A property management app is an absolute must if you're a real estate professional. The problem, though, is that there are so many different apps out there that it can be difficult to find the right one for your realty business. Here are some great tips for finding the best one that fits your own needs.
The reason real estate professionals need a property management app is to make owning or operating an investment property -- usually a residential rental property -- easier to administrate. That means that you need to find an app or another software program that is going to offer you the features you need to make this process quicker, easier, and less painful for everyone involved.
That being said, every investment property is different and will have its unique requirements. Maintenance, access, tenancy, amenities -- all these differences mean that a property management app designed for a commercial property will solve different problems for you than one that's designed for managing a residential one, and vice versa. This makes it important to match your management software with the type of real estate you need to be managed.
A property management app is only as powerful as it is flexible. If you choose an app that doesn't offer high levels of versatility when it comes to managing data, this lack of data openness can become a major problem in the future. It can be especially crippling if you want to change management apps or add functionality using a third-party integration.
If your property management software doesn't allow integrations or plugins with things like utility billing, online payments, or tenant screening, you're going to have to rely on non-integrated sources to manage these issues. Additionally, if your property management app traps your data and makes it impossible to export it, either to a spreadsheet or another management program, if you ever decide to migrate to a new app you'll have your work cut out for you. In cases like this, make sure you choose a platform, such as AppFolio, that offers built-in data migration as one of its features.
Controlling overhead is a major component of any real estate investor's business. Thankfully, there are many property management software suites out there that are either low-cost or completely free to use. This can make choosing one of these affordable options to seem like a foregone conclusion. But owners and managers of investment properties need to keep something else in mind as well: in this situation, as in many others, it's often true that you get what you pay for.
What are the possible downsides to going low-cost? Free or low-fee apps might not be the most economical because they haven't been engineered to be easy to use, for example. They also might not feature the best technical or customer support staff to answer any questions or resolve any issues you may have. A good example is Buildium, which charges $150 a month to start but offers several different tiers of service. It's therefore advisable to find a happy medium between cost of access to your app and how easy it is to use -- including whether you've got any options if you need technical support!