SF Apartment : September 2017
An App For That
by Corey Eckert
Technology’s constant state of flux is pretty widely known. This is no different for real estate technology geared toward agents and landlords. The past five years have seen a huge boom in software applications that greatly simplify day-to-day responsibilities, transforming them into one streamlined process targeted at reducing vacancy rates and costs. But with old processes standing the test of time, why are landlords switching to software, and more importantly, what software is luring them in? As founder of Intellirent, an automated technology platform that simplifies the leasing process, I can attest that landlords can save time and money with property management technology best suited to their needs.
Two undeniably important factors for any landlord or agent are speed and cost. Every leasing agent should provide a swift service to attract, review, and sign up fresh tenants as soon as possible. Ten years ago, a telephone and computer would have done the trick. Twenty years ago, face-to-face interaction would have gotten the job done. Today, everything has changed. Especially in a competitive renter’s market, agents have to work efficiently to lease properties. They need the right software infrastructure in place. Property management and leasing software has given both landlords and agents a head start over competition for years, but with so many now using the technology, software isn’t just an option; if a landlord wants to keep up in the modern business climate, software is a necessity. Over the past five years, a number of software products have hit the market, catching the eyes of property owners. Based on making repetitive, time-consuming daily tasks easier to complete, or even 100% automated, a few products have taken the market by storm.
Intellirent (myintellirent.com) is an automated leasing platform that streamlines the rental application process, removing a huge amount of work from an agent’s busy schedule and leaving time to focus on what matters most. Intellirent is a partner of TransUnion and is 100% free for agents and landlords. Its best features include free marketing; free credit, eviction and background reports; tenancy and employment verifications; and application customization and verification. Its free marketing tool enables managers to automatically advertise vacancies to a variety of listing platforms. Intellirent utilizes artificial intelligence that collects both tenancy and employment verifications from an applicant’s supervisor and landlord, saving agents time and headaches from the back and forth historically involved in this process. Intellirent also has an “open leasing office” during weekends, where applications can be submitted and reports and verifications generated to allow agents the ability to fully qualify renters as they shop during the weekends. The days of operating within bankers’ hours and waiting for limited capacity leasing offices are over.
HomeBase (homebase.ai) streamlines an agent’s post-lease signing processes. The property-management software focuses on solving problems associated with time keeping, scheduling and tenant communication. The cunning software allows modern property managers and landlords to integrate with smart home devices and provide tenants with an unparalleled level of living, all from one unified dashboard. Juggling work orders for a variety of properties isn’t easy, but HomeBase brings everything together into one seamless user interface, making it easy to view, assign and track maintenance requests with ease. The platform also integrates with leading smart home devices including the Kwikset Kevo lock, which allows you to assign work to a maintenance manager or contractor and grant them access by automatically adding a digital key for the property. Since keys don’t need to be manually exchanged, using HomeBase means that work orders will be completed much more quickly, keeping tenants happy while positively impacting the bottom line.
Livable (livable.com) is an excellent option for landlords and property managers keen to tighten the grasp on their utilities. Offering a full-service utility management platform, the system is flexible to accommodate residential or mixed-use buildings with residential and commercial units. Livable offers its services at an industry low, claiming to be the most affordable service on the market, and offers full pricing transparency with no hidden fees. Owners and managers with fewer units will appreciate the fact that Livable is truly open for all, as it does not require a minimum occupancy for enrollment. Livable’s user-friendly system takes the pain out of utility management by completely handing billing, payments and support. Accurate analytics and forecasting data means a clear picture of excess utility costs. And as an additional perk, it also promotes green living by offering conservation incentives.
If the benefits of utilizing software aren’t enough to turn you off of paper, let’s discuss the alternative. By not keeping up with the new software available, you could be putting your business and clients at risk. We all know that the real estate market is fast-paced and quick to adopt new practices. What one business passes up, another will jump on. We can all agree that there are better known and more profitable practices than paper rental applications, faxed tenancy verifications and limited capacity leasing offices.
In fact, according to an Inc. Magazine study, the time it takes the average company to file a single document could cost that company around $20. The time it takes to organize and compile separate documents is $120. From there, the costs continue to rise with inconsistencies involved in a paper process. Agents and landlords know that time is money and every minute wasted on an inefficient rental application process is money down the drain and lost rental leads. Digitizing the leasing process is a huge source of savings: searchable documents, anywhere/anytime accessibility, reduced vacancy and security. Implementing online software means no floating paperwork with sensitive renter data and effectively guarding yourself and your tenants from the risk of lost or stolen data.
It’s no secret that those in the real estate industry are always on the go. With an agent’s full schedule of showings, lease signings, and all things property management, it is sometimes impossible to find any down time to reflect on business and improve practices. Software platforms like Intellirent, HomeBase, Livable and many others take those concerns off your hands (see sidebar on page 43). Converting to software means letting technology take care of those mundane and expensive day-to-day tasks of property management. Modernize your process and allow yourself more time to pursue the exciting career you hoped for.
Best Practices & Common Mistakes
Much like comparing several contractor bids for a unit renovation, technology shopping should be treated exactly the same. Because most software packages come on a pay-monthly basis, you will need to ensure you are getting the best value for your money. Some software may provide an advanced level of service, but it is likely to come with a price tag to match. Compare the software options with others on the market before moving forward.
Oversubscribing for software is a common mistake to avoid. It might be tempting to upgrade to the top service offering, but take a step back to consider what you really need. Although the premium package with unlimited users and 24/7 support may look like the best option, you may be wasting your money if you are not using the extra features.
Carefully read the fine print and avoid long-term contracts. You don’t want to commit to a service, only to find out it doesn’t satisfy your needs. Take advantage of the free trials most paid software options offer. If a trial period is not advertised, ask for one anyway. Chances are there is a trial period available, or at the very least, a comprehensive product demo.
Although several software packages are available to landlords and agents, that doesn’t mean they are all the right fit for you and your business. Take your time when shopping and compare the options before deciding on the best one to meet your needs and budget.
Corey Eckert is the founder of Intellirent and can be reached at email@example.com or 415-794-0064.