Tools! If you're anything like me, you probably have an almost voyeuristic desire to know what everybody uses in their business. At least a few times a week, I'll get email from readers asking what tools I use in my real estate investing business.
Today, I want to answer those questions and have a post I can refer people to when they ask what real estate investing tools I use.
So, here we go! in no particular order, here are…
RightSignature is a cloud-based e-sign service. You can send a document for signature in under a minute, with 3 simple steps. It's as easy as sending an email.
I use this on ALL of my real estate contracts and agreements including lease agreements, purchase and sale agreements, joint venture agreements, employment contracts, coaching agreements, non-disclosure agreements, letters of intent, vendor and contractor agreements, and more.
There are two plans – Personal (one user) for $12/month and Business (3 users) for $60/month. I have the $12/month plan.
CallLoop is a SMS marketing service that allows you to create and send automated text messages and automated voice broadcast messages to lists of people.
There are a couple of great uses for this.
First, you can build your list using “text-to-join” mobile keywords. You've seen those things where they ask you to text a word to a certain number like this…
CallLoop has made this REALLY simple. Here's the process:
I used this to build a list of 93 local cash buyers at my REIA meeting a few years ago. I secured my mobile keyword “MONEY” from CallLoop, went in front of the attendees at the REIA meeting, shared the details of my deal and instead of saying “See me for a flyer” I said, “Just text MONEY to 38470 to get a link to the property information.”
There were about 150 investors in attendance and I got 93 of them to sign up – giving me their cell phone number.
That's a 63% conversion! AND instead of having to rely on them calling me from a flyer, I get to contact them whenever I have a deal!
The other great use is voice broadcasts. I love texting but you can also record a message and blast that to hundreds or thousands of people at a time.
I use this for event reminders, payment reminders, and welcome calls as you can see above.
The pricing is super simple – the mobile keyword is $10/month and the messages are just .05 each. I'll buy a bunch of credits when I'm doing a blast and sometimes CallLoop will offer half price credits!
The owner of the company is a personal friend and great guy who has a dedicated development team in place so they are always working on new integrations and features.
Where would I be without Google Voice?! It's a free telecommunications service that gives you a free phone number that you can totally use as your business line. No more clogging up your home or mobile phone with business stuff.
I use it for outbound marketing to sellers and brokers as you can see here…
You can create a custom voice mail greeting, screen and route incoming calls to your cell phone, make outbound calls, send text messages, and even get voice mail transcription.
And did I mention it's all free?
Back in the olden days, you know like in 2005, we had to keep track of our leads and contacts on a spreadsheet. Then cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tools came about and tracking our leads and business activity became much easier.
Podio is technically a project management software but even that just barely scratches the surface of what this amazing tool can do.
You can run your entire real estate investing business (or any other business) with this software. The coolest thing about Podio (other than the price which is FREE), is the ability to completely customize your entire “workspace.”
Your workspace is essentially a blank slate until you add “apps.” You can create your own apps or select pre-made apps or “app packs” from the Podio marketplace (also free).
Here's my Master Lease Option (MLO) Division in Podio…
You can see I'm in the “contacts” app and also have apps (which I easily customized myself) to log all communication, import and track my leads, store and track my letters of intent as well as document storage for all files related to a deal.
The app market has TONS of pre-made real estate apps…
You literally just push a button to install any of these great apps into your own workspace.
Oh, and if you need help setting up your Podio CRM or integrating it into any of your other services, we do that at the Investor Agency.
This is the service I use to create and send my direct mail campaigns. I don't do a lot of direct mail in my personal investing business anymore, (especially since I have a new ‘direct mail killer' method), but this is the one I've used for years.
The cool thing is that you can create and send all different sizes of postcards (I like 4.25 x 6), letters (including ‘yellow' letters), and they do Every Door Direct Mail if you want to target a certain subdivision or zip code.
1,000 4.25 x 6 double sided, full color postcards will cost you $490. That's about .49/per postcard including first class postage.
I love ListSource! I've been ordering leads lists from them for years.
I can build lists of absentee owners, foreclosure prospects and even private lenders!
I also like that you can create the list and then just buy a portion of it.
The last list I purchased was multifamily owners in Memphis and for my criteria (5-50 units), there were 931. But I was able to just order a partial list and got 200 leads which is more than enough for my marketing campaign.
