- Some big-name technology companies are fighting it out to capture agent mindshare on making the real estate closing easier.
- They offer different benefits to make the transaction smoother for agents and their clients.
The real estate transaction backend has been about as exciting as driving on Interstate I-70 across the state of Kansas.
That changed a year ago, however, when Zillow bought dotloop, which set off the real estate rage machine. The industry shrieked, “I dare you!”
Zillow scrambled to lower the uproar volume and clammed up about dotloop with very few partner or product announcements in the last year.
The Leo DiCaprio of the real estate backend with his celebrity good looks and Midwestern charm — dotloop founder Austin Allison — stepped out of the limelight where he had shed cred on the once ho-hum world of closing home sales.
But he’s back, as the competition heats up over which digital transaction company will capture real estate agents when they slog through a real estate deal.
Some of it is just a war of words.
The hyperbole award goes to this week’s dotloop press release.
“Dotloop today announced that more than $1 trillion in cumulative listings have been transacted through the platform since it launched.”
Not coincidentally, the press release focused on the Cincinnati firm’s deals with “60 percent” of Re/Max brokers that have allegedly adopted its transaction management service.
This dance act followed on the heels of DocuSign’s announcement that it was doing a mega deal with Re/Max International.
Some of this is comical, but if the war on paper requires some company jockeying so be it. And competition is good for everyone.
The chips are falling, but linger in midair
So where do we stand with at least five companies vying for pole position for the backend garland of roses?
Dotloop offers best of breed when it comes to user interface, almost Applesque, with its elegant online experience. It has cut its pricing dramatically to secure greater adoption — tilting towards a freemium model. Customer service is good but only on a business-hours time clock. They don’t rely on a third party for real estate forms support, which is a benefit, but outside partner integration is slow to come to market and new product releases have stalled.
A more mature product, DocuSign owns the gold standard for the digital signature with deep real estate penetration and increased credibility with customers who recognize the brand. For agents, it is an easy to use interface with a good mobile experience, though the signature step does not always deliver on the iPhone for easy signing. Customer support sometimes sucks and the company needs to marry its digital signature prowess with it budding transaction platform. It is getting its act together with big client integrations. Some observers say it’s best suited for fending off cyber fraud.
With the most expensive but some say the best solution in the market, Skyslope has strong iOS apps and sports an array of new features. Taking aim at the top independent brokers, the Sacramento firm has put a premium on adoption, not bragging about mega franchise and broker agreements.
The company gets high marks for customer service with 24/7 support and is the simplest and easiest platfom for broker transaction coordinators. It has also excelled at integrating with other industry tools like Lone Wolf and local MLSs.
Birthed from its real estate form company with the support of NAR, ZipForms Plus offers a free transaction management system to NAR members. It’s a workhorse system that doesn’t get high marks for user experience. But its dominance with forms puts it in the game. To compete, it must upgrade the user experience.
A slew of other companies are innovating in the space including TransactionDesk, which has significant market share. And others can be expected to join the fray as no single company dominates the market quite yet. All of which is good for the industry and the consumer.
As these firms duel it out on product quality, price and sales strategy, agents and brokers benefit from the competition.
Paper remains the fiercest competitor that these companies work tirelessly to snuff out.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated, based on reader feedback.