Investing wisely: 5 tips for purchasing property software

21st October 2015

Property software is a significant cost in most estate agency organisation budgets. Whether you’re a sole trader budgeting for your monthly on-line subscription or a managing partner at a large firm planning multimillion-pound enterprise expenditures, the goal is the same: find the right tools at a reasonable price to ensure you’re making the best investment for your organisation.

That’s easier said than done. Navigating the purchasing process for property software can be stressful and time consuming. Identifying your options is a major undertaking and evaluating them — usually by exploring maze-like software provider websites — is a major chore. Many estate agents who get to that stage find that they’re unprepared to truly evaluate their options.

With that in mind, leading proptech firm Eurolink have put together these five simple tips to help you make a smarter investment in your property software.

1. Understand the problem you’re trying to solve.
Investing in property software without a clear end goal is a path to waste. Before you begin your search, sit down with key stakeholders in your firm and think seriously about the bottlenecks you’re trying to open or the improvements you’re hoping to achieve. Are you aiming for your clients to be more self-sufficient? Are you missing out on opportunities to cross sell? Are you wasting time trying to find documents? Are you compliant with new legislation such as Section 21 regulations or the Right to Rent scheme? Understanding your needs will help guide you to the right product.

2. Determine whether property software can really fix your problem.
Once you understand your problem, you can start looking for solutions. Prioritise your issues and match each property software option to your top issues. Will it solve the real problems that your estate agency faces? Often, the answer is no. Firms get led astray by savvy marketing strategies or by flashy new features and end up investing in tools that — while impressive on paper — actually do little to improve their business processes. Implementing a new system to capture statistics about your performance may sound like a great idea, but if the system forces administrative staff to spend a lot of time reconciling data, it may be doing more harm than good.

3. Look at the costs — short term and long term — and decide if you can afford them.
Evaluating costs can be a challenge. The retail price for a piece of hardware or the license cost for software rarely reflects the total cost of the property software. Try to measure costs by looking at the broader picture: How much will it cost to implement? How much will you have to invest in training? What costs will be associated with the disruption the new property software will bring? Even free tools can bring enormous practical costs. Failing to evaluate costs thoroughly with an eye toward the future will lead to painful overruns, and embarking on a project you can’t afford to complete well ensures you’ll do little more than waste money.

4. Develop an project implementation strategy.
Buying a new piece of property software is only the first step. To get the most out of your investment, the software needs to be implemented well and staff need to be educated to use it properly. It’s common for property software projects to go astray during this step. Sometimes firms overspend on the property software, leaving little money for the implementation, or they may count on internal resources that prove insufficient. In other cases, property software may be installed and configured properly, but a plan is never executed to ensure that staff understand and utilise the key features that justified the expenditure in the first place. Firms can avoid such waste by ensuring that a solid project implementation and training plan is in place before the first pound is spent on the actual property software.

5. Know what comes next.
The frustrating reality of modern property software is that it’s often dated by the time it actually enters common use. Try to avoid getting caught up in the “latest and greatest” craze and instead focus on the factors discussed above: finding property software that solves real problems for your organisation and implementing that property software in a thorough and cost-effective manner. You may not end up with the flashiest property software, but you will be using your property software to drive your business in the way that you need.