Real Estate Management Software Development: Build vs Buy

May 26, 2023
13 min

Real estate management software development is about building an all-in-one suite with features tailored to your business operations.

But here comes the dilemma: is it worth spending money if there are so many options for packaged software?

The decision will greatly impact your finances, timelines, and opportunities.

Find out more on the matter in our post covering:

  • 5 types of real estate management systems
  • 4 must-have features for your real estate property software
  • 12 pros and cons of custom vs packaged solutions
  • 8 use cases when to opt for tailor- or ready-made software
  • Build vs buy comparison matrix.

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Real Estate Management Software Development: Build vs Buy

There are 2 common ways to obtain the real estate management software you need:

  • Build a custom real estate management app from scratch
  • Purchase ready-made packaged software.


Each option may become a perfect match for your business depending on your current needs, budget, timelines, and required scalability. So we need to take a closer look at both models to see which one is a better fit for your business.

Before we start, here is a simple comparison matrix that outlines the key points on why you should build or buy real estate management solutions. We’ve used the most common criteria essential for any real estate business. More on this topic later in the article. 


Real Estate Management Software: Build vs Buy
CriteriaCustom SoftwarePackaged Software
Low long-term costs
Low initial costs
On-demand features
Quick deployment
High Scalability
Sufficient Support
Easy integration
High control


So, carefully analyze your current needs and choose the best model that fits your operations.

Custom Real Estate Management Software Development

Building a system from scratch means gathering software requirements, defining the feature set you need, and hiring a real estate software development company.

Let’s discuss the core pros, cons, and use cases proving the ultimate benefits of custom proptech software development.

NOTE: we skip the detailed step-by-step guide on building your real estate management app as it’s precisely described in our blog post.


Pros of custom real estate software development

  • Save money in the long-term perspective


From-scratch custom development starts from $10,000 on average, which may seem pricey at first sight.

This is partly true.

But it becomes cost-efficient in the long-term perspective as you invest once and use your real estate management app for years.

You no longer need to pay monthly subscriptions, additional user and integration fees, and avoid other scalability charges.

In case you have a budget to invest in building your own tailor-made real estate management app, it will financially pay you off in the future.

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  • Implement on-demand and specific features you need

Another strong advantage is that the custom approach means building only those features you need.

First, you avoid expenditures for pointless features you never use. It’s about cost savings again.

Second, many packaged real estate management apps provide a limited feature set.

You can either expand it through additional one-time/monthly fees or have no space at all.

So, it offers scalability burdens that can limit your business efficiency and growth potential.

Custom development solves this challenge as you can embed as many features as you currently need.


  • Lessen burdens of scalability

As mentioned above, most packaged solutions may limit your scalability opportunities.

Imagine you currently have only several property managers using the real estate management software on a daily basis.

Your business grows, and you need to have more system capabilities in terms of the number of administrators, system records, required features, etc.

In case your chosen packaged solution doesn’t provide room for growth, you bump into scalability issues.

They take your time and costs and reduce the growth speed at the moment.

You either need to change the vendor or turn to custom development.

The latter offers your business limit-free opportunities for scaling.


  • Say no to integration issues

Integrations are a great way to connect your core real estate software with multiple additional tools.

They may include customer relationship management, project management, marketing automation, team collaboration, etc.

Sometimes, you may want to integrate not popular tools that you find useful, though.

In case of using packaged solutions, you’ll need to contact the vendor and ask for custom integrations for your enterprise.

The chances are high of getting rejected and facing limitations.

With custom real estate management software development, you can integrate any potentially useful tools for your enterprise.


Cons of custom development

  • Longer time-to-use period

Building a real estate management app from scratch is a beneficial yet time-consuming initiative.

On average, it takes 3-6 months to design, build, and test your system before its launch.

This means you should carefully analyze your timelines and invest in custom development if you have enough time to proceed.


  • One-time pricey development costs

You still need to invest a relatively huge sum of funds to develop the system as we’ve mentioned above.


When to build real estate management software from scratch?

