According to KPMG’s 2019 survey, 79% of real estate firms partnered directly with a technology vendor to improve decision making and lower operating costs, among other organizational goals. In recent years, deal management software has become an integral part of day-to-day operations for institutional investors keen on systemizing their investment process, while also delivering risk-adjusted returns. But with countless considerations, like sourcing deals, establishing workflows and analyzing data, how can you find the best software for real estate investors?
In this blog post, we’ll review why deal management software has become invaluable for investors, and the top 7 software options available on the market.
Table of Contents:
- The Rising Importance of Deal Management Software
- Argus Acquire
The Rising Importance of Deal Management Software
The commercial real estate investment market is rapidly accelerating. According to Commercial Observer, firms like Blackstone are increasingly informing their decisions based on “mega-trends”. Deal management software, which analyzes both historical and real-time data to help investors find strategic insights, plays a significant role in helping investors to move faster and more decisively.
While deal management platforms do allow investors to make data-driven decisions, there’s much more to finding the best software for real estate investors. Deal management software also systemizes the investment process, adding much-needed digital structure for agile investors. By establishing clear workflows based on unique properties and procedures, investment firms can track deadlines and deliverables, communicate about deals, and collaborate–without locking each other out of spreadsheets. Because the deal review, due diligence and underwriting processes are standardized, teams can work faster and, if necessary, review more deals without expending more resources.
The best software for real estate investors should create clarity internally, too. Recording up-to-date data and deal context ensures that others in the organization can easily find deal details at any point in time. Preserving this institutional data removes the organizational headaches that come when analysts leave, go on vacation, or simply can’t reply to emails about deal data.
Deal Management: 7 Best Software for Real Estate Investors
1. Dealpath: Best Software for Real Estate Investors
Dealpath is the most robust real estate-specific deal management tool on the market. As the deal management category creator, Dealpath offers the best software for real estate investors seeking to track deals, data and information in real time. Having perceived the need for a new, modernized method of tracking commercial real estate investment deals, Dealpath created unparalleled software that tracks data from pipeline to portfolio management, empowering collaboration and strategic, predictive decisions.
Unlike other platforms that cross industry lines, Dealpath was built specifically for the commercial real estate industry, with in-depth knowledge of the data points investors need and how they use them. Investors can track uniform data for specific deals as they move from acquisition into the next stage of their lifecycles. This focus on the deal lifecycle empowers investors to work swiftly, instead of laboriously re-entering data.
Because processes and systems for real estate investors vary, Dealpath is highly configurable. Firms can choose how to configure uniform data fields, establish repeatable workflows, formalize approvals, and more–without altering internal processes. In doing so, they can take an active role in choosing how Dealpath provides real-time visibility into deal data, competitive insights and market trends by creating unique dashboards. Dealpath’s turnkey reporting enables analysts and executives to quickly generate reports based on both pipeline and historical data, which, in many cases, eliminates hours of last-minute data sourcing.
Teams, including external partners like environmental consultants, can easily collaborate and track progress on deals. Following immediate investment decisions, Dealpath also functions as a system of record for all past deal data and documents, such as letters of intent, environmental reports, and much more. Dealpath’s SOC2 Type 2 security compliance, the industry standard certification, delivers the highest level of data security when it comes to security, processing integrity and confidentiality.
Dealpath is used by five of the top ten commercial real estate investment firms, including Oxford Properties, AEW, and Blackstone.
Dealcloud is a robust platform, but it may not be the best software for real estate investors, in large part because it’s purpose-built for the private equity and financial services industries. Touting over 800 clients across diverse capital markets, Dealcloud also offers solutions for investment banking, hedge funds, and other markets. As a result, the product they provide suffers from a lack of focus, intuitive workflows, and other real estate-centric features that provide value.
Dealcloud primarily functions as a CRM, or customer relationship management tool, albeit with some deal management functionality. While CRMs like Salesforce can have a place in your firm’s tech stack, they don’t deliver the same seamless convenience and visibility in your day-to-day as specialized deal management software. Others, which put a heavier emphasis on the deals themselves, operate both more strategically and efficiently. For example, Dealcloud doesn’t provide a simple way to store files, which can add extra steps when analysts dive into specific deals. Dealcloud offers baseline reporting features, but users may still need to work carefully to build more targeted, specific reports. There are also limitations when it comes to creating repeatable, task-based workflows assigned to team members.
Some Dealcloud users also experience difficulty in working with the platform, which can raise questions about firm-wide usage. Without organizational alignment and all up-to-date data in the platform, firms can’t expect the same real-time visibility.
Notably, Dealcloud lacks SOC2 Type 2 compliance, which could raise red flags for security-focused firms.
Altrio is another deal management platform, but it lacks many of the integrations and features that would otherwise make it a valuable command center. While it fits the deal management bill, it may not be the best real estate investment management software.
As a newcomer in the space, Altrio is still working to define and convey its place in the broader software ecosystem. Because customers have only used it for a short time, and developers will likely continue to work on the platform, it’s too early to identify where it will provide value. In this regard, Altrio lacks the permanence and stability that others in the space have achieved.
