General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Karen Higgins
  • Minneapolis, MN
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AppFolio vs Buildium for a 90 unit and growing portfolio

Karen Higgins
  • Minneapolis, MN
Posted Nov 5 2018, 10:58

I'm looking to upgrade to an online property management software and am deciding between Buildium and AppFolio.  Our portfolio is located in Minnesota and includes 90 units, combination of single family, small multifamily and a few small (12 unit) apartments.  I'm leaning towards AppFolio because it supports more growth.  Our goal is 1000 units someday!  But Buildium's pricing is more appealing with the current number of units we own. 

Does anyone have personal experience with either one of these property management systems?  Please let me know the good and bad of each.  Thanks!

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Alina Trigub
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Glen Rock, NJ
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Alina Trigub
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Glen Rock, NJ
Replied Nov 5 2018, 12:13

@Karen Higgins Plan for it from a different angle. Since you're planning to have 1000 units, are you going to outsource the property management component to a third party?  If so, reach out to local property management companies that manage portfolios this size and ask them what they use. If you decide to use such PM company, you will ease their way into your properties. Not the only factor, but a good indicator.  If on other hand, you plan to keep the property management in house, then go with the app that supports growth: as you said AF is the one. 

Best!

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Tim Swierczek
  • Lender
  • Saint Paul, MN
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Tim Swierczek
  • Lender
  • Saint Paul, MN
Replied Nov 5 2018, 13:31

@Karen Higgins This topic interests me.  I currently use cozy.co for rent collection and I have other systems such as docusign for electronic leases, etc.  We are much smaller than you at 19 units but do plan on growing.  What system did you use to get to this point?

Lender Tennessee (#103522), Texas (#103522), Wisconsin (#103522), and Minnesota (#103522)

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Karen Higgins
  • Minneapolis, MN
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Karen Higgins
  • Minneapolis, MN
Replied Nov 5 2018, 13:58

@Tim Swierczek

We currently using Intuit Quickbooks invoices for rent collection.  We were using erentpayment.com until last fall when they had their fiasco with bankruptcy and our rent was withheld.  I use quickbooks for all of our accounting, but we don't have a online system for maintenance requests at this time.  I'm looking for a way to have everything a little more cohesive.  

What system are you using for electronic leases?  We are using the standard MN lease, but have not got docusign set-up yet.  That is one of the goals of this month.  Please let me know how you went about that. Thanks!

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Tim Swierczek
  • Lender
  • Saint Paul, MN
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Tim Swierczek
  • Lender
  • Saint Paul, MN
Replied Nov 5 2018, 14:53

@Karen Higgins I also use the MN Bar Lease with some custom amendments.  I prep the lease in adobe and then I take a video explaining the lease to my tenants.  I send them the video and with the lease attached for their review then I upload the lease into docusign and send it for disclosures.  The bummer is that it takes a while to place all the fields.   It is not too much of an issue but It's always nice to save time.  

We currently accept our maintenance requests via text.  We have a group text set up for each unit and then we forward the text to the appropriate handy person.  That works for 19 but not for 90 :)

Lender Tennessee (#103522), Texas (#103522), Wisconsin (#103522), and Minnesota (#103522)

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Joseph Hammel
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Lake Hallie, WI
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Joseph Hammel
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Lake Hallie, WI
Replied Nov 5 2018, 17:57

I have been using buildium for 1 year and 5 months or so. I got it when I added a 16 unit apartment to my other 16 units.  Initially they talked me into the "PRO" plan. It included some extras like on-boarding witch is basically the data entry. They have some training thats not to bad. For 36 units the pro was about $1600/yr  but when I renewed I changed to the core. Its 650/yr. I have to pay $5 per lease to e-lease and 50 cents per etf but at my size they dont come close to $1000 more. There were a few more features like one that saves pics for records/ walk through ect. That was included on the pro plan. But I just have the free google photo app that keeps all my pics on the cloud any way so thats not really worth it. It lets you customize your apps and Ive had a few bugs to work out from time to time but customer service has always been very helpful at resolving issues.  I don't use it for accounting on the expense side yet so I cant really speak to how that works. Im still dialing that aspect of my business in. Please feel free to reach out to me/ pm for more info. 

