Property Management Software Buyer Report – 2017

Renter demand has reached a historic peak in 2017—in response, U.S. multifamily construction is at its highest rate in over three decades.

This means property managers have an extraordinary opportunity to attract quality renters. But how do you maximize your efficiency and visibility to cut through the competition?

A property management solution (PMS), tailored to your specific needs can be the greatest ally in maintaining, marketing and managing the health of your real estate business.

We wanted to find out what’s important to property managers when seeking software, so we broke down the methods, preferences and pain points for 300 real Software Advice buyers in order to give you more information to choose the right solution.

Key Findings

  • Spreadsheets’ lack of functionality won’t cut it for property managers—34 percent of buyers are ditching Excel for an industry-specific solution.
  • Business pain points vary, but inefficient tracking of tenant, lease and work order data causes information to fall through the cracks for 21 percent of buyers.
  • Maintenance management is sought by nearly a quarter of buyers (24 percent) to streamline job completion and minimize costs.

Most Still Using Spreadsheets and Other Manual Methods

More than a third of buyers use spreadsheets to track most information, while another 20 percent use a property management-specific system.

Back in 2014, we found that a combined 53 percent of buyers used spreadsheets or other manual methods to track property details. Today, that number is slightly lower at 51 percent, likely due to the increased software options available to managers.

Buyer’s Current Methods
The demand for multifamily properties can help explain this initial reliance on spreadsheets, as newly built independent properties are likely to start with this method until funding is available to move toward software.

As we’ll see in the rest of the results, buyers have a variety of needs that Excel or an older PMS just can’t deliver.

Buyers Need Software to Help Track Data, Automate Tasks

Looking at the overall pain points for property management buyers, 38 percent say they simply want to “streamline operations.” That’s a common goal, so we broke the data down further.

Top Reasons for Software Purchases
 

What does streamlining mean in day-to-day property management? For these buyers, the goal is to:

Improve the method for tracking tenant, lease and financial data tracking (21 percent)

 HOW SOFTWARE HELPS:  Tracking information manually on a spreadsheet often leads to mistakes and makes it difficult to retrieve data on-the-fly. With a modern PMS, managers can enter details into a specific profile for each tenant and see their rent payment status or submitted work requests all on one screen.

Automate daily tasks that consume too much time (20 percent)

 HOW SOFTWARE HELPS:  Similarly, a PMS offers automation and self-service benefits that take time-consuming tasks off your hands—built-in resident screening tools return results quickly, tenants can pay rent online or submit maintenance requests anytime through an online portal and owners can quickly advertise new vacancies on your branded website.

The third most common reason (19 percent) is to find a property management-specific system, which enables these streamlining benefits. And below, we’ll see how a PMS can help solve the most common issue of maintenance management.

Nearly a Quarter Need Help Managing Maintenance Requests

Ranking buyers’ specific-features, 24 percent are seeking maintenance management functionality to help organize and complete requests in a timely manner.

Top-Requested PMS Features
 

Maintenance can consume a lot of time, manpower and resources, so streamlining the work order management process can save significant resources with a modest investment.

Much like a specialized maintenance management system, maintenance functionality in a PMS offers several helpful features:

Property Management System Features

 

Online portal Residents or employees can submit work orders any time of day, increasing convenience.
Work order prioritization Use pre-set rules to identify the most urgent issues, ensuring that a small problem doesn’t become much more expensive to fix later.
Accounting integration Sync all maintenance expenditures with your financial data so you can see just how much maintenance costs.
Reporting Managers get an overview of maintenance performance, such as completion rates, average costs and most common problems, in order to identify areas for improvement.
Property management mobile app Access all of the above features and data whether you’re driving to the office or in a resident’s apartment staring at a broken A/C unit.

 

Vast Majority Prefer Cloud-Based Software

In our 2014 report, more than half of our respondents had no preference for either cloud-based or on-premise property management software. Stripping those out, we found that 92 percent wanted a web-based system.

Today, that preference rises to 97 percent, showing a nearly universal inclination toward cloud software.

Deployment Preference
 


 
This is no surprise, as the popularity of cloud-based software of all types is growing, especially with small business owners. Also known as “Software-as-a-Service,” cloud application services are expected to grow by more than 20 percent, according to Gartner predictions.

So what’s the big deal about cloud software for property management? The industry-specific benefits are compelling:

Lower upfront costs. For newer property managers, lower upfront costs on web-based software can make what is normally a huge investment much more feasible. Cloud solutions are typically priced per unit, per month, so smaller businesses have an opportunity to implement modern technology for an affordable price.

Increased accessibility. Cloud software makes all your data and functionality available through nearly any web-enabled device, allowing managers to enter data or look up information anywhere. In addition, staff can use tablets while showing properties to prospective residents so all the important details are at their fingertips.

Data security. With cloud software, all your sensitive data is stored on servers at the vendor’s location; If your computers are damaged or stolen, valuable data is still secure.

Demographics

The largest group of buyers (36 percent) represent multifamily apartment properties, and 31 percent manage single-family residential properties. More than half of these buyers (52 percent) manage fewer than 50 units.

Buyers’ Property Type
 

buyer property type

 
Buyers’ Business Size, by Units
 

buyer business size by units

 
Whatever your portfolio contains, software vendors have functionality tailor-made for any kind of property, including apartments, affordable housing, HOA, mobile homes, student housing, vacation rentals and more.

Takeaways for Property Management Software Buyers

Property managers report a variety of pain points and reasons for seeking software—maintenance management, generating reports and tracking information about financials and tenants is difficult using spreadsheets and a series of disconnected systems.

Boost convenience, accessibility and automation with software to free yourself from time-consuming daily tasks so you can focus on delivering the best experience for your residents.

Finding software can be frustrating, but we can make it easier. In addition to our list of top property management solutions, you can call Software Advice at 855-998-8505 for a free consultation and receive a shortlist of property management systems that meet your specific needs

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