AND… the best part? The 200 leads only cost me $15. That's just .075 a lead!
Once you get the list (in Excel format), you can upload to Click2Mail to send a postcard OR import them into Podio to start contacting them via my secret Direct Mail Killer method.
Not sure where I'd be without Gmail.
I used to have Outlook and it resided only on my desktop, which was a drag.
Once I started using Gmail, I was able to sync my email across all my devices AND set it up so that all my various business emails flow into that ONE email address.
I love the ability to archive sent email so I always have a way to find it if needed (even years later!), the cool plugins that are available, and the way that it syncs with my calendar and Google Voice.
I like to keep my inbox free of clutter so I create folders and tag items to be archived so I can refer back to them later.
Here you can see my “Reading” folder with a few sub-folders including “Sprout Social.”
I'll tag this particular email about how Tito's Vodka (my fave!) uses Sprout Social to tell it's brand story on Instagram and archive it to that folder so that I can read it later this week.
One of the other cool apps I use with Gmail is Wise Stamp.
It creates great looking email signatures like this one…
Drive is a cloud based storage tool that is free from Google. It's similar to Dropbox (which I also sometimes use) but, in my opinion, is easier to use and easier to sync across my Google tools.
Drive starts you with 15 GB of free Google online storage, so you can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos – anything.
I store all of my training notes, PPM's, business plans, presentations, videos, audio recordings and even copies of my personal documents such as passport and driver's license.
The first 15 GB is free, but I just upgraded to 100 GB for $1.99 a month because I have a big stock trading training system I'm getting ready to upload so I can free up hard drive space on my Mac.
People ask me all the time where the best real estate research is and are usually surprised when I mention Zillow.
I'm not a huge fan of their “zestimates” to research property values but I am a GIANT fan of their research.
To get to it just click the “More” link from the navigation menu and then click “Zillow Research.”
Once you're in, you'll see a whole range of research you can access. The ones I use most frequently are the Local Market Overviews, Real Estate and Rental Trends, and Data.
I especially love Data because I can get really granular level data and download it to analyze myself.
Like if I want to get Median Rent List Prices for Multifamily 5+ units in a specific neighborhood in the US, I can get that! Just click and you can download a csv file like this…
Very helpful to my market research!
Ahhh… Fiverr. The site where people will do just about anything for $5. Full disclosure: there is a $1 fee so it's actually $6. 😉
You can see all the different categories of services available from business to fun & bizarre and beyond…
I've ordered “gigs” from all sorts of Fiverr providers for a variety of tasks such as…
Seriously, if you need ANYTHING done for your business I recommend looking to Fiverr first.
I'm a multifamily investor mainly so I analyze a LOT of apartment properties and iAnalyzeREI is my go to online deal analysis software.
I just have to plug in a few numbers and it spits out a detailed, 26-page report that looks like I spent $10,000 having prepared.
Here's a screenshot of just one page of the report… click here to download the entire sample report.
See how great that looks? Investment partners always love charts and graphs and so do I.
One of the other cool things in the report is the ratio review. It's a green/yellow/red light investment analysis…
This one looks pretty good! You can get the Light plan for $14.99/month and the Full plan for $34.95/month.
Another analysis software that I love is a suite of products by a CPA, Doug Rutherford. There are a few different programs to choose from – Landlord's Cash Flow Analyzer for buy & hold investors and Flipper's Cash Flow Analyzer for flippers.
There is also an important add on that I recommend called the Partner Module which analyzes the investment for your private money partners and creates a great presentation to share with them.
He even has software for tax lien investors and note buyers! Best of all, he's a CPA so you know that all of the tax and depreciation info is updated regularly and accurate.
Speaking of taxes, I love to invest in my self-directed IRA. He has a report that allows me to perform a cash flow analysis of an investment property to see my return in self-directed vs personal ownership…
You can get the Landlord’s & Flipper’s Cash Flow Analyzer Pro with the Partner & IRA Modules Included for just $199.95. Software is delivered in Excel format so it runs on both Windows and Mac.
Ugh… Passwords, amirite?! Keeping track of passwords can be a nightmare. A certain person I am married to writes them in a notebook and it drives me nuts.
There a several password keepers out there including LastPass and Dashlane but Roboform is my password keeper of choice.
It's been around a long time (since 1999), and is a great tool for form-autofill on the web and as a password manager.
