Choosing the Right Property Management Software

As your property management firm grows, with the building of additional properties, investment in a property management software can be crucial for the smooth running of your business. Excel spreadsheets and the old methods of using pencil and paper may not be the ideal choice in today’s world. There are plenty of cheap, user friendly specialty tools that property managers may choose which are much better than using the old systems. Property management is hard enough by itself so choose the right software program to help you to get your growing business organized.

Tips for choosing the right Property Management Software

Budget- Prices for property management software can range from $50 to $10,000. These software’s vary in prices depending on how many features the software has. So depending on number of properties, complexity of operations and size of you organizations choose the software program. Don’t buy more than you need. And at the same point of time do not go for the cheapest alternative. Make sure the software can do the basic things you need.

Trial version- It is always better to have a software program which has the option of a trial. Make sure you can run a full demo that allows you to try before you buy. Make sure you can do the basic things you require, such as maintaining vendor file, separate ledger for each tenant and owner, deal with bank checks and deposits, automatically post rent, management fees, and late fees etc. Always review, if the reports that can be generated from or customized in the software meet your month end reporting needs.

Hidden costs and recurring fees- Avoid software that require long terms contracts and have attached recurring costs. It is important to be able to cancel a subscription when needed without paying a price. Make sure your software program is easy to install, easy to use, and has excellent support hours. Research for update costs. Are you forced to buy any update even though you may not need it?

Full accounting package-Whether you prefer the simplicity of cash or the detail provided by an accrual method, the management program you purchase should support it. And, because a property manager is continually reading reports and calculating late fees and discounts, pick a program that does it automatically. The reports should be available at any time and for any period.

Web based software program-There are multiple online property management software’s today. For small businesses a web based software program can be ideal. Choose a fully integrated, end-to-end productivity tool which can provide everything you need to manage residential and commercial rental property of any type, online. With web based software you get the power and advantage of the latest web based technology, maintenance free operations, and ease of access from anywhere and any-time.

Others features- The software program should be able to capture the relevant details needed by a property manager to manage the property, eg. Tracking cost per unit, Generation of reports such as Late Fee, Move-In, Move-Outs, and Termination/Expiry. The software program should have some handy features such as a reminder system to keep track of appointments, list of tenants and owners that owe you money, automatically update rent amounts, automatically post amounts to each ledger, and update your account names etc. Among the other features available in most property management software packages is the ability to create templates for various forms, rental and lease agreements, and letters that are commonly used when managing properties. Customized documents can be created with the templates and then saved in the appropriate file. The templates can save a lot of time when it comes to generating late notices, final notices, eviction notices and even general notifications to tenants.

Three Tips For Choosing Student Housing

Packing and leaving for college can be an exciting yet daunting task. For anyone who has not planned ahead, it can also be very stressful, since student housing can be difficult to come by when not secured months before arriving. Fortunately, there may still be some options available.

Special Accommodations For Graduate Students

Staying on campus is a very convenient option, especially for those who enjoy meeting new people. Undergraduates tend to have access to two-person rooms or multi-person room suites that are shared. However, for those who are in a masters or PhD program, there may be options that include special accommodations for more mature individuals who are working toward an advanced degree. This is something to consider when searching for student housing.

Sharing An Apartment Or House

Getting an apartment or house is another option to think about, but it should be considered carefully. First, research the rent cycle of the city by asking those who currently rent in the area. Some areas have high turnover, which can make it easier to get a place. Smaller areas can be more difficult.

Once an apartment or house has been secured, make sure to have roommates who understand the leasing process and are willing and able to pay rent, deposits, and utilities in full and on time each month so not to jeopardize the living situation.

In addition, pay attention to the terms of the lease. Leases are not typically based on semesters. For example, anyone who intends on graduating in December should not sign a lease that lasts until June or July of the following year, as that will leave the rest of the housemates with having to find a new tenant. Conversely, the student who leaves may be responsible for paying the remainder of the lease until it is up if the others on the lease cannot find a roommate.

Research Cost Of Living In Advance

For those moving into an area for the first time, it would be advisable to do some research to see what the cost of living will be. Different areas of the country can be vastly different with regard to student housing costs, utility expenses, and even groceries. When looking at advertisements, check for not only the rent each month, but also how many utilities are included and the remaining cost. Think about whether or not that is affordable.

Moving to college can be a fun and exciting time, but it is important to consider everything that comes along with it. Think about where the best place to live would be based on the budget available. For those interested in on-campus student housing, it is important to research that option, at least one semester in advance, to ensure there is a place available. For off-campus living, be sure to carefully consider cost of living expenses. Also, be sure to choose roommates wisely. Not enjoying the other housemates can lead to a very stressful year.

