It’s a common request.  Why can’t there just be one piece of real estate software that does everything?  Can’t one of the big players just build all the tools that my agency needs?  The short answer is no.  The long answer is absolutely no.  Why?  Well there are a number of reasons.

You can’t be great at everything – neither can your software suppliers

Most people understand that they can’t be great at everything.  It takes a lot of time, money and, most importantly, knowledge to build great software.  If a supplier has enough time, money and knowledge to be great at just one thing, then they’re doing well.

Take for example real estate CRM solutions.  There’s plenty to choose from.  But who’s the best?  Well that answer will be different depending on who you ask.  Then ask, is it possible for my CRM supplier to also be the best at building websites.  And why can’t they be the best at property management software?  Etc, etc.

This is a dangerous trap for a lot of software suppliers.  They start with a product for which they have intimate domain knowledge.  Building a product to solve a problem that you know well is easy.  It’s when you try and build a product that you think you know well that things go pear-shaped.

This is where UX capabilities are crucial.  UX (User Experience) is primarily a research discipline.  It is not to be confused with UI (User Interface) design.  UX goes deeper to understand the problem in the eyes of the user.  However, sometimes even a great UX capability won’t be enough to ensure success.

Without competition, innovation would slow down

Even if there were a real estate software supplier that managed to dominate the market at a point in time, inevitably, they slow down.  And eventually along comes a challenger brand who has a burning desire to be the best at what they do.  Just look at Nokia.  They dominated the mobile phone market until Apple came along with the iPhone.  How was Apple able to gazump this dominant player?  Because they had nothing to lose!

They could re-think the mobile phone from scratch.  They could introduce something so radically new without fear of upsetting it’s current phone customers – it had none!  At least Google had the foresight to introduce Android as alternative solution.

Compare, if you will, how different your life would be now if the smart-phone had never have gotten off the ground?  Competition breeds innovation.  Innovation inevitably means that the consumer wins in the end.

While there may never be one solution, there should be one standard requirement

An API or Application Programming Interface.  Not an API that’s behind closed doors, but an open gateway for integration between solutions.  For those that don’t know, an API allows one piece of software to talk to another piece of software.

It is a standard that real estate software suppliers have been slow to adopt and implement.  There are some that have great APIs and share them openly, fostering integration and collaboration.  There are others that have APIs but keep them guarded and behind expensive commercial license agreements.  Then there are those that don’t have them at all.

I don’t believe the industry needs “one solution” to do everything.  I don’t think this is either possible, or good for the industry.  But what we do need is our software solutions to work together as if they were one-solution.  This can only happen through integration via APIs.

The average agency has over 16 software subscriptions.  At best, a quarter of their solutions have an API allowing for integration.  That means that three quarters of your business’s systems are silo-ed.  Rather than “one solution” let’s first aim for having our many solutions work together as one.