We recommend building a custom real estate app when you want to:

  • Build a unique demand-oriented architecture
  • Embed high scalability
  • Have specific features not provided by packaged software vendors
  • Have zero limitations to integrating with multiple useful tools
  • Have time and budget to proceed with custom development.

Buying Packaged Real Estate Software

Modern ready-made real estate solutions strongly compete with custom systems.

Here are our thoughts and recommendations on the benefits and drawbacks of packaged software, as well as key takeaways of when to buy packaged real estate software for your business.



  • Start using the system within hours/days

Most packaged solutions offer SaaS-based platforms, which means you can start utilizing the platform within days or even hours.

­­Everything you need is to choose the pricing plan, adjust your enterprise workflows, and add administrators.


  • Try before buy with a free trial

Most real estate management software vendors offer a 7- or 14-day free trial.

This means you can try and test the system’s functionality and other capabilities before you spend the first penny.

So, you can easily understand whether a vendor’s offering is what you need, or it lacks specific perks you need for your business.


  • Lower financial risks with subscriptions

Monthly or quarterly subscription fees mean you always have 30 or 90 days to make a decision on whether you want to proceed with this vendor.

This decreases financial risks and operating costs leaving more space for other initiatives.



  • Higher long-term costs

While you’re spending less upfront, long-term subscription payments will cost you more.

Apart from basic enterprise and per-user fees, you may bump into additional customization, integration, and implementation charges that increase the total costs.


  • Risks of limited control

You may bump into risks as you have no rights to manage and control the real estate management software.

For example, the vendor may release new updates that mostly fit large-scale enterprises but not your SME business.

This might force you to adapt and limit the growth potential or start seeking new vendors with better offerings.


  • Lack of flexibility and features

Mostly, you get basic all-in-one functionality that may suit your initial needs.

But as your business grows, you need more capabilities to facilitate daily operations.

Here comes low flexibility as mostly vendor developers don’t deliver custom features upon personal requests.

This may force you to use separate tools or look for other vendors that meet your current needs.


When to opt for packaged real estate management software?

  • The current platform features fully meet your needs, and there is room for further growth
  • You want to save money initially and start using the platform as fast as possible
  • You have limited budget opportunities to build custom software yet.

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Key Types of Real Estate Management Systems


A real estate customer relationship management (CRM) system is an organized way to manage your leads and clients.

It’s a cloud-based platform that keeps all your marketing and lead-based data centralized.

It allows you to:

  • Store property information
  • Track and collaborate with leads
  • Convert them into deals
  • Manage and support clients
  • Track your lead generation and marketing activities
  • Share sensitive deal-related data safely
  • Control your lead and deal flows and pipelines.


There are multiple CRM solutions that include systems customized to your real estate needs and general platforms for all-in-one activities.


Let’s take AscendixRE as an example.

It’s a Salesforce-powered CRM system tailored to specific real estate needs.

Apart from well-known basic features, AscendixRE enables you to:

  • Generate property reports and flyers in a single click
  • Utilize secure lead and deal rooms to communicate with parties in one place
  • Generate data-driven insights through pre-built charts and dashboards
  • Visualize stacking plans seamlessly
  • Display properties on a map
  • Automate general commission calculations
  • Track inquiries for lease and sale
  • And many more.


So, AscendixRE is an example of a customized CRM for commercial real estate needs that helps you simplify daily specific workflows and drive sales.



An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is yet another powerful real estate management software solution to manage your business.

Simply put, it’s a cloud-based platform that enables you to track and manage financial, procurement, HR and payroll, accounting management, and many other activities.

With real estate ERP, you can:

  • Plan and estimate projects and deals
  • Control and manage human resource activities and payrolls
  • Keep track and adjust financing and accounting
  • Advance contractor management
  • Consolidate enterprise management information
  • And many others.


A great example here is Buildium.

It’s a cloud-based real estate management system designed to power your day-to-day operations.

Buildium ERP software enables you to reconcile bank statements, generate financial reports, handle accounting activities, store and manage property data, and integrate with multiple tools.



Multiple listing service (MLS) is a real estate management system designed by brokers for brokers.

It’s a cloud-based private database of listings created to increase sales and boost transaction management.

