If there’s one market that always seems to be growing, it’s real-estate. According to research from Savills, the industry grew from $217 trillion in 2016 to $228 trillion in 2017. That represents growth of 5%.
The sector is also pretty diverse. While there are clearly major real-estate businesses with properties and other assets across the globe, there are also people renting second homes to make some extra cash. Whatever your situation, managing a property portfolio is a complex undertaking.
Succeeding as a property manager means being able to operate and control your properties carefully. Clearly, properties need to be monitored and maintained to a certain standard, and that's particularly important for those acting as a landlord. If a home isn’t up to scratch, safe, and habitable, landlords can face legal action.
Then there are the financial and business fundamentals of property investment. If you invest in a property for the sole purpose of selling it on, you’ll need to ensure it is in the best possible state to attract the interest of a buyer. And should you want to rent it, you’ll need a way to manage monthly payments.
However, the property management process needn’t be bogged down by bureaucratic paperwork; there are plenty of applications out there that make it easier to manage a property portfolio. Here are five of the best.
- We've also highlighted the best personal finance software and services
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Described as a real-time property management solution, Appfolio provides a range of cloud tools for apartment, residential, commercial, council and student property managers. The software helps real-estate professionals manage assets and financial data, but also attract new renters and clients.
Aimed at streamlining processes in the real-estate and property management sector, the platform lets users access business metrics, track maintenance, and communicate with renters, owners and vendors. There’s also a dedicated owner’s portal, which offers access to reports and statements.
Other features include the ability to accept online rental applications, and to screen potential renters, distribute vacancy adverts across the internet, collect rent online and perform mobile inspections. What’s more, tenants are able to submit maintenance requests through the software, meaning property managers can quickly resolve faults.
Depending on the type of properties you’re looking to rent or sell, there are several monthly plans available. The residential and student plans cost $1.25 per unit, while the commercial option costs $1.50 per unit. Community associations looking to use the software only need to pay $0.80 per unit. However, note that there is a minimum monthly fee of $250, so it's priced more toward people managing hundreds rather than dozens of property units.
Positioned as a network of property management services, Buildium is another popular platform for real-estate specialists. It provides a plethora of property management, accounting, business operations and leasing tools.
Whether you own three properties or three thousand, Buildium gives you a quick and easy way to manage and expand your real-estate portfolio. Not only can you use the software to manage maintenance requests and finances, but you can also market properties and find tenants online.
Just like Appfolio, you can accept online applications and screen tenants before drawing up contracts. There are also portals for property owners, home owners, residents and board members, letting you communicate with stakeholders easily.
The software covers community associations, student housing, affordable housing and residential properties. Currently, price plans start at $150, although there is a free trial available.
Capable of handling properties of any size, Rent Manager is a flexible and easy-to-use property management platform. It comes packed with an asset management database, integrated accounting, contact management, and work ordering capabilities plus marketing solutions.
From the platform, you’re able to track, manage and resolve service issues, and you can keep an eye on your finances by downloading detailed reports. If you’re looking to find new tenants or buyers for a property, you can create a professional and interactive website that’s integrated with Rent Manager.
Another great thing about the platform is that it’s mobile-friendly. Whenever you’re on-the-go, you can accept payments, organize service inspections, enter work orders and take photos from a mobile app.
However, this software isn’t just handy for property managers – tenants can also access real-time information and transaction records, as well as sign leases and pay their rent, from any device. To get an idea of pricing, you’ll need to get in touch with the company, but there is a free trial available if you’d like to check the software out.
Re-Leased allows you to lease residential and commercial properties, co-working spaces, student accommodation, office units and mixed family housing.
The software functions as a central hub where you can view upcoming tasks and automated workflows. From one simple dashboard, you’re able to view and manage properties, collaborate and delegate tasks across your team, and communicate with tenants via email and text messages. You can also get reminders on important tasks, and resolve issues. There’s integration with Google Calendar, Outlook and Microsoft 365, as well.
If you’re interested in the software, you can request a pricing quote from the company’s website. Whatever the case, every user can access customer support, add as many properties as they like, connect to Xero accounting software, and use the platform from computers, tablets and smartphones via the cloud.
And to ensure that important business data never ends up in the wrong hands, the app is protected by enterprise-level security.
Founded in 1969 as Qube Global Software, and now rebranded as MRI Real Estate Software has been delivering tech solutions for almost half a century. It has also created a sophisticated property management solution, which is used by over 10,000 folks across the world.
Targeted at investors and managers, the software is suitable for a range of real-estate businesses, including commercial, residential, mixed-use and student properties.
Features include billing and invoicing, contact management, maintenance tracking, expense management, insurance management, lease management, tax management, a landlord and tenant database, rent tracking and late fee calculation.
However, due to the fact that this software is aimed predominantly at corporate users, you’ll need to get in touch with the company to get an idea of pricing. At the same time, you can demo the platform to see if it suits your needs. Currently, it’s used by real-estate firms such as Hammerson, Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life.
Other property management software to consider
While we've highlighted some of the bigger names in real estate management software, there a number of others which all have their own selling points. Some might be better orientated toward smaller portfolios, others might cover a niche such as holiday lettings, and others might offer special pricing or features. We'll provide a few more to consider and highlight the reasons for adding them here:
FantasticStay provides a centralized cloud-based platform for managing real estate, especially where there's a holiday lettings angle. You can manage listings and advertisements from your account, and run them directly on providers such as AirBnB. You can clone properties, have child listings under a parent property, and a lot of features can be automated. It also serves as a communications platform with clients, to ensure you know everything that's going on and can manage bookings. As an all-in-one platform it even has it's own in-built website builder, so you don't need to worry about running the software through another application for the internet.
Rentec Direct offers one of the best value platforms, with pricing starting at $35 per month for less than ten properties. Cost rises with increasing number of units, but is ideally placed for the landloard with dozens rather than thousands of properties they need to manage. However, the Rentec Direct platform remains full-featured and comprehensive: it includes tenant screening, accounting, online payments, document organization, and advertising, all run from an online system.
LiveTour by iStaging specializes in providing virtual tours of your properties. They can provide 360 degree, augmented, and virtual reality experiences to help put potential clients into your home using the power of the internet. You don't even need any special technology to use it, and can just use your cell phone camera to capture the images required. You can then use their online tour builder to put the tours together for your property before embedding it on your website. Potential clients can then view them online or even with a Virtual Reality headset.
Condo Control Central really takes real estate management to the next level in terms of attention to detail. Not only does it offer a dedicated management panel for all the routine tasks, such as billing, letting, and communications, it can even take care of logging deliveries to your properties, it can even monitor resident parking permits and their use. It also has security features for accessing incident report, key records, and entry requests. There are even Push Notifications available for management staff, contractors, and clients.
Building Engines is more focused on the management of commercial real estate, which means a bigger and more responsive platform filled with additional features. It's web and mobile platform aims to provide core metrics that go beyond just booking and paying for space as much as managing client expectations and satisfaction. You can also set targets for sales and/or service delivery, and track performance according to your designated business benchmarks. It's no wonder then that it's used by some of the bigger private management firms and leading public REITs across North America.