable business cards. Even their less expensive double-sided cards look luxe, with features like rounded edges. More than that, you can really get something unique from higher end options like gold foil, spot gloss, raised gloss, and even colored seams. They also provide options for mini business cards, square cards, and NFC-embedded cards that allow instant website sharing.
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You can either go in with your own design or pick from a fashionable library of choices.
Moo also offers printing for flyers, postcards, letterheads, door hangers, and more.
This wasn’t the first business card reader on the block, but LinkedIn’s beloved CardMunch was traded out for Evernote years ago. FullContact is a new alternative, allowing users to take photos of business cards and digitize that information and export it to over 200 different apps, including to your phone and Google or iPhone contacts. You can try it out for free with your first 10 contacts, then buy plans based on your needs, starting with 50 contacts for $10.
For the everyday investor wanting to continue to network and build their influence and organization, this is a great app to add.
For Productivity & Organization
Most of us have tax season in the back of our minds. Keeping track of all of your expenses can be a pain, but Expensify streamlines the process by allowing you to take photos of receipts, track debit and credit card transactions, and then create custom categories and filtering. You can create reports, send invoices, stay up on compliance issues, and more. You can even break it up between different cards so you can use different cards for different categories.
This is a great app for tracking and prepping and it saves a tremendous amount of time — especially for the small investor looking to keep track of their expenses.
What tech tools have you added to your daily use? Whether real estate related or business related, taking advantage of the newest applications and their use in your daily real estate business can absolutely change the course of your investing!
Let me know your recommendations with a comment!