Online Property Management Software Buying Guide

Kayla Harrison
, Contributing Writer
| Updated
Dec 06, 2018

Whether you manage a single complex with 25 units or several properties with hundreds of units, your job as a property manager relies on your ability to keep everything and everyone organized and on task. Online property management gives you the tools, shortcuts and features to make your job easier.

Why Use Property Management Software?

As a property manager, you know the name of the game is organization. You must manage lease applications, rent payments, maintenance requests and vacancy listings, among other things. Whether you're using a pen-and-paper manual method or a handful of programs to get the work done, there's an easier way.

Online property management software automates many of your chores so you can concentrate on building profitable real estate management companies. Most rental property management software comes in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) format, which means you don't need to install software on every computer used in your office. In the cloud-computing environment, all you need is a web browser and an internet connection.

If you're managing thousands of units and an army of maintenance workers, cleaning crews, front office workers and leasing agents, you might want to look into adding a task management system as a supplement to property management software.

Property Management Software: What to Look For

Most property management programs handle the basics of managing physical property. Across the board, every online property management system includes a way for tenants to pay rent through an online portal, even if a third party is involved. 

Maintenance is a big part of a property manager's life. These applications allow you to create and send a work order to staff through these programs, so you're not doubling your efforts. Also, you'd be hard pressed to find a rental property management program that doesn't include accounting and reporting tools. 

To find the best online property management software, look for a service that has a good balance of marketing, tenant and maintenance management, accounting and reporting features, and extras that make your life easier, like mobile apps. The software should be easy to use and offer reliable technical support.


To fill vacancies quickly and effectively, you need tools that reduce the time you spend posting listings, sending applications to potential tenants and answering the phone. Skyline and Point2 Property Manager from Yardi let you create HTML-coded listings that you can store in the system for each of your units. When you have a vacancy, simply click a few buttons and the property management software posts the listing on your website. Top rental websites can then pick them up and attract interested parties quickly. 

Applicants can fill out an online form to apply for the unit, and you won't have to spend hours responding to emails and phone calls just to send out applications. Those who apply can even pay their fees online, which eliminates waiting for your tenants to pay with cash, check or money order. 

Tenant Management

Property management software isn't just about making your life as a manager easier by reducing paperwork and tedious tasks – it also makes your tenants happier. A tenant portal is a valuable addition to any property solution because it allows your tenants to have a central place where they can pay their rent, submit maintenance requests, view their lease and see status updates on maintenance requests. 

Skyline and Rent Manager let tenants pay rent online, which reduces late payments and pays you faster. Property managers also benefit from tenant management with the ability to view tenant statistics and histories. 


As long as everything is working as intended, everyone is happy, but it seems that there's always something to fix, inspect or replace. This is where facilities management tools are essential to measure and maintain your property's health. 

In Buildium, once a tenant submits a maintenance request, you can view it, assign the task to a staff member and update the status of the request in the system. AppFolio lets users upload photos to the system from their mobile device, along with notes about the issue or inspection, which cuts down considerably on paperwork. Additionally, property management software such as Point2 Property Manager and Rent Manager allow managers to solicit bids, track vendors and make payments electronically. 

Accounting and Reporting

One of most time-consuming tasks of any property manager is the accounting. You have money coming in and going out in various forms. Propertyware and MRI Software help you keep track of deposits, rent payments, maintenance costs, payment to vendors and more with powerful accounting tools. These features enable you to track income and expenses, prevent clerical errors and make payments when necessary. 

In AppFolio, you can set up an automatic late payment schedule, so you don't have to keep track of who owes what. Buildium and Point2 Property Manager include reporting options that let you or the owner see an at-a-glance view of cash flow, balances or delinquencies. 

Many of the programs let you link your bank accounts and automatically calculate any commission or fees owed to managers or leasing agents, which makes managing money even easier. 

Help and Support

When searching for a property management program, look for one that allows you easy access to customer service. Most programs offer support in several different ways. An online forum is a great way to ask questions and learn from other property managers that use the product. Additionally, the FAQs sections should be clear and informative.

Cost of Property Management Software

The cost of property management software can range anywhere from $1.25 per unit, per month to $1,080 per month for 5,000 units. Rent Post charges between $29 to $249 per month based on how many units you have. Buildium charges $40 per month for up to 40 units, and the cost increases when there are more than 40 units.

Some software 's pricing is based on a flat monthly rate, but most will be based on the number of units you have. Most software vendors offer a free trial so you can test the software without a financial commitment.