Tag Archives: property manager

How The Internet Has Affected Property Management

property management chartWhile the real estate market is traditionally slow to change, it is now embracing the Internet. Here are some thoughts on how the Internet has affected property management.

Nearly every profession has been affected by the rapid pace of technological innovation. Technology has created entirely new fields, eliminated some fields and dramatically altered others. One profession that you might expect to be relatively insulated from the intrusion of technology is property management. After all, property management will always involve the management of a physical property. While it is true that property management will always involve dealing with people and the places they live, and while that implies the use of a skill-set that is to some degree independent of technology, the field of property management has certainly been affected by technology and the internet. Here are some of the ways the field of property rental management has changed over the years.

Property Leads

For those looking to break into the field of real estate or property management by acquiring an initial property or by expanding their current portfolio, the process of locating a property has been made more efficient by the internet. While many property managers will tell you that there is no replacement for scouting out properties in person, there is no doubt that the internet is now utilized by many to find properties. Online search engines allow property managers to search for properties and filter their search by variables related to size, price and location.

Property Management Software

The process of managing property has also been affected by technology; specifically, many property managers now use property management software to assist them with the many tasks involved in managing their tenants and properties. The software allows things like calculating payments, collecting payments and paying bills to be done automatically. Previously, these tasks would have taken up a considerable amount of time for a property manager. The software frees them up to focus on other areas of their business.


A Day in the Life of a Property Manager Post Cyber Attack

Angry Property Management CompanyAs a property manager, you wanted to stay with the latest cloud technology, so you trusted your valuable data to a web-based software company. This scenario could be your company, it is real, and could happen in the near future.

8:00am – Everybody is calm, laughing and enjoying their first cup of coffee. Computers are glowing with the dashboard of your web-based software.  As a property manager you are experiencing just a normal work day.
8:05am – Suddenly all computers show a screen ‘NETWORK NOT FOUND’. No problem, soon it will be back up, just reboot your routers.
8:20am – This is becoming annoying, the computers are still not booting up to the Internet, so nobody can log into your property management software.
9:00am – Tenants are starting to call, they cannot process their rent payments. Still no Internet.
10:00am – The first owner calls and complains that the owner portal is down. They need the data for a meeting. Owner payments are due today.
11:00am – More tenants are calling, some are requesting emergency repairs. Work Orders and repair request are all handled by the software, which dead.
12:00pm – You have 5 office employees on the clock that are sitting around waiting for the Internet to return. Things are getting worse by the minute.
1:00pm – Everyone is watching the TV. There has been a major Internet disruption due to a cyber attack. No word on restoration of services.
2:00pm – No work has been done since early this morning. You have already lost productivity, plus tenants, owners, and vendors are lighting up the phones with complaints.
5:00pm – No answers, no work, employees go home … you’ll have to get everything caught up tomorrow.

Angry TenantThe next day – The cyber attack has spread, servers are down all over the country. You still need to pay all employees to come in to field phone calls from angry tenants and owners. You are having to call vendors to send them out for repairs, but you cannot process their payments. They are not happy. Tenants are being told to bring in their rent payments in person, but all transactions have to be recorded into a spreadsheet for transfer into the cloud property management software sometime later… if at all.

The third day – No change. You are losing money right and left. Your business cannot do anything but take calls and promise you are doing everything possible. No banking, no property management, a total disaster.

After that – total panic. Your business is totally down. You don’t have a backup of your tenants, owners, or vendors. You call your web based property management software company for hours and cannot get through. Once you get to speak with someone, they tell you their server has been part of the attack and they cannot promise that anything can be restored. Your business is in deep trouble, this could take weeks to restore if ever….

Is this scenario possible or just a scare tactic?

Ben Lawsky, head of New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS), said he fears a large enough hack on Wall Street firms could “spill over into the broader economy” — not unlike the mortgage meltdown of 2008.

“We are concerned that within the next decade, or perhaps sooner, we will experience an Armageddon-type cyber event that causes a significant disruption in the financial system for a period of time,” said Ben Lawsky, head of New York’s Department of Financial Services. He called such an attack a “cyber 9/11.”

Recently senators that have classified access and infrastructure experts agree on an impending major cyber attack. A recent New York Times article warns that Russia could be planning an attack affecting “almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.”

Think about the breaches in security at Target, Home Depot, Amazon, Staples, JP Morgan Chase, Yahoo, Apple, Google and hundreds of supposedly well protected sights. They are getting worse, not better. No company is safe from this, no matter what the software vendors tell their customers. You are probably using the software as SAAS (software as a service) which simply means monthly payments. That can be cut off at any time. Your data can be inaccessible at any time if the Internet has a problem. That means your entire business could at risk.

