Being responsible for managing properties can be a demanding task.
There are so many things to stay on top of, like accounting, maintenance, rent, and so much more.
So, naturally, property managers seek some sort of solution to help them manage all of these responsibilities.
And, one of the best answers is:
Property management software.
In this guide, we will be discussing exactly what property management software is and how it can help you become a successful property manager.
To begin, let's go over what property manager software consists of and why it's important.
What Is Property Management Software?
Unlike independent property management companies, property management software (a.k.a. real estate management software) allows you to personally keep track of all of your rental properties. This allows for quick and efficient rental property management, even from a laptop.
However, there are many things that you should consider when choosing a solid rental property management software. Some of the things that residential property managers consider most important include:
- Automatic Online Rent Payments
- Streamlined Communication
- Maintenance Orders
- Reliability & Support
Ideally, the software you choose will contain most, if not all, of these features in the same place.
Why Is It Useful?
Solid property management software solutions can completely transform the way that companies provide their property management solutions. The best property management software takes all of the features stated above and helps property managers solve problems like:
- Lack of communication
- Slow response to maintenance requests
- Late payments
- Misplaced lease agreements
...and much more.
However, the vast amount of choices of software means that they typically offer different features. Below, we will be outlining some of the most important features that you should look out for and why they are important.
Below is a list of the top, or most common, property management software features.
Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive.
However, it is a list of those features that are the most impactful, allowing you to do everything from streamline to optimize and even automate many vital tasks.
Let’s start with what many consider the most important feature: rent collection.
One of the main collections of features property management software offers is in accounting.
An extension of the fundamental business of collecting rent, property accounting is a necessary aspect of property management.
Property management software typically offers a large suite of accounting features depending on the tool.
For example, DoorLoop’s suite of accounting features includes:
- A full chart of accounts
- Bank account reconciliations
- Vendor payments
- Robust reporting tools
- QuickBooks Online integration that takes just minutes to set up
- And more
So, whether you’re looking for a complete accounting tool that can replace your current software or something that simply plays nice with QuickBooks, you’re covered.
Maintenance task management
Another big one, many property management software tools give you access to a complete maintenance management system.
- The ability to receive maintenance requests straight from tenants via their portal
- Edit work orders with attachments and notes
- Assign those orders to vendors
- Pay out vendors
- And notify vendors of the completed maintenance
Maintenance is often sudden and unexpected, and an inconvenience in terms of both time and budget.
These features, taken together, can give you some of that time back and help streamline your entire response to maintenance requests for all of your properties.
We’ll cover some amazing features throughout this list, but let’s face it: if it doesn’t help make collecting rent easier and more efficient, how valuable can it really be?
Fortunately, many property management software tools do just that, with a variety of features such as:
- Automatic online payments
- Late payment reminders
- A tenant portal (which we’ll cover in-depth later) which brings together all the tenant’s responsibilities into one place
- And, depending on the tool, sometimes easy access to a rent payment portal via a convenient smartphone app
The end result is rent and other financial responsibilities like pet rent and parking are:
- Easier to track and collect for property managers, and
- Owners and easier to stay on top of and pay for tenants
Tenant portal and communications
If you’ve been managing residential properties, or even if you're in commercial property management, for a while, you know that communicating with tenants can take up a lot of time.
The back-and-forth nature of communication– times however many tenants you have– means even simply messaging your tenants to handle their various concerns (and your issues) can be a huge time sink that you never get back.
Then there’s the splintered nature of communication. Email, text, Messenger, phone, whatever combo you use, they’re all generally disconnected.
Property management software seeks to fix that problem by centralizing all tenant communications into one convenient dashboard.
The leasing process is one of the first that property management software tackled, and for good reason.
The more effectively you can screen and onboard new tenants, the better.
Property management software helps with a variety of tasks related to streamlining and simplifying the leasing process.
- Receiving applications online
- Automatically screening tenants using a variety of factors
- Complete leases 100% digitally, including the signature
- And more
Taken together, ‘eLeasing’ (the moniker given to a fully digitized leasing process) streamlines the leasing process in several big ways.