It’s not uncommon for new software companies to release a product, then bow out due to development or funding complications. Firms seeking a solution they can rely on for years to come may prefer to opt for a deal management platform with endorsements from industry names and other guarantees of longevity. Without this assurance, you may be putting the continuity of your investment process at risk.
Coyote is a powerful deal management tool that is targeted towards firms managing international acquisitions. This focus can add value for firms eyeing overseas properties, but that feature could come with a loss of nuance for domestic, U.S.-based properties. Coyote could later prioritize compatibility with properties in the U.S., but as of now, there’s no indication they intend to. It may be the best real estate software program for international investors, but Coyote suffers from several shortcomings and complications.
Coyote is owned by M7, a pan-European, regional real estate investment and asset management company owned by the M7 Investment Group. Coyote’s ownership may give pause to firms seeking their own software due to data security and product priorities.
Despite thriving in international markets, Coyote lacks full file management capabilities and misses the mark when it comes to reporting. The platform fails to provide simplified visibility into high-level metrics through a dashboard view, which has become the norm in the deal management space. Dealpath, on the other hand, generates turnkey, highly detailed reports based on pipeline deals or historical analysis in seconds.
5. Argus Acquire
Altus Group offers a suite of real estate software covering various investment verticals and functions, and Argus Acquire is designed specifically for the acquisitions process. Argus Acquire’s primary benefit is that models created in other products can be imported into Acquire, but this functionality comes at the expense of significant deal management features.
First and foremost, Argus Acquire is built specifically for acquisitions, which means it’s not exactly equipped to support firms engaging in disposition, lending and development deals. However, the benefits of selecting a holistic deal management platform extend beyond cost savings. Centralizing workflows for all verticals in one platform also gives investors unhindered access to asset data from other stages of the investment lifecycle, which eliminates redundant data entry. When necessary, team members can communicate about deal context to easily receive the information they need. Because Argus Acquire is limited to acquisitions, the value that customers gain also faces limitations. Dealpath, on the other hand, can be configured to satisfy all of these use cases, leveraging acquisition or recent data throughout the entire process.
Ideally, real estate investment reports should step beyond simply providing the numbers, but Argus Acquire misses the mark in this regard. Argus Acquire can create reports, but without the level of visual detail that other software options provide. If you’re looking to deal management software as a way to convey information for leadership in a visually compelling way, it may be worthwhile to consider options like Dealpath, which takes a more robust approach to illustrating data-driven trends.
Like Altrio, AtlasX is another new deal management tool on the market, offering a number of standard acquisitions-related capabilities. For the same longevity-related reasons, though, AtlasX may not be the best deal management software. AtlasX hasn’t received recognizable endorsements or promoted industry affiliations, which speaks to its continuity, especially in a market where preserving data within the same software is paramount.
AtlasX touts customization options, but lacks the more robust capabilities that enable investment managers using other platforms to fully standardize processes and gain visibility. When it comes to deal management, institutional firms should look for software that enables them to recreate their processes, stages and approval flows. Without this option, you may be forced to reconsider your own workflows–which defeats the purpose of deal management software.
Deal management software should house your investment pipeline, but the software’s scope doesn’t necessarily end there. Many options, like Dealpath, offer firms the opportunity to centralize data and deal tracking in a more complete and holistic manner by integrating other technologies. Unfortunately, AtlasX doesn’t appear to market integrations that would allow you to centralize insights, data or files within other tools. This limitation inevitably forces investment managers to work in various tools throughout the day, rather than centralizing workflows in one.
AtlasX protects firms’ data with SSL encryption, but lacks SOC 2 Type 2 protection, the industry standard for capital markets, including commercial real estate.
Salesforce is a CRM, rather than purpose-built deal management software, which means it’s probably not the best software for real estate investors. As mentioned earlier, Salesforce can be a valuable component in your tech stack. However, because it primarily manages data at the contact level, Salesforce misses the mark when it comes to the standardization, collaboration, and real-time data analysis that’s possible through other deal management software like Dealpath. Salesforce is also widely used across nearly every industry, meaning it lacks the specificity that often provides the best value for real estate investment managers.
Because Salesforce is an open-source software, your team could configure it to meet deal management requirements. However, a project like this would require significant time and resources to capture even basic deal management needs. This approach would also mean keeping internal developers or external tech teams available to implement quality of life updates. So, the convenience of keeping all contacts and deals in Salesforce comes at the expense of ongoing costs, development, and reevaluation. On the other hand, selecting a dedicated deal management tool provides more capabilities, with fewer sunk costs.
Finding the Best Software for Real Estate Investors
Before finalizing your choice on the best deal management solution for your firm, it’s important to take a systematic approach to exploring each option and understanding its capabilities. Download Dealpath’s guide to the 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Deal Management Platforms to see what you should consider as you compare options, and how the right choice can drive broader business goals.