The best property management software includes features such as tracking rent, scheduling maintenance and repairs, screening applicants, and paying vendors.
To help you find the best solution, we’ve conducted research and put together a collection of our 7 best picks for property management software.
1 AppFolio - Best Overall
Why We Chose It: AppFolio is a great fit for both residential and commercial property management, making it one of the best overall options no matter what type of properties you’re working with. The tool has one of the most modern looking interfaces around and provides sleek marketing tools that help post vacancies to your website and sync with 3rd party hosting sites. You can also easily establish rent increases based on the terms of the lease, quickly resolve maintenance issues, and more.
For residential properties, the software gives you everything you need so you don’t have to rely on an outside application and screening tool or a third-party accounting system such as Quickbooks. The commercial capabilities were built to deal with more complicated leases, specialized reporting, CAM reconciliations, and more.
Appfolio is completely web-based and starts as low as $.80/unit/month. There is a $250 minimum charge each month, so you’ll get the most value if you are managing over 200 units per month.
2 DoorLoop - Best Online Platform
Why We Chose It: DoorLoop is a completely web-based system providing flexible pricing and fully-integrated accounting, marketing, and maintenance features. DoorLoop is a fantastic choice for a fast-growing company that is looking to expand to more properties and units.
DoorLoop provides room for unlimited properties, users, training, support, and much more. Unlike other property management tools that might charge on a per unit basis, DoorLoop has more of a tiered pricing structure–allowing you to pay only $49/month for up to 20 units when you’re just getting started with their Starter plan. Currently, DoorLoop is 50% off your first 2 months–making it a top online property management software and a great time to test drive the solution to see if it’s right for you.
Want more options? Check out our list of best online property management software.
3 Buildium - Best for Rental Properties
Why We Chose It: Buildium is a complete property management solution designed by property managers. The software handles property accounting, company financials, reporting, as well as handling online payments with both a tenant portal and an owner portal. Buildium is best used by residential rental management companies given it’s scalability in how many units can be managed.
Buildium starts at $47/month, but has a unique a la carte fee structure that really only makes the software worth it if you manage at least 50 properties. For example, while managing 1 unit costs $47/month, managing 50 units is only $31 more at $78/month. They do have a “Pro” version which includes free EFT payments, free bank account setup, and free electronic leases.
Want more options? Check out our list of best rental property management software options.
4 Condo Control - Best for HOAs
Why We Chose It: Condo Control works to handle the needs of both property managers and self-managed associations. Features are offered not just to the property management company, but also to the members of the association and various staff.
Communication tools within Condo Control allow you to share documents, events, and messages electronically–allowing you to keep the community informed about potential events or updates. Automation is provided in the record keeping process through the use of digital forms and documents–allowing the community to submit things at a quicker pace.
Condo Control also offers tools to concierge staff and residents, allowing packages to be safely delivered, all while allowing residents to check online if it has arrived or not. Visitor parking can also be managed with a decreased potential for errors.
Want more options? Check out our list of best homeowner association software.
5 Hemlane - Best for Small Businesses
Why We Chose It: Hemlane is an all-in-one rental property management solution for owners, real estate agents, and property managers. Hemlane lets you manage properties easier than ever with their leasing tools, local support, maintenance coordination, and management tools.
Small businesses will find the Basic package from Hemlane to be as robust as they will need, while still having the option to upgrade to a more premium package if they ever grow. The core functionalities include leasing with marketing and tenant placement tools, local agent tools to help owners connect with managers and agents, management tools to handle finances and lease management, and maintenance tools to handle repair requests with your repair team.
Hemlane can be used for as little as 1 unit or as many as 100 units–making it a great choice for small business property management companies. In addition to level of functionality included with their Basic package, the solution comes in at a very affordable price–only $2/unit/month after a $28/month base fee.
6 TenantCloud - Best Free
Why We Chose It: TenantCloud is a free cloud property management software that can be used by both landlords and tenants. Landlords have the ability to receive online payments, screen applicants, manage finances, and get a free listing website. Meanwhile, tenants can submit rental applications, pay rent online and keep a detailed record of payments, and submit maintenance requests.
The free version of TenantCloud is best used by landlords who have under 75 units. This version allows for 1 user and up to 10 custom templates for rental agreements and notices. The paid version starts at $9/month.
