How Software and Apps are Changing Property Management

Published 17 November 2020 by Team :Different

For decades, the way you managed your investment property remained unchanged. You could do everything yourself, checking your bank account bi-weekly to make sure tenants were paying their rent, conducting routine inspections on your own, and so on. Alternatively, you hired a property manager to take care of these duties for you, but this relationship was often plagued by poor communication and nauseating paperwork.

Property management software has changed that status-quo. Now, apps for landlords and tenants and property management platforms give real estate agents a new way to provide better service to investment property owners.

This means that investment property owners need to be educated on how the field has changed. You stand to save tremendous amounts of time and money by selecting the correct property management software solutions which best help you with your day-to-day tasks. To empower you with all the information you need, we’ve interviewed our very own Product Manager Joel Pinkham to reveal how software and apps are helping savvy investors (like you) to unlock more time and money and to make smarter investment property decisions.

How has property management been done in the past?

The traditional model of property management has been the status-quo for decades.

But the notion of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply here. Investors have been looking for a way to overcome the challenges of poor communication, clumsy repairs requests and confusing fee structures for a long time.

Things have gotten so bad that the NPS score is as low as -32 as an average in the industry. If you don’t know what the NPS is or you’d like to know what our score is at :Different, you can read our NPS explanation article. Long story short: it’s bad! But disruptors in the industry are shaking things up for the better.

So, what are the problems that have plagued the property management industry for so long? Here’s a snapshot of the main issues:

  • There was no main form of communication. Investment property owners and tenants just get ping-ponged between emails, phone calls and text messages. This made it impossible to keep correspondence, and the whole experience became a massive headache. 
  • Property managers were overloaded. In traditional property management companies, one agent is responsible for up to 150 properties. That’s a lot of paperwork, inspections and interviews! As a result, simple issues, repairs and maintenance requests take forever, and the tenant with a clogged sink becomes unhappy. It just didn’t feel like your property was getting the attention it needed.
  • Essential property management duties and responsibilities were chopped up into additional services that came at an extra charge. For example, some property management companies would charge you $50 for a house inspection. At times it felt like the property owner was just paying their property manager to collect rent. Added with the percentage-of-rent based fee structure, it was confusing to know exactly how much you were paying, and what you were getting.

We suggest you read up on how to find a good property manager in order to dodge those kinds of problems.

“You have all these small, local businesses which are subsidiaries of big players like Ray White. They’re trying to improve property management, but they just don't have the resources or knowledge to make any big sweeping changes, like in technology.”

Joel Pinkham, :Different Product Manager

Disruptors and new entrants in the market strategically attack these pain points to deliver better solutions to property owners. This will often happen through innovations in property management software.

How has software and technology changed property management?

Put simply, real estate management software and technology has entered the property management industry to offer smarter solutions for investors, tenants, and property managers.

So, what does property management software do? We can break the major disruptions down into 5 main points:

  1. Streamlining communications channels through property rental apps for landlords and tenants.
  2. Giving owners 24/7 access to the property through an online property management platform or dashboard.
  3. Improving efficiency across touchpoints.
  4. Allowing service model innovations which deviate from the “1 property manager, 150 properties”-formula.
  5. Leveraging data and analytics to reduce costs and optimise returns.

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Who is driving change in the Australian property management software field?

With more and more disruptors entering the industry, it’s hard to objectively say who has the best property management software. It will largely depend on your unique needs as a property owner.

That being said, YBF Ventures’ finalists for best property software company of 2020 were:

We all do things differently. For example, Conexie focuses on the optimisation space by auditing energy use, while at :Different we’ve taken a more holistic approach to rebuilding property management.

Together, these companies all change the way property management has been done to give better solutions and customer experiences.

So, what does that actually mean for property owners?

How :Different’s property management software meets the needs of modern property investors

There’s one thing we’d like to make clear first: technology is not an all-encompassing solution, and does not replace the property manager. We use it to automate repetitive, manual tasks so that our agents can spend all their time giving a human touch to your investment property.

“Technology is not a solution to everything in property management. And we never think we won’t need humans to play a role in property management.”

Joel Pinkham, :Different Product Manager

With that out of the way, let’s run through the main areas where :Different’s technology helps deliver more value to property owners.

1: Enabling quick, efficient repairs and maintenance

Fixing a leaky tap or mending a broken gate shouldn’t mean multiple phone calls and emails. Apps for tenants and landlords can enable repairs or maintenance requests to be actioned in just a few clicks.

Our property management platform streamlines the maintenance process with real-time visibility of any problems and repair requests.

