Earlier this year when I did my taxes, I found myself saying what I say every year: next year I’m hiring an accountant. In general, I think hiring an accountant is good advice, but I’m one of those who likes to really understand the tax code and generally don’t mind doing my own taxes. I use TurboTax, which so far has been able to handle my various complexities quite well.
I have several real estate rental units back in Colorado (I live in San Francisco) and I have a property manager who takes care of them for me. She’s been using QuickBooks to track everything, but as I was transferring all the exported data into TurboTax, I finally had had enough and vowed to seriously check out some web-based property management services and see what the options are. Basically, I’m looking for the following things:
- a simple, clean, efficient user interface
- affordable and scalable
- ability for multiple users with different roles to log into the same account
- track income, expenses, tenant info, maintenance, etc.
- track performance, such as vacancy rate, average rent, etc
- be flexible enough to handle situations like tenants paying late, pro-rated rents, and whatever other weird situation comes up
- ability to upload files, like leases, photos, etc.
- tax reports with pre-defined categories for ease of entry when tax time rolls around
- full data export capability, so that I can get my data out if this company disappears at some point
I looked around and did some searching and came up with a list of seven apps that I wanted to check out and delve into further. Here’s the list:
I don’t really have time to go through all of these one-by-one and give you an overview, but I will say that I was most impressed by Rentomatic and Propertize. Rentomatic has a great interface and a fantastic dashboard that lets you see how your portfolio is performing at any given time. It’s also got a sweet feature where you can setup profiles for each of your units and then post them to Craigslist and other rental sites. The two main features that it’s missing are the ability for multiple users to login and the ability to upload files like leases.
That said, I currently have to give the edge to Propertize. The functionality is very similar to Rentomatic, but it’s a bit cheaper, the interface is a bit better, and it offers the ability for multiple users to login to the account. Sadly, it too lacks the ability to upload, but they’ve been responsive when I’ve offered feedback, so perhaps it’ll make it in the app eventually.
I’m continuing to play around with them both, with the goal of making a decision by Dec 1st, so we can get up to speed on the system by the end of the year. If you’re in this space, let me know what you’ve found that I might have overlooked.