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Have you considered hiring a web development company to build your property management website?  If this is something you’re currently considering or have done in the past, you know that there are many costs and challenges involved with building a unique website for your business with the features you need.  In this post, we will talk about 3 reasons why going this direction may be costly and time-consuming and why this option is probably not the best route for your business’s online needs.


1. Large Time to Get Up and Running

Building a web site takes time and is highly dependent on having a well-thought out set of website requirements and screen mock-ups to ensure that the site will look and function properly for your business.  Typically, paying a web development company to build this for you requires a large of up-front time commitment in addition to back and forth discussion to design and develop the site, which you will be billed for typically at an hourly rate.  Most property managers won’t have the time nor a good understanding of the software development process to be able to take full advantage and have a good outcome and may lead to your project failing even before it gets off the ground.

2. High Costs

A custom website will be unique, however building a one-off website does not take advantage of economies of scale and will typically run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars by the time it is completed.  Adding extras such as mobile applications and connecting with payment processors to collect online rent payments and linking to other services your business needs will quickly cause costs to increase and become too costly for all but the largest property management companies.

3. Limited Knowledge of Best Practices

Web development firms typically build websites for many different industries and would most likely not have in-depth knowledge of property management.  Because of this, your business may miss out on tried and true designs and features and your web designer will be in many ways fully dependent on what you tell them to do instead of already knowing exactly what to do in advance.  Having someone who understands your business and knows what you need is key to getting up and running quickly and with the right tools and processes to have a strong web presence for your business.

What Should I do to Get a Great Property Management Website?

The best route to follow to get a lower cost and good looking website with the right features you need is to buy a website software package that is built specifically for the property management industry and that is easily adaptable to your needs.  Property management website software packages such as E-Rental Tools are fully-customizable with your logo, layout, and color scheme so that you can get up and running quickly and with less hassle.  Besides saving your company money, a property management software package will have the essential tools your business needs and will have baked-in best practices so that your business can fully take advantage of them without having to reinvent the wheel.


There are many free property management website and software tools available out on the web and for download that may seem like a good deal, but are they really free and safe to use?  As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.  In this post we will examine several reasons why free may or may not be good for your business.


 Will the website suddenly shut down?

There is always a risk of any company going out of business, especially in today’s economy.  For a company that is offering something for free and doesn’t have a clear path to making money to add new features and maintain the software, it’s worth your time to think if they will be around for the length of your business needs.  If they suddenly do shut down you may experience costs such as loss of data, reprinting of paper advertisements and signs that you may have printed to market your business and rental properties, and having to start the process all over again to find a new property management software provider.

How strong is security?

When using a free tool, it can be tough to know just how reputable it is and if it provides enough security to keep your business safe.  There are also different considerations that you need to be aware of for free software that you download and websites that you use.  Downloaded software can sometimes contain viruses that can infect your computer and lead to serious problems.  It is important to always have anti-virus software enabled and updated to prevent you from becoming infected, and this includes both the Windows and Mac.  If you use a free website that doesn’t maintain strong security, encrypts your data, and applies regular software patches and updates, you may risk infection by both viruses and having your password and data compromised.  For the average person understanding computer security can be a complex task so sticking with a tried and true solution can be the safer approach.

Is it really free?

Many free tools are financially supported through advertising, which can be good and bad.  If advertising is both minimal and effective a free tool can be a good choice for a new or smaller property manager to get a presence on the Internet.  This model provides an alternative for paid software by creating revenue for its owners by displaying pop up ads and sometimes selling information collected from people who use the website, for example demographics, location, and patterns of use.  Some of the more reputable advertising-supported websites do provide usable tools and we suggest that if you choose to use them that you do your homework and read reviews to get a good understanding of how they work.  Finding objective third-party reviews on the Internet can be a big help to understand what others think about the software you are considering for your business.

If you are a small property manager or just starting your business, free property management software may be the right fit, especially if you are on a tight budget.  As long as you do your research and make sure that the software is reputable, by all means go ahead and use it.  If you are growing in size and want to maintain a great customer experience and have the security of knowing that technical support will be there when you need it, a paid approach may be best.  If you are using free property management software, what has your experience been using these tools?