Imagine you have a property listing with the seller’s information and you’re looking for buyers.

Using MLS software, you can share this listing as a private offer through a cloud-based database.

This way, you attract other real estate brokers to help you close the deal.

Once you succeed, you pay a specific compensation to the broker who helped you attract the buyer.

This makes MLS a win-win real estate management system to help your clients buy and sell properties.


Zillow is a great illustration of such tools.

Designed and launched by 2 former Microsoft executives, Zillow offers an industry-leading suite for real estate professionals, buyers, sellers, renters, landlords, and others.

The core features of the real estate management system include:

  • 135M of properties and listings
  • Advanced criteria sorting and filtering
  • Cross-platform nature to access the platform wherever you are
  • Many more.


The platform gathers data from both MLS and non-MLS databases like foreclosures and auctions.


Lease Management

Real estate lease management software is a must-have tool for landlords and property managers.

Basically, it allows you to store important leased property data and handle most financial and legal operations automatically.

The key features include:

  • Document storage and administration
  • Lease contract management
  • Lease clauses and payments automation
  • Incentives, costs, and deposits
  • Space and unit charges
  • In-depth accounting automation
  • Marketing and promotional tools
  • Notifications and real-time reminders.


For example, HES Lending Platform.

It’s a fintech-powered cloud-based platform to streamline your operations with lease portfolios from A to Z.

Starting with customer onboarding and services, you can utilize AI credit scoring and a multi-channel component.

This way, you offer a seamless borrower experience at each leasing stage.


Inventory Management

Real estate inventory management is about streamlining your property management, parking, and communications between developers and clients.

The core functionality includes:

  • Efficient ledger management
  • Parking management
  • Automated tax calculations and enhancements
  • Demand lead generation and payment schedules
  • Receipt generation
  • Data-driven and insightful analytics dashboards.

4 Must-Have Property Management Software Features

Real estate management software may include multiple features based on your needs.

Here is the list of must-have functionality which helps you solve real estate day-to-day needs.


Accounting & Reporting

Accounting is the cornerstone of your daily business operations.

You monitor, evaluate, and manage incomes, costs, reserves, cash flow, and economic performance.

This makes accounting automation a must for the software you build or purchase.

First, you can track invoices, costs, tax inputs, and outputs.

Second, you automate monthly payrolls with a payroll processing feature.

Third, you synchronize data with accountants and bookkeepers.


Advanced real estate accounting features should also include insightful and real-time reporting.

It helps you get data-driven results and financial predictions to close deals efficiently.

AI-powered financial predictions are becoming a huge trend.

2 in 3 real estate agents state they prefer investing in adopting Artificial Intelligence technologies to boost accounting accuracy (Sage Practice of Now).

This makes AI-enabled accounting features a great initiative to invest in and benefit from it.

Apart from the mentioned functionality, accounting and reporting modules should include:

  • Insightful & real-time analytics
  • Online payment automation
  • CAM tracking & reconciliation
  • Accounts payable automation
  • Streamlined corporate accounting
  • Real-time flexible reporting.


Customer Relationship Management

Communication with leads and clients is an inevitable part of your day-to-day activities.

The more efficient you collaborate, the better results you achieve.

Here comes CRM as must-have functionality for your real estate management software.


First, it helps improve lead generation results.

Automated tracking of leads, opportunities, and deals saves your time and enables you to focus on clients’ needs and solutions.

Insightful analytics with real-time dashboards also make your life easier.

You can analyze marketing strategies, lead sources, and scoring to build efficient pipelines and lead flows that maximize sales outcomes.


Second, it simplifies document generation and management.

You no longer need to utilize multiple spreadsheets and databases to create, store, and manage data.

Real estate CRM features provide a centralized way to work with documents and automatic synchronization of your accounts’ information upon request.

No manual inputs, human errors, and thousands of files. Everything you need is at your fingertips in a cloud-based platform.


Third, it helps incorporate approval workflows.

Standardizing sales, marketing, and service workflows is a great way to bring consistency to your property management business.

For example, each real estate manager should have a clear and process-centric approach to contract approvals.