7 MRI Commercial Management - Best for Commercial Properties
Why We Chose It: MRI Commercial Suite helps centralize building, suite, and lease information exclusively for commercial properties. The software has been implemented into many commercial operations and has helped reduce operating costs, improve strategic planning, and bring a level of automation into the business.
The commercial real estate management tool from MRI has a strong lease calculation tool which includes clauses, breakpoints, offsets, estimated payments, and recoveries. Additional reporting and data visualization capabilities can help you gain insight and improve your decision making.
Want more options? Check out our list of best commercial property management software.
What is Property Management Software?
Property management software helps manage income and expenses involved in managing both residential and commercial properties, such as collecting rent and handling proper maintenance. Common features of property management software include trust accounting, maintenance, inspections, tenant portals for communication, and reporting.
Property management software can help save time and money by giving you all the tools needed to maintain the health of your real estate assets and provide a better service to your tenants. Property management software can be used by a single landlord managing a few units, or by a large real estate portfolio managing thousands of apartment buildings.
What types of business challenges do property management software options address? There are property management solutions that address back-end accounting, payment processing, investment management, tenant tracking, work orders, complex reporting, and beyond.
Features of Property Management Software
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important capabilities provided in property management software programs:
- Accounting: Handles check writing, management of receivables and collections, bank reconciliations, top-level financial reporting, and fixed asset depreciation.
- Rent collection: Allows access to credit card payment portals and the ability to establish electronic (ACH) payments. Keep track of which payments cover fees and/or security deposits.
- Tenant management: Track tenant information and optimize the relationship. Store contact info, payment and service history, renewals, and rent increase schedules. Tenant screening functionalities can also be available to analyze credit data and criminal histories.
- Work order management: Manage service work, preventative maintenance, and unit prep work. Coordinate work performed with internal staff, in addition to work subcontracted to outside vendors. Scheduling features optimize availability of labor and equipment to make sure work is being performed as efficiently as possible.
- Property tracking: Track property assets and value, vacancies, tenant histories, property descriptions, previous improvements, and work, as well as ownership and investment information.
- Investment management: Track and report on ownership and investment data. Track investments, handle disbursements, and even identify new investors. Online owner portals provide owners a snapshot view of their investment data.
- Prospect tracking: Find new tenants by databasing contact info, posting vacancy ads, scheduling showings, and coordinating with interested potential tenants. Can be thought of as an industry-specific CRM software module.
Benefits of Property Management Software
Robust property management solutions are becoming increasingly more accessible. Many features, which just a few years ago were reserved for only the most sophisticated, enterprise solutions, are now available to property management businesses of all sizes and software budgets. Software providers are leveraging many of the following tools to help property managers run their business more efficiently:
- Business intelligence dashboards
- Web portals
- Automation features
- Improved system integration
- Customizable alerts
- Mobile access
What Does Your Business Need?
Property management companies come in all shapes and sizes of course. That’s a big part of the reason there is no one single answer to which property management software is the best. If you’re managing a large portfolio of industrial or office-oriented commercial space, your needs are different than if you manage a small set of single-family residences. Still, there are many common challenges. No matter your needs, software solutions are being designed to reinforce operating best practices and help your company become more profitable.
- New Buyers and Small Businesses: These businesses, or even a single individual, may manage one or more single family homes and/or a small apartment complex. Getting started with an accounting system that can handle collecting rent payments, and tracking the basic expenses involved with being a landlord (such as general maintenance) will allow you to see how much profit you’re making in your investments.
- Managers of Multiple Buildings: Companies that are managing multiple different buildings and a larger amount of units are going to desire functionalities to not only help save money but also make their lives easier. Advanced property management options include portals for tenants to log in and pay rent, submit maintenance requests, sign leases, and more. The system may also include a service portion, which will including a scheduling tool to ensure the proper maintenance workers are taking care of pressing issues at various locations as they occur.
- Large Companies: If the business is a part of a larger corporate real estate entity and manages thousands of units, you’ll likely look for an enterprise level property management option or perhaps a complete ERP software option. The solution will need to be synced in with some real estate development features, as businesses of this size tend to have a development division and look to expand into new areas and properties. A strong focus should be put on reporting functionalities that can help the business make better decisions and lower costs.
QuickBooks as Property Management Software
Using QuickBooks Online as a property management tool is possible for a property manager handling small to midsize properties. Desktop versions of Quickbooks allow you to set up company and customer files as various properties. This will allow you to handle tasks such as collecting rent from tenants and paying property owners and management companies, on top of any fees involved in property maintenance.
