What to look for in Property Management Software
7/3/2012 9:28 AM
Submitted by S. Leonhard
Like many other industries, improvements in technology have led to dramatic changes in the capability of real estate property management software. Many of these new developments can help improve the return on your real estate investment by helping to maximize occupancy, reduce administrative expense and minimize risks associated with owning and leasing your property.
Some of the recent advancements to look for as you evaluate software include applicant screening, automated renting procedures, utility tracking and billing, automated invoice processing and risk management.
Many current programs incorporate comprehensive online screening applications that allow you to receive your rental applicant’s credit score in just seconds. In addition you can establish many of the criteria utilized, including non-statistical factors that ensure consistency in compliance with your properties policies. Today’s programs include the ability to complete not only a thorough credit check but also a search of available national and state criminal database information.
Automated Renting Procedures
With both large and small real estate portfolios it is critical for property owners to know that the established renting and site management practices are followed at each location. Your property management software should help enforce compliance by using daily, weekly and monthly routines that require consistent and prompt completion of each task at the property level. Controls and sign-offs integrated into software ensure that tasks are completed in the proper order and by the appropriately authorized party.
Utility Tracking & Billing
One area significantly improved in the software products available to property owners and managers is in the area of utility management. Many property management products offer applications that allow for the tracking and billing for utility consumption in each rental unit. By using this feature property owners can generate addition revenue and also promote efficiency in utility utilization. Tenants experience greater satisfaction and automated billing capabilities reduce costs to the property owner.
Automated Invoice Processing
With the availability of automated invoice processing your property management software can provide a significant opportunity to improve the efficiency of processing payments and reigning in spending. Available programs allow owners to automatically monitor and set spending and approval limits. Significant savings can be achieved through consolidating purchases and the integration of information into the purchasing and budgets systems. This allows for immediate visibility and strict compliance with approved spending budgets.
Many software providers offer additional products through affiliations with third party providers that can achieve benefits for their tenants from economies of scale. One example of this would be renters insurance. By integrating this feature into your property management software the property owner can reduce risk through higher tenant participation. The tenants benefit from the lower premium costs and better quality coverage that can be achieved by utilizing a larger customer base.
These are only a few of the many areas to look at when considering a software solution for your property management needs. Also be sure to consider what may be particularly important to your specific organization such as credit card and on-line payment options, budget preparation, and financial reporting requirements.
Take the time to thoroughly investigate the capability of the available property management software before purchasing any product. Also be sure to apply these same principals when selecting a firm to act as your property manager. A quality property management firm will be utilizing a software platform that will assist them with maximizing the return on your real estate investment and their delivery of service.