Roboform gives you the option to keep your passwords and data encrypted and local, or sync to the web and across devices if you choose to, but the choice is completely up to you.
RoboForm supports Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, with plugins available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera.
It's free to download and use—for the first 10 logins. If you need more (and who wouldn't), or need to sync or access passwords on multiple devices like me, you'll need RoboForm Everywhere, which will set you back $20/yr for all of your devices and computers.
Once installed, there's a little icon created in my browser. All I do is click that icon and it identifies the page I'm on and, if I have a password stored, will show me.
It also lets me keep ‘Safe Notes' where I can store credit card info, Tax ID numbers and other private stuff I can't remember but need access to occasionally.
Mint is a great app that lets you track your entire financial picture across any device. You add all of your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, etc and it calculates your net worth, assets & liabilities, net income, and even your credit score!
On top of the financial insights, I also get to set up Budgets and Goals.
Here's my September budget …
You can see I'm almost $300 over budget and the big contributors are restaurants and alcohol. (In my defense, I hosted a 3-day real estate event at my home this month complete with a group dinner and cocktail party so budget blown. But it was TOTALLY worth it.)
You can also set goals and Mint will track your progress for you…
I add ALL my accounts into Mint – business and personal – and then just categorize the transactions accordingly to get an accurate report of my big picture.
Mint is owned by Intuit, of Quicken fame, and they recently introduced a new app called Intuit SelfEmployed which works much the same way Mint does but for business accounts only.
I tried it for a few weeks because of one feature – a quarterly tax estimator based on a real-time P&L – but it was really buggy and didn't work half the time so I deleted it. Maybe once they work some of the kinks out it will be as great as Mint. Until that time, Mint does the trick!
LinkedIn is awesome. I use this social media platform to make business connections, advertise my expertise, collect endorsements and recommendations, and locate people to do business with.
It also has groups that I participate in such as my Certified MLO Investors, Alpha Sigma Nu (I'm in the Illuminati, y'all!) and Real Estate Syndication.
Anytime I need a Realtor, property manager or portfolio lender in a new market, I head to LinkedIn.
Let's say I'm opening the Memphis market and I want to reach out to a few property managers.
I just search by zip code and job title like this…
Also, I don't have a paid Premium account. I can do everything I need to do with a free account.
Facebook! I have to admit I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
It is a giant time suck BUT I love it for business and personal networking. And political rants. And Manny the Frenchie…
But I digress…
Being in touch with your BFF's from 5th grade is pretty cool, but being able to reach 12,000+ investors via my Investor Insights page is the COOLEST!
Facebook ads are pretty cool, too. You can run ad campaigns to generate lists of buyers, sellers, investment partners, tenants, you name it!
You can even add a tiny piece of code to your website and advertise to people who visit your website. It's called retargeting and it's a great way to keep your company and message in front of your ‘fans' and followers.
I research potential business partners on Facebook, use it to advertise my businesses, and get amazing demographic info about my fans and followers like this…
This type of info helps me tailor my messaging and advertising. Like if I make a menopause joke, 70% of my audience won't really ‘get it.'
Not that I'd ever joke about menopause because menopause IS NO JOKE!
Is it hot in here?!
French bulldog videos!
Ugh… see what happens when I spend too much time on Facebook?
As you might have noticed, I have a tendency to get distracted. It definitely effects my productivity and creativity so I try to curb the distractions as best I can.
Focus@will is an app that streams scientifically engineered music that’s proven to enhance listeners’ sustained attention. It also helps prevent this science-y thing called ‘habituation.'
From the focus@will site…
You already know about distraction – it’s what happens when you have a video on in the background, or your kid is crying, or you turn on the radio while you’re working. Part of your brain is focused on the distractor, and you can’t concentrate on your work. But what about habituation? Habituation is the other extreme – your mind gets bored with your surroundings (environmental habituation) as well as whatever you’re working on (goal habituation). Because your mind seeks novelty, habituation leads to checking your social media, opening your email, or calling a friend rather than making continuous progress on the screenplay or code you’re writing.
My big problem is goal habituation and focus@will has helped me reduce it a LOT.
You get the app ($9.95/month), plug in your headphones, and get to work.
My favorite focus@will channel is ‘Alpha Chill' and I like the music energy level on Medium. You can see all the other available channels…
focus@will also has a deal with Sonos so I can stream through the Sonos in my office, but for me, it works much better when I'm wearing headphones.
