By Alex Britton
Like most industries, property management is being disrupted by technology. As a property owner and former tenant, I’ve experienced each side of property management, with and without technology being involved. From rent collection and handling maintenance issues to property accounting and leasing, there are new ways to leverage technology to efficiently manage your properties, and your portfolio.
Let’s consider technology and property management on a spectrum, going from manual on one end to automate on the other. The traditional way of managing property where almost everything is handled manually: Tenants send or drop off checks and cash, leave messages when a maintenance issue comes up, and look through classifieds to find apartment rentals.
Things gradually became more automated with options like PayPal and Venmo to collect rent, and web portals were created by large management companies to handle online rent payments and in-building messaging to alert tenants of upcoming building repairs. Today, apps are now available to assist in automated rent collection; in-app messaging to provide maintenance communications that allow tenants to identify the type of problem and send images so that the issues can be dealt with sooner rather than later, and to notify tenants of an event or an upcoming building repair; and built-in marketing tools to list vacant apartments on popular rental websites.
Studies and surveys from leading real estate blogs and publications show that incorporating technology into the property management mix is the new norm. Millennials and Gen Z are the largest groups renting and Mashvisor says that automation is going to be a necessity in the 2020’s. A 2020 CBRE report goes a step further saying that tech integration, including mobile app payment for rent, is an important amenity for multi-family properties.
So how does tech measure up in real terms? Let’s take a look at how it is directly shaping the four pillars of property management.
Late payments and inputting cash and checks manually slows down the accounting cycle, among other things. With an app, payment reminders and notifications go directly to the tenant when rent is due. Tenants can pay from anywhere, with one tap of their phone, enabling landlords to collect rent two times as fast.
Decentralized communications from messages coming from different places -vms, email, or texts, and delays in response time due to a lack of organization, all contribute to the problems that arise when maintenance issues are not dealt with in a timely manner. Technology is driving more efficient ways to manage maintenance issues, from in-app reporting to contacting your maintenance provider, all communication is in one location and easily tracked.
Weekly and monthly reports are time consuming to keep up with manually, especially when you have multiple properties to track and documents are coming from different sources. Incorporating property management software will enable you to automatically log and track all revenue and expenses in a general ledger, making it much easier to manage.
Writing copy and placing your listing on multiple real estate sites is tedious and takes time. Property management software allows you to quickly publish and edit your listings to multiple sites at once, respond to inbound leads, order background and credit checks, and eviction reports, all from one hub.
Like any disruptor, there are barriers to entry to consider- cost, ease of use, and security. Although it can cost a property manager hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month to use property management software, there are platforms that are free to use, and have the same, if not better features than their more expensive competitors.
For some, adopting a new process seems to be too time consuming to change and too difficult to learn. But contrary to this belief, there are platforms that have been built intuitively by property managers, for property managers, keeping easy onboarding, inputting, and reporting top of mind and easy to use.
Lastly, like other ACH payment options, online rent payment software adheres to the same strict guidelines to keep both tenant, landlord, and third party transactions secure. Banking credentials are verified and protected.
As technology continues to shape the way properties are managed and how tenants and landlords communicate, adopting new processes to improve efficiency and ultimately, your bottom line, is well worth the time to explore. Learn more about what technology is right for you.
About the author:
Alex Britton has extensive experience working in the technology industry, where he has led software development; go-to-market strategy; and operations teams. Alex has worked as a growth product manager at Toast Inc. and Blue Apron where he gained a strong understanding of B2B and consumer software businesses, and is a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of getrentroom.com, a real estate technology company. Alex holds a B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Computer Science from NYU.