How to Simplify Rental Property Management with Workflow Automation Software

July 20, 2022
8 min

Property management automation – is the optimization of property managers’ workflow by automating high-effort property management tasks, like tenant screening, invoicing, collecting rent, maintenance, etc. with real estate software.

Does everyone need property automation? No, if it is just you and a couple of clients. But once your hotel, rental, or land brokerage business grows, administrative tasks will start to take over.

What we learned over 26 years in the real estate space is that there is no point in waiting till you get bogged down by multitasking. So here is our complete guide on how to automate rental property management with custom real estate software.

Tasks That Can Be Automated with Property Management Automation Software

Daily responsibilities of a property manager never seem to end. From collecting rent to troubleshooting maintenance issues, managing properties is time-consuming and labor-intensive.

Just as how proptech once disrupted the whole real estate space, you can now use property management automation software to streamline your business activities, automating your repetitive tasks, like:

 

Property Management Workflow Automation

Property Management Workflow Automation

 

Collecting rent

If your system doesn’t support online payments yet, you are seemingly behind of times. The world’s top automated property management systems have long implemented 100% hands-free rent collection, which allows for transparency and security of transactions between you, landlords, and tenants.

Capgemini’s 2021 World Payments Report manifested the global shift away from cash toward contactless payments which are going to expand at a CAGR of 18.6% to hit a trillion transactions by the end of 2022.

So, if you don’t want to fall behind the curve, make sure your property management automation software supports online payments along with other features like:

  • Automatic reminders for tenants when rent is due
  • Reoccurring payments
  • Synchronization with tenants’ bank accounts
  • Built-in property management accounting automation
  • Incoming payment processing & tracking
  • Pay Near Me integration for cash payments.

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Tenant screening

Another labor-intensive task in property management is the evaluation of prospective tenants. Property managers know how important this step is, as the success of your deals is totally aligned with your potential residents’ rental history, finances, payment habits, responsibility, and conscientiousness.

So, having a built-in tenants screening platform with the following features is a must:

  • Screening by email address
  • Auto-generated email applications sent to your tenants on behalf of you to check their identity
  • Auto report generation on tenants’ criminal / payment / public history
  • Possibility to assign payment per screening report to tenants or landlords (like in TurboTenant).

 

Email automation & consistent follow-up

Are you frequently drowning in loads of emails? Wouldn’t it be nice to delegate this task to a property management automation system with auto-set replies?

With smart software, you don’t have to manually scroll through piles of requests to pick the most time-sensitive leads, as the system will automatically filter requests according to their urgency and send out auto-replies.

The same goes for follow-ups. You won’t miss momentum in offering new business opportunities by simply failing to send a consistent follow-up.

So, pay attention to the following features while choosing a ready-made solution or building your own custom real estate software:

  • Chatbots
  • Autoreply & auto follow-up
  • Integrated email communication
  • Autogenerated email from behavior-based triggers
  • Filtering leads / tenants according to the urgency of the request.

 

Property maintenance

Another way to streamline your property management is to automate handling property maintenance requests. Let’s say, an elevator broke in one of your buildings. Residents who first noticed the issue may use the self-service functionality of your app to report the problem. Once it has been resolved, they get a notification, and this maintenance ticket gets closed.

These processes are easy to automate with property management automation software developed from scratch. While discussing your project with a custom apartment software development firm, pay special attention to the next set of features:

  • Preventive maintenance scheduling
  • Multiple calendar views
  • Creation, assigning, and monitoring maintenance tickets in one place
  • An asset database with all details about the building (previous work, the parts involved, the time spent, etc.)
  • Robust reporting features (you can create this from scratch or use a ready-made reporting solution like Ascendix Composer).

 

Room bookings

With a property automation system, potential residents can reserve, cancel, and/or change room bookings from the comfort of their home, using a smartphone or any other device. The system will then automatically send a notification via SMS, email, and/or push notification to a relevant team so they can process the booking on their side.

If implemented correctly, room booking functionality 1) reduces the time property staff must spend manually tracking reservations, 2) keeps interaction between landlords and tenants hands-free.

We recommend including these features in your custom real estate software:

  • Intelligent calendar (+synchronization with Google and other calendars)
  • Online check-in
  • Online and telephone support
  • Different currencies & languages.

Why Custom Property Management Software is Better than a Ready-Made Solution

One thing to keep in mind when choosing an automated property management system is that the bigger your rental business gets, the more room you have for real estate software.

Basically, when looking to streamline your property management, you have two options:

  • 1) ready-made solutions (like SimplifyEm, Buildium, and TurboTenant)
  • 2) custom property management automation software.

 

However, what we’ve learned over 26 years in the tech space is that large businesses need more advanced tools as their processes are getting complex. So, to address your unique challenges, we recommend that you opt for custom real estate software development. Here is why:

 

Why Custom Real Estate Software for Property Management Automation

Why Custom Real Estate Software for Property Management Automation

 

  • You can meet every single requirement on your list
  • You can easily adjust, scale, or modify your software
  • Frequent updates
  • Quality support from your real estate software development partner
  • Specific design for unique circumstances.

 

And what is more important, before creating custom software, you can analyze the top property automation solutions on the market and implement the “skims” of their functionality while avoiding their pitfalls.