  • Tenants report any issues or requests in the mobile app for tenants. They attach photos to give a quick snapshot of what needs to be fixed.
  • If action is needed from you, you’ll receive clear notifications and prompts to fast-track approval in our mobile app for property owners.
  • We find the right tradie and use internal data to get you a fair quote.

“Owners are able to immediately check-in on their property in the app. That means tapping a few buttons instead of sending an email. Plus, they can check-in at any time of day which is a big advantage.”

Joel Pinkham, :Different Product Manager

Here’s a quick case study to show you the contrast between the traditional method and the software method in practice:

Sandy owns a top-floor apartment in Marrickville.

Scenario 1: Working with a traditional property management agency.
- Sandy’s tenants have asked for their leaky bathroom taps to be fixed.
- Sandy sends her property manager an email but doesn’t get a reply. Every time she calls she goes straight to voice-mail.
- After several weeks, the property manager finally gets back to Sandy and books in a plumber. 
- When Sandy receives the repair bill, she’s shocked by the cost and worries she’s been overcharged.

Scenario 2: Working with apps for tenants and landlords.
- Sandy’s tenants lodge a maintenance request in their mobile and send a photo of a leaky bathroom tap.
- Sandy gets a notification in her owner’s portal, checks the request and approves it.
- :Different handles the property maintenance request in 12 hours, and gets a tradie on the job within 24 hours.
- Sandy checks the quote and how it compares to the benchmark, and approves the request during her lunch break at work.

2: Reducing costs

Traditional property managers have played by one rule: what you pay for is what you get. If you want to pay less in fees, you get worse service.

Because of our technology, we’re able to lower our operations cost by eliminating repetitive manual tasks, and use a more efficient team-based approach to property management, all while delivering a full-service property management solution for a flat fee of $100 a month.

“Typically, an agent will charge a percentage fee (which in Sydney could easily be over $200 a month). Then, you would also have to pay extra In contrast, we charged a fair flat fee of $100 per month.”

Joel Pinkham, :Different Product Manager

The main difference between our pricing model and a percentage-of-rent based fee is that we base our property management fees on what we know it costs to deliver our service, while traditional property managers base it off the rental yield of your investment property. We believe this is a more fair and transparent solution to our property owners.

3: Unlocking time to work smarter

Technology is able to take the friction out of managing your investment property. Think of it like this: swapping a dustpan and broom for a Dyson gets you the same result, but in half the time. 

When the bank statements send themselves and owners are notified of property maintenance requests immediately, our property management teams can spend more time strategising renovations to add value to your property.

4: Access to your property 24/7

We designed our owner app and portal with busy professionals in-mind. With all your information documents and 24/7 agent support in your back pocket, you’ll always know what’s happening with your property. 

Accessing statements, viewing payments and approving maintenance requests can be done any time on your terms. We also securely save your entire property’s history to a single system, giving our team the ability to respond to your requests anytime (without you needing to repeat the backstory of your property).

“All this information is held in one place [the app] for our team to see. That means that when we're actually talking to you, even if the team member hasn't dealt with the property before, they still know exactly what's going on.” 

Joel Pinkham, :Different Product Manager

Let’s look at another mini-case to see what it looks like in practice:

Jack owns a townhouse in Freshwater.

Scenario 1: working with a traditional property management agency.
- Jack works long hours as a lawyer in the CBD and wants to enjoy his free time outside of the office at the beach.
- He struggles to keep track of his monthly rental statements and often needs to email his property manager multiple times for these documents.
- When tax time rolls around, Jack has to scramble to get his paperwork in order and worries he’s missing important documents.

Scenario 2: working with a tech-savvy property manager.
- Jack can access his rental income statement at any time using his owner app.
- At tax time, Jack can easily download all of these statements in one go.
- Jack enjoys the flexibility of being able to check-in on rental payments between meetings or when he gets home late, rather than having to call his property manager during office hours.

5: Secure rent payments (and follow-up, minus the awkward convo)

No one likes playing debt collectors. By using tech, we use a direct debit system that is set-up from the moment we receive your tenant’s content information. It also means we can easily monitor and follow-up if there’s any delays with payment.

To take the headache out of tax time, you’ll also receive clear monthly and annual statements (which you can always access 24/7 through the owner’s portal).

The future of property management software and 'PropTech'

Now and always, the goal of property management software innovations is to improve customer experience.

As property management continues to evolve, it’s important for you to stay up-to-date with the latest technology by having a property manager who is investing in their processes and solutions for your gain.

With the right tools and apps by your side, you’ll be able to secure (and retain) high-quality tenants, make smarter maintenance decisions, and rest easy knowing your property is in safe hands.

How :Different can help

Our proprietary technology is there for you and your property whenever you need it. Find out how our team of experts powered by smart tech could save you time & money. To enjoy the benefits, sign up today.

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