In this analysis, we reviewed DealMachine and PropStream feature by feature, including Driving for Dollars, List Building, and Lead Management, and have outlined our thoughts below. We took every measure to make this review unbiased. We started free trials of PropStream and DealMachine, tested both in the field and in the office.
DealMachine’s mission is to “Give Everyone the Power of Real Estate Investing™,” not to “give everyone the power of real estate investing as long as they’re using our platform.” We are committed to DealMachine, but above that, we’re committed to investors like you.
So, let’s dive in.
Driving for Dollars
Driving for Dollars is a pillar of both platforms, so we started our review driving for dollars.
We drove around the neighborhood near our office, looking to test key features, including the map functionality, the ease of use when finding, adding, and tagging properties as leads, and the amount of real estate data associated with a property. We also looked at the ease of sending mail, skip tracing, and reviewing comps. PropStream performed well on these attributes.
To start our comparison, we went to PropStream’s Drive tab and selected “Just Drive,” the equivalent of DealMachine’s “Free Drive.” The map opened to our location, and we started driving. The route was tracked automatically; properties were highlighted when you tapped on them. A lead card appeared with the property information, and we could add the lead to our “Favorites” list, which can be sorted later.
At this point, we were able to add tags, access skip tracing, send postcards, and review comps. All this functionality is available on DealMachine with no significant differences.
PropStream’s other Drive option, “Set Filters and Drive,” is similar to DealMachine’s “Highlights,” where you can set filters that will bring attention to specific properties on the map.
PropStream has the “Opportunity” tab, which shows the estimated value of a selected property and a line graph detailing how the property’s value has performed over the previous five years. It also provided a monthly rent estimate and some mortgage information if it’s available. This is an excellent feature, particularly for Buy and Hold investors. PropStream also offers a Docs tab, where on the mobile app, you can purchase the Assessor’s Map for $1.50, look at a Comparative Market Analysis, or the Property Comps. All of these are essential tools for investors.
Skip tracing was the only feature we could not access on our test drive. The app alerts you that to skip trace; you’ll need to “add credits,” which can be accessed in the “account information section within your primary PropStream account.” However, I did not see anywhere to add credits after navigating to the account information section on my smartphone.
This is a crucial differentiation between PropStream and DealMachine. DealMachine is designed mobile-first, so all functionality on the desktop version is also on the mobile app. We do this for two reasons. First is the speed of business. We give members the tools to act immediately if they see a potential deal. Second, our members are entrepreneurs. We want to ensure they have all our tools wherever they are and do not have to wait until they get to their office to work on a potential deal.
Propstream’s skip tracing on desktop worked fine, without any need to add credits, just a $0.12 fee per lead to skip trace, which is a competitive price. If you’re looking to contact people during your drives, you’d need to add pre-paid credits to your account while on the desktop. DealMachine allows you to add credits on both desktop and mobile.
One of the most significant differences between these two platforms’ driving for dollars capability is DealMachine’s Route Planning feature. Both apps allow you to quickly set filters before or during your drive to see which nearby properties meet your investment criteria. However, DealMachine offers an additional feature that generates the optimal GPS route to these properties, so there is no guesswork involved. Just click and go. The routes you take can also be seen within the drive tab in DealMachine. This gives you greater insight and control over where you have been before and where you should go next.
With PropStream you need to determine which route to take, which could be tricky depending on how properties are populated on the map after setting your filters. PropStream does offer a button to route to individual properties within the lead card, but it takes you out of the app into whatever native navigation app is on your phone.
Within this filtered drive mode that both apps offer, PropStream has a few filters that are missing from DealMachine, including the Bankruptcy and Divorce status filter. DealMachine is adding this information to our service by the end of 2022.
Another difference is that PropStream offers more datasets on each property. DealMachine provides fewer data points, providing only the most decision-critical information to assess the property and contact the owner. PropStream’s lead cards immediately show you every possible thing you could want to know about the property, which may be overwhelming for someone just starting in real estate investing.
