As an independent landlord, you’ve decided to make your process streamlined, easy, and more efficient by using online property management software. But, which online tools should you use? It can often feel overwhelming when you go to research what will work best for your rental business when there are numerous options out there and many of them seemingly identical. Don’t let this sway you from moving your rental business online, but rather, identify your needs as a landlord and what tools and resources you will need to run your business online.
Below, we’ve put together a guide on why online property management software will be beneficial to your rental business, and we’ll walk you through different options so you can easily make an educated decision on which one will be best for you.
- Why You Should Use Property Management Software
- Tips for Researching Property Management Software
- Comparing TurboTenant, Avail, Cozy, and Zillow
Why You Should Use Property Management Software
Being a landlord comes with many responsibilities and tasks that can sometimes be time-consuming, overwhelming, or confusing. In the end, you want to always protect your rental investment and find the best tenant for your property. If you have one property or 100, online property management software will aid you in your tasks and process by making things automatic, increasing efficiency, and increasing your ROI on your rental business. Here are some of the best benefits of using online property management software:
- Easy Online Marketing: Online marketing is an essential part of filling your vacancies. There are a variety of online listing sites and it would take many hours to individually post your rental listing on every one. However, with the right online property management software, you’ll only have to create your listing once and then syndicate the listing out to major listing sites as well as places like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
- Online Rental Applications: Paper applications are becoming increasingly obsolete as online rental applications are easy, customizable, and secure. Renters also prefer being able to fill out an application online since they are most likely searching for rentals through online listing sites.
- Tenant Background and Credit Checks: Screening your tenants is imperative to protecting your investment so you know your tenant is trustworthy and can pay rent on time. When you request a screening report for applicants, you’ll get a detailed report that’s easy to read so you can quickly identify any red flags. Read here for more information on what exactly a tenant screening report is.
- Tenant Management: While online property management is great for the beginning of the rental process, it doesn’t just stop after you find a tenant. You can continue to utilize online tools to manage your renters whether it’s communicating, collecting rent payments, receiving maintenance requests, and more.
Even if transitioning to these things is different from how you’ve run your business in the past, it will actually save you time and money in the long run. With 2020 changing the way people work and live, becoming a virtual landlord has become a necessity and not just an afterthought.
Tips When Researching Property Management Software
You should always do your research when it comes to choosing the right software to run your rental business. Here are some quick tips to try to narrow down your search:
- Identify your needs as a landlord and potential areas where you could streamline your process more – this will help you align those needs with a company’s offerings.
- Talk to fellow landlords and peers about what they use to manage their rentals to get different opinions.
- Check out reliable review sites to read through features.
- Read content such as blogs and help articles on different sites to see if it has a good user experience when it comes to education materials.
- Know your budget and what you are willing to pay or not pay for.
Once you do your research, actually choosing and then implementing property management software is the next step. Keep reading to see a detailed comparison of some of the most popular platforms.
Comparing TurboTenant, Avail, Cozy, and Zillow
When you search for property management software, there are a variety of platforms you might find. For independent landlords who have anywhere from one to 100 properties, TurboTenant, Avail, Cozy, and Zillow are some of the most popular options. Platforms such as Buildium and Appfolio are generally meant for larger portfolios (100+) and are often used by property management companies. As an independent landlord, whether managing your rentals is your full-time job or not, here is a quick checklist of important features each software does or doesn’t have.
TurboTenant – TurboTenant’s services are free for landlords. There are additional things, such as forms or state specific leases, landlords can choose to purchase. The application fee which is typically paid by the tenant is $35-$45 depending on the type of report you choose. Find TurboTenant’s pricing details here.
Avail – Avail includes a free plan and also an unlimited plus plan that is $5 per rental unit. The free plan limits access to features such as customizable applications and leases, expedited payments, and marketing websites. Screening reports for tenants cost either $30, $50, or $55 depending on which one you request.
Cozy – Cozy’s platform is free but has other costs landlords can choose to purchase such as rent estimate reports, etc. Its tenant screening reports can cost $39.99 or $24.99.
Zillow – Zillow’s Rental Manager charges $29 for an application/screening report and the applicant must pay. Zillow also charges $9.99 a week to market each property listing after the first free listing.
Customer experience is an extremely important aspect when using new software for the first time. Having team members that are easily accessible to guide you through setting up your account, answer any questions you have, or talk to you about new features will make you feel confident and comfortable running your rental process online. Here are some notable customer experience features for the platforms mentioned above:
TurboTenant – TurboTenant’s customer experience team has extensive chat availability when you’ll need it the most as a landlord. The team is extremely responsive to emails and conveniently allows landlords to schedule phone calls. Additionally, its team is constantly writing helpful support articles in its Help Center; you can easily reference them at any time. Talk to a team member here.
Avail – Avail offers a form when you need to contact them – they do not have a chat-in feature. Additionally, Avail’s customer service takes phone calls every day of the week from 9-5 pm CST.
Cozy – While Cozy does not offer phone support or online chat, they do have email support 24/7 with a 24 hour response time promised. Cozy also has a Help Center with various articles available for its landlords as well.
Zillow – Through Zillow, you can only submit a help ticket. They do not offer chat or phone support.
Regardless of which platform you use to manage your rental business online, transitioning to property management software will only streamline and benefit your rental business – you will see your ROI increase by choosing the best tenant for your property while also making renter management and communication more efficient.