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Buyer's Guide

by Taylor Short,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 22, 2017

Property management software helps property managers oversee every aspect of their daily operations, from tenant and lease tracking to accounting to building maintenance and more. These types of systems provide a centralized location where managers can view all of their properties to ensure everything is running smoothly while also making sure their properties are well maintainted and their tenants' needs are properly met. We wrote this guide to help you determine what kind of property management system will best suit your organization. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Property Management Software?
Common Features of Property Management Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Property Management Software BuyerView | 2014
Key Features to Consider
Recent Events You Should Know About

What Is Property Management Software?

Property managers have unique needs when it comes to technology, and there are hundreds of systems on the market to meet those needs. Some are designed for companies managing multiple types of properties, while others target a specific niche in the industry, including:

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • University housing
  • Homeowners’ associations (HOAs)

Buildium Electronic Rent Collection Portal 


Buildium is an example of a vendor providing an electronic rent collection portal

Common Features of Property Management Software

Property management systems help landlords and managers increase efficiency, improve collections and enhance the quality of service provided to the tenant. Property management software streamlines the wide range of tasks that a manager performs on a regular basis. Common applications found in these systems include:

Accounting Assists managers with their general ledger, payables and rent rolls. Some systems provide reporting features that calculate total per-unit vacancy days and profit/loss at both unit and organization-wide levels. Examples of vendors offering accounting features include IBS 10.0i and SKYLINE Software.
Tenant & lease tracking Enables landlords and rental owners to automate and track the leasing process from beginning to end. Functions include: tenant screening, move-in, rent/utility payments, maintenance, vacancy planning, move-out and make-ready. Example vendors: Buildium, Spectra and AssociationVoice Building Edition.
Budgeting & forecasting Helps managers develop accurate operating budgets and calculate future values. Uses historical lease and financial information to make budget projections for revenue and expenses, accounting for CPI increases, inflation, market rates and tenant improvements. Includes tools for assessment and analysis, tax planning and scenario planning. Example vendors: Buildium and Propertyware.
Building maintenance Tracks work orders, schedules preventative maintenance and coordinates communication with maintenance staff. Applications can automatically create schedules and alerts and generate work orders, and some systems let tenants make maintenance requests online, expediting service. Example vendors: HippoFM, Maintenance Connection and Bigfoot CMMS.
Tenant portal Gives tenants the ability to log into a Web-based portal to easily view rent due and pay rent online, submit maintenance requests, check the status of maintenance requests, send messages and submit referrals. Example vendors: Buildium, AppFolio.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Before evaluating solutions, you’ll want to know in what type of buyer category you belong:

  • Niche-use buyer. If your company specializes in a single property type, a system specializing in that type of property is a better option. Managers of commercial offices and retail space may want a commercial software application, while those with residential properties may benefit from a residential property system. Other examples of systems include those designed for homeowners’ associations (HOA software), affordable housing or hotel management software.
  • Integrated suite buyers. For managers with several types of properties in their portfolio, selecting a more robust system may be a better option. These provide functionality to support all types of properties in your portfolio.

Property Management Software BuyerView | 2014

We've spoken with thousands of property managers over the years about new software solutions. Based on our interactions with these buyers, our report looks to answer the following questions:

  • How are buyers currently managing properties?
  • What are the top reasons for replacing existing property management software systems?
  • What are the top applications required by property managers?
  • How have buyer sizes changed over the years?

Click here to access our full report. For more detailed information on this report and its findings, please contact Taylor Short (taylorshort@softwareadvice.com).

Key Features to Consider

Online tenant services. Renters increasingly want to receive rent reminders via email. They also want access to Web-based property management software interfaces where they can pay rent, file maintenance requests, submit their notice to vacate or search their handbook. A system that supports renters’ needs is critical, especially if you own multiple units or properties.

Automatic vacancy postings. The Internet is the first place most people go when they’re looking for a place to live. Therefore, many systems allow you to post vacancies to sites like Craigslist, Rental.com and Apartments.com using the information already in your system. All you have to do is click a few buttons, and the listing is posted to half a dozen places, helping you fill vacancies faster with much less work.


Point2 Property Manager Listing Feature

This is an example of Point2 Property Manager's listing feature

Integrated Web and marketing tools. Many products include tools that help managers build websites that showcase and market their properties. More integrated systems may include search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help build traffic to your site—and your listings. These tools can include analytics features that allow you to identify traffic sources and dashboards that help measure the impact of your marketing efforts.

Recent Events You Should Know About

As homeownership rises, rental affordability improves in 2017. The 2016 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey shows that homeownership will reverse from it’s historic low in 2016 and begin trending upward, as millennials prepare to buy. An anticipated effect of this trend is a damper on the growth of renters and cheaper rental rates overall.

AssetEye assists multi-property professionals. RealPage acquired AssetEye Inc. in 2016 to offer their solution for data aggregation, reporting and collaboration, which extends the scope of RealPage’s software. This acquisition allows the company’s cloud-based solution to cover other property types, such as hospitality, commercial, multi and single-family, senior living and student housing.

Use trending colors to make rentals pop. Adding bursts of bold colors in apartments can impact the mood and behavior of renters. So whether you follow the suggestions of Pantone with its color of 2017, Greenery, or personalize the hue to your renter demographic, consider how colors can potentially turn prospects into renters.


Free Download:
Property Management Software Pricing Guide

Free Download:
Ten Steps To Selecting Property Management Software


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