This might seem like an advantage for PropStream, but you could argue that most of this data isn’t necessary for finding a property or closing a deal. This information can be found for free using a site like Zillow if you were inclined to know something particular about a property, such as property tax history. Still, it is a potential bonus that PropStream offers within its eco-system.
DealMachine also has a robust Virtual Driving for Dollars feature, where you can use Google Street View to move around streets or neighborhoods precisely as you would in a car. (Save money on gas!) The property's condition on a virtual drive might not be as current as if you were physically driving, depending on how recently Google has updated their Street View photos (according to Business Insider, it’s anywhere from 1 to 3 years). This virtual option allows you to drive for dollars anywhere in the country, at any time, from your phone or laptop—a definite plus for DealMachine members.
Another D4D feature DealMachine has that sets us apart is the ability to take photos of properties and add them to your leads while driving. Using property photos increases direct mail response rates. DealMachine’s Street Pic add-on generates a Google Street View image, so if you’re too busy to stop for the photo while driving, you can add the image after you’re done with your drive. PropStream does not offer this feature, but it does give you a satellite view of the property and can populate photos for some of the leads.
PropStream gets the edge in how much property data is provided. However, the amount of information displayed could be overwhelming for newbies.
DealMachine wins for driving functionality and user convenience with additional driving features, including Planned Route mode and Virtual Driving for Dollars. DealMachine is also the better option for quickly and efficiently adding multiple properties to your intended route.
The next feature we tested was list-building capabilities.
Both apps allow you to build property lists with a set of custom parameters. Both apps allow you to filter by location, occupancy status, property characteristics, and MLS information. On both platforms, you can see a map preview of property locations to get an idea of how large of an area you’re pulling into your list.
There are some differences in the approach to how you build your lists. PropStream functions like a database. Using the search bar, you first set the county, city, or zip parameters. Then you select other filters you want to employ, and you conduct a search. The leads appear on the right-hand side, and you can either choose to add them all or go through and select them individually. You can add these leads to lists you’ve created or make a new list each time you search.
DealMachine’s approach treats List Building as a feature and feels less like a search engine. Opening the List Builder opens a pop-up window with a map on the right and the list filters on the left. You can choose from pre-made filters or build your combinations of filters.
DealMachine has more advanced mapping functionality as it relates to list building. We allow you to draw custom areas on the map to pull leads within a particular area rather than just by the city, county, or zip code level. Rather than going through the List Building option, you could go to the map, apply Highlights (which functions the same as PropStream’s search bar filters), and the highlighted properties in orange match your criteria. You then add properties to a list like PropStream.
PropStream allows you to look at the individual leads that come up from your search before adding them to a list that counts toward your monthly plan limit. This same process could be implemented with DealMachine using our map.
Both apps offer essentially the same process. PropStream has a few more filters to narrow down your search, but DealMachine has enhanced map functionality.
So far, we’ve covered the lead-generation tactics. What about after you’ve added your leads to your system? DealMachine and PropStream offer the same core functions, with slight differences that may be weighed differently depending on your investing strategy.
Both platforms have a similar feel in your leads list. The list presents itself like a CRM, with columns detailing different aspects of each lead, such as lead status, owner information, and property information. Checkboxes on the left allow you to select leads individually or in groups. On both platforms, you can choose as many leads as you want and perform actions such as skip tracing or sending direct mail. You can filter your lead lists by specific parameters, and both platforms allow you to take leads and move them between lists. You can also import and export lists.
When adding leads on the desktop in PropStream, you have the choice to add them to any list you’ve created or create a new one. However, on mobile, it only allows you to add them to your “Favorites” list. This feature is available on both DealMachine platforms.
