Time is your most valuable resource. The age-old adage that you can always make more money, but you can never make more time, is true. As a rental property manager, you need to invest a significant amount of time into your investment property if it’s going to be a viable source of income for you – or hire someone to do it for you.
Whether it’s signing leases, marketing your property, showing units, partaking in turnover work, or collecting rent, your time is going to be spent tending to your investment. So, how do property managers leverage technology to save time? Here are a few ways.
Online Rent Collection
If you don’t have a way to collect rent online you need to get one fast. Everything is going this direction. Automatic bill pay is more popular than ever. There are many software applications and websites that will give you this service. Some examples are Appfolio.com, Buildium.com, Cozy.com, rentigo.com, and a ton more. Some of these services are free, others have a small charge. Check out an exhaustive list of services here. Save time cashing checks at the bank or managing your checkbook and offer one of these services.
Move-In Move-Out Software
As a property owner one of the big fears you carry is that you will get a bad resident who will trash your property and then argue with you when you take cleaning fees out of their deposit. A small claims court can be a huge waste of time and energy. One small piece of technology that can save you these headaches is an inspection app. Some examples are Property Pal, Inspectful, Appfolio, and a whole host of others.
What these applications do is document the condition of the rental unit before and after a resident rents the space. You walk through your unit and the app will have you take pictures of every room, all the appliances, windows, exterior, interior, everything. It’s not uncommon for us to end up with over 100 pictures at the end of this process.
You do the initial walk-through with the resident and then after the resident moves out you repeat the process. You’ll end up with a massive amount of before and after pictures that will squash just about any argument over deposits.
When any of our residents want to argue over deposits we review the photos with them. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when the residents see the difference they typically drop the argument. It has been a huge success for us and is well worth the money.
Internet Listing Services
In the past, it was sufficient to post your Chico or Redding rental property on Craigslist and you would be set. You would have great, well-qualified renters asking for applications. Well, times have changed, and unfortunately, they are not as simple anymore.
Craigslist has quickly become one of our least favorite internet listing service. We have noticed an increase in scammer posts and responses when it comes to rental property. We have actually had someone else try to rent out units that we own, copying our pictures and reposting them telling people to send them money and they would mail them the keys. So, although we still post to Craigslist we don’t depend only on this source and neither should you.
Zillow.com, Trulia, Apartments.com, Hotpads.com, ForRent.com, Rent.com and many other websites are great at driving traffic to your investment property. Also, they are monitored sites that block the scamming activity unlike Craigslist. The more eyes that you can get on your investment property the better, and these internet listing services are a great option. To save time posting to a different site you can use an app that automatically posts to many different websites for you. We use Appfolio, but there are others as well.
DocuSign is so easy to use and it will save you all the hassle of scanning and emailing or worse yet, mailing or driving across town to meet someone to sign a lease. You’ll save tons of time with this especially if you manage a portfolio of rental properties.
Hignell Property Management does most of its business in Northern California. We have an organization called North Valley Property Owners Association (NVPOA). This is a massive resource for templates of all kinds. They carry templates for leases, notices, and all kinds of other things that will save you time. Don’t try to write your own leases – get a collection of rental documents that are already proven to work well.
Technology is always changing. It’s a difficult thing to write about because as soon as you say some software tool is great, it gets updated or replaced with another software. To some who are still using paper documents to manage properties, I hope this was a helpful list of tools.
If you don’t want to take the time to research and invest in new technology you can always hire out a tech savvy rental property management company (like us!) who is already utilizing the latest and greatest available.