I have been having trouble managing my properties because of the long list of never-ending things. Bills, repairs, late payments, etc... It is getting to be a lot. I have just found this forum from Google a few days ago and I was wondering what tools you are all using to keep everything organized.
I have heard some people use spreadsheets, but I am unfamiliar with it. Does anyone have any recommendations?
Get a software. I use onsiteproperty manager.com it is pretty affordable compared to the other ones out there and user friendly.
There are a lot of software applications available to Landlords, usually for free. TenantCloud can handle up to 75 units for free or for a very small fee if you want to accept e-payments. Many swear by Cozy.co or RentTec.
Use the search bar up top for "property management software" and spend a few days reading over other posts. Then sign up for accounts with at least two of them and run them through the wringer. Settle on one and use it, knowing that there's no such thing as perfect software. After 6-12 months of use, you'll know it well enough to decide if you want to stick with it or start searching for a better system.
Times have changed, technology advanced, so things are handled differently 25 years ago as compared to today. Yes, clerical details and bill payments is about 90% of the work and can cause disasters if not done right.
Going back 25 years, all bills are paper bills, comes monthly with payment envelopes. When they come in, opened up, and goes into a separate "in tray". There's one day of the month that I process the "in tray", I recall the 25th of the month, where I review, process, and write the checks out. They include mortgage payments for each property, insurance, etc. All in all, takes over half a day, so I dedicate one day a month where I stay in the office, get busy and get it done. I have a list that I follow, check it off as I do it, so nothing is missed. The list can be a spreadsheet, though at the time, was just a written list.
Fast forward 25 years, things are done almost all on line. Most of the routine payments and receipts are handled by auto pay. For a number of years till I paid it off, all the mortgages are on autopay. What's nice is when the bank pays handles the mortgage, escrows the insurance and taxes. Now that the mortgages are paid off, have the insurance and taxes done by autopay. Tax bills from the city and town are all on autopay, with the last one going autopay about a year ago.
Separately, insurance bills paid monthly are on autopay. Utility bills can be auto paid, but I choose to pay it on line, one day a month, 10 minutes, I review them all and pay on line. I was going to do autopay a few years ago, but chose to pay online, and see how it goes. Then about 3 years ago, an electric bill that normally runs about $100/month, was billed over $3,000, and I was glad I chose to manually pay on-line. Got hold of the utility, thought there was something wrong with the meter. Turns out someone made a decision the meter readings were wrong and they undercharged me for several years and made a one time adjustment. Long story, meter readings were right, and they reversed the charges.
I now put all my bank accounts and credit card accounts in a password manager, but organized it based on payments, so all credit card accounts are in one folder in the password manager, utility bills on another, insurance on another. One day a month, utility bills are processed on line, total of 15 minutes, and they email confirmation. Same thing with credit cards, 30 minutes to review process, all 10 of them.
Further, there's around 20 items on autopay, newspapers, cable, internet, phone, medical insurance, etc. They don't need constant review as they're the same every month. The remaining bills, like landscapers, not on a regular schedule, is processed the same day, via online banking where my bank issues an electronic check, and I could even do it via an iPhone.
Tenants pay the rent electronically as well, through a service called ClearNow. Many on here Cozy, so between these services, and mortgage autopay, you save time and money and running around.
Final word. I'm retired now, and I have a spreadsheet that tracks all the autopays, incoming and outgoing, making sure the cash flow is right, enough money in the bank. I just spend a few minutes a day a month on this aspect.