Unsurprisingly, the same additional filters PropStream offers for their Driving for Dollars and list-building function can also be applied here, which is a nice thing to have when you’re looking to drill down particular aspects of your properties. DealMachine offers our same filters here as well, which again are highly comparable to what’s provided with PropStream, but you still don’t have quite the same level of specificity that can be achieved with the latter. Those filters include parameters such as liens/bankruptcy/divorce status, of which DealMachine currently only has lien data (bankruptcy/divorce status will be coming in the next couple months).
DealMachine offers a search bar function, which allows you to do a global search across your leads. Any keyword typed into this search bar could be applied to any field across the board, everything from Owner Name to MLS status to Property Tags. PropStream only allows you to search within individual columns; for instance, if you were searching for “Marion” in the county field, it would only pull properties with Marion as the county. If you were to do this exact search in DealMachine using the search bar, it would pull properties from that county and also search for Marion in other fields like address or owner name. This is helpful to those who may be looking to search for broader terms without knowing which column/parameter to search in.
PropStream has a cool "Contracts" feature with their leads, where you can assign contracts to properties in bulk or individually. This nifty feature gives you access to contracts you need with the click of a button: props, PropStream (I know you’re reading this). You can also generate a pdf of mailing labels to send your postcards or direct mail to these properties.
In terms of bulk actions, DealMachine has more functionality. With multiple leads selected, you can change the status of leads to move them through your pipeline, assign the lead owner on your team, or add/remove tags that help you categorize your properties. These are essential features to have, as it gives you more control over sorting through important aspects of your leads that PropStream does not offer. You also can’t filter your information by your tags or statuses.
DealMachine appears to pull ahead of the race slightly in this category; with the additional bulk customization features and the global search function, members have a little more control over how they structure and sort through their lead lists. PropStream, of course, has the additional data and a function where you can add folders alongside your lists to sort your leads in their platform further. However, this doesn’t seem to outweigh the ability to move any number of leads through your sales pipeline by changing statuses or sorting deeper with pre-made or custom tags. If you wanted to add a specific custom tag to 150 properties, you’d need to click one by one with PropStream. With DealMachine, that could be accomplished in less than a minute. If you wanted to change the status again, you’d have to click one by one in PropStream.
Next, we investigated the ability to create and manage teams. This is an important feature to have as you scale your operation.
Both apps allow you to add members with different designations, such as a driver versus a team member with desktop and mobile access.
PropStream’s “My Properties” tab shows a folder detailing which properties were added by individual users, which is helpful. Within PropStream, if you go to the "More" tab and then to "Mobile Activity and Drive Log" you can see the routes driven previously within your account. This is helpful to see where you've been before, and crucial to helping you figure out where to go next.
DealMachine offers specific information on drives, categorized by session. If you go to the Drive tab, it opens the map, which shows the routes that have been driven, and these routes change color based on how long ago they were driven. The right-hand side gives you a list of the driving sessions. For each session, DealMachine shows who did the drive on what date, the total hours driven, and the total miles. If you click into the session, you can see the leads added during the drive on that day. Aside from that, DealMachine also allows you to create and customize a special landing page specifically for recruiting drivers, which you could use to send to people wanting to apply or post directly in a job description.
Being as unbiased as I can be, this one is a clear win for DealMachine. There’s more capability and control in monitoring your drivers’ productivity and ensuring things are up to par with your standards as a leader and business owner.
For the last section of the analysis, we decided to look at both apps’ marketing outreach methods since this is a crucial part of any real estate business. The main techniques we wanted to look at were skip tracing and sending mail since neither apps offer a dialer nor a calling feature.
Skip tracing is a prominent feature within both apps and can be done with leads individually or in bulk. Both apps pull the same owner information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. In terms of mail marketing, both apps bolster an in-depth postcard design system, where you can customize the design elements' colors, text, and overall layout. With both platforms, you can use a pre-made mailer, edit various templates they’ve set up, or completely customize your mailer from scratch. They also have dedicated places in the app where you can create and manage your mail campaigns.
