There are a number of factors to consider when determining what to look for in property management software. Among them are capabilities, suitability of purpose, product reviews, ease of use, product support, and of course, price.


Capabilities

It’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want the software to accomplish. This will give you a framework within which to perform your evaluations. At minimum, any good property management software should be capable of managing different types of properties, tracking deposits and fees, facilitating the application process, keeping track of tenants, and managing maintenance schedules.


Suitability Of Purpose

Be careful to focus primarily on your property management needs. Yes, it’s tempting to go with a product that offers to automate all of your office’s functions, however this can be overkill. Look for a product with the specific features you need for the property management tasks you want to accomplish. For example, if your main issue is getting your property in front of the right eyes, focus on a software or service with a positive property management track record. You’ll never know how suitable the software is for your needs until you try it, so request a demo if at all possible.


Positive Reviews

Read lots of reviews to narrow the field to the choices with the potential to be the best solution for your situation. This saves you from repeating the mistakes of those who have gone before you. In addition to ease of use, pay attention to comments about tech support, reliability and extra charges.


Intuitive User Interface

Get a very thorough product demonstration so you can judge how steep the learning curve will be. The most capable software with a cumbersome user interface is a recipe for frustration and added costs. Try it before you buy it, and as part of the evaluation process make it a point to balance ease of use against capabilities in real-life situations. You’re looking for ease of installation as well as ease of use. The Holy Grail is a product capable of meeting all of your needs with a highly intuitive interface.


Product Support

In addition to all of the above, make sure the purchase price includes adequate training and strong product support. Ideally, both will be free and unlimited. If you do pay for product support, make sure it’s a one-time fee covering all situations.


Price

This one is slightly counter-intuitive. Yes, price is definitely a consideration, as it should always be. However, property management software—like a good property management company—is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. This is not to say the most expensive pick is the best option, but by the same token, the cheapest choice is likely to bring with it some rather significant drawbacks. This is another area where product reviews can be of benefit. Also, pay specific attention to update costs and make sure tech support is provided even if you don’t get the updates.


Takeaway

Your rental property is likely your most valuable asset(s), so choosing a property management software should not be done lightly. You need something powerful enough to handle all of your legal and accounting information while still being easy to navigate. You need something that has been tested by different users, so that you can be confident that all major bugs have been worked out. You need something that is being continuously updated if you ever need product support help. You need something that works for you.


The reality is, there is no perfect property management software on the market, nor will there likely ever be because each investor’s situation and needs are different. A perfect solution would need to involve something so dynamic that it seemed human. That’s why at the end of the day, if you’re looking for the perfect solution you don’t only need something. You also need someone.


Without trusting boots on the ground to correctly carry out the tasks your software keeps track of, your software is meaningless. You can forecast, track, and test every piece of data you want but if you let the grass die at your property it can significantly decrease your cashflow. Software is only half of the equation for landlords. The ones who want to operate efficiently or scale rely on a team of professionals, including a full-service property management team. Sure, it costs a little extra each month, but when you calculate the amount of time you spend doing mundane tasks for your property, like scheduling showings, you’ll quickly realize that they can save you time and money in the long run.


See why a 20 year investing veteran says he regrets not switching to a property manager years ago.