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
Rentec Direct logo
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Has your property management business outgrown your spreadsheet? Is property management software the solution that will save you time and frustration, or is it a waste of money?

Spreadsheets are fine for managing a few assets. But once you scale up your rental property business, you’re going to want a streamlined, all-in-one property management solution. Trust me, I know. Over the past few years, I’ve grown my rental property business significantly. Transitioning from spreadsheets to property management software has saved me from dozens of daily headaches and freed up many hours each week.

Article Overview

Software Benefits

Although being a landlord or property manager can be a rocky road, it can be a lucrative business — as long as you have a streamlined system in place. Having a reliable property management software is key. The best platforms, at a minimum, should include:

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

What’s The Best Property Management Software?

In our research, we found that Appfolio comes out slightly ahead of Buildium. However, if you’re a smaller operation with less than 100 units, we feel that Appfolio is priced too high and you should go with Buildium instead.

Best For 100 Or Fewer Units: Buildium Review

Buildium logoVisit Website

Three real estate investors with computer science backgrounds built the Buildium platform in 2004. Now, the management software services over 15,000 customers.

Buildium lacks some of AppFolio’s cool upgrades; nevertheless, you’ll find all the necessary nuts and bolts to get the job done. From a cost perspective, if you are managing less than 100 units, the pricing model for Buildium makes the most sense. It offers two different subscription plans, the Core and Pro.

Both have the same 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
  • Letter printing and mailing service
  • Affordable base pricing (extra services available for additional fees)
  • Mobile-based property inspection tool
  • A+ BBB rating
  • Setup fees for epayment and tenant screening with the Core plan

Price

Buildium doesn’t have an easy to use pricing guide but instead has a tool that gives you the cost based on the number of units. It offers a 15-day free trial with no credit card required. You can also save 10% with an annual plan when you prepay for a full year.

Core Plan

  • 1-20 units – $47/mo.
  • 21-40 units -$63/mo.
  • 41-50 units – $78/mo.
  • 51-60 units – $94/mo.
  • 61-70 units – $110/mo.
  • This trend continues ($16 more for every 10 units) until you get to 150 units — the max for the Core — where the price goes to $225.

Pro Plan

  • 1-50 units – $156/mo.
  • 51-100 units – $208/mo.
  • 101-150 units – $250/mo.
  • 250 units – $312/mo.
  • 500 units – $583/mo.
  • Prices increase gradually from here. Buildium can manage over 10,000 units.

Read Our In-Depth Buildium Review

Best For 101 Or More Units: Appfolio Review

Appfolio logoVisit Website

Appfolio launched 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 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).

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
  • Award-winning customer support
  • A+ BBB rating
  • Expensive for small operations — if you have less than 100 units, the pricing is substantially higher than other software options
  • No free trial

Price

Instead of a complicated scale, AppFolio makes its pricing easy to figure out with a per unit monthly fee. You also incur an onboarding fee (equal to two months of service). Contact AppFolio for pricing above 3,000 units.

  • Residential: $1.25 per unit, per month
  • Commercial: $1.50 per unit, per month
  • Student Housing: $1.25 per unit, per month
  • Community Associations: $0.80 per unit, per month

Requirements include:

  • Minimum of 50 units
  • $250 minimum monthly fee
  • $400 minimum onboarding fee

 

How AppFolio Works

Learn more about AppFolio in this video:

Honorable Mention: Rentec Direct Review

Visit WebsiteRentec Direct logo

Rentec Direct has been around since 2009 and offers two types of software, one for landlords managing their properties and another for property managers directing their clients’ properties.

This platform is ideal for small-to-midsize holdings of 5 to 2,500 units and gives you most of the key features that you want at an affordable starting cost. Another plus — no platform setup fees or monthly minimums. And users give the software and customer service largely positive reviews.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy, intuitive interface
  • Low entry price point for managers with less than 25 units and no setup fees
  • Syncs with QuickBooks and DocuSign
  • Automatically publishes vacancies to Zillow, Trulia, Rent.com, etc.
  • A+ BBB rating
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • Customer support isn’t 24/7

Price

RentecDirect offers a 14-day free trial and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Number of UnitsPro Pricing Per MonthPM* Pricing Per Month
1-10$35$40
11-25$45$50
26-35$55$60
36-50$55$65
51-60$65$75
61-70$80$90
71-100$90$100

Continue adding $10 per month for every additional ten units.