To test the skip-tracing results, I skip-traced the same lead from my neighborhood on both platforms. The information that came back from PropStream was one address, six phone numbers with one listed as Do Not Call, and two email addresses. The information from DealMachine was one address plus 1 PO box, seven phone numbers, and two email addresses. All the info matched between the two apps, but the main difference was that DealMachine did not show that one of the numbers was on a DNC list. The DealMachine results did tell us whether each phone number or email address was connected or disconnected. That, along with the additional PO box address, would make DealMachine the better skip-tracing option in this case.
That’s only one individual lead, and there may be leads where PropStream might be able to pull the same or more info than DealMachine would have. For instance, I skip-traced my own house, and both platforms returned with the same amount of information. It appears that PropStream doesn't notify whether numbers are disconnected, which would be one skip-tracing advantage for DealMachine since they provide that detail for each number.
The other thing to note about PropStream is that it’s not very easy to tell when properties have been skip traced when looking at a lead card. It doesn’t appear to list the phone number on the lead card anywhere, at least not where I can see it. Maybe this isn’t a big deal; all this information is stored within PropStream’s “Contacts” tab, a tab that DealMachine does not offer. This tab within PropStream might be helpful in some cases, but it’s hard to argue that this information couldn’t be more conveniently stored within each lead card itself. DealMachine puts all that information directly at the top of their lead cards, which seems like an objectively better place to store that information than a separate tab. You can find this information in less than a second of looking at the lead card in DealMachine.
Regarding marketing campaigns, there are some significant differences between DealMachine and PropStream. To start, PropStream has a few features here that DealMachine doesn’t. Aside from the mail campaigns, they give you the option to create a website, a contact form that people looking to sell their homes could use to put in their info and get in touch. This same feature isn’t available in DealMachine. However, you can create custom sales pages for individual properties to send to potential buyers. PropStream also has an email campaign feature, which allows you to customize emails with text and graphics, with the result looking more professional than just a plain email.
DealMachine’s mailing sequences, however, are more built out. You can design mailers on both platforms, but with DealMachine, you can customize your campaigns with multiple steps instead of a one-off campaign with PropStream. That means you only need to set up a mail campaign once, with repeating mail, so that you can be hands-off. If you wanted to send repeat mail with PropStream, you’d need to duplicate previous campaigns that you’ve made. Not a huge issue, but with DealMachine, you’d have the peace of mind of pressing the button once, and then you have a fully built-out automated mail campaign that sends repeating mail for as long as you want while you move on to finding other leads and waiting for the phone to ring.
With DealMachine, you also have a much deeper insight into what’s happening with your mail behind the scenes. This includes a calendar view that shows you when mail was sent, how much was sent, the dollar amount of your mail marketing, active/paused/completed leads and more. And that’s just one tab. They have a separate tab for Designs, where you can create and manage your designs and pre-made templates. They also have a Mail Queue tab, which allows you to see what mail you have in the queue waiting to be sent, and any issues that might be happening with your mail. PropStream lets you see the date you started the campaign, the total recipients, and the postcards sent. That’s pretty much as far as that goes.
PropStream’s add-ons page mentions that if you upgrade, you have access to Ringless Voicemail, which is not available with DealMachine. There are some legality issues to mention about Ringless Voicemail, which I’m sure PropStream has accounted for since they’re legally providing it as a service. This is a common tactic, so this could be a potential selling point for their platform if this is a marketing method utilized in your business.
Another category that I would give to DealMachine. With the skip tracing history being somewhat hidden inside PropStream’s leads and the visibility of whether a number is connected, DealMachine’s skip tracing appears to be a little more informative. Knowing whether a phone number is disconnected or not would prevent you from taking a moment to dial them, which would save you time in the long run. Other than that, the information that comes back is essentially the same with either platform. However, PropStream does have a Contacts tab that could be useful for some investors.
