Property management software is essential to property managers if they intend to lessen workload.
Depending on a number of factors that play into every day workflows, one software or the other may be ideal for you and your business.
Of course, this doesn’t mean one product can’t offer you the most flexible and comprehensive package when compared to alternatives.
Our Pick for Best Property Management Software: Buildium
Landlords, Small Property Managers
Whether it’s online payments, accounting, screening applicants, or online lease signing, Buildium offers you that and more. All at a lower price than many other top tier property management software providers.
You are essentially given all the necessary tools needed to organize your small property management firm at a price that won’t take your breath away.
We also like that Buildium offers users free listings websites.
How Property Management Software can help Landlords and Small Property Management Firms
When it comes to property management (like most businesses) organization can’t be overstated. As a property manager your plate will more or less be full with a host of duties. Whether lease applications, maintenance requests, rent payments, listings of vacancies etc.
If you are trying to cut down on the hassle, and not blow a blood vessel while juggling all this work, that’s where property management software comes into the picture. These products automate your daily duties, and give you more time to focus on other tasks.
Most property management software come in SaaS (Service as a Software) format. This means you don’t have to worry about installing the product on every computer or laptop laying around the office.
Thanks to cloud-computing, your web browser and internet connection are the only tools you need.
What to Look for in Property Management Software
It’s not enough to say a particular software is ‘comprehensive’, or ‘easy to use’. Pricing most of all shouldn’t be your main concern when considering what product is perfect for your business.
We’d suggest you think over the needs of your business when doing your research for property management software. Consider if that product’s features and functionalities compliment your business.
That being said, Buildium is by no means a perfect product. We simply believe, after extensive research that it is the most capable (whilst being affordable) property management software on this list.
Let’s talk some more about why we recommend Buildium as number one.
Why Buildium Is The Best Online Property Management Solution
Managing property is a lot of work. If you go out your way to fork up your hard-earned money to get a software that lessens those duties, there are some qualities you’ll want to look for:
- Can you organize property accounting information in one place?
- Are you able to keep track of market vacancies?
- Can you receive and track maintenance requests online?
- Does this software allow you to accept applications and screen tenants online?
- And of course, can you receive payments from tenants and pay vendors online?
It’s not that Rentec Direct and Maintenance Connection aren’t solid products. Buildium simply offers you all the essential qualities of a property management software. Even better, you can make use of these tools at a staggering $45/month for up to 20 units.
Meanwhile, Maintenance Connection’s pricing plan starts at $199, a number which, in some cases may alienate smaller businesses.
Free Custom-branded Website
In addition to offering you essential tools and an affordable price, Buildium’s free custom-branded website is useful for advertising your vacancies. With Rentec and Maintenance Protection, users have to pay for similar services.
Moreover, Buildium allows tenants to access an online portal where they can log in and pay rent. They are also able to request maintenance or make use of the community message board.
Property owners have their own portal as well, which is equally convenient. Owners are able to log in, look over monthly statements, and access their year-end 1099 forms.
Property managers can view delinquencies via the dashboard, as well as upcoming lease expiration and move in/move out dates.
No matter what kind of product you are looking for, it’s of paramount importance that you check out the company’s history. Having a grasp of what past customers have to say about a product/company will give you better insight as to whether you are getting what you pay for and if the company goes the extra mile to ensure client satisfaction.
What I’ve seen of customer reviews tells me users love the ease-of-use. They are particularly fond of the online portal, and online signatures; the way Buildium succeeds at making the work environment less stressful.
Buildium certainly doesn’t lack in the ‘ease-of-use’ department, but some customers who switched over from other products had little challenges with certain aspects of the system. For example, closing out tenant accounts and refunding security deposits.
Based on customer reviews and extensive research, here are Buildium’s standout features:
Buildium Standout Features
Buildium’s affordability is praised by most users, especially considering the amount of quality offered at the price. Users mostly find customer service to be top notch, and the self help tools to be a Godsend.
I know we’ve been singing Buildium’s praises for a while. Naturally, you will also want to know about the cons, so let’s get into it.
I mentioned the free custom branded websites. They’re great for a number reasons. For one, they are FREE. Another reason is that they help you to market vacancies. However, if you are looking for the most up to date and stylish aesthetics, you may be out be out of luck.
These websites are helpful, but they are by no means modern. If you just need a site that has enough functionality for tenants to request maintenance and pay rent, Buildium’s websites have got you covered.
In the event that your business is still young, and you are trying to build up your client base, you may want to consider something a bit more professional looking. Rentec or Maintenance Protection may be the solution to that problem. Just keep in mind it comes at additional costs.
Screening Costs Add Up Fast
As a property manager, screening applicants will be a big part of your duties. It doesn’t matter how many units you are managing, online applicant screening is a necessity in property management software.