Our own national security experts are warning about an impending cyber threat coming from other countries that would target critical USA infrastructure systems. Adm. Michael Rogers, The director of the National Security Agency, told the House Intelligence Committee he expects a major cyber attack against the U.S. in the next decade. “It’s only a matter of the ‘when,’ not the ‘if,’ that we are going to see something dramatic,” he said.

If you think your web based software is safe, think again. Even if you are able to make regular backups from your server, the effects of an Internet shutdown would be devastating to your property management company. You have been entrusted with the most valuable information from your tenants, your owners, your vendors, and all of the companies that you do business with. You might want to think about that before you put everything in the ‘cloud’.

Website Wonders

As a property manager, your website is important for all kinds of things. Not only can it showcase what your property has to offer for those looking for a new place, but it can also be a resource for your tenants to take care of their property needs.

Depending on how you set up your website, your tenants will probably be some of the main users. A lot of property managers use their websites as portals for residents to pay rent, check any balances they may have, and put in maintenance requests. Using your website for this purpose is great because it’s quick and easy for both you and your residents.

Your website is a great way to showcase what your property has to offer to those who are looking for a new rental. On your website, you can post pictures of what the property looks like, with floor plans and more pictures of how different units look. The internet is the first place people turn to when they’re looking for anything, so you want to make sure that your website makes a good first impression. Put as much information on your website as you can people can know about the property and not have to be reaching out to you over and over again with the same questions.

Is Big Data the next Big Thing?

We can all agree that technology has done wonders for the field of real estate. Within seconds, you can have all kinds of data, specifically big data, right in front of you almost instantly. Big data, as its name implies, is basically a huge set of data that requires extensive processing because it’s so big. You’re probably thinking, what does this have to do with real estate?  

Well, the possibilities are endless…

Once a big data set has been analyzed and the relevant information has been extracted (this process is called data mining),  it can be used to show you all kinds of trends that can be very useful for your real estate or property management business.  For example, a big data set that has housing information for your area can show you how the housing market has changed in the past year, while showing which specific factors may have contributed to it.

Analyzing these large data sets can also help you determine the potential value of a property based on data pertaining to similar properties. Depending on the type of data you have, you can develop an algorithm that can tell you which properties are good investments, and which are not so good.

It’s pretty clear that big data will eventually serve a much bigger purpose than predictive analysis and trend examination (even though these are huge in the real estate industry), the question is, what’s next?




Tenant Safety

Keeping your tenant happy is a huge part of being a good landlord, but even more important is keeping them safe. Because you’re going to have a person living in your home, you want to make sure it’s as safe as possible so that they feel secure living there. Don’t think that we’re suggesting that you need to implement a maximum security system in your property, just make sure the property is equipped for safety the best you possibly can.

A good place to is with windows and doors. Make sure that all windows can be locked properly and cannot be opened from the exterior of the home. Do not make it so that the windows cannot be opened at all, because that in of itself is a huge safety hazard. Make sure that all doors have locks that work and that your tenant has copies of the necessary keys. If your property is one where there are multiple roommates living together, you may want to install separate locks on each bedroom so that each roommate can feel more safe.


Make sure that smoke detectors are in working order and that enough are installed in the home. If you only have one smoke detector in the home, it won’t be as effective in alerting your tenant if there is a fire. Also on the subject of fires, make sure that your home has a working fire extinguisher so that your tenant can take care of small fires if they happen to occur.

Aside from the aforementioned safety measures, there are a few other things you should check on in your home. Inspect any floorboards and railings to be sure that they are in tiptop shape and do not pose any safety hazards for your tenant. A lifted floorboard may not seem very serious, but it can cause a problem if your tenant trips on it and hurts themselves.


Accessibility in the Home

Sometimes the set up of a home may not be the most convenient thing for everyone; you need to consider that different tenants have different needs and may have to make some changes to your property. Though we recently we talked about what changes you should and shouldn’t allow your tenants to make to your property, there are some changes that are imperative to your tenant and shouldn’t be up for debate.