*Additional benefits you’ll get with the PM Plan include Trust Account Management & Reporting, Owner Portal, Pay Owners via ACH and Automated CAM Charges.

Property Management Software Comparison Table

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

CompanyAppFolioBuildiumPropertywareQuicken Rental Property ManagerRentec Direct
CompanyAppFolioBuildiumPropertywareQuicken Rental Property ManagerRentec Direct
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteView on AmazonVisit Website
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
AccountingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Tenant Credit & Background Checks$12-$17 each$15-$18 eachIncluded$7-$15 each
Free Marketing WebsiteCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Online Lease AgreementCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Online Maintenance RequestCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
24/7 Maintenance Hotline$1/unit/monthUnavailable$1.10/unit/month + $300 setup feeUnavailable
Rental Listing SyndicationCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
ReportingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Tenant and Lease TrackingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Tenant PortalCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Online Rent PaymentsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Mobile AppCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Customer Service24/724/7M-F, 7:30am-7pmM-F, 6am-5pm (Pacific)
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteView on AmazonVisit Website

Other Property Management Software Reviews

Propertyware | Quicken Rental Property Manager 

Propertyware Review

PropertyWare logoVisit Website

Propertyware does not market itself to large, high-density property managers but instead offers a solution for single-family and low-density places. This cloud-based platform combines online property marketing, management and accounting software.

Update: Propertyware previously held an honorable mention in our reviews, but, based on a recent government action, we no longer give it our nod.

In October 2018, the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection filed a complaint against Propertyware’s parent company, RealPage, Inc. According to the Better Business Bureau’s website:

The Texas company, Realpage, Inc., has agreed to pay $3 million to settle the charges that the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of tenant screening information that it provided to landlords and property managers, a violation of federal law that caused some potential renters to be falsely associated with criminal records.

Pros

Cons

  • Move-In and Move-Out Workflow: follow Propertyware’s custom workflow or create your own
  • Offers tenants liability insurance directly
  • Inspections tool allows side-by-side comparisons and the ability to create a work order directly from the inspection
  • 24/7 maintenance hotline available for added fee
  • Some users complain that it’s clunky to use
  • FCRA violation
  • Customer service isn’t 24/7

Price

Propertyware’s pricing model is much like AppFolio Property Manager. This company offers a 15-day free trial. All plans require an implementation fee of 2x the monthly subscription price.

 BasicPlusPremium
Price Per Unit Per Month$1$1.50$2
Monthly Minimum$250$350$450
InspectionsCheckmarkCheckmark
Maintenance ProjectsCheckmark

Quicken Home & Business Review

View on AmazonQuicken Rental Property Manager logo

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

Quicken used to have a separate property management software, but now it is all tied into the Quicken Home and Business product.

Pros

Cons

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

Price

Other Tools You May Need

Property management software can be a big expense, but it’s a necessity for large operations. The time and stress saved should more than cover the additional cost.

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.

What are your worst landlord headaches?

About The Author:

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.

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Jason Born
Buildium is the better company because they have a very responsive customer service offering. Good luck trying to get Appfolio on the telephone to walk you through an issue
Anonymous_Team
AppFolio Consumer Report Class Action Settlement

Also, your reviews are outdated; please update; You don’t even have the correct information’s

In regards to customer service
AppFolio – 24/7 yet it’s only email support or guest card fill out
Buildium – 24/7 yet it’s only email support or guest card fill out
Propertyware – 7:30AM – 7:00PM live support and email support or guest card fill out
Rentech Direct – 6:00AM – 5:00PM live support and email support or guest card fill out

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?