Buildium, Appfolio, Rent Manager

19 Replies

Buildium is great. Was very time consuming in the beginning to enter all the data. In particular the receipts for dozen of different vendors. 

But the reports the spit out are easy to do taxes and show prospective investors

You might be a little big for Cozy, but check it out anyway! I also like Tenant Cloud.

Appfolio and Buildium are a little confusing for me, so I like other, more simple software's that has everything I need, like Cozy or Tenant Cloud.

Have you thought of getting a property management company?

@Caleb L.

Yes. I have. But can’t stomach the cost of property management at the moment. Feel like with some technology ( software and call center for incoming calls), I may be able to do myself for a bit longer.

Originally posted by @Chad Hale :

Happy with Rent Manager.  Lots of customization of forms and reports.

As @Hai Loc there's a bit of setup time and learning curve.  But once there, lots of time saving is realized for lots of activities.

I also forgot to mention the listings they can post for you on Zillow Hotpads etc

@Tony Guardado , are these all your properties?

Your volume is large enough that paying a monthly membership fee is well worth the investment for one of the larger software companies.  I'd focus on your top 3 priorities and choose based off of that.  They could be:

  • Leasing
  • Documents control
  • Rent collection
  • Reports
  • Accounting
  • Maintenance

Share with us what you're really looking to gain from the software and that'll allow people to share more relatable experiences to help educate.

@Kenny Dahill

I think all of the above.

In order:

Rent collection and tracking (tenants deposit into bank account now)

Maintenance dispatching and request management

Tenant communication.

Track prospective tenants

Accounting (on excel now, may look into QB)

My portfolio crept up on me quickly. Now I’m trying to work a full time job and manage a large portfolio with excel spreadsheets and a google voice number by myself.

@Tony Guardado

Rent Collect: Pretty standard amongst the industry now.  Lots of options here.

Maintenance Dispatching/Request: Can you elaborate by 'dispatching'?  Are you willing to forward an email to your contractor or do you want them to have direct access to your 'Maintenance Log' and/or receive the message immediately from tenant?

Tenant Communication: There are two general levels here: internal vs. external.  There are some apps that allow you communicate directly through to the tenants like text/chat.  Then there are landlord who prefer that level of separation, and all communication is through standard 'requests' on the platform. i.e. Tenants fill out a complete Maintenance Request vs. sending you a message 'toilet is broken'.  My personal preference is the request form, it allows me to get more info immediately which helps to assess the scenario.

Track Prospective Tenants:  Pretty common, a lot of sites will syndicate listing on major rental sites.  They can go through your direct 'property link' or email you through the rental site.

Accounting:This gets a little trickier.  I'm not immediately familiar with any that export directly into QB.  There are some that will allow you to export a CSV file, which is data in Excel.  You can then keep it in Excel or upload into QB.

I can't say which is best because everyone has different processes and different needs. Buildium is a solid product and one of the cheapest "professional" systems out there.

What I recommend is you take the time to research the most popular options available. Narrow your search down to the top three. Sign up for trial accounts and then run them through the wringer:

  • Create portfolios
  • Create buildings/units
  • Market units online, syndicate
  • Screen applicants
  • Convert applicant to tenant / create lease
  • Receive rent
  • Process and track maintenance request
  • Pay vendors/owners
  • Run owner statements
  • Run various PM reports

If you are pretending to receive rent, do it in all three systems to see how they compare. Enter a work order in all three systems. Continue doing this until one stands out as the clear winner.

You'll never find perfect software so 1-2 weeks of testing should be plenty. Make a decision and stick with it for at least a year.

I'm in the process of setting up Rent Manager and going through training for it. I still haven't decided if it was a mistake or not to go with the product. The big issues I see right now are 1, Not enough documentation (no video with someone talking  through the process is not documentation). I'm in the process of trying to import journal entries - should be easy.  My CSV file Debit and Credit balance perfectly. Not so easy. I get this weird error that states "Properties not in balance for the journal". So I search their Help section and find zero hits. I'm talkin Nada. I hate manual processes and it's starting to look like I'm going to have to enter every damn entry manually through a stupid gui just to get my beginning balances in for my accounts. Sorry for the rant but it really is disappointing that I'm burning up time needed to run my business on this kind of thing. Right now it's a time suck and I'm not a happy camper. If you got time on your hands this might be a good option as there are features that look like they're great and I hope to be able to find out if they're great if I can ever get out of Implementation hell.

