Searching for property management software can be overwhelming. You're constantly bombarded with misleading ads, unrealistic demos, and bad information from pushy salespeople. It's a jungle out there.
But the truth is, it’s not about finding the best property management software. It’s about identifying the right software for your unique business. The key is cutting through the noise and hype to find the property management platforms that deliver real value so you can select a platform that enhances your operations rather than costing you time and money and causing more headaches.
Here are seven tips to help you choose the right property management software for your business.
1. Define Your Unique Needs
The first step in your software search is assessing your unique needs. Gather input from your team on your biggest pain points and must-have capabilities. Do you need help screening tenants, collecting rent, and tracking maintenance? Are streamlined accounting, marketing, and tax prep among your greatest needs? Keep these priorities top of mind when evaluating options.
Carefully consider your portfolio specifics. Do your properties require extensive maintenance and tenant management? Are you a small operator or property manager, or do you manage thousands of units in an established multifamily portfolio? The larger and more dynamic your portfolio, the more comprehensive your software solution should be.
The right property management software will meet today's needs while flexibly adapting to support your future growth as your business evolves.
2. Compare Key Features
An effective way to narrow your many software options is by comparing features and eliminating any software that doesn't meet your needs. If handling maintenance requests efficiently is critical, cross off options without a robust work order management system. If tenant communication and filling vacancies are challenging, prioritize platforms with tenant portals and rental listing syndication.
Some companies, like Rentec Direct, offer each of these and more, including award-winning customer service and other must-haves like rent/lease tracking, accounting tools, analytics/reporting, and 24/7 U.S.-based customer support.
Prioritize platforms that allow tailoring to your workflow and provide solutions for each stage of self-management to avoid spreading your property management across multiple systems and platforms.
3. Strongly Consider User-Friendliness
A property management platform must be intuitive and user-friendly for you to integrate it quickly and successfully. That starts with onboarding. Don't underestimate the value of training resources and vendor support for smooth onboarding and integration. If onboarding is complex and daunting, odds are daily use and customer support are the same.
You want technology to make your business processes more efficient, not more complicated. The ideal property management software has a simple implementation, an easy learning curve, and helpful ongoing support. A user-friendly platform with robust training ensures you and your team can quickly leverage the software to its full potential. You'll be relying on this software daily. So if onboarding is complex, the interface isn't clean and simple, and support is unreliable, you’re in for a world of endless headaches.
If you can find a private property management software company like Rentec Direct that’s focused on customer satisfaction, that's even better. You’ll likely receive greater hands-on support, including quick responses and solutions and, in some cases, audit assistance and business management advice.
4. Read Reviews and Ask Other Property Managers
One of the best ways to assess user-friendliness is to gather insights from others in the industry who've used the software firsthand. Online forums and review platforms offer valuable perspectives on the pros and cons of different solutions. Seek recommendations from property management peers and colleagues — their real-world feedback can guide you toward proven, reliable options.
A few questions to ask fellow property managers about their experiences include:
- How easy was the software to learn?
- How responsive is customer service?
- What feedback have residents, employees, and clients provided?
- What was your biggest frustration with the software, if you had one?
Dig deep into these conversations. The goal is to understand how these platforms perform for actual users. Leverage their firsthand knowledge to help you avoid pitfalls and choose property management software that enhances your operations rather than hinders them.
When reading reviews, don’t believe everything you read. Instead, look for consistent themes that reflect meaningful patterns in customer experiences. This balanced approach reveals common software strengths and weaknesses.
5. Assess Data Security
Since property management software is typically cloud-based, assessing data security is critical before signing up. With sensitive financial and personal information stored online, leaks could expose your owners, residents, and businesses.
While most vendors have security protocols, protections vary, so you must do due diligence. Ask targeted questions to understand how data is handled and stored. A few basic questions to ask include:
- Where will data be stored?
- Is data encrypted, and if so, how?
- How will data be backed up, and will this be encrypted?
- Will the company conduct regular vulnerability tests?
- What recovery arrangements are in place in the event of an IT infrastructure incident?
Many companies, like Rentec Direct, have strict bank-grade security standards in place to protect client data, including two-factor authentication, third-party security verification, and real-time secure data backup.
Property management data is highly sensitive, so prioritize platforms with ironclad encryption, permissions, and compliance. Your due diligence will prevent breaches that put reputations and bottom lines at risk.
6. Price Out Your Options
When evaluating software costs, look beyond the sticker price or signup promo to assess the overall value and return on investment.
Compare pricing models carefully, as the cheapest option may have hidden fees or lack key features. Consider upfront onboarding and licensing fees along with ongoing costs like subscriptions and added charges for upgrades or support. Ask detailed questions to uncover hidden fees and ensure the pricing aligns with the included services and features. Is there a signup fee or minimum monthly payment? Will there be a setup fee or additional fees after signup? Will you be locked into a contract?
The right software should provide ongoing savings through increased efficiency and reduced operations costs. A solution that streamlines workflows and minimizes wasted time can justify higher upfront costs.
7. Don’t Sleep on Customer Service
Choosing the right property management software is just the first step in what should be a long-term relationship. The right software is one that meets your unique business needs today but is flexible enough to support your future growth.
Resolving issues quickly, providing ongoing training and support, and responsive account management are all hallmarks of great customer service. Prioritize U.S.-based support that is licensed and trained in property management. If possible, find a company that’s focused on customer satisfaction. Look for providers that have won multiple awards, which are usually listed on their website.
One provider that checks all these boxes and more is Rentec Direct. Privately owned and focused on customer service, Rentec Direct provides account setup assistance and ongoing training and support at no additional cost with industry-leading service that includes live, on-demand phone support for all users, regardless of portfolio size. Because it’s a privately owned, organically grown company, the founder is involved in the day-to-day operations and development, so every new feature is implemented with the users’ needs in mind.
Choosing the right property management software is a big decision, but following these seven tips will set you on the right path. Clearly define your needs, evaluate key features, research, test usability, and do your homework. Prioritize stellar service — that’s the backbone of the long-term relationship you’re entering.
Our analysis shows that Rentec Direct checks all the boxes and is an excellent platform for both the DIY landlord as well as new and established property managers. Rentec Direct also offers Best Ever CRE readers a 20% discount on their first year's subscription.
It’s a jungle out there, and selecting the right property management software is a process. But you’ll reap the rewards for the work you put in now through optimized efficiency, reduced headaches, and improved profitability as the right property management software solution helps you grow your business.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.