InvestorCarrot provides instant, template websites for real estate investors. They make it super easy to manage your site, generate leads, build credibility, and take control over your online brand and marketing once and for all.
These sites are GORGEOUS, SEO optimized and generate leads like crazy.
The credibility-boosting, lead generating sites come in a variety of “flavors” including …
Here's a screenshot of my InvestorCarrot site…
What's cool is that it's 100% plug & play meaning it has all the opt in pages I need AND pre-written reports featured as ‘lead magnets' so that I don't have to create anything to entice leads to opt in.
This specific site allows me to showcase my company, projects, testimonials and collect leads from potential sellers, buyers and private money partners.
Trevor Mauch and his Carrot team are terrific and, in addition to the gorgeous and highly effective websites, they also have weekly Mastermind Calls and a tutorials and training section available to all members that's comprehensive and easy to follow.
Pricing starts at $49/month for one website (includes hosting).
I invest in real estate all over the United States and my team members are all over so, to stay in touch with instant messaging and voice and video calls, I use Skype.
Just this week, I've had Skype calls, video meetings and instant messages with…
I use Skype to pitch investment partners using the share a screen feature to show my presentation or pitch deck. We can also share and download files via the app.
I also use a Skype plugin called Call Recorder for Skype that lets me record video calls and is perfect for interviews.
I do all of this on the free account. If I want to call landlines and cell phones (instead of just calling them via Skype), I can spend a few bucks buying minutes but I always just call on Skype.
Being in real estate requires a LOT of forms, contracts, agreements and other legal paperwork. I keep a real estate securities attorney on retainer and have an attorney for estate planning but for the simple legal stuff I use (and love) Rocket Lawyer.
With Rocket, you can create personal and business legal documents, incorporate your business, and even chat with a lawyer about a specific issue or have them review documents.
I've used Rocket to create…
They make it simple, affordable, and easy to do from any device. If I want to create an LLC Operating Agreement, for example, all I do is go to the site, select LLC Operating Agreement, Choose My State, and then literally fill in the blanks with guided advice all the way…
When I'm finished, I hit Save and download it as a PDF. I have the Premium plan which is $39.95/month and for that you get access to all of Rocket Lawyer's documents and legal Q&A. This means you can ask a lawyer all the questions you want, create as many contracts and forms as you'd like, and sign and store documents online. All for $39.95/month!
HomeSnap is one of my very favorite apps. You install it on your smart phone and then, while you're out and about, snap a picture of a house you are interested in and VOILA you get all sorts of data about it instantly.
See a cool house on a block you've always wanted to live? SNAP!
See a vacant house you think you can scoop up for next to nothing? Snap!
I just went outside, opened HomeSnap on my phone, and snapped a pic of a house on my block. We call it the castle because, well, it looks like a castle. 🙂
That's the first screen it'll pull up when there's a match in the database. You get the address, a picture and an estimated value.
Next you get a price per square foot, a SmartZip Home Score that estimates appreciation, a rental analysis to see what it might rent for and a SmartZip Investor Score (which I love) that estimates the cash flow potential.
Next is a property summary, nearby school info …
A property map so you can check out other homes in the neighborhood, Realtor info, and finally…
Comparables! So, if you've ever walked or driven by a home and wondered, “Huh. I wonder how much that place is going for?” HomeSnap is the app for you!
HomeSnap is FREE for iPhone and Android.
Have you ever seen those great looking “quote photos” on Facebook and wondered how the heck to do that?
Yeah, I just did that with WordSwag. To show you what to do with WordSwag. 😉
Now you can create beautiful, custom text layouts on your photos or stock backgrounds that would normally take minutes – or even hours – with just a tap.
WordSwag has hundreds of quotes, thoughts, and jokes so you're never at a loss for words.
And best of all, IT'S LIKE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER IN YOUR POCKET. Who doesn't want a graphic designer in their pocket? (Andi, are you in there?!)
We use these quote photos on our social media pages including Facebook and Instagram and you can even brand them with your logo or name.
WordSwag is $4.99 for iPhone and $3.99 for Android.
Whew! There you have it, folks! My top 22 real estate investing tools. I hope you've found a few new, cool tools here to incorporate into your real estate investing business.
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