If your tenant has a disability that may impair their use of normal household things like showers, doors, or stairs, you should definitely allow them to make the necessary modifications to make living in your home a good experience. For instance, your tenant might have a hard time standing up in the shower and may want to install accessibility items. There should be no debating about whether or not they should be allowed to do this; if they purchase and install it themselves there shouldn’t be any issues. Because everyone has different needs, your tenant may need to make a bigger change beyond installing accessibility items inside. If your tenant has a wheelchair or walker, you should definitely allow them to put a ramp (or ramps) outside or inside the home. A modification like this is a lot larger in scale than adding accessibilityhandles and levers; because of this, you may want to consider keeping it once they move out. Your home may have the perfect set up for people with similar needs and will definitely stand out in the market.

Aside from functionality and comfort, your tenant may need to make changes that are necessary to guarantee their safety. If your tenant has a hearing impairment, they may not be able to hear normal smoke detectors going off if there’s a fire. Let your tenant install the smoke detectors with accessibility devices, like lights that’ll notify them when the alarm is going off.  The safety of your tenant is imperative and you should not overlook it.

Allowing your tenant to make these necessary changes will show them that you care and want them to be happy in their home. If they’re investing their time and money into fixing your property to make themselves comfortable, it’s probably because they plan on living there for a while.


Seasonal Rental Preparations

With summer slowly winding down it’ll soon be time for your tenant to move out of their summer home, meaning it’ll be time to prepare your rental for the next seasons tenants.

Since you’ll probably rent out your property again in winter (it is a seasonal rental, after all!), chances are, it’ll stay empty for at least a couple of months. Because your home will be used in two very different seasons, it’s important to make sure you prepare it properly after your summer tenants leave. What should you do?

  1. Clean the gutters! With all the flowering plants and leaves from spring, plus the rain from summer, your gutters are probably more than ready for a cleaning. This way, once the fall leaves start falling and the winter snows begin, your gutters won’t be clogged up.
  2. Check that there are no leaks caused by summer storms. Sometimes the more harsh summer showers may cause leaks that go unnoticed for months. Inspect your roof and see if there are any problems that need fixing, also be sure to check ceilings for stains that may indicate a leak. Fixing leaks now can help you avoid even bigger problems when it starts snowing.
  3. Landscaping. If you have seasonal plants that you’ve noticed may have not made it through summer, switch them out for other plants and landscaping decor that’ll fit with the next season.
  4. Change the A/C filter! With the heat, your tenant was probably keen on using the A/C often. Change the filter, and give it a tune up so that you know the unit will be working well. This will also help to ensure that the heater function will be working for your winter tenants.


How will you manage?

Should you be working with a property manager?

If you’re looking into real estate and rentals, hiring a property manager, or property management company, is definitely something you should consider. Property managers basically serve as the middlemen between you and your tenants, keeping up with rent, tenant issues, and maintaining the property.  Also, property manager can also work with you if you’re investing in commercial real estate!

Property managers are well equipped to deal with tenants and issues they may have so that you won’t have to. If this is your first real estate venture, you’re already going to have a lot of different duties as far as getting everything situated and ready; do you really want to figure out property management on top of that?! I don’t think so. If your tenant has a maintenance problem, your property manager can find and hire a contractor so that you don’t have to.  If a system for rent needs to be set up, it won’t be your duty, it’ll be something that the property manager handles. With a property manager, you won’t have to invest tons of your own time into your property; they’ll handle the work

Property managers also know all the rules and regulations that you must abide by, and what kind of protocol needs to be used. Their jobs are to manage properties, so they know what they’re doing.

property manager

Money, Money, Money

In any lease agreement, probably one of the most important things is the issue of rent. How much rent will you be collecting? When will you collect it?  How will you collect it?

As we’ve talked about in the past, pricing is relative, so that part of your lease doesn’t require as much of your own personal preference as do the other parts. Once you’ve set the perfect monthly rent, you need to set up a date with your tenant when it’s due. Usually, this date falls at the beginning, middle, or end of the month, not just any random date. Choose this date and tell your tenant to make sure that they are financially prepared for it. As a sort of safety blanket, you can give your tenants a 2 or 3 day grace period to pay without being subject to a late fee.

After figuring out how much your tenant is paying you, and when, it’s time to figure out how they will be paying you. At this day in age we have all sorts of ways to pay people insmoney tantly, allowing you to have lots of options and choose what’s best for you. We all know the classic payment method: checks. Checks are easy because mobile banking now allows you to cash them instantly, but they still require your tenant to bring them to you. Online payments are great because they’re pretty quick for both you, and your tenant. An online system works well when you have a lot of tenants. Another way that people transfer money that’s becoming quite popular is via mobile apps. Mobile apps like Venmo and Square Cash have made it possible for people to transfer money to each other almost instantly. Though this is still fairly new, it may be something you want to consider.