As a property manager, you’re understandably very busy. With so much going on with your properties, the key to successfully running your rental business is staying organized and efficient. But how exactly do you do that? Property management software acts as a means to streamline productivity and manage your properties with ease.
What is property management software?
Property management software is simply an application that helps property managers to organize information regarding their rental portfolio. Its features include ways to organize properties and residents, as well as managing financial information. The system can also create a variety of useful reports, and acts as a hub for all activity on your rentals. This includes managing maintenance, handling vacancies, and even screening tenants.
With technology always advancing you can even use this software on your phone, so information is available to you no matter how far away you are from your computer. You’re no longer tethered to your desk and can utilize all of your software features as the need arises.
How can you benefit from property management software?
Without the proper resources, it’s very easy to get disorganized. Property management software makes life easier, allowing you to quickly and simply store all of your information in prepared ledgers. It provides an easy way to keep track of payments, promote your vacancies, and handle daily operations. It effectively centralizes all of your information to streamline your productivity. Since it is technology based the software can be updated, which means you’ll always have new features to look forward to.
You may wonder why it wouldn’t be easier to just use Quickbooks. While Quickbooks is a good and reputable software, it lacks many of the features that property management software would include. Using software specifically made for property managers takes an accounting platform and combines it with other necessities for working in the rental property business. It even comes with all the ledgers you’ll need to use, saving you time from having to remember to create them all yourself.
What features should property management software include?
The features of a property management software should include different functions to assist with accounting, daily operations, leasing, and management. Functions that should be included are:
- Full ledger accounting for managing properties and tenants.
- Accept and make payments with ACH or credit cards.
- Fast and accurate tenant screening built into the portal.
- A robust reporting system, with built-in 1099-MISC e-filing system.
- A professional website to promote your company and listings.
- Create, share, and store custom forms and accept electronic signatures.
- Store and share important documents with owners and tenants.
- Keep track of maintenance and repairs.
- Set up unlimited user accounts for your team to access the software securely.
- Automatically syndicate your vacancies to top property listing services.
- Provide online applications and accept application payments.
- Built-in email and text messages service for convenient communication with your tenants, owners, and vendors.
- Mobile rental property inspection tool for easy move-in and move-out inspections.
- Bank-grade security protects your data.
- Mobile-optimized software for easy use on the go.
These are only a sampling of the features that should be offered, and it is important to do your research before picking your software. Decide which features are most important to you, and that you can find a reliable software that includes them.
How much should property management software cost?
The price of property management software will vary by the product, but typically costs about $1 per unit. These payments are usually charged monthly if using a cloud-based software, although occasionally offered at a discount if paid annually. Cloud-based software also has the benefit of receiving regular support and improvements automatically. Management software will oftentimes have monthly minimums or set up fees that you should also be aware of.
Will there always be a contract involved?
This depends on the software. Some companies will try to lock you into a long contract, sticking you with their software even if you’re not satisfied with the product. A company that is giving you a quality product you can trust won’t try to trap you with a contract, as they’re confident enough that you’ll stick around without it. If you’re considering a software that requires you to commit for a certain period of time, make sure you’ve done enough research before signing anything. Some companies won’t let you back out of a contract even if they don’t deliver everything they promised.
Does all property management software include tenant screening?
Most property management software services will offer some form of tenant screening, whether they include their own service or have partnered with someone else. Regardless, most tenant screening reports do come at an additional cost and are not included in what you may pay to use the software. Be sure to ask where the tenant screening reports come from to see that you can get the quality, speed and accuracy you need to make informed decisions.
Quick Tip: Just because tenant screening is included in your property management software doesn’t mean that it is the best one to use. Make sure to do research on your tenant screening provider, and that they have reputable reports from reliable sources.
Should you use cloud-based software or downloaded software?
If you only plan on using your computer and don’t care about updates or flexibility to access your information outside of your primary office, then downloaded software may be the solution for you. However, it is important to remember that, if something should happen to the device you’ve downloaded the software on, all of your data could be lost.
Cloud-based software allows you to use it on any device, as well as having the data backed up no matter what happens to those devices. It also offers the opportunity for regular updates that will constantly strive to make the software easier to use with better features. Be sure to see that your cloud-based provider has reliable security, as your data is all stored online.
Is there software for landlords as well?
Many companies do offer a version of their software for landlords. Typically, it is the same software, minus a few features that don’t necessarily pertain to those who have less than 10 properties. Landlords can still benefit from PM software, and it offers an easy way for them to organize their properties. Just be careful about extra fees or minimums that can make the software very expensive.
The important thing when looking for a property management software is research. With so many companies offering so many different features and functions, you don’t want to commit to the first one you stumble upon. Be sure to decide what features are most important to you and find a product that best fits your needs.
What additional advice can you provide about your experiences working with software? What has held you back from using property management software to help with your properties?
Check Out These Other Great Articles!
About the Author
Olivia Creighton is the Marketing & Communications Intern here at the Resident Screening Blog. She recently obtained a degree in Media Communications from Webster University. In her spare time, she binge watches Stranger Things and works towards procuring her Master’s.