Agent Office History
This was a very popular CRM since it came out in 1992 as Online Agent. Top Producer had come out in 1989 and then this broke onto the market. It was quickly chosen by RE/MAX as the one to promote and brand and they branded it as RE/MAX Agent 2000. I was a RE/MAX agent and they had RSN (RE/MAX Satellite Network. They had Jim Casey on it very regularly teaching classes on Agent 2000. It was also branded by other franchises. Century 21 called it Powerpak. Realty Executives labeled it Executive Agent and Royal LePage called it Online Agent. As a result of the RE/MAX RSN classes it became very popular around the country among their agents and competed heavily with Top Producer which had come out in 1989. In the latter part of the 90’s I was the roving technology specialist for the RE/MAX Southeastern PA and Delaware region. When I was helping someone with CRM it was either Agent Office or Top Producer. If it was Top Producer I was inevitable helping them fix some problem. If it was Agent Office I was helping them learn how to use it. Agent Office was always far more stable than Top Producer when they were both desktop applications.
I’ve spoken with Bruce Peterson a few times over the years who was the primary developer originally. They sold it to Moore Data and they did an okay job with it for a few years and then they sold it to FNRES. That wasn’t exactly a disaster but my sense is that they bought it and some other software programs as a means to expose their title company to more agents. They were giving it away in six states until they agreed with HUD to stop doing it. Can you say RESPA? The end result was that while they did improve it from year to year, it always seemed to underachieve. In October 2006 they sold it to Emphasys Software and I was a happy camper. I always preferred Agent Office to Top Producer when they were desktop applications and I went on to create Trans-Plans for it, taught online classes on it and released CDs of the classes.
Talking to the developers at FNRES over the years I was told that they would have to completely re-write the source code in a different format to enable compatibility with changing technologies. I was told by Emphasys that they were going to do what was necessary but I ended up disappointed. For several years they just sat on it and the support was virtually non-existent. They left their incredibly loyal user base with no support to speak of. Then they released a completely new product called Agent Office Personal Edition. It appears now that they may have bought Agent Office for the user base, because they have been selling it as an upgrade to the original Agent Office. It is not. It is an Outlook based CRM that uses an exchange server. It only works with Outlook 2010, does not work with teams, has a monthly fee and I never hear of anyone using it longer than to trial it. It’s at the top of my mental list to likely be one of the next ones to join my Removed from Market list. There used to be six Outlook add-ons for real estate. That number is down to three, and none of them work with Outlook 2013. I’ve never been big on Outlook add-ons for reasons I won’t go into here but they are many. Suffice it to say that in my opinion Emphasys has just not made many good decisions with their acquisition of Agent Office.
So if you wanted to buy it, this is what you were buying. A CRM that had not been improved since July 2006 except for a Windows compatibility update that came out in July 2007. And according to them it will never be improved again. A product whose owners left their user base virtually without support. A product that has more issues every time a new Windows OS comes out.
I stopped selling it. You could still buy it on their site long after it was upgraded or supported. Empahsys is a good size company. If you looked at the site, it was clear they were putting no effort into Agent Office. Personally I thought it exposed a lapse in judgement for them to continue to sell it. When I first started selling Agent Office, Realty Star was the one who actually placed my orders for me many years ago. Mike Meehan and Yvonne Jensen owned that company. I knew the program inside out to teach it, but Mike was the most knowledgeable man on the planet about fixing it. He became the defacto support person for Agent Office because there was no one else out there to help. We lost Mike and we will miss him. He was a great guy who gave of himself to a fault.
I had an article similar to this on my old site and I got a call from them one day. They saw it and had the following to say. I put this on my old site after I spoke with them.
Update: 3/25/2014 – I received a call from Emphasys as a result of them reading this page. They are in the process of considering an update to correct known existing issues. Upon questioning, they specifically stated that they would not be improving it. No one would like to see it come back more than I, but they have no plans to do so. Even if they fix the existing issues it is still just a matter of time before it becomes obsolete due to operating system upgrades and mobile phone OS changes. I know you die-hards are reading this with anticipation but based on what they told me there is no plan to do anything that would prompt me to recommend it.
From the other article: “Although Emphasys continues to say they “will continue to support it”, they have in reality not supported it in any meaningful way since they bought it in Oct 2008.”
Update: 3/25/2014 – With regards to the above call, I am told that they have placed a new tech person devoted to support for their $295/yr. fee. Live immediate phone help is not available most of the time, but instead, appointments are made for call backs. First level free support will provide help for those seeking unlock codes and issues with simple solutions of a similar nature.
So it’s up to you, but I would spend my money elsewhere.
Here is a new quote (October 2014) that epitomizes why I no longer sell Agent Office:
“Before finding your webpage, I was going to go with Agent Office. This was my experience with them: Their website makes it appear as if you can download the software from their website, but you can not. When you click sign up, it takes you to a pricing page, and when you hover over your choice it says “Get Agent Office 10 for your desktop” but clicking on it has no affect. There is no phone number to call on the pricing page. I thought I was having a technical issue with them, so I called them. My first attempt, it switched me to a number that rang about 20 times, then someone picked up mad that had no clue what I was calling about, it was literally a wrong number they switched me to. I called again and left a message. Someone returned my call and left a message saying that you can not download their software from their site, they have to email it to you. I went back to their site, and saw where it said under Agent Office 10 in the FAQ that you could not be expected to buy software without trying it first and they were so confident that you would like it they would offer a free trial. So, I called them again and the sales person denied that their website said that, so I showed him on his own website where it said that, so he switched me to tech support. Tech support denied their website said that, so I showed them where it said it on their own site. They refused to offer a free trial. I said to her, “You expect people to pay $395 for software they have never seen?” She said that she did not know how to respond to that, so I said “apparently” and hung up. They immediately changed their website to remove the language about a free trial. All this showed me that I do not want to do business with them.”