Over the past year, I have been asked many times which program will work best for a REO Broker or Agent's process. For those that have no knowledge of programming or have any idea of the full REO process, it is easier to buy a boxed/canned program. But for the experienced REO agent, a customized program will work best.
To further clarify, "I" consider a boxed or canned program to be one that has already been created and cannot be edited to suit your particular business model; a one size fits all needs software. Boxed/canned is a WYSIWYG. I don't think any of us or any REO Broker or Agent has found that one program that works exactly the way we want it to work. There is always something missing or a much needed function that is not flexible enough to handle the task at hand when it pertains to REOs.
Developing a program using an experienced programmer can prove to be the best alternative. Usually the first comment I hear from a broker or agent is that having a program created is too costly. Not really. Having a program created from scratch with what you want and knowing how you want the program to work is less expensive than paying the annual fee I have seen for many of the programs being sold in today's market. By the time you add in the setup fee, monthly fee, per property fee, and any additional required add-on, the annual cost can be well over $1500 on the lower end of the scale if you have more than 20 REO properties per year.
I have found that the key to saving your money when having a customized program created is to know what you want, how you want it to work, what the end results should be, how you want it stored, where you want it stored, knowing if you want a desktop only program or internet access program, and what programming language will work best for your process.
When you review the current systems being used by BPO and REO companies, what functionality do you see as a big plus? How is the program divided in to sections and how can you incorporate a similar process into your current setup to help you maintain your property information, contacts, bpo data, property preservation data, invoices and reimbursements, and manage the closing process?
Based on the number of REO programs I have consulted on over the past year, the average cost runs around $1100. The highest created for a large brokerage firm cost $6500 and the lowest price was $950. All based on the specific needs of the broker and/or agent. Why did it cost so little for a customized program? The answer is easy, prior to contacting a programmer; we took the time to outline the process and expectations of the program. This resulted in very little changes during and after the program is developed. We knew where we wanted each item placed on the page and screen, what the result should be when a button is pressed or data is entered, what happens when we transition a property from pre-marketing to listing to closing, and once the property is under contract, what details must be tracked during specific time frames.
To many, this seems overwhelming or unnecessary work but, when you look at how much you do now (chasing paper, phone calls from buyer agents, MMRs, etc) the end results of a customized program can outweigh the lost time you often incur.
One broker stated that having a customized program takes months to perfect. Well, if you know the REO business, understand the process, and already have a process in place, you are only moving the process from paper to the computer. It is when you don't have a clear understanding of the REO process and what YOU want that creates a very expensive outcome. Nevertheless, prior to hiring the programmer, always factor in support and editing.
Part II - General sections of a customized REO program