Property Management Software – What to Look For

While many property managers still use Excel spreadsheets or a pencil and paper to manage their investments, there are much better tools available. The property management software you choose should be flexible, inexpensive and easy to use. You need a really flexible rental property program because, as a property manager, you never know what tomorrow may bring. You might need to get details about a property or tenant at home, in the office or even out at a property. You might need to have other members of your company get records themselves, from their own computers. Your business might double, and you don’t want a tool that won’t server your needs any more. The most flexible property management programs are those running over the Internet.

Because the records are kept on a Web server, you – or anyone else you authorize – can get to them from any Internet-connected computer. And unlike Windows property management programs, on-line property management software doesn’t limit the number of units (doors) you can manage. Surprisingly, you don’t give up any security features when using the right on-line property management software. True, the records aren’t on your computer. Instead, they’re maintained on a computer that typically has much better protection than your own. It’ll be kept in a locked room, fire-safe room, with daily backups and multiple storage devices. The best on-line rental property programs also use SSL security so that all of your work is encrypted – and therefore completely off-limits to hackers. All on-line rental property programs are sold by subscription.

Look for one that doesn’t require a long-term commitment or a single annual payment. You want to be able to cancel without any penalties. Because property management programs can be complex, look for one where support and training are included in the subscription fee. You want a company that looks to maintain a healthy long-term relationship with its customers. This is actually another advantage of on-line tools; they have to keep you satisfied for a long time, not just for the first 30 or 60 days. Support and training should be offered on your schedule. Make sure your software vendor has extended support hours, especially if your office is on one coast and theirs is on another. It goes without saying that the best property management software is developed by actual property managers. However, some developers rely on their own very limited experience. For example, they may know all about single-family houses, but have no clue about the special needs of commercial property investing or multifamily units.

Make sure the company you choose relies on a wide variety of property managers, landlords and other experts to get product design tips. In addition, you want your property management software to be responsive to your specific needs. Companies making Windows property management software can never be that responsive to customers, because upgrading the software is such a hassle. Such companies often only release upgrades every year or two, and when they do, their customers have to go through what may be a very messy upgrade process. On the other hand, on-line property management software can be upgraded whenever the company has a new feature that has been fully tested. The next time customers log in, the new features are ready for them to use. Here are some of the features that you will absolutely want in your property management program.

o A full accounting package. Your program should support whichever accounting method you prefer, cash (simpler) or accrual (more detailed and preferred by most property managers). It should include a number of accounting reports that you can run at any time and for any period. You should be able to calculate late fees and discounts automatically

o Check writing. When you have to write a lot of checks for your business, it’s great to be able to just print them off on your computer. Your software vendor will put you in touch with at least one company that makes the kind of check forms you will need. One word of caution: to print checks with blank check stock, you will need a laser printer and a special magnetic ink cartridge. The laser printer probably won’t be an issue, but the magnetic ink cartridge may be. A simpler solution is just to order preprinted check forms. These forms will have the basic information such as MICR numbers (the numbers at the bottom of the check, which are always printed in magnetic ink). You’ll still print checks, but just the amount, payee, date and other fields that don’t have to be in magnetic ink.

o Reminders. You should be able to set up reminders for appointments, projects, and other tasks. You should also get automatic reminders for the two things every property manager wants to be aware of: late rent payments and expiring leases.

o Many different data fields to let you store all the information you want, but not that many mandatory data fields. You should be able to use your software for as little or as much work as you like.

o Fast and easy data management. You’ll spend a lot of time entering records and finding what you need in your property management software. You don’t want something that will make it complicated and difficult to handle these tasks.

Look for wizards and maybe even a “Quick Start” feature to make loading fast, and fast searching and sorting to let you very easily find what you need. What if you find a property management program that is great, but not perfect? Many property managers will quit using a program because it doesn’t have the one specific report or calculation they really like. They then have a choice; they can keep on going with Excel or written ledgers, or they can continue on an endless search for the perfect program that simply doesn’t exist. Instead, why not contact the company you are interested in and see if they can add the feature you want? You might learn that they’re already working on it. If not, they may be happy to add it to keep you satisfied.

Web Based Property Management Software

Around the country there are many commercial and residential properties. Commercial properties include shopping centers, storage centers, and various others. Apartment complexes, retirement communities, and other rental properties are in this category. All of these properties require managers to function successfully. Web based property management software are great tools for managers.