  • For example, Buildium has overall nice landlord-tenant communication, however, there is one big imperfection users often complain about: you can send an email out to a tenant, but they are not able to reply to the email through this method. You can easily eliminate this issue in your tailor-made property automation system.
  • Another example TurboTenant, traditionally viewed as choice #2 for property managers. Despite its robust functionality, the software lacks property maintenance tracking and reporting. This means that property managers will need to pay extra for these features to third-party providers.
  • Avail does have an in-app maintenance chatbox and reporting features, but you will likely want to send convenient pre-screener questionnaires to your prospective tenants, which is not possible at the moment.

 

If you’re afraid your team does not have the relevant skillset for creating a custom real estate solution, consider outsourcing development to experts.

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Must-Have Features of Property Management Automation Software

Custom real estate software development gives you a unique chance to turn the world’s best property automation systems’ shortages to your advantages. Try implementing the next set of features when developing real estate software from scratch:

  • Customizable Rental Application for Tenants / Online Tenant Portal (develop a tenant-facing app / tenant portal for remote landlord-tenant communication, maintenance management, payment tracking, etc.)
  • Built-in Messaging Chatbot (where tenants might find the answers to FAQ or directly reach out to your team if a problem arises)
  • Pre-screener Questionnaire (configure your system to automatically send a predefined set of questions to the Leads who filled in the contact form for your property and find out if they qualify for potential tenants. You may ask about their income / employment situation / pets / habits, etc.)
  • Price Analysis Tool (to quickly check how your rental prices compare to actual rental prices per other similar units in the same geographical area and automatically calculate the best price per yours)
  • 1-click Listing Distribution (submit, update, and monitor your property information on a single dashboard with immediate access to the main data aggregators: Neustar/ Localeze, Acxiom, Infogroup, and Factual)
  • Electronic Leases (allow your tenants to sign electronic leases using built-in e-signature tools)
  • Automatic Rent Collection (predefine different payment methods: debit and credit cards, PayPal, and cash payments. The latter is possible through retail Pay Near Me payments which then are transferred to landlord accounts)
  • Maintenance Coordination (develop maintenance reporting functionality on the tenant end and a maintenance coordination dashboard for landlords, where they can create, assign, and monitor maintenance tickets)
  • Email / In-App Notifications (when the rent payment is due / overdue, maintenance ticket states, invoices, etc. + custom emails to your tenants to which they can directly reply from their app / mailbox)
  • Reporting (one-click report generation on audit, tenants’ credit history, property occupancy, revenue, etc.)
  • Lead Activity Monitoring (implement automated activity monitoring to track your leads’ behavior and use pre-defined triggers to inform you when action is needed).

 

So, compared to off-the-shelf solutions, investing in custom real estate software development may seem to be a pricey and complicated task.

However, if you run the numbers and analyze the risks, you will see that bespoke tailor-made property management systems can bring your project enormous benefits.

Case Study: Custom Property Management Software Development for JLL

The Chicago-headquartered JLL is one of the world’s top real estate services firms with 300 corporate offices and a global workforce of 91,000 employees across 80 countries.

They once found themselves in need of a simple tool to search across records by filters, track Properties, Leases, Sales, Listings, and other essentials in one place, which Dynamics 365 could not provide out of the box. This resulted in poor CRM adoption and inefficiency of operations.

Our initial challenge involved poor CRM adoption. We needed help integrating our real estate information into our system, so we could track properties, leases, sales, and other opportunities.

Chad Lisney, Vice President Global IT at JLL

In other words, we aimed to generate maximum operational efficiency with limited manual efforts while providing the same quality of service.

Ascendix helped JLL improve their CRM adoption by six times, integrating the following custom features into their CRM system:

  • Enhanced search functionality across the properties, leases, sales, and other opportunities using predefined filters
  • Robust reporting to generate visually appealing and informative PDFs with Properties, Availabilities, and Listings and then send them via email in one click
  • Advanced visualization to transform raw input data into visually appealing, detailed graphs and charts
  • In-built duplicate remover to avoid piles of identical contacts, companies, properties, availabilities, etc.
  • In-built stacking plan functionality to graphically represent each floor with colored spaces of availability and lease expiry within a specific real estate property
  • And more!

 

Our cooperation with JLL lasted more than a decade, and we are still supporting their CRM needs.

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About Ascendix

If you’ve already set your mind for custom real estate software, be sure to delegate your development to a seasoned provider with first-hand experience in real estate.

A perfect example of this is Ascendix. We are a USA-based custom software development & CRM consultancy firm with solid expertise across 10+ CRM platforms and various industries like proptech, insurtech, CRE, travel & transportation, etc. Over 26 years in real estate, we have delivered disruptive custom real estate software to 200+ clients worldwide, including JLL and Colliers – the world’s top real estate practitioners.

Here is what you get by partnering with Ascendix:

  • When you already have a list of requirements, we will run a project discovery phase. This will allow our solution architects to analyze your needs and suggest the most time- and cost-effective technology solutions.
  • We will inject the latest trends and utilize the most up-to-date tech stack to create bespoke property management automation software.
  • We offer flexible engagement models – offshore, dedicated, and blended – so you can define how we work on your projects.
  • You can also benefit from our US-based business analysts and project managers.

 

If you are wondering how to automate rental property management, you are in the right place. Contact Ascendix and let us craft bespoke property automation software which will perfectly fit your business nature.

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