Leveraging Tech in Residential Property Management
Residential Property Management — Slow to Adopt
Residential Property Management has a notorious reputation for being slow to adopt technology, even in its most basic form. Given that the vast majority of Property Management firms are local mom & pop shops overseeing between 50–100 doors, the time and investment required to vet, train, and deploy technology solutions hasn’t been worthwhile. In most instances, using pen and paper and Microsoft Excel is more than sufficient for these smaller operations.
However, the amount of institutional investment dollars flowing into residential real estate is forcing significant change, and investors are now demanding the same level of transparency and reporting as any of their other investments. We’re now seeing a new breed of tech-driven Property Management companies filling this void, investing in technology to automate, track and drive efficiencies, and provide investors an unparalleled amount of insights into their investments. These companies are also growing at breakneck speeds through acquisitions and paid marketing channels, gaining massive economies of scale and cost efficiencies.
So what part of the PM process needs can benefit the most from technology? And what are some of the available off-the-shelf solutions which allow PMs to realize these benefits?
Time is literally money when it comes to Resident turns. Owners are not collecting rental payments while their homes sit vacant, and instead, are paying for repairs, maintenance and resident placement fees. This is when it’s time for a Property Manager to demonstrate their worth, and execute like clockwork.
During a turn, Property Managers must execute the below tasks in 3–5 days:
- Conduct a move-out inspection
- Schedule and 3rd party vendors to make unit rent-ready
- Perform a final walkthrough
- Take professional photos
The scheduling, coordination and execution required to make this work is complex, and this is where technology can play a pivotal role. Here are some companies who are leading the way in this area:
Electronic / Mobile Inspections
The below mobile app solutions provide an easy way for Property Managers to conduct mobile inspections. The apps allow for pictures, and custom notes to ensure every room, fixture and appliance is property documented.
- HappyCo — https://happy.co/
- zInspector — https://www.zinspector.com/
On-Demand Repairs & Maintenance
Homee On Demand allows you to request licensed maintenance professionals on your phone. Often times, they’ll be at your doorstep within 30 minutes!
- Homee On Demand — http://www.homeeondemand.com/
On-Demand Professional Photography
Snappr has come in handy on so many occasions! They’ve helped book same day shootings for units and homes that have become rent-ready!
- Snappr — https://www.snappr.co/
Repairs & Maintenance
While getting good vendors to actually fulfill maintenance requests is a challenge in itself, often times, the communication and coordination among three parties: the PM, Vendor and Resident causes headaches and delays.
Property Meld helps facilitate 3-way communication. When a Resident submits a maintenance request, they also provide their availability, allowing Vendors to quickly book a time for the visit and fix.
- Property Meld — https://www.propertymeld.com/
Call Center Support
24/7/365 call center to help you answer maintenance call, diagnose issues and dispatch out your preferred vendors. This helps reduce the workload on your team and frees up your time to focus on growing your business!
- Latchel — https://latchel.com/
Payments & Accounting
Payments and accounting are still one of the largest opportunities for innovation within the Property Management space. While Cash, physical checks, and money orders are still very common and generate inordinate amounts of time to process and reconcile, electronic Payment processing and accounting is typically bundled within off-the-shelf Property Management software.
- Buildium — https://www.buildium.com/
- Appfolio — https://www.appfolio.com/
If you have any other suggestions or companies that are innovating in the above areas, definitely let us know!
As always, if you have questions about what we’re doing at Darwin Homes, please get in touch with me directly at [email protected] and visit us at www.darwinhomes.com.