Single-family property management comes with its own challenges. With responsibilities spread across properties, instead of under one roof, you aren’t able to consolidate your work or benefit from economies of scale.
However, the right technology can keep you focused on activities that actually bring in profits, automating redundant tasks and proactively keeping your business in order.
Whether it’s basic bookkeeping or handling a complex portfolio, let’s talk about what you need to look out for when shopping for the best single-family property management solution for your business.
What is a Single-Family Rental Home?
Most often found in suburban neighborhoods, single-family homes are usually detached, standalone structures. The most important distinction is that the owner of single-family homes owns both the structure and the land.
The Best Single-Family Property Management Software: What’s the Secret Sauce?
Instead of combing through an endless list of criteria when shopping for software, consider two main things: peace of mind and capabilities that make an impact.
Let’s start with peace of mind. Think about what your biggest pain points are right now. Is it bookkeeping? Maybe maintenance? Write down the top three things that will help you reach your business goals while better serving your owners and residents.
Then, identify software that matches your unique goals. While some product features may seem enticing at face value, what matters most is if it works well to meet your needs, and if you’ll have access to onboarding, training, and ongoing support that helps you make the most of what you’re paying for.
7 Features You Should Look for in a Single-Family Property Management Software
Owning a single-family rental comes with its own challenges. While you’re managing a property at a smaller scale, you’ll still have to handle maintenance, repairs, accounting, insurance and maintaining direct communication with your residents.
When looking for a property management software, identify services that are built specifically for the single-family business. Here are seven features that you should look out for.
1. Complete Lead-to-Lease Services
How do you move applicants from answering a listing to signing a lease? The vetting, marketing, and communication process can get extremely tedious. A software that streamlines your leasing cycle can help reduce vacancy time, minimize costly errors, screen tenants meticulously while remaining compliant with fair housing laws, and free up time to find the right people.
Let’s break down each step of that process.
Find: Listing Syndication Tool
To improve your chances of landing the right residents, you’d want to list it across multiple syndication sites like Apartments.com, Apartment List, Zillow, and even Craigslist.
A listing syndication tool can upload and promote your listings across multiple sites at once, putting your listing in front of millions of prospective renters quickly. Effective syndication tools will allow you to add unit descriptions, photos, and videos once so you don’t have to do it over and over again.
Find a tool that allows you to organize and manage listings in one dashboard, so you can track inquiries and take the appropriate action quickly and efficiently. The time you save can make all the difference.
Show: Book and Follow Up on Appointments Automatically
Software can help automate the showing process by allowing prospective residents to book appointments online. They can also send instant follow-ups and reschedule appointments through email and text to improve show rates of potential renters.
Apply: Manage Applications
The right software can help make online rental applications as frictionless as possible. The best ones allow you to customize your application forms to fit your needs by adding, removing, or reordering application fields with ease.
Find a software that allows you to manage your applications in one dashboard so you can accept or deny them in one click.
Most importantly, though, is to use a solution that allows you to transition applicant details into resident profiles seamlessly. This means once you accept an applicant, their information will be stored safely throughout the whole process, so you can stay organized knowing data is secure and in the right place.
Screen: Resident Backgrounds Checks
Before you finalize the move-in with an applicant, you’ll need to conduct background checks. Find a tool that gives access to full credit, criminal, and eviction data to help you determine which potential residents to accept. This will give you the peace of mind you need while helping to prevent any costly evictions down the line. And most importantly, ensure your software is Fair Housing Act (FHA) compliant, which makes it illegal to deny applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.
The last step of the process is putting pen to paper—getting the leasing agreement signed. Property management software can create templated agreements, allow prospective tenants to sign them online, and store them securely in the cloud.
2. Online Rent Collection
Collecting rent reliably, quickly, and on time is the foundation of your business. While spreadsheets may work at first, payments are going to start getting a bit complicated as time passes and your business grows.
Find a software that automates rent, fee, and bill collections online. Set recurring payments that are sent to your bank accounts and your accounting system.
A digital payment system also allows you to pay owners and vendors that are also recorded when integrated with a property management accounting platform. To take it one step further, consider a deposit-free solution like Obligo to help improve the resident experience to minimize friction for new tenants.
