If keeping up with the tasks involved in managing your portfolio are starting to become overwhelming, the answer might be to automate your efforts. As you might expect, there are many potential software solutions available to help you accomplish this. To choose the right one for you, here’s how to evaluate property management software.
Your first step should be to examine your particular situation. Which processes would you like to automate? Where are the chokepoints in your business? How many people will be using the software? What are the most important reports you’ll need to generate? And finally, how much money do you have to spend to implement a solution?
While it’s tempting to get the most expensive software your budget will allow, this can lead to buying more capability than you actually need. Before you start looking, ask yourself what you really need it to do. To help you get the ball rolling, at minimum, it should be capable of processing rent payments and transferring funds directly into your bank account. Any other repetitive tasks associated with your business should also be capable of being handled by the solution you choose.
Bear in mind, while software can deal with many of the same tasks a property management company would accomplish for you. It’s still a good idea to consult a property management company if your business has grown so much you feel you need property management software to keep up.
Once you’ve identified your particular needs, your next most important consideration should be ease of use. You want something logical, intuitive, as well as easy to use and teach. Get sales reps to give you a very thorough presentation regarding its use. If you don’t get it with an expert sitting right there, you’ll be lost when you’re left on your own.
Given a choice between cloud-based and native software, cloud-based software offers more flexibility in terms of updates, scalability and flexibility. You’ll also be able to access your data from anywhere with an internet connection. This means you can run your business from a beach on Ibiza if the mood strikes.
On the subjects of scalability and flexibility, you want software capable of growing with you as your portfolio expands. It should also be capable of managing single-family homes, condominiums and multi-unit buildings, and several at a time if need be. Modular software gives you the ability to bring in various new functions as your needs evolve. Work order modules, preventive maintenance modules and tax modules are useful features to have.
The capability of integrating with online rental platforms will save you a lot of time when it comes to advertising vacancies. It’s also useful to have the software screen responses to your ads automatically based upon criteria you establish to save you the time of talking to people who don’t qualify.
Data security is a huge issue. You’ll be storing lots of sensitive financial information including bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, work histories, employment histories and possibly even criminal records. Make sure the software’s encryption is capable of keeping that information safe.
When it comes to technical support, does the software’s vendor have phones or chat available 24/7/365—or do you have to make sure you only have problems at certain times of the day? Problems have a tendency to be most prevalent when tech support is closed, so opt for a company whose tech support seldom closes. By the way, ideally the software will come with free unlimited support.
Last, but not least, when you’re considering how to evaluate property management software, pay attention to the reputation of the company behind it. Word of mouth is the best advertising. Look for someone whose operation is similar in size and scope to yours; find out what they use and how happy they are with it.
If you take the time to carefully consider your needs and apply a realistic vision of your situation, you’ll find property management software can be a very useful tool.