Whether you’ve recently obtained your first property or you’re a seasoned investor with a growing portfolio, one thing is true in every case:
Managing a property takes a lot of work.
It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a lot out there designed to help you with your property management needs.
It really comes down to two things, though:
- Property management through a company, and
- Property management software
In the guide below, we’ll break down some of the differences between each and why you might choose one vs. another.
Then, we’ll cover some property management software options you can look into and try yourself to find something that works for you.
So, whether it’s single family home property management or commercial management (or both) that you need, you’ll find something that fits your portfolio.
Best property management solution
First, it’s important to understand something before we get any further:
Property management software is powerful, and essentially irreplaceable, if you want to max out the return on your investment.
It’s less a matter of hiring a property management company vs. property management software than it is about hiring a property management company vs. managing the property yourself.
That’s because big property management companies know the power of property management software and use it themselves.
So, regardless, property management software should and will be used to manage your property. The only question is who is using the software.
With that said, if you’re in between whether you should hire a property management company or just use property management software and do it yourself, let’s talk about that now.
Property management company
Hiring a property management company typically works like this:
- You hire the company, who then manages one or more of your properties
- In exchange, they take a cut (a percentage) of rent collected as payment
For this reason, you’ll only want to consider a property management company if you have a decent profit margin.
If you’re not, hiring a property management company is likely to eat into what little profit you currently do have.
Instead, you’ll want to widen that margin first before hiring a company.
Also, what the property management company handles all depends on what you want them to handle.
Property management companies typically offer a variety of services and you’ll pay different fee amounts depending on what service or service you’d like.
More often than not, however, it’s most typical for a property management company to handle all or nearly all of the property’s management from top to bottom.
Property management fees
Before we talk about property management software, let’s quickly cover what you can expect in the way of fees.
Typically, to manage your average single-family home a property management company will charge around 10% of your gross rent.
There are other payment methods property management companies use– such as a flat fee for their services– but they’re so rare that they’re not worth mentioning.
Property management software
Now, let’s talk about software.
Property management software is similar to any basic business software, like a QuickBooks, but specifically built in every way for property management.
This makes it extremely powerful because it pulls in and centralizes all the major processes involved in managing a property into one convenient place then sets up automation and semi-automation as well as basic convenience to streamline everything.
The result is a huge cut to the time many tasks take and greater overall efficiency in virtually every way.
Features tend to include systems for helping manage:
- Rent collection
- Tenant communications
In other words, virtually everything you’d need to manage your properties.
Property management software fees
Property management software tends to be more diverse than the simple fee structure of a property management company, but it’s not all that complicated.
Most property management companies use a per unit, per month model.
- Generic Property Management Software charges: $2 per unit per month
- You have 25 units
- The software would charge you $50 per month ($2 x 25) to use the software
Pretty straightforward, right?
Keep in mind, however, that many tools have a one-time startup fee and potentially other costs such as ACH fees.
So, you’ll want to check with your software of choice to get a clear idea of what they charge and how (some fees can be passed to the tenant/applicable if relevant, for example).
Our top picks
Now that you have a better idea of how property management companies and software work and which might be a better fit for you, let’s talk about some software options.
Each of the 4 options we’ve listed below are some of the best in their particular arena, whether that be:
- Free plan
- And general use (single family, multi-family, commercial, etc.)
DoorLoop is an all-in-one property management software built with ease-of-use in mind and perfect for single family homes.
It takes the powerful features within property management software and packages them in a way that’s easy to navigate and simple to understand and take advantage of.
Whether you’re looking for a good starting point that’s affordable, something simple that doesn’t overwhelm, or something powerful that checks all the boxes, DoorLoop does all of that and more.
- Automatic rent payments
- Robust accounting system with everything you need to manage your property accounting
- Centralize tenant communications including SMS and email in one place
- Offer your tenants a professional portal where they can pay rent, check on responsibilities, and even submit maintenance requests
- Optimize your entire leasing process from automatic listings to screening, digital signatures, and more
- Powerful CRM to manage all of your contacts including applicants, tenants, and vendors
- And much more
DoorLoop’s starter plan is just $49 per month, covering up to a full 20 units, and $2 per unit per month after that.
ResMan is a robust property management software with solid customer service.
Users note particularly liking the large help button visible from within the app that makes it easy to get in contact with a Resman rep at any time.
However, getting started with Resman can be difficult as they don’t offer any real getting started documentation such as video tutorials, a knowledge base, etc.
- Tenant screening
- Basic accounting tools
- CRM for managing contacts
- Maintenance management
ResMan is the only option on this list that doesn’t list its pricing publicly.
That generally means it's on the pricier end toward enterprise software. In either case, you’ll need to contact their sales team for more information.
TenantCloud makes the list as a great free option if you mainly need a property accounting solution.
You’ll be missing out on several key features of a full property management tool, but if you’re just starting out and are on a tight budget, it can be a good bridge to something better eventually.
- Automatic late fees
- Payment reminders
- Online rent payments
- Good reporting tools
TenantCloud’s basic plan starts at $12 per month.
Wild Apricot is an HOA/condo-specific solution for those specializing in community-based single family properties.
It has lots of great features and high ease-of-use, making it a good all-around option if your properties fit that classification.
However, the one negative is that the software is missing certain major features such as maintenance management.
- Event and committee management
- Online payments
- CRM and member database
- Website management
Wild Apricot Pricing
Wild Apricot uses a per contact model given its focus on communities, with their basic plan being free for up to 50 contacts though with limited features such as no online payments.
If you move up to their Personal plan for $48 per month you get most of those features and up to 100 contacts.
Which path will you take?
Ultimately, what you choose now can always be changed down the line.
If you’re just getting started, though, it’s much easier to give software a try and see how it helps without cutting into your bottom line especially if you go with an affordable– but still powerful– option.
Speaking of, if you’re thinking of trying out property management software, check out DoorLoop.
You not only get one of the most extensive feature sets in the industry, but award winning customer service and ease-of-use in an affordable package.
Schedule a free demo today and see how DoorLoop can help you manage your properties with ease.