This way, you keep managers motivated, clients satisfied, and businesses facilitated to grow and expand.


Lease Management

The more leased properties you need to manage, the more challenging it becomes.

Lease management automation features are what you need.

First, you start managing data in an order-based way.

You no longer need to manually process tons of property maintenance, lease renewal, expiry dates, and reconciliation payments.

Lease management automates and structures this process helping you track, manage, and adjust efficiently.


Second, it offers out-of-the-box customizations.

Most packaged or tailor-made lease management systems offer customizations.

They help you adjust multiple system fields, templates and records the way you need.


Third, is informative report generation.

Real-time reports help both clients and your business.

Clients get structured and visually appealing lease data upon request.

Your business gets insightful and data-driven reports to improve the way you approach lease management.

But manual reporting is a time- and cost-consuming initiative.


Here comes a lease management report generation tool.

For example, Composer.

It’s a Salesforce-powered AscendixRE-based functionality to generate reports, flyers, property tours, and other real estate-related data.

With multiple pre-built templates, you need only 1 minute to generate and share the created report with your team or accounts.

So, make sure you build or purchase a feature-rich lease management system that offers multiple features out-of-the-box.


Maintenance Management

Property maintenance may become a headache when it comes to frequent leakages and malfunctions.

Here comes maintenance request tracking and management, which helps solve these issues.

It includes both renter- and owner-oriented functionality.


First, you can allow renters to submit requests for maintenance.

This automates your workflows from generating a form application and issue descriptions to indicating the task emergency and status tracking.


Second, property owners can assign tasks to maintenance workers, facilitate the process, track schedules, and update the status.

So, maintenance management brings automation and transparency to your workflows and keeps you aligned with the progress of projects.

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Why Ascendix as a Real Estate Software Developer

Ascendix is on both sides of the fence and even more.

We deliver not only packaged solutions and real estate management software development but can also customize your existing system.


Packaged Real Estate Solutions

In terms of our ready-made software, we offer 6 ready-to-use CRM-oriented solutions for your real estate business.



It’s a Salesforce-based CRE-powered customer relationship management software for real estate brokers.


Ascendix Search

It’s an AscendixRE-based advanced search and mass actions tool that revolutionizes the way you deal with Salesforce data.



It’s a Salesforce-based report generation tool that enables you to create branded flyers, tour books, activity reports, and other PDF materials of your real estate data.



It’s an AscendixRE-based property listings portal to promote listings, communicate with clients in robust collaboration and deal rooms, and close deals in an email chain-free way.


Also, we offer customized AscendixRE CRM functionality for land and capital markets.


Custom Real Estate Management Software Development

We have 10-year expertise in building real estate solutions from A to Z in property management software development.

We helped industry-leading brands like Colliers International Indiana, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), and Source Energy Partners build custom real estate management systems from scratch.

Our key perks include:

  • Free CRM and proptech consulting before starting the project
  • 24/7 support of your systems to keep them error-free and high-performing
  • MVP and pilot project development to save your costs
  • Flexible engagement models with US-, Portugal-, and Luxembourg-based outsourcing teams
  • Both a product- and service-oriented expertise.


Customizations of Real Estate Management Software

Already using a Salesforce-based CRM for real estate but looking for custom features?

We’re at your service.

Being a certified Salesforce partner for 20+ years, we know the Salesforce product inside and out.

It allows out to offer one-of-a-kind Salesforce customization and configuration services.

They mean we build custom features tailored to your real estate needs on top of the default platform functionality.

The key services include:

  • User Interface optimization
  • System integration
  • Task automation
  • Data import and modeling
  • Bulk data processing
  • Reports and dashboards
  • And many others.


So, Ascendix is your all-in-one partner to deliver any solution for your real estate business.

Proptech Software Development Portfolio by Ascendix

Check out the overview of the proptech consulting and software development projects we delivered to our clients.

Bottom Line

Before deciding whether to build or buy property management software, carefully analyze your needs.

Next, you can check our buy vs build comparison matrix to decide what criteria make sense for your current business operations.

If you’re looking for a real estate management software development provider, just drop us a line and we’ll send an estimate.


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