In the landscape of real estate brokerage technology, back-office accounting systems have long operated under the radar. The truth of the matter is they aren’t sexy. The solutions that fill this category are typically seen as a "necessary evil" or a functional cog in getting the job done. Thus, the category has long operated on a status-quo basis.
However, these systems are among the most important brokerages use, as they help brokerages process their most vital asset – their money. Brokerage accounting systems provide everything brokers need to run an office from a financial perspective. They include transaction management, e-signature, forms and accounting and help firms to:
- Bill their agents
- Manage transactions from beginning to close
- Track agent’s commission plans and progress
- Make payments to vendors and agents
- Record all activities into financial reporting
Brokers have begun to demand more from their accounting systems. The varying commission and business models along with demanding mobile accessibility to accounting reports and information have put pressure on the technology providers in the back-office accounting category to add more features.
There are now over 17 real estate industry-specific back-office accounting systems on the market, several of these are long-standing brokerage operating systems such as Lone Wolf Technologies, Constellation1 and AccountTech. There are, however, a flurry of newer providers likely to launch before the end of the year.
Many of the newer systems offer real-time dashboards, integrations and efficient payment and collection methods that were once cumbersome. Incumbents have also reinvested in their systems to meet the evolving demands of the brokers and to compete with the newer offerings.
Five of the most notable newer players in the category based on T3 Sixty’s research are detailed below.
Founded in 2018 and designed by the leader of a prominent Texas Sotheby’s brokerage, Brokerage Engine was born out of the frustration of innovation in the back-office accounting category.
Taking the approach of a full-operating system, Brokerage Engine provides tools that serve the full listing-to-close journey. The system covers accounting, compliance marketing and agent management. The tool also offers an extensive list of integrations with other technologies, which helps brokerages plug in other tech to the platform.
Founded in 2013 and acquired by BoomTown in 2021, Brokermint has been around the longest of these newer systems. The tool provides transaction management and full-accounting software, but also integrates with third-party accounting systems. The system presents simple-to-navigate helps brokerages manage transactions through closing and paying of commissions.
Brokermint can power a brokers general ledger needs or it can accommodate a supplemental tool via integration.
Financial Bay by Back At You
Back At You acquired Realistiq in 2019 and has incorporated this back-office accounting system into its overall product offering. With real-time actionable dashboards and over 100 reports on the “health” of the business, brokers using Finanical Bay by Back At You get deep visibility into their operations.
The ability to handle a multitude of commission plans, direct payments to and from agents and a complete transaction management solution (or integration with third-party solutions), the tool can fulfill all of a broker’s accounting needs or can supplement an existing accounting system.
Founded in 2015, Loft47 takes much more of plug-and-play approach to brokerage accounting. The company and system have focused on accommodating a variety of business and commission plans, taking a more brand-agnostic approach than other systems in this category.
Accessibility to the system from anywhere, real-time reporting and forecasting functionality allows this system to scale as brokerages do.
Founded in 2017, by a former Keller Williams Realty executive, Zipi has also approached the brokerage accounting category with a plug-and-play model.
With a focus on large brokerage operations, the system can handle a wide variety of commission and fee plans, along with easy payment program. It provides an insights dashboard with real-time reporting, and also offers customizable reporting, which gives brokers unique insights and the ability to quickly track meaningful metrics. Brokerages can also give agents and teams access to customized dashboards to help them track production and measure performance.
Not all accounting platforms are created equal and there are advantages to each of these models. T3 Sixty strongly recommends a complete vetting process by brokerages include comprehensive demonstrations of the software and careful review of references and existing user base. If you have any questions about any back-office accounting system, reach out to Jonathan Peterson, T3 Sixty vice president of broker tech, at email@example.com.
[Disclosure: These five firms, together with over 50 other technology companies, are clients of T3 Sixty. Inclusion was, however, not based on this relationship but based on their merits and the reasons mentioned above.]