Most of the time when real estate pros look for CRMs, they come across the ones that can have a steep monthly price tag.
But then there is also Podio, which is highly customizable and offers many features for free that others would charge for.
And when you find Podio, you might wonder how you can set it up for your real estate business.
Firstly, you need to get a Podio account.
Then you can set it up from scratch, creating your own apps/templates, or you can load pre-made apps/templates specifically for real estate and customize them according to your needs.
So this article will discuss in-depth how you can set up Podio for your real estate business.
Besides that, you will learn what Podio is, how you can use it, and what the limitations of the free versus the paid version are.
It will end with two bonus tips about task management and web forms for your assistants or team members and how they can be used for automation.
If this sounds interesting, please keep reading.
What is Podio Real Estate?
Podio is much more than just a highly customizable customer relationship management system (CRM).
It’s a cloud collaboration software that can be adapted to individual business needs and processes.
It includes file sharing, task management, and an application programming interface (API).
Other features include:
- Sales pipeline automation
- Budget tracking
- Workflow creation with “if this then that logic” (e.g. if an update is made, create a task for person X)
- Webforms that you could share, for example, with a real estate assistant where he enters seller or buyer leads that were called that get automatically added to your Podio CRM
- Podio project sharing with a client
Podio has quite a large number of apps, extensions and third party software integrations available with which you can customize and further automate your real estate business.
Here are some that are offered:
- smrtPhone: a scalable phonesystem for podio
- SwiftMail: email management
- REIvolution: real estate invetment management software
- Timely: time tracking
- JustCall: texting and outbound calls direct from Podio
- Zillow for Podio: Zillow property information that integrates into Podio
- Mautic: Marketing automation to connect lead forms with Podio
The above list are rather extensions, and when it comes to Podio apps, a better word for that would be templates.
Podio offers many different free apps/templates for all kinds of different industries, one of them being real estate.
You can use these apps or rather templates if you don’t want or need to build the CRM from scratch (more about that later when I get to the real estate setup of Podio).
Available in Podio’s app market for real estate are apps/templates for the following niches:
How to Use Podio for Real Estate
You can use Podio for real estate as a customer relationship management software and a workflow automation and collaboration tool.
But that’s not all.
You could also customize it with apps and extensions so that you end up with a whole one-stop-shop real estate business suite and pay a maximum of $24 per month.
One of the key benefits I see in using Podio over many other real estate CRMs (my article about this topic here) is that it is customizable to such an extent that you could basically clone one of the CRMs mentioned in the linked article above without needing programming skills and getting a free or almost free real estate CRM.
As you can already see, Podio already offers apps/templates for realtors, brokers, investors and property managers.
So different types of real estate use cases are covered.
The Free vs. Paid Version – The Limitations
If you are starting out or have a small to midsize real estate business, you can get away with using the free version of Podio for quite a long time.
The only thing not possible in the free version is having more than 500 items in the system (items meaning, for example, contacts/leads), adding more than one manager to the platform and to some extent workflow automation.
To give you an idea about the different pricing plans and the features that come with it, I prepared a table you can find below.
|Apps and workspaces||X||X||X||X|
|Unlimited external users||X||X||X|
|Light user role||X||X|
|Interactive sales dashboards||X|
|Advanced Workflow Automation||X|
How to Set Up Podio for Real Estate
Let’s get to the main topic of the article, which is how you can set up Podio for real estate.
You have basically two approaches at your disposal.
The first one is setting it up from scratch, not using any premade apps and templates.
The second one is using a premade app or template and then customizing this app.
Now I will show you both approaches.
1) Getting a Podio Account
First, head over to podio.com and create an account.
Once you enter all your contact information, you will get an email to confirm your account creation.
After you confirm your email address, you will have to answer some further questions about what you do.
But you don’t have to answer all of them.
Since you probably selected “real estate” as the industry, you will arrive at a default dashboard where Podio has already installed a default real estate pack or template.
Since we want to start with a clean slate, it’s better to create a new workspace.
You can do this by clicking on the top left field, where, in my case, “Real Estate Pack” is displayed, and there on “Create Workspace.”
The next thing Podio will ask you is who will be part of the business.
You can invite the respective people, partners or staff members by entering their email addresses.
You should add yourself first as an admin.
You will then have to enter a name for your workspace.
Ideally, use your real estate business name and select private, so you have a bit more control over who can join the workspace (your business).
Depending on which role they have in your real estate business, you can give them regular access or admin access.