Apartment Rental Tips – Choosing a Neighborhood in Los Angeles

Los Angeles living is exciting, fast-paced, and exceedingly diverse. Life in one part of the city can be a striking contrast, bearing no resemblance to life elsewhere in LA. The apartment rental process can be one that is fraught with difficulty, if only due to the huge number of choices available. When you start the apartment rental process in Los Angeles, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed because there are well over 100 distinct, named neighborhoods in the city. Which ones are hot? Which ones are dangerous? Which are kid friendly, and which have the best nightlife? Apartment rental is stressful enough in Los Angeles, so we’re going to bring you our picks for the best neighborhoods in LA for apartment rental today.

Venice Beach. If beach living is the life for you, look no farther than Venice Beach. Life here is affordable, diversified, and colorful. It’s clear when you visit Venice Beach that the free spirit that attracted so many artists of yesteryear, including Doors frontman Jim Morrison, survives today. Life in Venice Beach is populated by street performers, wandering musicians, craft vendors, and of course the hip bohemians who make Venice Beach their home. Variety is the spice of life here.

Westwood. Westwood is home to UCLA, so it features plenty of students, with the requisite affordable student housing, bars, and nightlife. Life in Westwood is fast and happening, but if you’re young and looking for a place you can truly unwind, and don’t mind fighting for parking, then Westwood may be the place for you.

Silver Lake. Silver Lake is a young, hip neighborhood characterized by organic cafes, dive bars, artsy boutiques, coffee shops, and easy-going, friendly, trendy people. Its proximity to downtown, Hollywood, and other great night spots around the city makes this an ideal spot for someone who likes to keep all of their options open.

Los Feliz. Once a mecca for the artists and indie crowd, Los Feliz has evolved into an upscale neighborhood attracting trendy residents looking for a quiet place to call home and retreat from the bustle of the city. The Los Angeles apartment rental prices are understandably rising as the neighborhood improves, but it’s still possible to find affordable digs in Los Feliz.

Midtown. A true melting pot of the city, Midtown is home to wealthy city-dwellers, working-class families, students, and more. Home to Koreatown, this centrally located hub is a great place to live if you always want to be connected to the action, but be warned, being centrally located means being in the middle of the city’s infamous traffic congestion, so plan accordingly.

Choosing a Property Manager – Practical Tips For Real Estate Investors

Selecting a property management firm is one of the most important decisions a real estate investor can make. The following are critical factors we think you should look at when making your decision.

Customer Service

You really want to select a firm that will deliver great customer service – to you and tenants alike. If you experience any responsiveness issues when inquiring about their service, the odds are that you will experience the same on an ongoing basis if you select the firm. Ask pertinent questions such as:

  • Are they available after regular working hours?
  • How do they handle emergencies?
  • Who can you speak to if there are problems, and where are they located?
  • Do they offer any guarantees on their service?

Knowledge of Building Construction & Maintenance

Experience and knowledge of building construction and maintenance is key for your property management firm to have. We would expect a coffee company like Starbucks to have excellent knowledge about the coffee equipment in use at their stores. We should expect a property management company to have excellent knowledge about the building technology in use at their properties. Key questions are:

  • Do they have skills on staff to be able to diagnose building issues quickly & effectively?
  • Are formal and documented maintenance and capital upgrade plans created for each property?
  • Can they manage subtrade work over and above minor maintenance?

Tenant Screening Process

You will want to select a firm that takes tenant selection seriously and does more than just the standard background checks. Tenant selection requires time, solid inter-personal skills and good judgment. Ask questions such as:

  • How much time will they spend with a prospective tenant?
  • What kind of questions will be asked of the tenant?
  • Will references be checked even if a reference letter is provided?

Local Market Knowledge

The most important influence to real estate investment value is the local market influence – and local market knowledge is key. Your property manager should have excellent knowledge of the local real estate market. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What local staff presence exists?

· How does the firm keep up with local market trends?

· Will you be dealing with any remotely located staff to get service?

· Will tenants or prospective tenants be dealing with local or remote staff?

Fee Structure

You will want to select a firm with reasonable fees and also a structure whereby fees on top of fees are avoided. For example, for a renovation you will want to avoid paying a % fee to the construction contractor, and then a % fee to the property manager on top of that. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What fees are charged for renovation and construction projects?

· Do they use general contractors for renovation and construction? If so, what fees are charged?

· Do they have the capability to manage subtrades directly?

Information Systems

Technology helps businesses run. Your property management company should have a clear information systems management strategy and operational. As the owner of the property, in the end you are responsible for the information so you will want to make sure your property manager has a good handle on it. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· How is information maintained?

· Are IT industry best-practices followed?

· How is privacy legislation compliance achieved?

· Does a backup strategy exist?

· What is the company’s IT disaster recovery plan

Accounting

And finally, you will want your books in order. This will keep your tax accountant happy and your accounting fees low. Find out if the property management firm has a solid grounding in accounting practices. Key questions include:

· What financial and transaction records are kept?

· What is the accounting cycle for the property?

· Which reports will be provided?

· Is someone available to answer your accountant’s questions should any arise?

Understanding the above areas and getting to know a property management firm’s management approach to managing these key aspects of real estate management will lead you to making a well-informed decision.

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