Managers of these properties work to supervise staff. They also perform other tasks related to the running of properties. Commercial and residential properties operate like other businesses. They earn money for property owners, as well as, pay bills to debtors. Property management software makes this process much easier.

There are a number of different software products in this category. Not all of these are designed in the same way. Unit Connect provides property managers with valuable resources. The software here allows managers to use the internet in their responsibilities. The details of this software make managing more organized and secure. Here are some of the benefits to using this management software:

Keeping track of lease holders

One of the important tasks of property managers is to keep track of their lease holders. These are individuals who are leasing either residential or commercial units. There are various documents related to this process. Software products allow managers to keep track of this information without physical paperwork. The software acts as a storage system for lease holder documents and contracts.

Maintaining sensitive information

Some of the information that lease holders provide to property managers is sensitive. This information must be handled safely. Traditional management styles simply use filing systems to keep this information. Unit Connect offers software that makes storing sensitive information easy. This information can include bank account numbers, social security numbers, and various other items related to the lease holder.

Online tools for managing

Online tools provided by management software takes this process into the future. It provides technology that assists managers in their responsibilities. They are able to perform such tasks as monitoring the activities of the property. Having access to financials and other information quickly is a benefit. No more searching for paperwork will be necessary.

Paying property bills

Although properties are used by owners to make money, they also have to pay money out. Salaries, construction work, vendors and others must be paid monthly. Managers need software that makes this process simple and quick. Unit Connect offers this through their products.

The Evolution of Property Manager Software

Properties include immovable assets such as buildings, apartments, houses, shopping malls, and theater complexes that can be rented out either for residential or commercial purposes. In the last couple of decades, real estate industry has witnessed growth that was never seen earlier. However, the growth was limited only to properties that were well-maintained and properly managed. Hence, it is clearly evident that property management is extremely important to gain maximum value for your assets.

Property management involves handling issues such as renting out properties, communicating with tenants, rental payments, and aspects related to building maintenance and installation. For an individual or a management firm, managing all these issues on a routine basis can be frustrating and cumbersome. The best way avoiding any such discomfort is to sign up for any online property manager software that enables users manage their property portfolios efficiently, thereby saving ample amount of time, money and energy.

When they were developed initially, first-generation property management software were originally based on DOS platform. One disadvantage of these systems was that users found these systems extremely difficult to use, could be used only for accounting purpose, and were inflexible. Also, the software was not compatible with standard hardware and software components available in the market. Users even had to compromise on data storage as they had limited storage facility. Property investors even found it difficult to import and export data across systems.

As the technology evolved, the software also experienced phenomenal changes. Second-generation property manager software, which was based either on Windows-OS or Linux-OS, came into the market equipped with better features and enhanced capabilities so as to provide better property managing experience to users. These programs were easy to install, convenient to use and promised increased functionality. Also, they allowed customers to customize their applications and arrange data as per their needs and requirements. It was now possible to integrate diverse components and different modules into one system, thereby allowing the software to provide solutions to every major aspect related to property management including accounting, marketing, managing tenants and lease issues, maintenance, financial management, and communication. However, one disadvantage with these systems was that they were expensive. Users had to buy the software from the manufacturer and have them installed in their systems. Many times, users even had to upgrade their systems so as to make them compatible with the software.

With the advent of advanced concepts such as internet and e-commerce, the software has further evolved so as to support these concepts. Now, property management solution providers are developing property manager software based on a special platform called ASP (Application Service Provider) so as to integrate them with the web and can be accessed anywhere anytime in the world. When compared with traditional programs, web-based programs are advantageous in many ways. These are extremely flexible and provide users with unlimited data storage space. These programs are user-friendly, have broad compatibility and are easy to maintain. Since they are web-integrated, users can have access to real-time information, thereby allowing consumers to respond quickly according to market fluctuations and gain maximum profits. In addition to these benefits, web-based programs are extremely cost-effective and allow users have complete control over their properties.

The entire objective of any software is to integrate technology with the day-to-day processes of life, thereby facilitating users define their tasks and successfully achieve their objectives along with optimal utilization of resources. In this regard, property manager software is an exact fit as it helps property managers plan, organize and handle multiple tasks related to their properties in an efficient and effective manner. At present, there are many types of property manager software available in the market. However, one should employ bit of care while choosing the right one. There are many useful resources available on the internet providing valuable tips on how to choose good property manager software.