You can select this in the drop down on the bottom left side.
2) Podio Real Estate Setup Without Using Premade Apps and Templates (for Realtors)
If you want to set Podio up from scratch without using premade apps and templates, you’ll first need to think about what data and features you will actually need.
There are some real estate business aspects that are quite similar from realtor to realtor, but then there are also ones that are likely more specific to your individual needs.
By the way, this is also something you will need when you want to customize a premade Podio app or template for real estate.
In the first case, you will know what to add and in the second case, you will know what to get rid of or customize further.
So, the basic CRM elements that all realtors will need are these:
- Contacts (seller and buyer leads, partners)
- Property listings
Where things get more individual is the detailed data you will need for each of the above elements.
Creating the Contacts App/Template
Let’s start with the contacts.
You will need to click on “Add App” and then on “Create your own app.”
After you click on these items, enter the name of the app and the item name in the next window.
The name of the app or rather the template (a bit confusing by Podio to call this an app) would be “Contacts.”
The item name is basically what Podio will use to give you feedback when you delete or add something.
For example, if you add a new contact, Podio would call it something like, “A new [item name] was created. So, in this case, the best thing to do is to name the item “Contact.”
Select also the standard app type and the app icon.
The next page that is prompted is where you define the different fields that you need for all your contacts (e.g. seller leads, buyer leads, agent partners, etc.).
Let’s pre-define them briefly:
- Contact name
- Phone number
- In charge (if you work with several agents as a broker)
- Contact type: buyer lead, buyer client, seller lead, seller client, partner agent, partner broker, partner mortgage lender, etc.)
- Lead source
- Last contacted
- Next follow-up
- Related items (here we can, for example, link a seller client to a property listing)
For most of the fields we pre-define here, there are different field types on the left side that come with certain functionality.
For example, using the email field would not allow you to enter just text.
The different fields can be easily dragged and dropped to the right side and would create the whole “Contacts” section.
In the short screencast below, you will see how it is done.
You may notice that I didn’t add “Files,” “Tasks,” and “Related items.”
Because Podio adds files and tasks by default to each app you create, so there is no need to add this from the fields section.
The related items couldn’t be added because no other app has been created yet.
This is only possible when another app is already created, so it can get linked.
In this case, we will have to come back to the “Contacts” app/template later once the property listings app/template is ready.
Creating the Property Listings App/Template
Now we create the next app/template for the property listings.
You click again on “Add app” and this time, you may select an icon that looks like a house.
The usual fields we will need are these:
- First listing date
- Status (e.g. preparing for sale, on the market, building in progress, sold, expired)
- Listing agent
- Property type (e.g. single family house, condo, apartment, retail space, office space, land only)
- Asking price
- Estimated total commission
- Property size (sqft)
- Price per square foot
- Lot size
- Year built
The short screencast below shows you how I created the app/template with the fields we defined above.
As you could see in the screencast, you can also create dynamic fields that automatically calculate different values.
This is done with the field “calculation.”
You might have noticed that I had to temporarily leave the template editor and come back to it to do that.
This is because the calculation field needs the template to be saved first to reference and include created fields in calculations.
Without saving this, it wouldn’t work.
Creating the Deals App/Template
The next app/template you want to create is for your deals.
In theory, you could have also added further fields to the property listings template with more detailed information about how a particular transaction is moving forward.
But it is wise to do this separately to have a better structure and also for your internal deal analysis or performance tracking.
So which fields will be needed?
- Property listing (will be a relationship field to the property listing app/template)
- Buyer (another relationship field to the contacts app/template)
- Sales agent
- Showing date
- Deal stage (e.g. Contacted, Listing viewed, Interested, Not interested – Deal lost, Negotiating, No agreement reached – Deal lost, Closed – sales agreement signed
- Highest bit from buyer
- Lowest acceptable price seller
- Expected closing date
- Final closing price
- Total commission
So let’s click again on “Add App” and select an appropriate icon.
The rest I will show you again in a silent screencast below.
As you might have noticed, by adding the fields, I realized that it should also include the lowest price the seller would accept.
I also had to leave the template area again for the calculation field to work properly.
What I forgot was to also include a showing date, which I did quickly (see screencast below).
To show you how you can use these different apps, now let’s make some example entries.
For that, I prepared another short screencast below.
3) Podio Real Estate Setup With Premade Apps and Templates (for Realtors)
As you might have noted, you will need to make up your mind about the different sections and fields you will need before you start to create different apps/templates for your Podio real estate CRM.