That makes it not only easier to bring in new tenants and better tenants more effectively but saves you time throughout the process as well.
One of the most unique issues with managing properties is the fact that you need to juggle both the managing of your properties and the managing of the business itself.
The owner portal feature seeks to make that a little easier, by giving you a special portal within the software where you can go to manage multiple items related to your property owners.
That typically includes two main things:
- Generating checks for your owners, and
- Running reports relevant to information your owners want to see on a regular basis, to help keep them happy and informed
Together, keeping your owners happy– and things more organized– is a little bit easier.
Lastly, property management software also surprisingly can offer several useful marketing-related features as well.
For example, two of the most common are:
- Automatic listings: Allowing you to automatically put up new listings for vacant units on major platforms.
- And a fully-functional, IDX-based website
This is an area where each tool differs widely, so make sure to check to see what kind of features a particular software offers first before investing if these are important to you.
So, know that we know all about how useful property management software can be, it's time for the hard part:
Which one is best for you?
In the next section, we will be going over some of our top picks for the best property management software.
Our Top Picks
Now that its time to choose your very own property management solution.
With so many property management solutions on the market right now, its important to know about some of the top-rated ones.
Below, we have outlined some of our top picks for the best property management software.
DoorLoop is a complete, full-service property management software designed to offer every tool you’d need to manage your properties, whether it’s one property or one thousand.
Designed with ease-of-use, speed, and world-class support in mind, DoorLoop is the only tool on this list that offers all of the features mentioned above. And, since it is a cloud based solution, it can be done from virtually anywhere!
- Robust accounting suite: Everything you need to manage all your property accounting in one place, no difficult QuickBooks workarounds necessary.
- QuickBooks integration: Rather integrate with QuickBooks and use it? You can do that too.
- Convenient tenant portal: Communicate with tenants and allow them to pay rent and other fees and even send in maintenance requests all from within the app.
- Invaluable maintenance management features: Speaking of maintenance, edit those requests with attachments, send them to vendors, pay those vendors, and even communicate with tenants on those requests simply and easily.
- A plethora of leasing tools: From automatic listings to background checks and leasing templates to make the entire process more streamlined.
- And much more
One of the greatest characteristics of DoorLoop is its pricing. At only $49 per month for up to 20 units, it comes in at one of the cheapest options on this list.
Schedule a free demo today to see what DoorLoop can do for you.
Appfolio is a well-rounded property management tool with a few unique features, such as smart bill entry.
However, you’ll pay a higher-than-average price for those features, as it comes with a $250 monthly minimum.
- Automated late fees
- Good reporting tools
- Tenant portal
- Smart bill entry
Appfolio offers anywhere from an affordable $0.80 to a higher-than-normal $1.50 per unit per month. However, they have a $250 minimum monthly payment, making it one of the lease budget-friendly options on the list if you have less than 250 properties.
Buildium is another well-rounded option with a large set of features.
In fact, Buildium’s software is so expansive that users report having issues with navigating the number of options and settings available, making it difficult to use for some.
For that reason, it’s not the best option if this is your first property management software.
- Tenant portal
- Owner portal
- Maintenance management
- Expense tracking
Buildium’s starter plan is $50 per month for up to 20 units, and $235 for up to 150 units. They offer a 14-day free trial for getting started.
Propertyware offers a good set of accounting features, including in-depth reporting and automatic rent payments.
It’s a great option if you’re looking for help with your property accounting, though it’s designed for those with 250+ properties. If you have less than that, you’ll be paying much more for the same features.
- Robust accounting suite, including reporting and online rent payments
- Tenant communications
- Maintenance management
Propertyware’s pricing is $1 per unit per month, though that comes with a $250 minimum. In other words, even if you have less than 250 properties, you’ll still be paying $250 monthly.
Rentec Direct is a property management software with a balance of features and strong accounting tools.
They offer both a desktop and mobile version of the software for ease of access as well, though users report that the UI is dated and it can be hard to navigate.
- Online rent payments
- Good accounting features
- Maintenance management
Rentec’s starter plan is $35 per month for up to 10 units, though you can upgrade to their $55 per month plan for up to 50 units or $450 per month for up to 500.