Every property manager needs a great property management system to back them up.
With a system in place that helps you automate and streamline much of your basic business processes—especially the things that typically bog you down—you can focus more on high-value tasks.
Not to mention, reduce stress and find some peace.
That’s where a property management system comes in. Usually in the form of software, these systems can do all kinds of things for you as a landlord or property manager.
Suffice it to say, if you’re managing your or your client’s properties without property management software, you're doing way more work than necessary for the same return.
So, what exactly does a property management software system look like, and what kind of features can you expect?
Below, we’ll break that down, then show you some of the best options available in 2023.
Use the table of contents if you prefer to skip ahead to the software recommendations (or any other section) at any time.
With that said, let’s start from the top.
What is a property management system?
A property management system (or PMS) refers to software designed to make managing properties easier.
It can be used for residential or commercial properties, or anything in between, from vacation homes to HOA communities.
Property management systems are also often used in the hospitality industry, where the software plays a different but similar role in helping hospitality managers run the day-to-day business of their hotel or resort.
For this guide, however, we’re going to focus on the value of a property management software system for real estate property managers.
Why is a property management system important?
A good property management software system provides all kinds of benefits, allowing you to optimize multiple areas of your property business:
- Maintenance management
- Document management
- Tenant screening
- And more
Sure, you can do all of this yourself.
But all that time you spend doing menial tasks for things like accounting, rent collection, and tenant communication using various channels back-and-forth is taking time away from more important things.
Exactly how does property management software help you?
If you have (or are still) managing properties and rent payments using something like Microsoft Excel, you know the pain of basic bookkeeping.
It takes an enormous amount of time just to log everything.
Not to mention, it’s not exactly easy to look at and reference when you need to go back to find something.
But with property management software, like our very own DoorLoop, those various accounting and management tasks are:
- Faster to complete, giving you more time for what really matters
- Better organized, making everything from tax season to just finding something with the search function so much easier
But that’s just the beginning.
Simplifying and organizing is one thing. Automation is whole different beast.
The real value of a property management system for landlords and property managers
Good property management software allows you to automate many tasks you once had to do manually.
And that’s the real value of a property management system for landlords and property managers.
Here are just some of the tasks you can automate or semi-automate with property management software:
- Rent collection
- Maintenance order tracking
- Tenant screening
- Listings for vacant units
- Showing schedules and prospect follow-ups after those showings
So, the value is clear. With a property management system, you can do the following and more:
- Save time
- Automate critical business tasks
- Reduce stress
- Maximize your bottom line
The only problem that remains is picking the right property management system.
Preferably, you should choose property management software that you can count on, that’s affordable, and that has all the features you need and want.
So, next, let’s talk about some of the best options out there.
5 best property management systems for property managers and landlords
Below are five of the best property management systems out there.
Each has somewhat different features, but they’ll all help you with one, more, or all of the aspects of automation and streamlining we talked about above.
Plus, we added tags under each software so you know who each one is best for, with a good variety of options no matter what kind of properties you own or manage.
1. Landlord Studio
Good for: Rental properties
The first option on our list, Landlord Studio, is designed for rental properties.
In terms of ease of use, property management software can be hit-or-miss, but Landlord Studio has a fairly clean UI that is easy to navigate.
It doesn’t offer as many features as a fully fledged property management solution (more on that later), but if you’re looking for an affordable starter option, this is a decent starting place.
- Tenant screening
- Payment tracking
- Basic reporting
Landlord Studio has a totally free option, but it only covers three units and has limited features.
If you want more features and have more units, you'll have to upgrade to the PRO plan, which costs $15 per month. For any number of units past the initial three, you'll have to pay $1 each per month.
Good for: HOA community management
If you’ve been reading this and wondering if someone has created an HOA community management-specific solution, you’re in luck.
FRONTSTEPS is one of many HOA management solutions out there, with features that make it perfect if you’re managing large HOA communities, such as community calendar management.
- Community and calendar management
- Committee tools
- Work order management
- Training tools
- Payment processing
FRONTSTEPS doesn’t offer its pricing online, so you’ll need to contact its sales team for more information.
Good for: Simple rent tracking
If you’re really just looking for a simple rent tracker, Rentpal is a good option.
It offers tools for bringing in new tenants, such as digital signatures and screening, as well as features for current residents, such as collecting and tracking rent payments.
We know that the idea of taking on a new piece of software can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not used to it.
And while we think trying a full property management system solution will offer better results, there are simpler solutions that will get you started toward the automation and optimization of your property management efforts. Rentpal is one of them.
- Digital signatures
- Tenant portal
- Automated rent payments
- Payment options (e.g., ACH and PayPal)
Rentpal doesn’t list its pricing publicly, so you’ll need to contact the sales team for more information.
4. RealPage Commercial
Good for: Commercial properties
RealPage Commercial is a great option if you’re looking for a solution to manage commercial properties.
With commercial-specific features like common area maintenance reconciliation to lease administration, RealPage offers tools that commercial property managers will value highly.
- Work order management
- Leasing automation
- Tenant portal
- Robust accounting, including valuable calculators for late fees, CPI increases, and recurring charges
RealPage Commercial uses a per square footage model. Pricing differs depending on if the properties are office and retail assets vs. industrial.
Office and retail pricing start at $12.50 per month per 10,000 square feet, while industrial assets are $7.30 per month per 10,000 square feet.
Good for: All-in-one property management
If you have a mixed portfolio and need something that can handle everything, DoorLoop is the perfect option.
Whether you manage only rental properties, commercial, condos/HOA, or a mix of all that and more, DoorLoop is designed to help you streamline everything in one platform.
If your biggest hurdle with software is that it can feel overwhelming or complicated, DoorLoop is the way to go.
That’s because DoorLoop was designed with ease of use in mind, making it the most intuitive and easiest-to-use software on the market.
So, whether you’ve tried a dozen options before or zero, we know you’ll love DoorLoop for its ease and simplicity of use.
However, that doesn’t mean it lacks in features—quite the contrary.
- Full accounting suite: Automate rent collection, accept multiple payment methods, and organize all your accounts in one place
- Tenant portal and communications management: Wish you had one central location to manage all of your communications with tenants? With DoorLoop, you can.
- Maintenance management: Create work orders and allow tenants to view them from their dashboard. They attach images and a note, and you assign the order to a vendor. Once the job is complete, you pay that vendor, all from DoorLoop.
- Tenant screening and listing tools: Need to fill units? DoorLoop makes it easier than ever with features that help you automate parts of the process.
- And much more: DoorLoop has even more exciting features, such as a IDX-based website, vendor portal, and more.
DoorLoop’s Starter plan is just $59/month for your first 20 units.
Get started with DoorLoop
We said it before, and we’ll say it again: you can’t underestimate what a good property management system can do for your business.
From automating monotonous time sinks to streamlining multiple tasks in a single platform while improving organizational efficiency…
...Whether you manage one or one thousand properties, you need property management software.
Review the options we presented and which would best serve your property management needs, then take action and start saving time and reducing stress.
And consider DoorLoop, the all-in-one property management solution that lives on the cloud and has a convenient iOS and Android app so you can easily use it wherever you are.
So, jump in and give it a try! Schedule a free demo of DoorLoop today.