The mailing system for DealMachine is objectively better. Both platforms allow you to customize mail, but DealMachine goes a few steps further by customizing a multi-step automated campaign mail and providing you with quite a bit of back-end insight into what’s going on with your mail. That, alongside the additional data about your campaigns and the leads within them, as well as mail marketing and spending, would allow you to understand better how productive your mail marketing is in your business. Weighing all these aspects combined, DealMachine’s platform gives you more control, more automation, and more insight.
Customer service is crucial, especially with such advanced applications. This is something that DealMachine has heavily invested in, with a skilled and committed team of people working hard to ensure our customers’ needs are taken care of as quickly and efficiently as possible. In fact, amongst our members, this is a common point of praise, with investors even calling out our reps by name in their reviews. We have an in-app chat function where you can get help in less than 5 minutes, and I know our team does a fantastic job of handling support tickets and bugs.
I have inside knowledge of how dedicated our team is to our customer's success. I don’t have the same understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in PropStream, but I have my own experience of being a “customer” within their app, and I can see app reviews.
Their chat function works well; I got in touch with a rep within a few minutes after first being directed to their PropStream Academy to see if the answer I was looking for was there. Some people might not like being directed to the learning center first, but I don’t mind it. I have to say, I was impressed with their Academy. The way things are broken up and structured into courses feels like a Skillshare or similar education platform, and I’m sure their members are grateful to have a resource like this. They have sections that are PropStream-specific and others that are more general real estate based, which is also great. DealMachine’s Learning Portal isn’t as structured or built out as it was recently added to our site earlier this year, so that point goes to PropStream.
As far as reviews go, DealMachine takes this category. PropStream reviews are at 3.8 stars on the App Store, with 108 reviews. They have similar numbers on Google Play Store, with 3.5 stars and 98 reviews. DealMachine reviews, on the other hand, has 4.8 stars and 3,495 reviews on the App Store. On Google Play Store, DealMachine has 4.7 stars with around 1,420 total reviews. Those numbers speak for themselves.
If you’ve read this far, you probably already know how these two apps stack against one another. Allow me to summarize quickly.
PropStream and DealMachine’s Driving for Dollars functionality is comparable. DealMachine has some fantastic additional features with D4D, allowing slightly more speed and convenience. But frankly, I was impressed with how well PropStream’s driving function worked. It was reliable, smooth, and easy to use without any prior tutorials. Adding properties feels the same, and they offer more property data. DealMachine’s extra features, like Planned Route Mode and Virtual Driving for Dollars, are a huge selling point, and their driving functionality feels more fine-tuned and robust.
List Building essentially works the same with both apps, with PropStream’s extra data and available filter parameters appearing to take the shine in this category. You have more control over the criteria you set for the properties you pull. DealMachine’s only in-app feature within List Builder that some investors might see as a must-have is the ability to draw shapes on the map to pull properties from. That allows you to get as granular as you want with your list building. All-in-all they’re very close in this category.
Overall, the lead management in both apps is mostly the same, but DealMachine edges forward a bit here with its additional customization features and global search function. Team management is also a bit more robust in DealMachine, and you have greater access to check on your team members’ activity. Managing/recruiting drivers would also be easier and more efficient using DealMachine’s platform. However, you could get the job done with PropStream by vetting your drivers a little more.
Marketing Outreach must be another point for DealMachine. PropStream offers a few minor features that DealMachine doesn’t, like the ability to make a contact form website within their app and the email campaigns function. PropStream doesn’t offer the same level of scrutiny you could have over your mail marketing with DealMachine, with far more mail stats, a mail queue, an issues tab to keep an eye on the status of your mail, and automated multi-step mail campaigns. Skip tracing was essentially equal here, but some users might find the disconnected/connected status of phone numbers in DealMachine to be essential for saving time when dialing.
Written by: Benjy Nichols
Published on: November 1, 2022