Best Property Management Software: Buildium vs Appfolio vs PropertyWare

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Less Than 100 Units
Buildium Logo
More Than 100 Units
Appfolio Logo
Honorable Mention
Propertyware Logo

Real 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.

Article Overview

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.

  1. One is for the landlord who owns and manages their own properties.
  2. 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 Appfolio comes out slightly ahead of Buildium. This comes with a large caveat though: if you are a small-time operation with less than 100 units, we feel that Appfolio is priced too high and you should instead go with Buildium. Read on to learn more.

Best for 100 or Fewer Units: Buildium Review

Buildium logoVisit Website

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

Cons

  • 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
  • Setup fees for epayment and tenant screening with the Core plan

Buildium Price

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.

  • 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.

Read our in-depth Buildium Review

Best for 101 or More Units: Appfolio Review

Appfolio logoVisit Website

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-managed PropertyManager.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.

Appfolio Video

Learn more about AppFolio in this video:

Honorable Mention: PropertyWare Review

PropertyWare logoVisit Website

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

PropertyWare Price

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

Property Management Software Comparison Table

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

CompanyAppfolioBuildiumPropertwareQuicken Rental Property ManagerRentec Direct
CompanyAppfolioBuildiumPropertwareQuicken Rental Property ManagerRentec Direct
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
AccountingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Credit and Background ChecksCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Customer Service24/724/7M-F, 7:30am-7pmM-F, 6am-5pm (Pacific)
Free Marketing WebsiteCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Online AppCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Online Lease AgreementCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Online Maintenance RequestCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Rental Listing SyndicationCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
ReportingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Tenant and Lease TrackingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Tenant PortalCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website

Property Management Software Reviews

While these companies did not make our top 3, they are still worth considering:

Quicken Rental Property Manager | Rentec Direct

Quicken Rental Property Manager Review

View on AmazonQuicken Rental Property Manager logo

Quicken is the only product in this review that does not require a monthly fee; it is simply a software that comes with a one time charge. The lack of features leaves a lot to be desired.

Essentially this software is Quicken Home and Business with three additions:

  1. Organizes lease and security deposit info in one place
  2. Tracks revenue and expenses by individual property
  3. Shows a current rent roll

Pros

Cons

  • Inexpensive one-time fee for software
  • No tenant portal
  • No online or app access; it can only be accessed on one computer via software
  • Customers may need to pay for future updates as their version becomes outdated

Quicken Property Manager Price

Price: Out of stock

Rentec Direct Review

Visit WebsiteRentec Direct logo

Rentec Direct has been around since 2009, but the first thing that caught my eye was that the software seems dated. Their website does not do a good job of showing the user experience via images; it only provides videos of the software in action.

The good news is that it does have most of the key features that you should expect, and the cost starts at as little as $15/month, which is extremely affordable if you are a smaller outfit.

Pros

Cons

  • Low entry price point for managers with less than 25 units
  • Syncs with Quickbooks and Integrates with Docusign
  • $2.00 per transaction processing for unincorporated landlords (merchant accounts are $0.50 a transaction)
  • Additional services for extra fee

Price

RentecDirect offers a 30-day free trial.

  • 1-25 Units: $15/mo. for pro $20/mo for PM
  • 26-50 Units: $25/mo. for pro $25/mo for PM
  • 51-60 Units: $35/mo. for pro $40/mo for PM
  • 61-70 Units: $40/mo. for pro $45/mo for PM
  • 71-80 Units: $45/mo. for pro $55/mo for PM
  • 81-90 Units: $55/mo. for pro $65/mo for PM
  • 91-70 Units: $65/mo. for pro $75/mo for PM
  • 101-110 Units: $70/mo. for pro $85/mo for PM
  • 111-110 Units: $75/mo. for pro $95/mo for PM

Continue adding $5 per month for pro and $10 per month for PM for every additional ten units.

  • 201-300 Units: $175/mo. for pro $225/mo for PM
  • 301-400 Units: $200/mo. for pro $275/mo for PM
  • 401-500 $225/mo for pro $325/mo for PM
  • 501-600 $275/mo for pro $375/mo for PM
  • 601-700 $325/mo for pro $425/mo for PM

Additional Services:

  • Tenant Screening: $7-15
  • Payment Processing: $45 Setup, $15/mo and $.50 per ACH transaction and 2.75% per credit card transaction

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!

If you end up with a solution that doesn’t offer electronic lease signing, consider an online document signing service. And to help stay on top of all your finances you might consider using small business accounting software too.

Are you a property manager? Have you used any of these property management services?

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Whether it is setting up a home entertainment system controlled by a PC or geeking out on one of his many iDevice's, Jeff loves all things tech. He does not leave home without his iPad or his golf clubs. You never know when a good day might turn into a great one with the help of one (or both) of these trusty tools.

Leave a Reply

9 Comments on "Best Property Management Software: Buildium vs Appfolio vs PropertyWare"

newest oldest most voted
Rajeev Agnihotri
Nice comparison. Very helpful!
Nathan Miller
Hi Jeff,

Thank you very much for taking the time to evaluate the property management software industry and a huge thanks for including Rentec Direct. I hoped to clear up a couple issues with the review. Hopefully you are open to amending the following:

There’s a typo in our company name at the top of the table. It’s just Rentec Direct. Common misspelling. 🙂 Also the “Read Review” link doesn’t work, also because of the spelling error.

On the checklist, it doesn’t have Online App or Online Lease agreements checked. Rentec does provide both. We provide a full marketing page for every listing that allows renters to apply online and even pay an application fee if specified. We also have integrated with Docusign and provide an online electronic lease agreement as well.

Our hours are posted in the Contact Us section of the website. Our office is open from 6AM to 5PM Pacific time.

Online payment processing is only $0.50 per transaction. We offer a $2.00 per transaction processing which you might have seen, but it’s for only landlords who are unincorporated and cannot get a merchant account. Everybody else gets the $0.50 price. Some of our competitors build that same $0.50 into their unit pricing and charge it to everybody, we only charge the $0.50 when it’s used to keep our client’s costs down.

With the recent announcement of Buildium to increase their prices by 20% (this is the 3rd major increase from them that I recall in the last couple years), I believe they are no longer ideally suited for the smaller property managers as they are pricing themselves out of that market. Rentec Direct would LOVE to be your featured solution for the small-mid size property managers and landlords as that is the market we are committed to. Buildium no longer wants the small guys at the edict of their investors who demand profits someday. 🙂 In contrast, we will always remain committed to the small-mid size market.

Thank you again for including us!

Steve Fitz
Hi Jeff,
Great post, any updates since the time of writing this article?
Kelly Smith
Hi Jeff,
That’s a nice post. I like the research you have done. Do you have any post covering hotel management software?

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