The above video demonstrates just how you can set up your Quickbooks Desktop to manage buildings and units within them.
If the property management business is comprised of several large properties or multiple complexes, it is advised you look into a more advanced system. A professional property manager could be better off finding a trust accounting system. Once rent is received from the tenants, it needs to be disbursed to the property owners. This money should be kept in its own account and separate from any account that is used to pay expenses. Any money also received from the owners for the work you’ve done (your management fee) should be put into your own account. QuickBooks lacks this type of account management and is why it can be difficult to manage multiple properties using QuickBooks.
Pain Points Solved With Property Management Software
- Dealing with Vacancies. In order to ensure full ROI on your property investment, you’ll want to ensure any available units are leased out and empty units do not stay empty long. Most software can also set reminders to let you know when units are 60 days from a lease expiring, which can prompt you to handle a renewal with a current tenant, or get a unit listed on the market. Look for property management software that lets you manage your rental listings via popular property listing websites (such as Craiglist or Apartments.com) as well as maintain up to date and accurate information on available units on any company website or Facebook page you may manage.
- Timely response to maintenance issues. Many tenants may feel dissatisfied with their property manager if they are slow to respond to repairs and other issues in the unit. A quality property management software will not only allow for work orders to be created, but it will include a level of interaction between the tenant and landlord. Online portals can let tenants submit a maintenance request on their own time, and also let them monitor the response. Rather than leaving a message on an answering machine after office hours, the tenant knows that their work order has been digitally received, and later accepted and assigned to a technician. At the office, it lets you assign various levels of priority, from a routine drywall patch to an emergency flooding situation, and ensure it’s been handed off to an appropriately skilled technician who can go on site.
- Properly managing the “hidden” finances. Security deposits that are collected will need to be returned to a tenant once they have moved out, sans any money withheld for needed repairs the tenant may be responsible for. A smart property management solution can help pave the way for these funds to be kept in a separate bank account that accumulates interest, or some other investment account. The solution will also make sure the appropriate taxes are calculated and taken care of by year-end or track any sort of depreciation on assets (such as the buildings themselves).
Trends in Property Management Software
There are many interesting trends in property management, particularly when involving new technology and online solutions. Here are just some of the latest changes to the industry:
Know your demographic
Customer service has become a lost art in property management, yet keeping your tenants happy is the best way to ensure they resign a lease and keep the money flowing in your direction. Being able to contact a landlord through an app is much more convenient than waiting to place a phone call during traditional business hours.
Additionally, the demographics for renters is skewing younger and younger. And tenants in the Millenial and Gen z age brackets will often want high tech solutions to rental services, environmentally-conscious living spaces, and more access to social services like community nights or fitness centers. Ignoring this demand puts your company at risk of appearing outdated and thus unattractive to a renter.
Basic expectations from young renters include:
- Wi-Fi compatibility
- Ability to apply online
- Flexible lease arrangements
- Online payment options
- Enhanced security
- Outdoor amenities
Embrace modern technology
Almost everyone is connected to the web. In today’s day and age, it’s hard to imagine a property management company operating without a website. And now, software solutions are starting to offer property management mobile apps for tenants and prospects. These mobile apps allow the tenant to have all the same functionality they are used to on a company website, such as paying rent, reviewing lease terms, and submitting work orders. As mentioned before, this makes customer service much easier to facilitate.
For prospects, they should be able to view apartment availability and submit applications. An app lets you modify listings on the fly, even marking a property as no longer available after a successful showing. This keeps you and potential tenants from wasting time scheduling viewings at already promised properties.
Use augmented and virtual reality
Many industries are jumping on the virtual reality wagon, so much that it’s projected to become a $29.7 billion dollar industry. And real estate has taken advantage of this trend to great effect. Companies like Matterport allow for 360-degree visualizations of dream homes to be built. Special cameras pick up every aspect of a room and give prospective tenants the ability to go on a 3D virtual tour of a listing. Similar to Google Maps’ street view, you can drag and drop your mouse to get the exact view you’d like of a room, instead of relying on the photos posted on the property management website.
Property managers don’t need to gain access to any special technology to have these features available in their listings. Companies like Facebook now allow for 3D and 360 photos to be taken with any mobile device and uploaded to your website or app. These images grant any potential tenants the ability to “move” around the photo.