If you Google “Property Management Software”, you will be overwhelmed at the amount of results that come back.
There are literally dozens of different companies out there all vying for your business and it can be daunting trying to scan through reviews and product descriptions to determine what solution will work best for you.
If you have been researching different PM software, you’ve most likely come across Propertyware. It’s by far one of the most popular options on the market right now along with Appfolio, Buildium, and a few other big names.
Our Company uses Propertyware. Today, we thought we would give you an extensive review of the product that we’ve used for more than 10 years.
*This review is not solicited or paid for by Propertyware or any of its affiliates.*
WHAT IS PROPERTYWARE?
In short, Propertyware is a comprehensive, web-based, property management software. It’s specifically designed for Property Managers of single family homes and provides a complete set of tools and solutions.
Features include accounting, reporting, tenant screening, payments, Tenant and Owner portals, contact centers, marketing and maintenance.
The software can work with any size business, however, according to the Director of Product Marketing, companies that manage 50 or more units will typically see the most benefit.
Some historical perspective
Before we dive deeply into PW, we thought we would provide a little background on the product…
Back in 2007, when we first began managing homes for 3rd party Owners, we started looking for software.
Options, at that time, were fairly limited.
For our own rental properties, we were using Quickbooks, which we liked a lot, but it obviously didn’t have the capabilities to manage Tenants, maintenance, etc. Laugh if you want (because I do when I think about it) but we managed our Tenants inside an Access database.
Since we obviously needed a more sophisticated system, one that supported Trust accounting at a minimum, we found Propertyware, which was listed as a Quickbooks partner.
Essentially, Propertyware was used for core property management, and it synced to Quickbooks to conduct all banking and accounting functions.
We signed up for a free trial, liked what we saw, and became customers.
Generally, it performed well for us. We even flew out to San Francisco to meet with the Owners and provide a lot of feedback on the product,
while learning a lot of best practices.
At that time, the software grew significantly. Soon, PW released its own accounting/banking functions, online payments were introduced, a mobile app followed, etc.
Every few months, MAJOR releases were announced that really enhanced the experience.
The founders, Sina Shekou and Adam Silverthorne were accessible, eager to help, and eager to make the product the best it could be.
In late 2009, Realpage, a leader in multi-family software, purchased PW.
It made sense. Single Family Property Management was becoming a thing and RealPage needed a platform.
However, shortly after the purchase, the innovation slowed, which is probably a very kind statement.
There have been a couple of premium (meaning, you pay extra) services added, but the “core” product has changed very little since the merger.
HOW DOES PROPERTYWARE WORK?
Once inside PW, the structure is pretty straightforward. Administrators can customize exactly what the various Users within the PM Company sees and has access to. There are also numerous training programs through Propertyware University, that are pretty helpful.
Below is a listing of all the PW Modules, which are displayed along the top navigator. We’ll review a few of them:
- Dashboards: This module allows you to create real-time snapshots of any metric or key performance indicator you would like. For example, if you are responsible for Tenant collections, you can establish a quick snapshot of outstanding balances.
- Properties: This is where you can see all of the information related to a specific property including related leases (current and previous), maintenance history, marketing info, and more.
- Leases: A “Lease” inside PW isn’t just the actual document. It contains all the Tenant contact information, along with the Tenant ledger. It allows the User to access the Tenant’s personal information, Lease information any Work Orders associated with that Tenant and much more.
- Money-In/Money-Out/Banking: These 3 modules make up PW’s accounting/banking information. You can pay Vendors here, update Vendor information, pay bills for the Management Company, reconcile bank statements, etc.
- Maintenance: As you might expect, this is where all Maintenance activities occur. Work Orders are generated and tracked via this module, and you can even create bills associated with the Work Order in the Maintenance Module.
- Management: The Management Tab is where you can view the Portfolio activity for your Owners. This is somewhat like the “Leases” tab, but for Owners. Owner statements reside here, current Portfolio balance, etc.
- Reports: PW does a reasonable job with reports. Most KPIs and other metrics can be tracked thru reports and emailed to specific staff, Vendors, Owners, whoever you want. While reports are fairly customizable, there are some limitations.
There are many different features within Propertyware and it would be rather tedious to go through them all, so we’ll highlight a few of our favorites.
- Conversations: This feature is without a doubt one of the best aspects of Propertyware. And, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating parts of the software. It could be an pw 3amazing feature with some additional tweaking.
When asked what they liked most, almost every single one of our staff members mentioned the Conversations tool, so there’s plenty of value in this feature.
