7 steps to choosing the right property management software for your business

Robin Young
Robin Young | 6 min. read

Published on January 17, 2018

If you’ve ever searched for “property management software” on Google, you’re all too familiar with the overwhelming feeling of staring 29 million results in the face, unsure of where to begin.

Should you rely on review sites, choosing whichever software solution has the most positive ratings? Should you open every software vendor’s website in a new tab, trying your best to compare their features in your limited free time? Should you go with the first software you try because you just don’t have the time or patience to test-drive every option?

Here at Buildium, we know that the only thing worse than not using any software at all is sinking valuable time and money into a platform that just doesn’t work for your business. We’re here to help you pick the right software to take your property management business to the next level—whether that’s our software or not (although we have to say, we have some pretty happy customers!).

Here’s a 7-step process for choosing the right property management software for your business. For even more in-depth advice, we highly recommend downloading our free guide, How to Choose the Right Property Management Software for Your Business.

#1: Identify Your Core Needs

The first step starts with you: What are the biggest issues within your business that your software needs to resolve? Is your goal to be able to work effectively on the go—making it of the utmost importance that your software has a great mobile app? Is it critical that your software has self-service portals for your residents and clients? Is it a top priority for your software to streamline maintenance requests, or to have best-in-class accounting capabilities?

Have each member of your team decide what matters most to them in your software choice. Be sure to keep your top priorities and pain points at the forefront of your mind as you narrow down the list of contenders.

#2: Get Your Peers’ Recommendations

Ask other property managers which software they use—and don’t stop there. Find out how difficult it was for them to learn how to use the software; how the company’s customer service has been when they’ve had issues; and what the feedback has been from their residents, employees, and clients. Get a real sense of the impact that this software has had on their business—has it been a nightmare or a dream come true?

#3: Check Out Review Sites

Sites like Reviews.com, Software Advice, and Capterra are like Yelp for software. Search for each software vendor on review sites like these to get a sense of how their customers really feel about them.

Customer reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt since they tend to be written by those who think that a product is the very best or the very worst. However, you should pay close attention to common themes that come up in review after review, as well as the software’s overall rating.

In addition, you should check out industry comparisons of different software solutions. Here are a couple to get you started:

The Best Property Management Software | Reviews.com

Gartner FrontRunners Quadrant for Property Management Software

#4: Compare the Features

Eliminating any options that don’t have the features you need is a great way to pare down your list. If handling incoming maintenance requests and coordinating with vendors is a major issue in your business, cross off any software solution that doesn’t have an online maintenance ticketing system. If marketing vacant units and handling tenants’ applications is taking up too much of your time, look for software that offers rental listing syndication and online applications. Make sure that each solution’s features adequately address your goals and pain points—and eliminate any that fall far short of where they need to be.

Read it on the #BuildiumBlog: An A-Z guide to choosing the best property management software. Click To Tweet

#5: Price Out Your Options

When you think about how much you’re willing to invest in a software solution, it’s critical to think about the system’s overall value—not just the sticker price. The right software should save you money, time, and stress every single day.

Be sure to take into account that each vendor may price their offerings in a different way. Some vendors price their software per unit; but a solution that looks cheaper on its face can have a ton of hidden fees that jack up the price. Be sure to find out about the services included in a given rate, as well as any set-up fees or monthly charges. The cheapest option may not provide the best value for your investment.

#6: Sign Up for Free Trials

What better way is there to find out if a software solution works for you than to try it out—for free? Sign up for a free trial of the software you’re considering, which will let you play around in the solution to see if you like it; or an online demo, where someone at the company will give you a virtual tour of the software. Many companies also offer webinars for prospective customers to learn more about their offerings. These options are a great way to get a sense of what the product is like, including its capabilities and ease of use.

#7: Research the Company

Learning about the company may seem secondary to researching the software itself. However, it’s important to know exactly who you’re doing business with—do their values and goals align with yours? Do you feel confident that they’ll give you the support you need, both now and into the future?

Here are some qualities to look for in a software vendor:

  • Are they involved in the industry? Pay attention to companies that are a strong voice in the industry, and that you continually see at trade shows and other events.
  • Do they provide legendary customer support? Look for common themes in customers’ reviews, and check their website for mentions of customer service awards.
  • Do employees love working there? Read their reviews on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, and scroll through the company’s social media accounts.
Learn 7 smart steps to choosing the right property management software on the #BuildiumBlog! Click To Tweet

We hope that these tips will help you to narrow your search down from 29 million choices to the one perfect solution for your business. Be sure to check out our free guide, How to Choose the Right Property Management Software for Your Business, for even more in-depth advice on making a smart decision.

How to Choose Property Management Software | Buildium

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Robin Young

As Buildium’s Senior Researcher, Robin leverages her background in social science research and interest in real estate economics to identify trends in the rental market. She combines intensive market research with insights gleaned from surveys of property managers, renters, and rental owners to examine topics like shifting renter demographics, the housing affordability crisis, and the transformation of property management during the pandemic. She's best known as the author of the annual State of the Property Management Industry Report.

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