And quite often, you will only realize during the process of adding that it would make sense to add another field that you didn’t think of before.
But that’s no problem with Podio because it’s highly flexible.
If you don’t want to make up your mind beforehand, you might want to use one of the premade apps/templates for real estate Podio has to offer.
To set up Podio with a premade app/template, you again click on “Add App” at the top.
But this time, you click on “Go to the App Market.”
On the left sidebar, you will find all kinds of niches and fields where premade apps/templates are available.
In our case, we select “Real Estate & Property.”
In this section, you will find a total of 6 app/template packs and 54 individual apps/templates.
Both the packs and the individual apps would appear as new tabs with icons on top of Podio’s dashboard.
These are the 6 app/template packs for real estate available:
- Real estate investment
- Real estate business management
- Property management
- REI Quickstart
- Real estate brokerage
- Real estate collaboration
Below, you will find a table with the 54 individual apps/templates available that you could also add to what we have built from scratch above.
Since these apps are presented in a completely unordered way on Podio, I categorized them in the table below.
|Marketing & Leads||Property||Sales & Negotiation||Strategy & Partnerships||Organisation & Paperwork|
|Webform inquiries||Rehabs||Incoming calls||Co-Brokerage listing||Purchase contracts|
|Drip sequences||Inspections||Meetings||Realtors||Sales contracts|
|Leads||Property inspections||Appointments||Contractors||Incoming requests|
|REI lead entry||Listings||Incoming calls/texts||System log|
|Campaign types||Maintenance calls||Docs & Assets|
|Marketing||Interim inspections||Notes and communication|
|Mailing campaigns||Landlord maintenance payments|
|Investment property deals||MI/MO|
|Tenant application form submitted|
|Tenant maintenance payments|
As you may have observed, I didn’t enter all the individual apps/templates available because several of the same type exist, which would have created a redundant table.
The app/template package that comes closest to the one we already built from scratch is the “Real Estate Brokerage” pack on page 2.
There you click on “Get Pack.”
And then you will have to select the workspace in which you want to install it.
And after you’ve installed it, you will see all the different icons at the top that were automatically created with the app/template pack.
Two Bonus Tips for Podio Real Estate
In ending this article, I would like to leave you with two general bonus tips I almost missed.
1) Task and File Management
Each app/template by default has “tasks” displayed at the end and files you can attach.
Provided you have created a new item in an app/template (here in the Listings app/template), you can then also create a task, which should be assigned to someone, be it you or someone on your team.
You should assign it by entering the email address or choose from the drop down selection.
You can set due dates, make the task repeat in certain intervals and activate reminders.
How you get notified about the tasks depends on how you configure your account settings.
To get the tasks displayed in your task overview, it is also important to have the tasks at least assigned to yourself.
In the short screencast below, I will show you briefly how this works.
2) Setting Up Forms for Assistants and Team-Members
In case you also do some sort of cold calling or prospecting over the phone (by the way, you can check out my article about real estate prospecting conversion rates), with Podio, you can also create forms that team members and/or assistants can use to enter information from the calls.
The benefit of using those is that you don’t need to give them full access to your whole workspace.
Nevertheless, the data they enter will also synchronize with the respective Podio app/template.
You can create one by entering the app where you need data to be entered by someone external.
In my example, I chose “Listings.”
And then you click on the small screwdriver and then on “webform.”
Podio will then create a webform for you with all the fields that were already created in the app/template.
You can then find the shareable link on the right side that you can give your assistants or team members that don’t need full access to your Podio workspace.
Adding Podio Automation
All the functions and features that I’ve described to this point are available for free if you don’t have too many items (not more than 500) created.
As soon as you want to integrate automation features, you will need to do an upgrade.
An example of automation would be when you, for example, complete the task of a property showing, then Podio automatically creates a new task to follow up with potential buyers.
Or you close a sale of a property, and because of the task’s status of “complete,” Podio automatically creates a task to follow up (past client marketing).
It might even get set up in a way that it integrates with an email marketing provider, and a past client marketing drip campaign gets started.
The Bottom Line
In my undertone, you might have noted that I am a little Podio fanboy.
I have been using it for real estate transactions myself, but I use it also for my networking.
However, it doesn’t come completely without a slight learning curve if you have never heard of it.
Nevertheless, it’s overall quite user friendly, intuitive and especially friendly to real estate pros on a shoestring when it comes to CRMs and task management software.
You will get many features that other software (see my article on real estate crms here) would charge many more dollars for.
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