Best Property Management Software for Small Landlords
Plenty of real estate investing strategies exist to help finance your overseas adventures. But, we’ve found that regardless how you invest, travelers need an effective system for managing their rentals. For us, that system revolves around Yardi Breeze, what we’ve found to be the best property management software for small landlords. We’ll use this article to explain why.
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In addition to writing about his and Jenna’s travel and work adventures, Chipp is a CPA and founder of Walutes Capital, a real estate development and accounting firm. Wearing this “other hat,” Chipp offers real estate investment and development consulting services to clients. If you’d like help with your own real estate investing journey, contact Chipp here to set up an appointment!
Why Do Small Landlords Need Property Management Software?
While Sheets and Excel play a huge role in analyzing potential rental properties, they’re not the same as a property management software. By software, we’re referring to a cloud-based program that allows you to remotely execute the key tasks to property management. That is, with only a laptop and internet connection, a good software will allow you to complete the following from anywhere in the world:
Tenant screening and onboarding
Accounting and financial reporting
Tax reporting support
Yes, as a small landlord, you definitely can complete these tasks without property management software. But, you’ll spend a ton of time and effort doing so, it won’t be efficient, and you’ll definitely struggle to complete all these tasks while traveling overseas.
During our first year we spent working and traveling full-time, we had a portfolio of seven rental properties, all of which we managed personally (i.e. we didn’t hire a property management company). Between rent collections, coordinating maintenance requests, paying vendors, and, in one case, replacing a tenant while we were living in Zanzibar, there is absolutely no chance we could’ve successfully managed our properties without a reliable property management software.
A variety of software options are available. But, due to Chipp’s professional and personal experiences in real estate, we’ve embraced Yardi Breeze as our property management software of choice. In the next section, we’ll dive into some of the highlights that make it such a great choice.
What Makes Yardi Breeze the Best Property Management Software
Allows You to Market Your Properties and Screen Potential Tenants through RentCafe
RentCafe is a nationwide listing service for home and apartment rentals, allowing tenants to search its massive database of units. Conveniently, RentCafe falls under the broader umbrella of various Yardi companies, meaning Yardi Breeze and RentCafe seamlessly integrate. From your Breeze account, you can add your different rental properties, and when you “activate” them, the listings go live on RentCafe’s search portal for millions of potential renters to find.
When potential tenants find your listings on RentCafe, they can apply directly. Then, you can screen the applicants through the Breeze/RentCafe systems, running background and credit checks - critical due diligence for small landlords (don’t want a tenant who’s going to skip rent or destroy your home!).
Integrates with RentCafe to Allow Tenants to Make Online Payments
Once you approve a tenant, Breeze has a module that allows landlords to upload lease agreements and other property-related documentation, saving you the time and hassle of printing/signing hard-copy agreements.
More importantly, Breeze integrates with RentCafe to allow tenants to make online payments. Once you approve a tenant, you send them a RentCafe invitation, which lets them create their own account. Within this account, tenants can always see their current ledger, and they can make online rent payments (via bank draft, credit card, or debit card). When you’re living overseas (or even if you’re not), online payments are a godsend - no more chasing down tenants for cash or checks on the first of the month!
Online Maintenance Requests and Payment Processing to Vendors
Related, tenants can also use their RentCafe accounts to make and track maintenance requests. Instead of scrolling through back-and-forth e-mail chains, all maintenance requests can be made, updated, and monitored through Breeze (for the landlord) and RentCafe (for the tenant). Once the work has been completed, Yardi’s Bill Pay function then allows you to pay vendors via Breeze. Depending on vendor preferences, you can either have Yardi mail them a hard-copy check or pay via ACH.
Regardless which option you choose, Bill Pay means you no longer have to deal with the time-consuming process of writing and mailing checks to vendors - Yardi handles it all for you!
Screenshot of a Yardi Breeze property management software tenant ledger
Allows for Simple 1099 Generation at Tax Time
Due to a recent tax law change, landlords now need to file 1099s for any vendor they paid over $600 (cumulatively) throughout the year. If you use the shoebox-full-of-receipts approach, creating your 1099s every January can be a tremendous headache. Fortunately, with just a few clicks, Breeze automatically generates 1099s for all of your qualifying vendors - super easy process. And, as part of Breeze’s 1099 module, you can download a properly formatted report for uploading your 1099 details to the IRS.
Without Yardi Breeze, complying with the new 1099 rules takes a ton of time and effort. With Breeze, you can knock out your 1099 responsibilities in a few minutes!
Integrated Accounting and Financial Reporting Tools
Sound accounting and financial reporting tools are absolutely critical to all landlords. Without solid accounting records, you’ll struggle at tax time. At best, these struggles will cost you additional time and money; at worst, bad records can lead to reporting incorrect information to the IRS and a potential audit. Additionally, without solid accounting records and financial reporting tools, landlords will find it difficult to secure loans for future rental purchases. If you can’t show lenders the results of your existing rental properties, they likely won’t approve loans for future purchases.
Breeze has an entire suite of accounting and financial reporting tools integrated with its system. When tenants pay rent, their ledgers automatically update. When you use Bill Pay to pay a vendor, your accounts payable balance automatically updates. Need to run a profit and loss statement for a lender? Breeze can do that. Need to generate a full set of financial statements to provide your CPA? Breeze can do that, too.
Due to Breeze’s cloud-based functionality, you can also create account profiles for outside bookkeepers. Say you struggle with the accounting side of being a landlord, it likely makes sense for you to hire a bookkeeper. You can then create a Breeze profile for him or her to access your account and make sure all or your accounting records remain accurate and properly categorized.
Ease of Use and Convenient Help Center
Lastly, it’s worth noting that Breeze is just really easy to use. Its intuitive user interface makes finding your way around straightforward. When you add new properties, tenants, or vendors, it has wizard-like features that walk you through these processes step-by-step. And, something we’ve used a ton, Breeze has an extremely convenient, built-in help center. Say you're trying to record a payable but have a question - click the help center and it’ll bring up clear and concise articles on accounts payable processes (or any other topic).
Pricing and Final Thoughts on Yardi Breeze Property Management Software
Now the big question: Okay, you’ve sold me on Breeze, but how much does it cost?
Yep, Breeze is not free (and there are some free property management software programs out there). Currently, the standard subscription - which is more than sufficient for most small and mid-sized landlords - costs $100/month. At first glance, that may seem like a lot of money. But, you get what you pay for. Since we started using Breeze several years ago, it’s 1) saved us a ton of time (and, therefore, money); 2) allowed us to remotely manage our properties while traveling the world; 3) synchronized our rental operations and real estate accounting within a single system; and 4) generally facilitated a far more professional and efficient property management practice.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for, for better or worse. When it comes to Yardi Breeze, we have no regrets about spending a little every month for this great property management software.
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