‘What software do you use to manage your mobile home parks?’ That is a question we get often. For a long time, we have been using Rent Manager. Rent Manager provided comprehensive set of features for managing our property. We, however, thought that it was not the easiest software to use. After evaluating other options Recently we have switched over to Appfolio.
Rent Manager has been around for a long time. It has its advantages and disadvantages due to its maturity. The main advantage of Rent Manager is its comprehensive feature set. First, It has core property management features like unit tracking, tenant tracking, accounting, letter generation, etc. It also has many features that you typically don’t think of, but can be very useful. Two examples come to mind. The first is custom formula support for utility bill-back. When you have sub-metered your water, you often have to follow the municipal water rate calculation. Using the custom formula, Rent Manager can calculate the charges. The second is loan management. It has simple loan calculator/management plugin that is very useful if you are carrying a note on a mobile home (though this is not as common nowadays with Dodd-Frank).
So why did we decide to move away from Rent Manager? Because of poor usability. We found the software hard to use for several reasons. First of all, it is a Windows application. With Rent Manager Online. We had to access a remote server that had the Rent Manager installed with Windows Remote Desktop. Then you have to login using RM account. Because you are accessing a Windows program on another computer, the interaction can be somewhat clunky. It becomes noticeably difficult to use with slow internet connection. We also had difficulty accessing it with newer laptops with very high resolution. Secondly, the overall user interface looks dated and is not too intuitive.
Appfolio is a web-based property management software. Out of different programs we evaluated, we liked Appfolio the most. The UI was very clean and simple to use. Though the feature set wasn’t as complete as Rent Manager, it was very good. Below are some key reasons why we went with Appfolio.
Ease of access – Because Appfolio is web-based, it was much easier to access than Rent Manager. You can simply use your browser.
Usability – We found the user interface to be very clean and well-implemented
Feature Set – While it lacked some features that we were used to in Rent Manager, it had very nice set of features.
Web Site – We liked the tenant portal and property websites. Their implementation team is still working on our websites. So far, it looks pretty decent.
Appfolio also has many other features like permission settings, online payments, letter generation, reporting, accounting, sending SMS messages, etc.
Buildium was another contenter. In terms of the feature sets, we thought it was very similar to Appfolio. The cost was a bit more competitive than Appfolio. At the end, we thought Appfolio was a bit more user-friendly and mature.
Other programs we looked at were Resman and PropertyWare. We also briefly looked at RealPage, Hightower, and Yardi.
If you want a detailed comparison of these programs, please contact me.
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