3. Rental Property Accounting
The ability to trust your data is one of the tenets of a successful business. A rental property accounting system that automates your bookkeeping reliably is invaluable when managing your single-family property, because you’ll have a record of every fee, deposit, refund, and vendor payments in one place.
Granularity and specificity are essential in this business. A software that is built specifically for single-property rental property managers can help you detangle the complexities of paying your contractors, brokers, and staff. It’ll proactively prepare you for tax season, especially with the added layer of complexity with 1099-MISCs and 1099-NECs.
All in all, a trustworthy accounting system is your source of truth. Find one that enables you to prep your forms before filing is open with the IRS – and so you can verify your tax numbers and fill in missing gaps ahead of time.
4. Maintenance Management
Single-family home require systems catered to each individual home, while multifamily units and apartments have the luxury to scale up existing services. For example, each single-family unit may need separate contractors and vendors to manage each unique property, while multifamily units may only need one vendor for multiple families.
The two features you should really look for are maintenance contact centers and utility setup services.
Maintenance Contact Center
A maintenance contact center is a 24/7/365 call center that communicates with your residents with full visibility about maintenance issues and requests. This will help you focus on the business while a professionally trained team can help complete work orders more quickly.
Utility Setup Services
Utility setup services such as Citizen Home Solutions can help set up power, water, gas, cable, internet, security, and other utilities that’ll save you time and money to make reliable move-ins quick and easy.
5. Communication Portals
Building a personal relationship with your residents is crucial to single-family property management, and establishing a reliable communication channel is integral to achieving that. A resident portal allows you to collect rent payments, manage maintenance requests, send email and text updates, and store important documents in one place. You’ll have a clear communication record that’s convenient for residents and keeps everything organized in one place, so nothing gets lost in a sea of text exchanges.
The inspection process is arduous and requires meticulous attention, but software can help ease the mental load of the process by templatizing checklists and digitizing the process. An inspection feature allows you to choose from a list of customizable checklist templates so you don’t miss a spot (or check the same thing more than once). An app like Buildium’s can enable you to file reports remotely on the cloud – regardless of internet connection.
7. Technology ecosphere
It’s so much easier to upgrade your current home rather than building a new home from scratch. This applies to your tech stack as well. If your technology is siloed and doesn’t integrate with your existing technology, you’re going to have to find new technology every time your needs change.
Technology that truly scales with your business is contingent on two main things: partners and integrations.
Buildium has an extensive and ever-growing list of integrated partners that allow you to connect your data seamlessly with the newest and most adopted property management apps to adapt to your changing needs. And instead of setting up walled gardens, the very best property management software offers open APIs that allow you to integrate your crucial data with other business applications outside of the marketplace.
Which Property Management Software Should I Choose?
Finding the right solution means asking the right questions. As we mentioned above, the right solution ultimately depends on your biggest needs.
Plan for both what you need now and what you’ll need in the future. While something that is very simple and streamlined might work at the moment, if you’re planning on growing your business this year, you’ll need to find a solution that will scale with you through extensive capabilities and simple integrations.
Download the full single-family property management software features list for free.
Why Have Single-Family Homes Become Popular?
The most popular housing type for renters is single-family homes, which increased 12.6% YoY in 2022, the fastest increase in over 17 years in the United States.
Real estate lender Walker & Dunlop estimates that the single-family asset class is nearly the same size as the multifamily sector ($3.4 trillion vs $3.5 trillion respectively), and is projected to outpace every other asset class.
The massive growth is attributed to two main reasons: high investment returns and the increasing number of people who choose to rent.
Consistent revenue source: About 95% of single family homes are occupied, which means very low vacancy rates and increasingly high demand. And contrary to common belief, 97% of single-family rentals are owned by individual investors and have proven to be a profitable income source over the past decade.
Changing attitudes towards renting: 47% of renters rent because they can’t afford to buy a home of their own, and 21% rent because they want to live in a home without the risk or responsibility of owning and maintaining one.
Take a Free Tour with Buildium
We at Buildium provide a purpose-driven property management software that helps streamline your business. With single-family focused tools and an ever-expanding marketplace of easy-to-use integrations, every feature we’ve listed above is part of our repertoire! If you’re ready to explore easier property management, give Buildium a try for free.Read more on Portfolio Type