Property management software: Why you need it

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 7 min. read
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Published on December 6, 2013

I don’t have to tell you that property managers have a lot on their plates. From late-paying tenants to vacancies to compliance with local, state, and federal laws, it seems that the merry-go-round of property management never stops. The good news is that there’s a new breed of property management software to help you manage your properties.

More than just managing your properties, property management software is designed to make your life easier. It’s designed to help you easily perform those routine tasks like collecting rent payments and handling maintenance requests. It also lets you maintain records and run reports, which are always helpful at tax time!

Most property management software runs in the cloud, which is just a fancy way of saying you don’t have to install anything—just go online and log in to access your information at any time and in any place. Think of property management software as a personal assistant that’s, well, not a person.

Work Less and Enjoy Your Life with Property Management Software

I know what you might be thinking: I’ve managed my properties on paper or in Excel for years, so why should I use property management software?

It’s a good question. This takes us into a discussion of the benefits of property management software.

Only half-joking, one landlord once quipped, “Without property management software, I would actually have to work.” While property management software can’t automate every aspect of property management, it can be an affordable and simple solution where property managers and landlords can manage properties, accounting, and marketing all in one place—anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Let’s look at some of those property management tasks you might be having trouble with and see how property management software can ease your pain in each area.

Doing the Books

What would your life be like without having to manually update Excel spreadsheets? With property management software, you can get a complete financial picture for your properties and owners. Track income and expenses, and run key financial reports on demand.

Payments

Imagine the tenant in 3C claims he gave you his rent check, but you have no record of it. It takes precious time to deal with the resulting hassle. But with property management software, you can allow tenants and association owners to make payments online, via EFT or credit card. And you can pay your bills online too. Trips to the bank will be a thing of the past.

Maintenance Requests

If the tenant’s dog chews through the fence, you don’t need to get called at one o’clock in the morning. With property management software, you can accept and respond to maintenance requests online 24/7. You get instant notification of the request, an easy way to assign tasks to your maintenance staff, status updates, and a clear paper trail in case your tenant with a peckish pet gets litigious.

Access to Your Information

Property management software is going mobile, so all the features are available to you and your tenants 24/7 on PCs, phones, and tablets. No longer do you have to drag around your laptop and find a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to check on maintenance requests, rental applications, or rental payments. Spend more of your time meeting with tenants and growing your business.

Advertise & Screen for New Tenants

Many property management software options will allow you to largely automate the process of rental listing syndication (advertising vacancies to sites like Craigslist or Zillow), handle rental applications, and even facilitate background checks. Then, once the applicant becomes a tenant, the property management software will let you manage that relationship so it benefits both you and your tenants. You can also save your ads to use whenever you have more vacancies.

Depending on the property management software you use, you might have access to other time-saving features, including the ability to run credit checks, file tax forms, and even outsource mailings.

It’s also easier than you think. Property management software companies spend a lot of time listening to their customers (people like you). They know you have an extremely busy job with no time to dedicate to learning a product. That’s why most property management software is designed so you don’t even need a product manual. Customer support is always there to help you out along the way and make sure that you are being as efficient as you can possibly be.

Happy Tenants = Happier Property Managers

Still not convinced of the value of property management software? Let me appeal to your enlightened self-interest: By using property management software, you can become loads more efficient, and you’ll also make life easier for your tenants. By streamlining repetitive tasks, you can focus on what’s really important: interacting with your tenants and growing your relationship with them. You can invest more in your current tenants, rather than taking the time and trouble to find new ones. This reduces churn and the cost of vacancies.

You’re making your tenants’ lives easier and showing them you’re paying attention to their needs. They simply log in to the tenant portal (website) to pay their rent, manage maintenance requests and communicate with you. In short, property management software gives tenants easy access to their account information whenever they need it.

Dave Codrea from property management company Greenleaf Management provides a great example of how property management software can make life easier for tenants and property managers alike:

“We recently took over management of a property in Georgia that was in a low-income area. It has 106 units, and we were expecting 25% tenant turnover. In the end, though, we had only six tenants out of 106 leave after we took over. That’s something like 5% turnover, and we’re convinced it’s because of how [property management software from] Buildium made it easier for them to make maintenance requests, leaving a paper trail, and knowing that someone on the other end will be there to respond. A lot of residents used to think no one’s accountable, but we hold our property managers accountable. In fact, we download all our Buildium data into Google Spreadsheets and track things like the time it takes for our property managers to respond to tenant requests. The ones who do well get bonuses, and tenants love that we’re creating a transparent process.”

Become More Efficient and Grow Your Business

The “hidden” value of property management software is that it can help you grow your business. Think about it: If you can spend less time on paperwork and handling other routine tasks, you have more time to take on new buildings and add new tenants. Using property management software, some property management companies have grown their business from just a handful of units to hundreds or even thousands.

If you’re interested in trying property management software, companies like Buildium offer a free trial so you can try it for yourself and make up your own mind. Need more help deciding? Zillow also offers a handy guide called How to Choose Residential Property Management Software.

Property management software not for you—at least not yet? Check out these posts on how to use a well-known piece of software, Microsoft Excel, for property management:

Read more on Scaling
Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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