Last Updated: September 2023
Although real estate has historically always been a very physically engaging business, researching, investing, developing and managing rental properties has increasingly become more dependent on using specialized rental real estate software. Real estate professionals nowadays use specialized softwares for everything from pre-acquisition research, to post-acquisition property management. Below we take a look at several of the major categories of real estate software.
Jump to Section (click icon)
Property Management Software
Property management software greatly helps property owners, property managers, and tenants handle various aspects of administration such as rent payment, property maintenance, marketing, and owner reporting. Depending on the type of rental property, different specialized real estate specific softwares have been designed to accommodate those properties’ specific needs.
Tenant Screening Software
Performing proper tenant screening is one of the most important components of rental property management. In order to access personal information such as credit reports, eviction histories, and bankruptcies, landlords and property managers used third party tenant screening softwares.
Real Estate Data Software
Real estate companies, savvy rental property owners, and property managers all utilize various online real estate data solutions that provide insights into data to help them make better decisions. These can include checking ownership records to make an off-market purchase offer or checking rent price comps in a particular market.
Real estate accounting software helps rental property investors and property managers track rent payments, property expenses, and other real estate related accounting. The accumulated data generated and recorded by real estate accounting software simplifies tax preparation, budgeting revenue projections, analyzing rent prices and understanding future investment trends.
Contract and Document Software
Online rental property document software offers customizable templates and digital management solutions for forms, contracts, and letters related to leasing and property management. These platforms streamline the document creation process, ensuring compliance with legal requirements and promoting efficient communication between landlords and tenants.
Digital Signature Software
Digital signatures for rental property documents are becoming increasingly popular among rental real estate industry professionals; especially since they can be as legally binding as traditional ink signatures. Landlords and tenants can sign lease agreements and other rental documents online using this software, which offers convenience and time efficiency.
Rental property marketing software is designed to help property managers and landlords market their rental properties more effectively. This software typically includes features such as online property listings, lead generation tools, and automated email marketing, and streamlines marketing efforts to save time, money, and improve occupancy rates.
Construction software assists the entire building process from back-end planning, to onsite construction. With so many moving pieces in a construction project, it is frequently used for everything for project management, cost estimating, and much more.
Property Maintenance Software
In order to track and manage maintenance on a larger scale, property maintenance software program can be a helpful tool for real estate investors and property managers to assign, track and assess maintenance issues. Some property management softwares integrate this feature into their program, but other standalone programs allow for streamlining maintenance-related processes.
The #1 Rental Property Newsletter
Once a month, we send out an exclusive Rental Property Market Update with top stories, current mortgage rates, building products, and more. No spam and unsubscribe anytime.
Rental Property Software FAQ
What is Real Estate Software?
Real estate software is any type of digital solution, platform, or program that is particularly designed to automate a process in the real estate industry.
Do I Need Real Estate Software?
A very common question that investors and property managers ask themselves is “Do I Really Need Real Estate Software?”. Since a good software solution requires both financial and human capital input, the need and use should be reasonably justified before purchasing. We explore the answer to this question below.
Determining whether or not you need specialized rental real estate software will ultimately depend on the numbers. Real estate is a for-profit business and any advantages that can increase your bottom line should be seriously considered. If the investment in the software can save time, provide a competitive advantage, and generate more money than the cost of the software itself, then purchasing it should be strongly considered.
For smaller and simpler operations (think only a few properties) software honestly tends to overcomplicate simple processes. Many small organizations get by just fine using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or similar solutions. The answer will ultimately depend on the needs of your organization and the return on investment (ROI) of the software’s cost.
How Much Does Real Estate Software Cost?
Pricing for real estate software ranges from free, all the way up to $1,000+ per month for enterprise software capable to handle hundreds of rental units. Software investments go far beyond just the monetary price tag, as they also require human capital to input and verify data. When it comes to pricing the actual software, most providers usually do so in one of the following ways:
What is the Best Real Estate Software?
The best real estate software truthfully depends on the needs of your organization. The needs of a growing mom-and-pop landlord are drastically different from a decades old established REIT. Nevertheless, below are a few of our top recommendations based on first-hand experience for rental real estate software solutions available in various different categories.