Buildium is very affordable which is one of its major selling points. This huge advantage doesn’t go across the board however. When it comes to screening individual tenants, things can get costly. More so if you are not subscribed to Buildium Pro where screening is free.
At $15/applicant you screen applicants based on eviction data, criminal record and credit. $15 may not sound so scary at first, but consider if you have a lot of vacancies. Your pockets would probably be crying out much sooner than you think.
Users can choose to opt for premium tenant screening which comes at a $99 setup fee. Here you would pay $18 per screening, following the initial $99.
While a bit more costly, premium does have its upside. For instance you get to customize approve/decline thresholds. So let’s say you wanted to reject applicants who had a FICO of 650 going for a luxury property. But wanted to reject people with a FICO of 450 for a more affordable one.
Best Property Management Software: Rentec Direct
Clean, straightforward interfaces
Many users will appreciate that Rentec keeps things simple. You won’t have a hard time navigating the software, and it’s easy to get a hang of the processes. A pop up box appears after each task to help keep you on track. A useful feature that you can always turn off once you’ve settled into the workflows.
Generate multi-layered reports
Rentec Direct’s reporting interface is as clean as it is multifaceted. Reports are broken up into four categories. Users can then filter according to property, unit, bank account etc.
Reports are clearly defined, so finding the report that offers the most insight is far from a chore. The filter feature is a nice touch, offering much insight on useful details of each property.
Updated search functionality
In 2013, Rentec received an update in the form of a new search feature added to the accounting ledger.
This helps to make things a lot more organized. Users can search according to certain criteria and filter the ledger by bank, tenant, property or owner list.
The layout has received a much welcomed makeover, allowing users to organize and find information easier than ever.
With Rentec, transactions are automatically recorded. You are also able to choose when they are posted.
Rentec’s built in accounting features are designed to accommodate a wide range of users, including those who aren’t particularly fond/skilled at accounting.
Tons of Support Features
If you think you may need a property management software crammed with support features, look no further than Rentec Direct. With this product, support is through the roof and that’s putting it lightly.
We’re talking about a quick start guide paired with a video tutorial, both of which help you get accustomed to regular tasks such as adding new properties, tenants and bank accounts.
If you are experiencing difficulties or just have some questions you’d like answered, you can take things into your own hands thanks to Rentec’s expansive knowledge base.
There you will find the answer to any concern you may have. What’s more, the knowledge base boasts a global search feature. Rentec organizes answers by topic which makes browsing the furthest thing from a headache.
Online Vacancy Posting
For those interested in online vacancy posting, Rentec allows you to do just that with Craigslist and other rental websites. Applicants can send you online rental applications. As far as tenant screening goes, you can run background checks from within the program. With Rentec you also get access to liens, bankruptcies, judgments, eviction records etc.
Rentec makes it easy to conduct business between manager and tenants. By logging into the tenant portal, they can make rent payments via EasyPay. They can view balances, payment history or even set email preferences.
Managers on the other hand can automate messages to alert tenants when payment is due, received, or in the event that it is overdue.
Intuitive file management
Thanks to Rentec’s file library, uploading and managing documents couldn’t be easier. Even better, there are no storage fees as the software comes with unlimited storage capacity.
There isn’t anything too crazy about Rentec when it comes to pricing. Their rates are especially competitive for property managers with 200+ units. Companies that boast larger portfolios may require more features and might be better off with another product.
With Rentec users can even try out low-cost entry at $25/month for 1 – 25 units. But there are tons of other options as well:
- $45/month – $75/month (26 – 99 units)
- $125/month (100 – 200 units)
- $175/month (200+ units)
Rentec includes premium add ons such as:
- SSN Validation: $3.95/report
- State Criminal – $6/report
- Evictions – $8.50
- Nationwide Criminal – $8.75/report
- Credit Report & FICO – $8.95/report
- Evictions – $8.50/report
- Bankruptcies and judgements – $9.65/report
- County Level Searches – $9.90/report
Rentec has earned itself what can be considered a spotless reputation among customers. Their customer service is greatly appreciated by users of the software, who describe reps as helpful and knowledgeable. It can be irritating when you contact customer support (generally) and find that ‘support’ isn’t quite there. Whether the rep lacks knowledge or courtesy, or in some nightmarish instances — both.
Customers of Rentec don’t have this problem. From the ease-of-use to functionalities, people hardly have a complaint about this software. Until of course you talk about how ‘tricky’ the reoccuring transactions can be.
Before we get a bit deeper into the cons, let’s take another look at Rentec’s best features.
Rentec Standout Features
As I’ve mentioned, the list of positives go on and on, customers aren’t shy to talk about them. Rentec shines with it’s easy setup. It is also a product that allows users to learn to resolve little difficulties themselves, courtesy of its knowledge base. The tremendous customer support is really the icing on the cake.
