[OPINION] Cartavi or dotloop?
There are two ways to start a technology company. You can build a platform or an ecosystem.
A platform is purpose-built to so that other companies can easily plug into it. It allows you to leverage products and services from other companies that may offer a better solution than you could build yourself. Platforms thrive on strategic alliances and partnerships.
On the other hand, an ecosystem is closed — and that’s not a bad thing.
Apple created a whole new ecosystem to buy and sell music, apps and videos with iTunes. It also made it simple for developers to sell their creations. It was disruptive, in a great way. But everyone who interacts with Apple’s ecosystem has to play by Apple’s rules, consumers and developers alike.
What does all of this have to do with real estate?
Cartavi is a platform. And dotloop is an ecosystem.
Cartavi is Compelling
Both are fine products in — and of — themselves. But I find Cartavi’s union with Docusign particularly compelling, and it’s not because I’m choosing one offering over the other based on their features and benefits.
The costs are comparable between the two products, and the feature sets are competitive.
Cartavi has a beautiful mobile suite; dotloop hasn’t launched their mobile app yet. But dotloop has a strong broker offering; Cartavi was built first as an agent tool, and plans to introduce broker features soon. Each product has an active and engaged user base.
All of that is fascinating. But here’s what it comes down to for me: It’s the difference between being inclusive and exclusive.
Cartavi is Inclusive. dotloop is … rebellious. And that’s not a bad thing.
With more than $100 million invested in eSignatures, DocuSign is clearly a market leader when it comes to securing documents and signatures. Cartavi adds bench strength to their offerings to real estate agents.
DocuSign is obviously engaged and excited by the prospect of enabling real estate agents to manage the lifecycle of a transaction.
The fact that Cartavi/DocuSign has negotiated a deep partnership with Ziplogix is also telling.
While I appreciate and understand what dotloop is trying to do by disrupting real estate with a new attitude, clean user interface and fresh ideas, the honest truth is that real estate is an old business with old habits that are going to die a slow, hard death.
I don’t agree with that. But that’s the way it is.
By building a platform, Cartavi has enabled itself to accommodate technologies, procedures and relationships that already exist in the business that aren’t going away any time soon. Cartavi is providing a platform for change by being inclusive and accommodating.
On the other hand, the good people of dotloop are rebels with a cause. They desperately want change. They’re young, hungry and on a mission. Plenty of hard-working, smart real estate agents and brokers have joined them. dotloop wants to power the real estate business of tomorrow. It’s a lofty and attractive goal.
What’s unfortunate is that dotloop’s fresh take and brash marketing has alienated some of the very people who hold the keys to the castle (like CAR). Whether that’s out of fear of change, or just plain anticompetitiveness, I’m not sure. Whatever it is, it’s not good for business.
So some of those same people who have bought into the dotloop ecosystem are now stuck in the middle, particularly in California. Although I understand that dotloop doesn’t want to use zipForm’s engine when they already have their own, it seems to me that there must be some way to meet in the middle. CAR and dotloop both need to give a little.
Let me be clear: I believe the controversy surrounding CAR, Ziplogix and zipForms and dotloop ought to be a tempest in a teapot. I believe dotloop should be able to access the forms as long as they respect CAR’s intellectual property, and that CAR’s position will prove indefensible as they’ve set it out now.
I have also said that I think time will almost certainly take care of the problem, because resisting change is futile. But people can resist things a long, long time. But in real estate, that resistance can last an eternity.
What Should You Do?
So what should you do as an agent who is evaluating document management systems?
First and foremost, if you don’t have a transaction management platform: Get one. Today. These systems can increase your production by making you more efficient.
While Cartavi and dotloop are two of the most prominent players, you should look at Reesio and other companies including Skyslope and Paperless Pipeline.
Then evaluate each company — based on what’s going on in YOUR market:
- Does the company have access to the forms and documents you need?
- Can you brand it?
- Does your broker support either solution?
- If you’re a broker, what sort of roll-up functionality does it offer? Is it right for you?
- Which interface do you prefer? (Sign up for a free account and test it out!)
- Is there excellent technical support?
- Who owns the information you upload? Can you get it back?
- Does it make you look like a hero?