Sunday, 27 January 2013 18:02

3 Ways to Retain Your Tenants

If you have been a landlord for any significant period of time, you are well aware of the effort and costs involved with tenant turnover.  So what makes a tenant more likely to want to stay in your rental?  In this post we will discuss 3 ways that will make your tenant more likely to stick around come the next lease renewal.



1. Be Responsive, Address Problems Quickly, and don’t “Cheap Out”

When a tenant calls about a problem do you respond in a timely manner?  When something breaks do you fix it right away or let it go for a few weeks without an explanation?  When you do fix a problem such as a broken refrigerator, do you put in the cheapest one you can find in a color that doesn’t match the décor of the kitchen?  Besides buying matching appliances, most people want to be proud of where they live and having a home that looks presentable to friends and family is important.  Find and resolve issues before they become actual problems, for example by scheduling time for a yearly maintenance checkup.  When a tenant calls or sends a maintenance request through your property management website, acknowledge that you got the message and fix problems quickly.  An unhappy tenant is one who has to call several times to get something fixed, and if your tenants are constantly having their lives disrupted by leaking faucets, broken toilet, and other maintenance problems you may find that it costs more in turnover that for the actual repairs.

2. Make Tenants Feel Special

Do you hand your tenant the keys and never follow up with them unless there is some sort of problem?  We suggest that you periodically reach out to them once in a while and keep in touch.  This can be as simple as saying hello the next time you’re out at the unit, by including a short note along with their monthly rental invoice, or even a quick email asking how things are going.  Many of these simple gestures can be done quickly and easily if you have a property management website that offers these features.  You can be as creative as you like, such as sending a Christmas card or a small gift during the holidays or a gift basket with a new lease or lease renewal.  Do all that you can to give them a reason to stay and to tell others about how great of a landlord you are.

3. Have an Easy to Use Online Tools

If you’re reading this blog post you most likely either have a property management website or are looking to get one.  In today’s internet-connected world, having convenient online property management tools are in many ways expected of a property manager, especially with the younger generations of renters.  If your renters are inconvenienced by mailing in paper checks and having to call your office when something breaks instead of simply filling a form out online, you may be causing extra headaches that will make them think twice when comparing your rental to that of another company who does offer these services.  A great property management website can easily pay for itself through reducing turnover and decreasing the time when you have an empty rental not generating revenue.

So you are using rental property management software to run your business and list your properties. You’re able to find qualified renters, but the process is taking more time and effort than you would like. You believe there might be a problem with your online property listings, but you aren’t quite sure how to make them better. If that scenario has crossed your mind, there are a few simple steps you can take to improve the quality of your listings and make them much more appealing. How can I easily do this you might be asking, well read on!


Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

As you’ve heard many times before. a picture is truly worth a thousand words. The first thing a renter typically looks at are pictures of the property to determine if they are interested. It’s definitely worth the time and effort to take at least three or more great pictures to post to your website and also include a video walkthrough. While you can use your cell phone for this, typically the quality is not good enough to really create professional looking photography. We suggest investing in a good digital camera that takes excellent pictures and can also record video that you can post to YouTube if your rental property management software supports this.

Create a Description That Sells

Does your description really sell the property? Does it make a prospective tenant get that warm, fuzzy feeling that this property speaks to them and could be their next home? If not, it may be time to rethink how you’re writing property descriptions. We suggest using an upbeat and friendly tone that generates excitement and has a great call to action to create urgency to come see the property. Also, make sure you accurately list all of the amenities in your rental property management software so that renters get the full picture and you don’t end up attracting someone who has a pet but you forgot to check the “No Pets” box.

Don’t Forget Social Media

When you list a property for rent, does it just sit on your website or do you actively post a link to Facebook and Twitter to advertise that a new listing is available? It only takes a few clicks on Facebook to post a link and is very easy to sow the virtual seeds for your property listings. We strongly suggest using Facebook since it supports pictures and can be easily passed on from one person to another or through “Liking” your property listing. If you aren’t taking advantage of these tools, we highly suggest that you try it out and invest the time to learn how they work with your rental property management software to more easily advertise your properties.

