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Should you RSVP to open house app Block Party?

05/01/2020

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Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Block Party is an open house management app.

Platforms: Browser; iOS; Android Ideal For: All agents, teams and brokerages that market with open houses.

Top selling points Quick on-board Text-based follow up Free Agent-branded start screens Seamless guest ID verification Top concerns

Several of the app’s best features are toggled behind an “Enhanced Features” menu, which could lead to an agent missing or forgetting to allow guest ID verification, perhaps the most critical feature of any open house app.

Note: This review was conducted before the COVID-19 business restrictions were established.

What you should know

The debate over open houses will forever rage. But until they go the way of the QR code, software providers will continue to build products to help you be better at them.

Block Party, with the best tagline I’ve heard in a while (Here comes the neighborhood), offers users a number of features common to its competitors, such as Zapier integrations with CRMs and customizable home screens.

Block Party’s availability across both major mobile operating systems as well as web browsers does give it a leg up in terms of form-factor availability.

Also unique to Block Party is its founder’s background in e-commerce. Ajay Pondicherry was vice president of product at Live Nation, and he leveraged his knowledge of how people interact with online forms to build his open house sign-in form.

Plus, it’s free. Like, free free.

The app was conceptualized in 2018, and its second market iteration went this past December. It has 3,000 downloads, 1,000 active users and consistently high ratings.

This is all good to know, but it doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

Pondicherry knows that online form completion percentages increase when each question is presented individually on a screen, so that’s how Block Party works when asking for personal information, agent affiliation, and if the attendee is interested in mortgage information.

If they answer in the affirmative about mortgages, Block Party sends the lead to a preferred lender partner, which is how the company makes money. It was explained by Pondicherry via email thusly:

“Block Party has created a monthly service for reputable lenders (5-star rating with over 30 reviews and 5+ years as a licensed loan officer) who are interested in answering mortgage questions from [open house] guests that have explicitly said ‘Yes’ they want mortgage info. This feature is optional for agents and can be disabled at any time.”

A full list of sign-ins is accumulated at the end of an event and can be shared or exported for CRM import and follow-up marketing.

The custom home screens are pretty sharp, coming with a built-in image editor and the logos of more than 400 real estate brands ready for import.

I would exercise caution in inserting a logo without confirming it’s the latest version. Brokerages are strict about their branding and the visual accuracy of 400 logos is a lot to track.

Another “enhanced feature” (again, why not standard?) is the text follow-up with attendees.

Block Party can be used both online and offline. There’s live support, and just about every major CRM has its Zapier connection represented.

There’s certainly potential here, especially given Pondicherry’s background. However, the team is new to the industry and could use a more robust understanding of agents’ needs and sales processes.

For example, some pre-event promotional content would be useful, and agents will need more transparency into the app’s third-party identity verification process.

Once signed in and confirmed behind the scenes, an icon appears under the guest’s Block Party profile picture. But viewing it requires the agent to open the profile from the final attendee list, as if it’s an afterthought.

He conducted an informal survey of 50 open houses in the Los Angeles area and found only one agent using software to register attendees.

I don’t doubt his findings, and I worry that if that many agents are running open houses without some form of technology supporting them, then Pondicherry’s premise that the industry can do open houses better is spot-on.

Block Party has some work ahead of it, but it’s still worth attending.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

After 25 years, Inman Connect is coming to you. We’re transcending our legendary events in a live digital event, Inman Connect Now. Get ready for the top industry leaders plotting the path forward, new business ideas and opportunities, networking like you’ve never imagined it, and tons of exciting new magic, all straight to you. It’s all part of an epic new Inman experience, Connect Now, June 2-4, 2020. Click here to save your seat.

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