Basically, the Conversations tool is a messaging function within the software that allows Tenants and Owners to communicate with us and vice versa. The beauty of it is that it keeps all correspondence, for that particular Conversation, in one place so there is a record of all communication available to refer back to if needed.
The ugly part of it is that Conversations can be scattered throughout different parts of the software, so you sometimes have to search on Leases, Buildings, Work Orders, etc. to find the Conversation you need. Another somewhat disappointing feature of Conversations is that Owners and Tenants have to log into their Portal to respond to a Convo. This creates frustration from time to time.
- Templates: Another great feature is that you can create email templates within the software that all users have access to.
If there’s a particular email you send out repeatedly such as move-in/move-out information, a newsletter, etc., you can save it as a template so you don’t have to type a new one every time. You can quickly and easily select which template you want and then choose who to send it to in your contacts. Templates also log to the contact in PW, so you have a record of all correspondence sent via the templates.
- Tenant Screening: PW has a nice, customizable application that integrates with its rental listing widget. We can also integrate the screening into the Rently listing widget. This allows applicants to apply right on your website. The application goes right into PW and credit, criminal background checks and other screening can be completed very efficiently.
HOW MUCH DOES PROPERTYWARE COST?
Propertyware has a pretty simple and scalable pricing structure. They have 3 different plans – Basic, Plus, and Premium – that each include a one time set-up fee and a per unit/per month fee depending on what and how many features you would like.
They also have a few service add-ons for an additional monthly fee.
Below is a snapshot of Propertyware’s pricing.
As you can see, the Propertyware pricing structure allows you to pick and choose what you want and build a plan that will work best for your business model.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT PROPERTYWARE
- Dated Interface: A major thing you’ll probably notice about Propertyware right off the bat is that the interface looks like something from 1995. Along with that, data isn’t always where you think it should be. For example, when reviewing an Owner contact, it would be great to see the Portfolio balance of that Owner without having to click to the Management Tab.
To be fair, the interface doesn’t create a crippling effect for the User. However, the outdated appearance is definitely a downside of the product, one that PW freely admits.
We’ve all been told that a new interface is coming, so we’ll see how it looks.
- Slow to make improvements and updates: As we discussed earlier, this has been a problem. Again, we’re starting to see signs that this is about to change, which is welcome news.
- Support: PW receives a lot of criticism about its support. A long, long time ago, they had chat support that was very helpful. Now, they’ve outsourced their support overseas and you have to call or submit a case.
Our experience is that phone support is actually pretty good. Submitting a case, generally, takes too long to resolve an issue. Since we’ve used the product for so long, and know it so well, we do get frustrated that some of our issues have to get elevated to a higher level of support.
Ideally, we would like to be assigned a support rep, who we could go to directly with any questions or issue. They also have a resource center called Propertyware University that offers videos and content about the various aspects of the program.
PROS OF PROPERTYWARE
- Easily and fully customizable: One of the best things about Propertyware and one of its biggest differentiators, is that you can customize just about anything. The possibilities are endless.
And, if you like to REALLY track things – which is important in the PM business – the ability to create custom fields is the major differentiator when it comes to PW.
In fact, we are still finding new ways to utilize its customization to benefit our business. You can create any custom field you can think of and then run reports off of those fields which allows you to capture data relevant to your company. Again, this is a feature that you won’t find in a lot of other PM software.
- Scalable: No matter how many properties you manage, there’s no issue of getting “too big” for PW.
- Open API: A somewhat recent improvement to the software, is the opening of their API. In non-tech jargon, this basically means that you can connect Propertyware with other software and programs and they will be able to share information.
This is a MASSIVE improvement and we’re excited to see what unfolds here.
FUTURE OF PROPERTYWARE
As we’ve mentioned throughout this review, positive changes are starting to emerge.
Single family Property Management, as an industry, is becoming much more professional and sophisticated. No longer are PMs considered to be on the lower rung of the Real Estate industry. We’re already starting to see significant corporate influence in our industry as well as consolidation. We expect that trend to continue.
So, the software that supports this industry has to keep pace. PW didn’t for years, but we think that’s about to change… or at least we hope so.
Through the remainder of the year, Propertyware is working on transforming the experience for every user by enhancing the design and features which will be released in waves through mid-summer.
Propertyware has been a constant part of our PM company, and although we have hiccups here and there, it’s an overall great solution that has met the majority of our needs
To keep with our review theme, we’re giving this software a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
Hopefully this review has given you some insight into Propertyware and helped you decide whether or not it’s the right product for you.