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Review of Property Management Software — 2006

With a booming market, real estate has become an increasingly popular investment option over the past decade.

From the January 2006 Issue

With a booming market, real estate has become an increasingly popular investment
option over the past decade. But while Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
and other publicly traded groups have grown, the majority of residential and
commercial properties in the rental/lease market continue to be managed by smaller,
closely held management companies and individuals. As any landlord will quickly
admit, renting out residential and commercial property is not simply a matter
of collecting rent and applying the revenues to proper accounts. Instead, property
management is much like any business, with profitability requiring keeping on
top of a multitude of tasks and issues.

Of course, the specific needs of each of these management concerns vary depending
on the size and type of their holdings. Where larger firms with a diverse portfolio
of multi-family, single-family, commercial and retail units across multiple
states must deal with large staffs and remote offices, vast maintenance assets,
distribution and related issues, smaller firms often face the obverse challenge
of providing comprehensive service with a minimal staff. All property management
businesses need to turn to technology to assist in maximizing their efficiency.

For most, the first rule of property management is to minimize vacancies.
No lease contract on a unit equals no revenue for that unit. But this is just
the tip of the iceberg. A tenant management module is needed to manage the lease
contract process, from marketing to prospects, to move-in, and ultimately move-out.
Maintaining properties, both while occupied and vacant, is also a vital concern,
requiring the use of a work order management module.

Accounting is another key issue and requires keeping track of the rental receipts,
security deposits, maintenance costs and other associated expenses. Some of
the programs in this review contain complete GL/AP/AR accounting modules with
audit trail functions, while others are geared for integration with a company’s
existing accounting application. In either case, it is essential that detailed
books be kept and, if possible, that information on the profitability of each
individual unit be examinable. This is especially important for property groups
that manage the property of other individuals or entities.

And finally, reporting capabilities must enable the management company to
analyze data in further detail, readily show occupancy levels, show maintenance
issues, and handle client correspondence issues such as late notices.

Of course, numerous other special issues need to be considered, as well, such
as tenant screening, affordable housing compliance issues, community association
management (CAM) functions, utility cost apportionment, asset management, electronic
banking, budgeting and forecasting. The products reviewed here provide options
for all of these tasks and more. 

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American Computer Software —
MANAGEMENT Plus provides a comprehensive property
management system, with functions for managing all phases, from tenant prospects,
to move-in/move-out, managing security deposits, tracking tenant and property
histories, and service and work order capabilities.
LCS, Inc. — Rent Manager
Rent Manager is a multi-purpose residential and commercial
property management solution that is geared toward managers of apartments,
rental homes, condominium associations, mobile home communities and other
rental properties, including third-party property management businesses.
Maxwell Systems — Colonial
Property Management
The Colonial Property Management system provides
full rental property management for multi-family, single-family and commercial
properties, as well as tenant organizations.

PropertyBoss Solutions —
PropertyBoss provides management capabilities for
property management companies with multi-family, single-family, condominium,
mobile community, short-term rentals and commercial holdings.
Property Automation — Tenant
Pro 7
Tenant Pro 7 is a property management suite that
helps managers track information on properties, property owners, tenants,
resident organizations, units, vendors and service histories.
Sage Software, Inc. — Timberline
Office for Property Management
Sage Timberline Office for real estate is a high-end
property management system, supporting all types of residential and commercial
properties, including single- and multi-tenant dwellings, residential associations
and more complex leasing arrangements.

Property Management Software 2006
— Executive Summary
Even small rental property companies used to require
large staffs to keep up with tenant issues, leasing functions, accounting,
maintenance, occupancy levels, prospect marketing and the never-ending issues
these companies face.