Are you still using paper rental applications that your prospective tenants fill out when showing your properties? What if your tenants could securely submit their rental application information and pay the application fee online? In the age of the internet, you no longer have to worry about managing all those paper forms and maintaining a mess of records in your filing cabinet. New tools are available to help organize your rental applications and even accept the rental application fee online, virtually eliminating trips to the bank and saving you time, money, and hassle. Just how easy is it to accept rental applications online? Continue reading to find out more.

Rental Application Form

The online rental application starts with a secure rental application form on your website. Then tenant will go to a rental application though a link and fill out the form with all information you normally use for background and credit checks. Since sensitive information is collected from tenants, it’s important that this information be encrypted to protect against identity theft. Also, the online form should be customized for your business and should contain rental application questions that are required by law for your state. A typical tenant would fill out the online rental application form with all of their information, pay any rental application fees electronically, and it would then be routed directly to you for review and background and credit checks.

Manage applications online

What good are accepting online rental application forms if there is no easy way to view and manage them?  After online rental applications are submitted by tenants, being able store and later view the information online in an easy to use way is essential to replace the traditional filing cabinet. With E-Rental Tools, we offer an easy to use solution that lets you review applications and manage the complete workflow as you process them through our rental application forms dashboard. The dashboard allows the property manager is to view and search all online rental application forms right from their website and efficiently process credit and background checks much quicker and easier than with paper forms.

It's a no-brainer, allowing your prospective tenants to submit their rental applications online and allowing you to view and work new online rental application forms and process them as you run credit and background checks helps to save time, eliminate paper and document storage, and keep your business organized.

Thursday, 10 May 2012 22:40

3 Easy Steps to Collect Rent Online

Just what’s involved with collecting your tenant’s rent online using E-Rental Tools?  How does it work and how hard is it to set up?  When will my rents arrive?  Is it secure?  In this post we’ll answer those questions and more, and you’ll learn just how easy it is to get online rent collection set up for your business and put the hassle of rent collection behind you.  If you’re an E-Rental Tools customer, we have made it simple to set up online rent collection services and can get your business up and running in just a few days.

Step 1:  Set Up the Payment Gateway

To get started with online rent collection, your business will need to be set up with what’s called a payment gateway.  Simply, a payment gateway is a 3rd party processing company that handles moving a rent payment transaction from a tenant’s bank account into yours.  E-Rental Tools has streamlined the process of setting up a payment gateway and can get the paperwork completed and approved in just a few days.  The process is similar to the forms you would fill out to open a new bank account, but without having to actually visit the bank!  We take care of filling out all of the application forms with your information, and all that’s needed from you is an electronic signature, which takes only a few minutes to complete and can be done online.  Depending on your volume of rent payments and time in business, you may be required to submit additional supporting document such as a cancelled check, business formation documents, or 2 months of bank statements.  The entire online rent collection setup can be done from the comfort of your home or office with little hassle to you.

Step 2:  Link Your Properties to Your Checking Account

After your account has been approved for the payment gateway, you’ll be ready to start accepting rent payments on your E-Rental Tools website.  We’ll take care of linking your checking account using your new payment gateway to your properties so that when a tenant makes an online rent payment it ends up in the right place.   This is a fast setup process and can be completed the same day your business is approved. 

Step 3: Begin Collecting Rent Through Your Website

Now that online rent collection is set up, you’ll want to inform your tenants that they can now pay their rent online through your E-Rental Tools website.   To access payments they will log in, click on the “Pay Online” link, enter their payment amount along with their checking account and routing number, then submit the payment.  That’s it!  The payment process takes under a minute, and if your tenant chooses, can select recurring payments to automatically have their rent paid on a chosen date each month.  This is convenient for the tenant and great for you, because you know the rent will be paid on time each month.  The tenant’s rent payment will be automatically deposited into your checking account and you won’t have to worry about checks getting lost in the mail, opening envelopes, and trips to the bank.   To handle security, we use bank-level 256 bit SSL encryption that encrypts all payment data entered into the E-Rental Tools system.

That’s it, 3 steps to easy online rent collection using E-Rental Tools.  If you aren’t already collecting your rent online, why not get started today?