Best Property Management Software
Why We Like Appfolio – Among the many available options of property management software, we found Appfolio to be the most intuitive to use with many features and integration capabilities. Its compatibility among different asset classes is also a plus.
Best Tenant Screening Software
Why We Like SmartMove by TransUnion – SmartMove generates the same common reports like other tenant screening softwares, however, we like it the most due its simplicity to use and trust of data handling as TransUnion is one of the major credit bureaus.
Best Market Research (Data) Tool
Why We Like Costar – The high price tag is a love-hate relationship for commercial real estate professionals. Nevertheless, Costar is still our favorite, as well as the commercial real estate industry’s go-to tool for owner research, recent sales and leasing data.
Best Rent Comparison Software
Why We Like Rentometer – For residential rental property owners, this is a very useful tool. Rentometer provides surprisingly accurate rental rates for various markets or residential rental properties across the United States. They also have a premium subscription that very reasonably priced.
Best Accounting Software
Why We Like Stessa – Most real estate investors track their accounting in one of two ways – spreadsheets or accounting software. For those who prefer rental real estate specific accounting software, our favorite is Stessa. It provides an overall view of property financial performance, assists with rent collection, and much more.
Best Document Software
Why We Like eForms – If you have google searched for blank document templates, then you have likely come across eForms. They have countless real estate related blank forms for the most common needs. They are our favorite for their simplicity, as well as step-by-step explanations for filling out documents.
Best Digital Signature Software
Why We Like DocuSign – Your property management software might have digital signature capabilities already built into it. But if you are looking for a stand alone electronic signature solution, DocuSign is the industry standard and our favorite for its security, ease of use, and document tracking.
Best Construction Software
Why We Like Buildertrend – Most construction software is designed for large projects. Buildertrend is the sweet spot of construction software that can benefit smaller real estate investor projects, as well as larger projects as well. It has all of the features needed to successfully run a job, along with the ability to integrate with Home Depot Pro, Quickbooks, and more.
Best Maintenance Software
Why We Like Property Meld – If you are looking for property maintenance software, Property Meld is our favorite. Specifically designed for property maintenance management, it delivers all of the most needed features to satisfy tenants, property managers, and owners. It can also be integrated with top property management software such as AppFolio and Buildium.
How to Select Real Estate Software?
There are many different types of real estate softwares that are intended for different needs – property management software, tenant screening software, real estate data software, and much more. Each product provides its own unique solution to an issue. It is important to remember that investments in software should only be made if the outcome is a net-positive improvement to your business. The right software can greatly help your rental property business grow to the next level, whereas the wrong choice could result in unnecessary expenses and over-complex processes. Below are a few key factors to consider when assessing real estate software solutions for you:
- Operations Questions – Before making a decision to purchase, or even trying out a product demo, you should first ask yourself a series of basic questions to truly assess the role that the software will play in your operation. Some basic questions include Why do I Need it? How will I use it? Can I afford it? What is the Benefit? What is the Drawback?
- Property Type – What type of property will the software be used for? It is important to ensure that the type of rental property (e.g. Multifamily, Commercial, Vacation Rental) is natively supported by the software. Each type of property will have different needs to be supported by the software and some products may or may not support the needs of your property.
- Features – Rental real estate software can be packed with many features to help investors and property managers streamline common processes found in rental real estate. Among each type of software solution, there are common features that ideally provide solutions to frequent pain points experienced by real estate practitioners.
- Price – Pricing for real estate software can be based on many different factors. Property management software is usually based on the number of units managed with it. Other softwares such as rent comparison tools, are usually based on a flat monthly fee.
- Property Size – An investor with 1 single family rental home will have much different software needs than a self storage rental operator with 25 nationwide locations. Most softwares are designed and marketed to serve the needs of a specific property size or user base (e.g. smaller mom-and-pop).
- Integrations – With so many software solutions available to rental property investors and managers, it is important to ensure that other software solutions can integrate and work collaboratively with your software. An example of a common integration is a property management software and tenant screening software.
About the Author
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal and/or financial advice. As such, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Please review our Editorial Standards for more info.