Apartments.com, Zillow Rental Manager, Buildium????

19 Replies

What is your favorite property management tool? 

Looking for something that will be beneficial for a handful of single family rentals. 

I want to be as paperless and seamless as possible. 

Thanks in advance.

For single family homes, Zillow is best in my market overall. You can lease properties quickly, take applications, screen tenants, sign leases and collect rent through the platform. It is a one-stop shop. I currently use Apartments.com as part of the transition form Cozy for rent collection. The platform offers all the same features as Zillow accept in my market it drives less leads for applicants. I also don't like that Apartment.com requires you to use their lease template for leasing. Their lease is written around states like California, Washington and New York, so it is tenant friendly overkill in my state. Zillow lets you upload your own documents. Some people complain that Zillow charges $9.99 a week for listing your property ($4.99 in some markets). I just see this as a cost of doing business because I can rent it in 1-2 weeks. Spending $20 to find a quality tenant isn't bad. It also limits competition because the cheap landlords or ones testing the market stay away.

Originally posted by Carly DuCharme:

I want to be able to have my application, tenant screening, lease signing, maintenance requests, and rent payments on one platform with a client portal. 

All three will do those things, but if you want to advertise properties then only Zillow and Apartments.com will allow that directly. Buildium may syndicate. 

"Handful of rentals" probably puts Buildium and others in its class out of reach.  Their minimum fees would be too much for a handful. If you are growing (you said client portal is important) and are a professional manager and want to just grow into a system and are willing to lose money while you grow then looking at Buildium/Propertyware/Appfoilo/yardi are options.  I have heard some managers say they wish they just used one of the larger systems from the get go.  As for us I enjoyed growing and using excel then quickbooks etc......

As someone who has used 3 of the 4 mentioned (not yardi) I can tell you that no system is perfect, seamless or paperless.  As @Kenny Dahill was getting at trying to find the most important features to you is the best thing.  We currently use Appfolio but we also use a lot of other software because Appfolio doesn't do it all, none of them do. 

I would suggest the free trials.  Use 1 a month and really use it.  You will find what works best for you but don't be afraid of trying leasing, work order, task, inspection solutions outside if the software you pick.  

@Carly DuCharme , you mentioned Client Portal.  Something that was missed.

Are you alluding to being a manager and having landlord/investor clients?  If so, I don't believe Apartments or Zillow will allow that.  They're single-user software solutions.

Buildium and Appfolio would have that feature.  Costs more tho.

@Joe Splitrock I was leaning towards Zillow. So, thank you for that information. Do you know if there are any more charges than the $9.99 per week listing charge? It does appear that it has the majority of what I am looking for. 

@Scott M. I agree. Buildium is far too expensive for what I am looking for. We are small now, but I have no interest in starting on excel spreadsheets. I know that no single program will do everything, but I can get close. 

@Kenny Dahill I will not be managing anyone else's properties. I want something for my tenants to go in and request repairs, pay rent, etc. 

Sorry, as a previous social worker, mental health worker, and personal trainer, my vocabulary is "client". I'll have to work on that. 

I use @tenantcloud they have a free and a paid for version. Through it I can not only keep up with my accounting and run reports but I can list my properties through it and it syndicates them out to Zillow, apartments.com and Facebook. They are aggravating to use at times but I've found them to be the easiest to use at the lowest price point.

@Carly DuCharme

Someone on the thread mention Hemlane,

That’s what I have been using for a while as well and have been very happy with it. Marketing is very easy, requesting payment and messaging the tenants is simple too. Also, Costumer service is great.

I have two big complaints about apartments.com during my brief time there so far (transitioning over from Cozy). The first is there is no messenger/chat system like Zillow has. This is really great when doing first talks with a bunch of people. Its a pain to have to text with people I dont want to have my personal number with and email is too slow with responding. The second is the way Apartments.com handles interested tenants. Zillow sends an email with the person name and profile info (if they filled it out), which has name, number, income, pets, etc. Tie this with the messenger/chat it allows for the tenant to make all the first contact and try to get me as much information at the beginning. Where as Apartments.com email just give me the name and contact info. Nothing else. Since it has no messenger/chat option there is no way for the tenant to supply more additional information in their first attempt to contact me. This forces me to not only reach out to the tenant but to try and dig more information out of them. Otherwise I have to wait for an application to come in. To me, its the tenant that should be striving to find and impress me into wanting to rent to them. Not the other way around. Zillow just makes that first contact MUCH easier. 

I'll be sticking with Apartments.com for this next set of tenants to see how it goes. But so far, I'm not impressed with the UI and how to forces contact between tenant and landlord in very specific way. It feels very unnatural human communication and very robotic and unfriendly IMO.