Best Property Management Software: Buildium vs Appfolio vs PropertyWare

FReal estate investing is arguably one of the most consistent and reliable forms of investing. When I say “real estate investing,” I am not talking about flipping houses like you see on TV. Is there money to be made there? I’m sure there is, but it is far from investing. The investing experience I am referencing is buying and holding real estate investing. Simply put, this is when you buy a single-family or multifamily home and rent it out. I could go down the rabbit hole on this topic, but that is for another time. This article is to analyze and review the software on the market designed to make life for landlords and property managers easier.

Who Should Use Rental Property Management Software?

If you ask the companies who create this software, they will tell you that any landlord should use software! I myself am a landlord, and at the time of this writing, I manage nearly a dozen rental units. How have I kept track previously? I did it like everyone else who is getting started should, a good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet. If you only have a few properties, there is no reason to invest in software. However, like any growing business, as you manage more and more units, you should upgrade to a streamlined solution to make things easier like I did.

Keep in mind that there are two different consumer classes for property management software. One is for the landlord who owns and manages their own properties. The other is a property management firm, who doesn’t necessarily own any properties, but instead takes a fee from the owner to manage their locations.

What Should You Expect From Online Property Management Software?

Remember earlier when I said this type of investing is reliable and consistent? I stand by that statement, especially over the long term, but it is important to realize that in the short term being a landlord can be a very rocky road! Have the attitude that anything that can go wrong will. Landlords can avoid a lot of headaches by outsourcing all of the management to a property manager, but this is expensive (generally all of the first month’s rent and anywhere from 8-12% of gross rent per month). Another way is to have tried and true systems. If you are prepared, all of the bumps in the road will be easy to deal with. Having a reliable property management software is a key component of having a great system in place.

With this software, you should expect, at a minimum:

  • Accounting component
  • Online credit and background checks
  • Online maintenance requests
  • Online rent payments
  • Reporting that gives you an instant snapshot of your business

What Is the Best Property Management Software?

There was a lot of research conducted to reach this decision but based on current offerings and all things being equal  Buildium comes out slightly ahead of Appfolio. This comes with a large caveat though: we feel that Appfolio is priced too high and you should instead go with Buildium. Read on to learn more.

Best Property Management Software: Buildium Review

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The Buildium platform was built by three real estate investors with computer science backgrounds in 2004. Now the management software services over 10,000 customers. While lacking some of the cool upgrades of Appfolio, the nuts and bolts of the property management company is all there. From a cost perspective, if you are managing less than 100 units, the pricing model for Buildium makes the most sense. They offer two different subscription plans, the Core and Pro. Both have the same exact features, but the Core has setup and per use fees for online payments, electronic leases, property inspection and basic tenant screening. Buildium estimates that you can save at least $125 per month plus $700 in waived setup fees with the Pro plan.

Pros

  • Integrated tenant portal
  • A+ BBB rating
  • Letter printing and mailing service
  • Affordable base pricing (extra services available for additional fees)
  • Mobile based property inspection tool


Buildium does not have an easy to use pricing guide, but instead has a tool that gives you the cost based on the number of units.
The minimum cost is $45/month, and this covers you from 1 to 20 units. Buildium offers a 15-day free trial.Price

  • 1-20 units – $45/mo. for Core and $150/mo. for Pro
  • 21-40 units -$60/mo. for Core and $150/mo. for Pro
  • 41-50 units – $75/mo. for Core and $150/mo. for Pro
  • 51-60 units – $90/mo. for Core and $200/mo. for Pro
  • 61-50 units – $105/mo. for Core and $200/mo. for Pro
  • This trend continues ($15 more for every 10 units) until you get to 150 units – the max for the Core where the price goes to $250.
  • 150 units – $240/mo. for Pro
  • 250 units – $300/mo. for Pro
  • 500 units – $560/mo. for Pro
  • Prices increase gradually from here. Buildium can manage over 10,000 units.

You can also save 10% with an annual plan when you prepay for a full year.

Best for 101 or More Units: Appfolio Review

Appfolio was established in 2006 and the people behind it are responsible for the extremely popular GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting products. Being in business for nearly a decade has allowed Appfolio to get past the basic features that landlords expect and move on to more innovative options. A feature that stands out to me is the option to text residents directly through the app – a way to personally connect with tenants without giving out your personal phone number. The other mobile feature that rocks is the mobile inspections tool. This allows landlords to walk through properties with tenants and note damages and repairs (with the ability to attach photos to comments). AppFolio went public in 2015 and is seeing tremendous growth, so we should see bigger and better things from the company in the future, including an upcoming “Rent by the bed” option.

Pros

Cons

  • Landlords can connect and get free info on the Appfolio-managedPropertyManager.com
  • Rent Comparison Tool to analyze your properties vs. others
  • Offer tenants rental liability insurance directly
  • Activities feature to track appointments, inspections, expiring leases and more
  • Optional contact center – gives landlord a 24/7 answering service that becomes an extension of the office
  • Expensive for small operations – if you have less than 100 units, the pricing is substantially higher than other software options

Price

Instead of a complicated scale, AppFolio makes their pricing easy to figure out: $1.25 per unit, per month plus an onboarding fee (equal to two months of service). Note that there is a $250 minimum monthly fee. App Folio offers a 15-day free trial.

Honorable Mention: PropertyWare Review

Propertyware does not market itself to large, high-density property managers, but instead offers a solution to those who focus on single-family and low-density places. Like Buildium, Propertyware was designed by property managers. The software focuses on being user-friendly.

Pros

Cons

  • Move-In and Move-Out Workflow: follow Propertyware’s custom workflow or create your own
  • Offer tenants liability insurance directly
  • Inspections tool allows side by side comparisons and the ability to create a work order directly from the inspection
  • Monthly pricing not published
  • Customer service is not 24/7

Price

Prices start at $80/month, but you have to call to get an actual quote. Property Ware offers a 15-day free trial.

Comparison Table

View all of the key features of these property management solutions side by side.

 

Company Appfolio Buildium Propertware Quicken Rental Property Manager Rentec Direct
Company Appfolio Buildium Propertware Quicken Rental Property Manager Rentec Direct
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Accounting Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Credit and Background Checks Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Customer Service 24/7 24/7 M-F, 7:30am-7pm M-F, 6am-5pm (Pacific)
Free Marketing Website Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Online App Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Online Lease Agreement Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Online Maintenance Request Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Rental Listing Syndication Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Reporting Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Tenant and Lease Tracking Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Tenant Portal Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark Checkmark
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review
Visit Website Visit Website Visit Website Visit Website Visit Website Visit Website

 

Are You a Property Manager?

We hope this article has helped you figure out if a dedicated property management solution is right for you and, if so, which one best suits your needs. It is a big expense, but at some point, it becomes necessary for large operations to have a way to streamline the process. The time and stress saved with property management software should more than cover the added expense!

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