We have just over 100 buildings, most SFH but some MF so 130 units or so. We switched to AppFolio almost 2 years ago.

AF is designed for property managers, but also works for owner/operators - if you don't manage for other entities, it may be more complex than you need/want.

The ability to get leasing, payment & maintenance online in AF has been great.  The ability to text within the app is also helpful - any team member can text a tenant, and all team members can see the conversation.  All you need is wifi, no cell service required, which helps if you are travelling overseas.

We tried to do most of our accounting in AF for a few months but came to the realization that focusing on income in AF and expenses in Quickbooks made more sense for us.  No automatic export to QB utility; instead I set up reports and run monthly to export into Excel and then enter in QB (I no longer track tenants individually in QB, just do a single journal entry for the month's deposits with line items by property) - highly suggest setting up a brand new bank account for AF to deposit rent into - makes the migration & monthly accounting much easier. 

I love appfolio! I am thinking of switching to Yardi Breeze to save money, i haven't tested it yet, but I met them at a narpm show! Also just implemented property meld for maintenance automation. LIFESAVER

@Mickie Hanson Good Morning. I was wondering what you think about Rental Manager now that you have been running it a while ? I’m looking at setting it up in the next month or so. I have 50 units. Adding 25-75 more this year. So I have to find a program that works. Thanks

I was really frustrated with it at first but I have to say now that I'm finding I really like it. To be honest my mind was still in Quickbooks online set and the way that Rent Manager does things is different. It's not an accounting package but has the bookkeeping integrated. Paylease is included in the package and I'm midway through getting my tenants converted and I really like the fact that when people use PayLease it automatically updates there account. It also very detailed when it comes to tenant information and provides an easy to use note section which is handy to use when you're talking with a tenant or want to attach a lease. When a prospect fills out my application (easy to integrate) if they lease from us the move in takes care over putting in all the info from their application.  All in all when once I started using it I found the more I used it the better I liked it. At first I thought I'd made a mistake but no I picked the right solution for my company. I just needed to use it the way it was designed. I also found out that I can manually upload cia csv file transmissions for the checking account to reconcil the account. All in all I'm pleased with the software. I like the marketing feature that comes with it.

@Edward Lawrence I think they may call it something different now. I cannot find anything about property meld on AppFolio's site. Is it like a contact center where they manage inbound calls and filter them to you? Or send out vendors? I'm researching software and really think AF is the way to go. I like their RUBS feature too as we have RUBS properties. Did you make the switch to Yardi? If so, which do you like better?

I spoke with Yardi a while back. Yardi Breeze is like a very simple tracking which I do not recommend because it lacks a lot of features that you will need.

Yardi Breeze Premier is practically a replacement for Yardi Genesis2.

I love using Yardi Voyager 7s, but that is too pricey for my clients. 

Also forgot to mention, TenantCloud do not offer balance sheet, which I think it is very essential for any business owner.

I don't like to suggest QBO, but clients are asking for it so there are workarounds to it.

@Simon W. Thanks for your input Simon. Do you have an experience with AppFolio? I’m highly considering their software for our business. I’m going to discuss with my accountant about receiving the info. Originally, their firm wanted it in QB format. I think it’s interesting that you are having clients want to use QBO. I tried it and stayed with my desktop version to manage ours.

@Shea Spinelli I have not used AppFolio but, honestly, I've tried so many of these type of software that they are pretty much the same just some lack features that other has and vice versa. 

My focus is on the accounting side so I am very picky. I just took a look at AppFolio accounting/reporting and it seems like they have it all. 

As for the QBO, I offer a discount to my clients so at least the subscription doesn't kill their margin along with my charges.