Insights Jul 16, 2019

Looking for loan management platforms for commercial real estate debt brokers? The Pros and Cons

RealAtom is a SaaS technology for the commercial real estate lending industry. With RealAtom, capital markets brokers and lenders improve loan origination and track and nurture their most important relationships. RealAtom centralizes and organizes information and communications, enabling users to make data-driven decisions around deals and markets to stay competitive and grow their business. 

Potential clients often ask us why they should choose RealAtom’s solution instead of building and managing their system in-house. There are pros and cons to outsourcing this important technology, ranging from staffing requirements to speed of implementation, which can affect your bottom line. 

To help you make the best choice for your business, we’ve outlined the benefits of the four most viable options, as well as the complications you may run into when building your own loan and lender management platform.

To avoid any of these roadblocks, count RealAtom as your partner – the most straightforward and cost-effective way to organize your CRE loans and grow your business. 


Option 1: Build From Scratch

For larger brokerages with expendable budgets, a common solution has been to build a deal management system within their own company. By building the system internally, they are able to customize, troubleshoot, and address changes in-house. Having the exact features that are specific to the types of deals they close and following the workflow that has already been established internally, an internal solution is appealing to every employee who will be using it and can have an incredible impact on the efficiency of the company as a whole. 

The roadblocks to accomplishing a functioning in-house system are time, money, and staffing availability. Building a complex system can take upwards of two years, with an estimated cost of at least $2.5 million, and the need to hire around 20 additional employees. You’ll need developers, designers, testers, project managers, and more to build the initial product, then keep a permanent team to train employees on usage and maintain the platform as it’s integrated into the rest of the company’s workflow. There is a huge risk of spending an enormous amount of time and money on building the product, only to find that your team doesn’t use it. 

An alternative to hiring a team of that size is to bring in a third-party consulting firm to build the system for you. This is still a massive undertaking in both human and capital support, dealing with ongoing costs associated with maintenance and new features to be added down the road. And the worst of all, the moment the third party is gone, your newly built system becomes obsolete, because technology needs to be constantly updated and improved.


Option 2: Salesforce to handle commercial loan process

Many companies already depend on Salesforce or are considering incorporating it into their sales process. Additional tools can be integrated with Salesforce such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud for email marketing automation and analytics, Citrix or Egnyte for document exchange, and DocuSign for confidentiality agreements. The features are compliant with modern security policies. It’s quick and relatively easy to scale as each company grows. 

Clients who have added RealAtom on top of their existing Salesforce solution have two main complaints: Salesforce is not built for commercial real estate loans and, as any other CRM, it still requires extensive data entry. Larger brokerages that have resources to customize SF to handle the loan process still face a low adoption rate because brokers do not like to transfer data from emails and phone calls into the CRM. 

With Salesforce, technical support is limited and expensive. As a CRE brokerage, you will need to hire a Salesforce Administrator and other operations staff members to monitor both the input and output of data. There is a massive amount of manual data entry that needs to be done by brokers, which then requires oversight to ensure that it’s being entered properly and the end data is clean.


Option 3: Build a Custom System with Third-Party Tools

A third alternative is to bundle several third-party platforms that already exist on the market, like HubSpot for CRM, MailChimp for marketing, Airtable for quotes, and Zappier for integration. The process requires more customization and management than a simple Salesforce integration but won’t cost as much as building a system from scratch. 

The pros are the availability of some of the most successful tools on the market (like Box for document exchange or Tableau for reporting on lender engagement and pipeline). By investing in integration tools, you can create a custom-built hub to process commercial real estate loans. 

As expected, the cons for the hybrid solution mimic those of an in-house build and depending on Salesforce: this includes support and integration of multiple systems, need to hire an in-house team for integration, maintenance and support. Besides, not all tools are 100% compatible. It takes time to get your team comfortable working with several different platforms. Each onboarding session can take hours, which means you could lose days of valuable deal-making time. 

With multiple third-party tools, you will have multiple support lines to reach out to when you encounter an issue. Third-party companies also retain the rights to their code, so you may be limited in the way you integrate. 


Trust a Next Generation Tool: RealAtom

Among many platforms to manage your commercial real estate loan pipeline, RealAtom is the only affordable and efficient option on the market built specifically for CRE capital markets teams. Our goal is to empower brokers to create more connections and close more deals by streamlining, prioritizing and analyzing loan activities and lender relations in one platform.

RealAtom is the next generation technology because of that very fact – we bring lenders and brokers on the same platform. By doing that, you are able to streamline communication and information exchange, eliminate tedious data entry and capture data that enables business growth. By having a single source of truth, lenders and brokers shorten the time it takes to close deals. 

Unlike custom internal platforms, there’s no need to hire a team and dedicate years to build and integrate a system into your company’s workflow. If you have Salesforce, RealAtom is able to integrate with it. If you don’t, with RealAtom you get a system without expensive add-ons and new hires. Having RealAtom as the core of your loan management process ensures you are getting top-of-the-line technology that was built exclusively for your business.

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