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AppFolio Property Management Software: BiggerPockets Review

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AppFolio was created with larger property management companies in mind. Individual investors or property managers with fewer than 100-200 rental units may find AppFolio to be more than they need, both from a budget and business practice standpoint. 


AppFolio is a cloud-based software system with an integrated mobile app that was designed to make property management tasks easier. It offers unique features for residential properties, commercial properties, student housing, and community associations. From onboarding properties and screening tenants to collecting rent and creating reports, every aspect of a property manager’s job can be synced within the hub of AppFolio’s usability.

Because AppFolio can be accessed both in the office and on the go, property management firms with numerous staff members can view and interact with relevant information in real time. The mobile AppFolio app is optimized for both Apple and Android products, making it easy to connect data points quickly and seamlessly.


Quick facts

WEBSITE
A professional online presence creates a face for your business and a hub for interactions. 

LISTINGS
Post available units to your company website and third party sites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Apartments.com.

MARKET ANALYSIS
Set a competitive rent price based on local market analysis. 

MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
A helpful feature for listing identical units that usually come available at the same time.

VACANCY DASHBOARD
A consolidated list of vacancies helps you pinpoint advertising efforts and place tenants quickly.

LEADS
Syndicate to pay-per-lead sites that will in turn generate qualified leads.

CONTACT CARDS
Potential tenants can enter information for self-generated contacts. 

ONLINE SUPPORT
With such an extensive list of tools, service and support avenues are imperative to keep business running smoothly. AppFolio offers an online help center, training videos, a support ticket system, webinars, and even in-person conferences to help their customers succeed within the software. 

AppFolio Plus users are also able to take advantage of the following upgraded tools.

REVENUE MANAGEMENT
A real time demand analysis helps you maximize rental income

CONFIGURABLE WORKFLOWS
Automate and streamline tasks among many team members.

PERFORMANCE INSIGHTS
Compare budgets to actual financials using trackable data. 

DYNAMIC REPORTING
Enhanced syncing features increase ease in financial reporting.


Pricing

For residential and student housing, pricing starts at $1.25 per unit per month. Commercial properties run at $1.50 per unit per month, and association management starts at $.80 per unit per month. There’s a $250 monthly minimum, though, so the pricing is clearly scaled for at least 200 residential units or more. 

An upgrade to the AppFolio Plus tier means a price increase to $3 per unit for residential, commercial, and student housing and $.85 for associations. The minimum monthly fee for AppFolio Plus is $1,500, and the company is clear that this tier is designed for multi-region management firms of 1,000 units or more. 

A free demo is available for property managers who want to view AppFolio’s capabilities before committing to the purchase. Though not mentioned on their website, some of our forum users mention a cancellation fee, so property managers should be advised to preview the demo carefully and ask specific pricing questions to the AppFolio support professionals.   



AppFolio pros and cons

Our forum users are vocal about their experiences with AppFolio, both from positive and negative points of view. Property managers considering AppFolio should weigh user testimonies carefully and dig into the details for themselves (via the free demo) to determine what’s right for their company.

On the positive side, Jonathan McKay of San Francisco, CA, says, “We use AppFolio for 72 units across 9 buildings that we own. It has been helpful in professionalizing our property management. It helps tremendously with scaling, and I imagine we will continue to use it at least through 1000+ units. The $250 a month is definitely worth it for me.”

“Appfolio has been great for us,” Chris Lounsbury of Rock Hill, SC, adds. “We manage about 150 units. The built-in accounting is very extensive. We have been using their services for 2 months now, and they've already had 5-10 upgrades.  The developers are constantly listening to the clients’ suggestions and implementing them quickly.”

In addition, Nik S. from Ohio appreciates AppFolio from an owner’s perspective. “From an investor standpoint, it really creates an awesome experience. A cloud based accounting system is huge for me. I can see the PM’s tenant notes, on-going payables/receivables, cash in account, work orders and the list goes on. You can chat within Appfolio to tenants (creates a place of record!). I’m not sure how it works on the property management side, but all I can say is for the investor it’s ideal.”

On the flip side, Ken Suhandron from Boca Raton, FL, says, “Appfolio is extremely overpriced for what it provides. The accounting side of it is very tedious and clunky. All communication is through email, and you have to jump through hoops to get someone on the phone for support.” Other users mention problems with customizing features and interfacing with existing accounting software.

As with almost every product, AppFolio isn’t right for everyone. To make a decision regarding AppFolio, consider these pros and cons.


PROS

  • Desktop and mobile device capability
  • Owner and tenant portals streamline data and communication
  • Time saving AI technology
  • Extensive tools for start-to-finish management
  • Most users report good support and updates
  • Professional appearance and web interfacing facilitates growth

CONS

  • Price model scaled for 200+ units 
  • May need to enter some expenses manually
  • Limited customization
  • Potentially unfamiliar/less-intuitive financial accounting
  • Some users report issues with onboarding and support 



AppFolio and real estate investors

AppFolio is available to all types of landlords, but it’s definitely designed for larger property management firms. With a fairly steep minimum price point and tools designed for multiple users, AppFolio makes more sense for a bigger business model. Kinsling says, “If you only have a few units, AppFolio may be more program than you need.” Ryan Swan of Phoenix, AZ concurs, saying, “I think Appfolio is the go-to choice if you're managing more than 150 units.”

But some smaller property management companies may want to invest in AppFolio’s capabilities in order to pave the way for growth. Timil Jones of Duluth, GA says, “Our company uses it. We manage over 50 units, and the features like online leasing, integrated accounting, and web layout make it worth it for us. You'll know when you absolutely need it.”

Scott Cataneao of Menlo Park, CA testifies to the growth capabilities on a larger scale as well. He says, “My company has been using Appfolio for almost 3 years now, and it was the best decision we have made. We have grown from 300 units to almost 1000 units in that time, and it would not have been possible without Appfolio. Great interface, very user friendly, and I think the best part is they are always improving on the product.”

Our forum users have mixed feelings regarding support, however. Christopher Kinsling of Los Angeles, CA manages more than 250 units with AppFolio. He says, “I am very happy with the program. The best part is their support system. There are webinars and instructional videos being updated every week. If your issue is not solved through the video the customer service is very responsive.” 

In contrast, John Heron of Columbus, OH, says, “If you have a question about a current system, or if something isn't working correctly, they send you to a video that explains how it would work. We had 6-7 contacts throughout our entire implementation process, none of whom could help at all with tech support when something went wrong.”



AppFolio not for you? Read more property management reviews.



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