Building a multifamily rental property business is no easy feat. Dealing with an endless stream of tenant requests while minimizing vacancies are just a couple of the hundreds of challenges you’ll face. In this guide, we’re going to cover the seven biggest challenges for multifamily rental property managers and the technological capabilities that solve them.
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What Is a Multifamily Rental Property?
A multifamily rental property is a residential property with more than one housing unit including apartments, duplexes, semi-detached houses, student housing, condominiums, and townhouses. An owner who lives in one of the multifamily units is called an owner-occupied property.
What Are the Benefits of Managing a Multifamily Property?
Scale, scale, scale. Multifamily housing not only has favorable tax benefits, it also offers economies of scale in terms of maintenance and risk. In the suboptimal case where you have to evict a tenant of a single-family home, your vacancy rate is much higher than evicting a tenant in a multifamily building.
Finding high quality contractors for one location is much easier and more affordable than finding ones in individual single-family properties. Ultimately, the cost per occupant of maintenance is much lower than a family unit.
What Is the Best Multifamily Rental Property Management Software?
To make the seemingly endless search of finding the holy grail of property management software as quick as possible, you have to start by outlining your biggest needs.
At the end of the day, time is money. Committing to managing a multifamily rental property is a huge undertaking with nuanced needs on a case by case basis. Take out a piece of paper and write out all your biggest pain points like maintenance management, communicating with tenants, marketing, collecting rent, or bookkeeping.
Next, prioritize the list by impact. What capabilities would make the biggest impact on your business and save you the most time and money? With this list, you can now effectively identify a software that solves your unique goals, categorized by must-haves and nice-to-haves.
7 Features You Should Look For in Multifamily Property Management Software
Now that you have your list, it’s time to find the right features that will best serve your business. According to the 2023 Property Management Industry Report, tenant expectations are rising across the board as certain technologies are becoming common and even expected by owners and tenants. The following features will give you the time and resources you need to better manage single-family properties and build your business.
Download the full Multifamily Rental Property Management Checklist for free.
1. Syndicate, Show, Screen, and Sign In One Place
Going from showing to signing isn’t as easy as it sounds—with tons of opportunities for hiccups along the way. Software can help you automate the entire process from syndication all the way to signing the lease.
Get the Word Out
The best way to get your listing seen is by listing your available units across all the most popular listing sites like Apartments.com, Apartment List, Zillow, and even Craigslist.
Instead of manually uploading one listing multiple times to each site respectively, the right software can help syndicate your listings and even add unit descriptions, photos, and videos once so you don’t have to do it repeatedly. 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. After all, time is money.
No More Ghosting
Software can help automate the showing process by allowing prospective residents to book appointments online. They can also send instant follow-ups and reminders through email and text to ensure your potential tenants show up on time.
Accept, Deny, and Manage Applications
Now that your listing is out there, it’s integral that you make the application process as quick and easy as possible. The best rental applications software features enable you to customize your forms to fit your needs by adding, removing, or reordering application fields with ease.
An effective software will visualize all your applications into one dashboard, so you can accept, deny, or manage them in just a few clicks. And, once you move forward with one applicant, a comprehensive software will store their individual information safely and move them throughout the entire process without needing to re-entering it at every step.
Compliant background checks are one of the effective risk management strategies when choosing the right tenant. Find a tool that gives access to full credit, criminal, and eviction data to help you determine which potential residents to move forward with. And most importantly, ensure your software is Fair Housing Act (FHA) compliant, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.
Skip the Fax Machine
Now that the hard part is over, it’s time to get your contracts signed as quickly as possible. Property management software can create templated agreements, allow prospective tenants to sign them online, and store them securely in the cloud. No fax machine or ink required.
2. Maintenance Management at Scale
Overcommunicating is oftentimes better than undercommunicating. Offering multiple ways for tenants to reach out and resolve critical issues can be a key differentiator in your rental business. Consider utilizing a maintenance contact center that your tenants can reach out to 24/7/365.
Trained professionals will provide your tenants with full visibility about the status of maintenance issues and requests, to help you more effectively resolve issues outside of business work hours.
Additionally, you can also speed up the utility setup process with services like Citizen Home Solutions, which sets up electric, water, gas, cable, internet, and security to make professional move-ins immediate and delay-free.
3. Accounting Tools That Never Let You Miss a Beat
An accounting system with granularity and specificity are key to providing you control, visibility, and data you need to grow. A purpose-driven multifamily rental property management software can help you simplify the processes of paying your contractors, brokers, and staff.
All in all, a trustworthy accounting system is your source of truth. Find one that enables you to prep your forms before filing even open with the IRS.
Beyond getting a jump on tax season, property management accounting software makes it easier to verify your tax numbers, stay compliant, file your 1099-MISCs and 1099-NECs, and fill in missing gaps ahead of time.
4. Have Multiple Conversations at Once
Managing maintenance requests, collecting rent, and effectively communicating with multiple tenants at once is a logistical nightmare without technology. A resident portal provides a centralized hub for rent payments, maintenance requests, emails and text updates, and the safe storage of important documents.
Rather than getting lost in a sea of multiple text threads or missed calls, an online resident portal can help compartmentalize, organize, and prioritize all your communication so nothing falls through the cracks.
5. Data and Analytics to Help You Grow
Decisions are easier when you’ve got the data to support them. Instead of playing the guessing game of where to invest your time and resources, leverage an analytics hub that measures and reports the important KPIs like revenue, turnover, and resident feedback in an easy to understand package.
Don’t know where you stand in the sea of competition? An effective property management software can provide industry benchmarks to help you gauge how your rental property stacks up against similar businesses.
Ultimately, a data-powered platform gives you the visibility and control you need in a simple and visualized way.
6. Detailed Inspections on the Go
It’s time to put away the pen and clipboard, and certainly do away with quick, visual scans of your units. The inspection process is crucial for both tenants and property owners, because it provides a clear idea of the state of a rental property before and after a move-in, ensuring there’s a record of any potential damages or changes to a unit.
An inspection feature helps make the process easier by providing customizable checklists so you don’t miss a spot or avoid checking the same spot more than once. If you don’t have a great internet connection, an app like Buildium’s can enable you to file reports remotely and sync whenever you go back online.
7. Free from Walled Gardens
The path to business growth is not linear, and is always susceptible to periods of stagnation as well periods of growth. In a business where your needs are changing by the month, you need a solution that adapts to your growing pains.
A technology solution that truly scales with your business is contingent on how it fits into your existing technology. Avoid siloed solutions that make it difficult to expand your services and operations. Instead, try software that has an extensive partner ecosystem of supporting tools that you can add or remove like Lego blocks instead of reworking your entire workflow from scratch whenever you make a change to your business.
With Buildium’s extensive and ever-growing list of integrated partners, you can connect your data seamlessly with the latest and most popular property management apps. You can easily pick and choose the software that’s right for you and where your business stands.
Download the full Multifamily Rental Property Management Checklist for free.
Let Us Show You What Buildium Is All About
Buildium is a purpose-driven property management software that helps streamline your business. With multifamily-focused capabilities and an ever-expanding marketplace of easy-to-use integrations, we offer each of the features you see above! Getting started with Buildium is easy—and you can give us a try for free.Read more on Multifamily