Not even a product as comprehensive and resourceful as Rentec is without its flaws. Let’s take a moment to talk about the bad stuff.
The dashboard is hardly a nightmare. The summary page provides tons of information from net income summary, occupancy rate, and notices. Users are free to filter information based on particular properties. You can even view net income salary as a pie chart or as summarized income/expense line items. Here the net income salary is categorized according to month, quarter or year.
What lands it in the ‘downside’ is the fact that users aren’t able to make any significant changes to the dashboard.
Rentec offers a not-so free trial?
Yes, another downside. Here’s how Rentec rubs me the wrong way. The company offers a “30 day FREE trial”, which is a good look. Users get to try out a product, see if it works for them, and if it does, you always have the option to commit. If not, you move on and find what suits your business.
Rentec’s free trial is a bit trickier than that, though. In order to access the free trial account, you’ll have to give them your credit card information. If you don’t cancel before the trial period is up, you get charged the monthly rate.
Be clear, Rentec does send you a reminder 5 days before that charge is made. But for a lot of people who are just looking to try out the product, I’m not sure if it would be worth the trouble.
Best Property Management Software: Maintenance Connection
Thorough Property Management Software
When it comes to managing a facility (thoroughly) you will find that Maintenance Connection is more than equipped for the task. Whether its inventory features, preventive maintenance options or asset tracking.
With the latter (asset tracking), you need only enter relevant information regarding each asset. This includes warranty information, vendors, serial numbers, meter readings etc. Any additional information (documents and images for instance) can easily be uploaded.
Maintenance Connection lets you store all work orders within the application. Users are free to schedule and assign work orders as they see fit. These features make way for a detailed and convenient maintenance history.
As one of the top maintenance solutions available, Maintenance Connection also includes an advanced search system. Come upon the information you need in a breeze, courtesy of search criteria and drop down filters.
Stay abreast of tasks with the help of maintenance tools readily at your disposal. The scheduling feature allows you to set individual tasks to be completed when need be. You can also schedule complex and recurring tasks for every day, week, month etc.
The software features a calendar that helps you track employee hours and labor among other things.
Powerful and Simple
Not only is Maintenance Connection comprehensive and efficient, it also exudes ease of use. You don’t have to be the most tech savvy person on the hemisphere to benefit from its slew of features and functionalities.
Information is readily available, and categorized under tabs, so you can quickly find whatever data you need. Manager cab also look over assets, work orders, inventory etc. in dual window view.
Clean, Custom Reports
If you are looking to create detailed, custom reports, Maintenance Connection has got you covered there. This application allows you to determine the date range of reports, as well as set them up to show the desired information. What’s more, you can send email reports directly from Maintenance Connection.
The reporting tool flaunts high flexibility allowing you to create reports that are not only detailed but are also best suited for your facility.
Permission Settings for Optimum Control
Another killer feature that allows users to flex power and control over a comprehensive system designed to complement workflows. Use permissions to determine who can access what information or carry out certain tasks within the program.
Mobile access is a part of the package. Go ahead and access asset information, or manage work orders, and basically keep your preventive maintenance plan in check, all from the convenience of your mobile phone.
While Maintenance Connection earns the number 3 spot on this list, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad product. Users have their gripes with the software (which is the case with most products) but don’t expect to see the Internet littered with 1 star reviews left by disgruntled past customers.
The customer service reps are generally considered to be passionate about their product and offer great help to customers in need. Users find Maintenance Connection particularly great at tracking assets and that it is quite easy to get into (for the most part).
Maintenance Connection Standout Features
Maintenance Connection earns its spot on this list, mostly due to its clean custom reports. The permission settings allows users to flex more control over every day operations. This product also excels at asset tracking. Even better, there is a wealth of training material available to ease users into operating the software:
- live online
- In person
- documentation etc.
During research, I found that some customers had an issue with the costing reports suiting their particular needs. Some customers expressed that the learning curve is a bit steeper if you don’t receive proper training from your employer.
The fact that users found that the software didn’t quite suit the needs of their business, may come down to insufficient research (on the part of the customer) prior to purchase. However, the complaint is so frequent that I thought (based on probability) Maintenance Connection could perhaps make some of these features more flexible to accommodate different markets.
Our Final Review on the Best Property Management Software
Again, I’d suggest that business owners take the needs of their business and staff into account before deciding what property management software to choose. Buildium is easily the most efficient (and cost effective) of the lot, but do you have a larger business that may require a bit more features? Are you a startup that requires a website that looks more professional in order to build your client base from the ground up?
Rentec has tons of features and a spotless reputation. Their way of handling transactions, however, seems (unnecessarily) troublesome. Maintenance Connection on the other hand is another well rounded product, but the starting price is a bit hefty. Also, some features could be more flexible.