Property management software has expanded swiftly in recent years, from only being available to real estate and national companies to dozens of software that can now be used by smaller property management firms and landlords with a handful of rental units. This new wave of property management software can either be installed on your home PC, tablet PC or accessed on the web. The challenge now is finding great software from the dozens on the market that is best suited for your needs as a landlord or property manager.
There are myriad functionalities in property management software these days that one gets confused as to what is really important and what are just “nice to haves”, coupled with the fact that some charge quite a hefty amount it’s really important to identify which features are worth investing in. So what are the features we can’t do without as landlords or property managers? First and foremost we will be looking at flexibility and expandability. Usability will be the next feature to be discussed then interaction, reports generation and support.
Let us first look at flexibility and expandability. When you buy property management software you must look to the future. Since you will be investing not just money but time mastering this application it is natural to want to be able to use it for a number of years. The question that you should ask about the software is can it grow with me? If the firm starts to handle more units or if you acquire more units will the software you have still be able to service the additions? Is it flexible enough for these changes? Also does the software manufacturer have plans of adding additional upgrades or updates to the basic program? This is important and shows that the developers are working hard to perfect the software and keep up with the times. It may not seem important now, but having a program that promises expandability to include upgrades for new rental tasks will definitely come in handy.
Another “must be included” characteristic of property management software is usability. You can have the best and most advance software but if it is too difficult to use then you will ultimately get discouraged and use another one. Navigation is a key component when it comes to usability. The user should have no problems finding the function they need as well as using it. If it takes you too long to access a function or if running it take several steps then that once again discourages use and the user will not be able to maximize the program.
Interaction with other programs and operating systems is also important when buying property management software. Can you use your property management software easily with a windows operating system or is it better suited for a MAC? Additionally can the software integrate with other programs like excel or word? This leads us to the next feature which is reports generation. Are the reports it can generate what you need? Can you pull up data easily like who has paid the rent and who has not? How much is owed by the tenant including overdue fees? Does it have its own tax tracking system or do you need to buy another separate program? With all the property management software available today choosing one with its own tax tracking functions are best. Last but not least is support. You may find it challenging to identify if this feature is effective or not so you’ll have to dive into forums and software review sites to get a better idea. Live chat or phone support is best though, an email support only option takes too long and the chances of being misunderstood are greater