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Nik S.
  • Ohio
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Nik S.
  • Ohio
Replied Nov 5 2018, 18:28
@Karen Higgins The PM company I use uses Appfolio. From an investor standpoint (multifamily), it really creates an awesome experience for me. Cloud based accounting system is huge for me. I can see the PM’s tenant notes, on going payables / receivables, Cash in account, view bills, work orders and the list goes on. Cash flow sheets and balance sheets to my avail at any time (as entries are made it’s instantly available). You can chat within Appfolio to tenants (creates a place of record!) and the tenant database style is awesome. I’m not sure how it works on the land lord / property management side but all I can say is for the investor it’s ideal. I’m nervous when I have to hire an additional property manager that doesn’t use Appfolio.

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John Woodrich
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Minneapolis, MN
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John Woodrich
  • Flipper/Rehabber
  • Minneapolis, MN
Replied Nov 6 2018, 09:09

Hi Karen,

I have several clients who use Buildium and like it.  Like you I personally use QuickBooks but I may give Buildium a shot at some point even if it is solely to get familiar with it.

I don't have anyone using Appfolio and my only conversation about it was a call from a MHA member who has having issues with the accounting function and getting going.  

@Amber Gonion do you have any experience with these software platforms?

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Amber Gonion
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Hugo, MN
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Amber Gonion
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Hugo, MN
Replied Nov 6 2018, 16:25

I have used both Appfolio and Buildium. Out of those two options I would suggest Appfolio for a larger portfolio. As you stated, it has many more features and capabilities and is a better option if you intend to grow. I prefer Yardi and RealPage Onesite over Appfolio, but they are much more expensive. 

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Keith Weigand
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Cleveland, TN
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Keith Weigand
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Cleveland, TN
Replied Nov 7 2018, 12:41

@Karen Higgins Each app has pros and cons. I personally checked both Appfolio and Buildium a few years ago. I decided not to go with either at the time. I only have 26 units. There are thousands now in our database. 

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Eli B.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Eli B.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Oct 3 2021, 20:17

Hi all-

Any update on this comparison between Appfolio and Buildium?

I'm debating between the two for a portfolio of Approx. 80 units and aggressively growing.

Thanks!

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Tony Guardado
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Canton, OH
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Tony Guardado
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Canton, OH
Replied Oct 10 2021, 14:32

@Eli B. I’ve been using Appfolio to self mange about 100 units for the last 12 months.

I was using Cozy for rent collections and was between Appfolio and Buildium as well.

I would highly recommend Appfolio for your situation

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Eli B.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Eli B.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Oct 10 2021, 14:44

@Tony Guardado many thanks for your input!

Anything specific about it that you like?

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Tony Guardado
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Canton, OH
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Tony Guardado
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Canton, OH
Replied Oct 10 2021, 15:01

@Eli B.

The software has really helped me streamline my operation. Starting with rent collection. I had been using combination of Cozy and Excel to track rents. I collect and track all rents in the app. I also do all of my tenant communication thru the app and track communication history.

I am slowly transitioning my bookkeeping to Appfolio. I use it to receive maintenance calls and easily send work orders to handymen and contractors.

I am now doing all of my advertising and tenant prospecting (and tracking ) thru the software now as well

The phone app is great and I do a ton of managing while on the move.

I paid a little extra and got a website as well. No management to do there at all.

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Eli B.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
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Eli B.
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Philadelphia, PA
Replied Oct 18 2021, 17:11

@Tony Guardado thanks for your input. Just signed the contract with appfolio. we're moving forward!

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Tony Guardado
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Canton, OH
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Tony Guardado
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Canton, OH
Replied Oct 19 2021, 05:06
Originally posted by @Eli B.:

@Tony Guardado thanks for your input. Just signed the contract with appfolio. we're moving forward!

 Don't get frustrated. Perfect timing to get going.  By Jan 1 you will be all set.  Financials were the scariest part but once you get used to it its a breeze!  There is a Facebook group that you can join as well.  Users will ask questions there if they get hung up or have general questions.

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Karen Higgins
  • Minneapolis, MN
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Karen Higgins
  • Minneapolis, MN
Replied Oct 19 2021, 05:13

We also went with AppFolio and have been using it for 3 years now! It’s been a great system.