Guide to property management software selection

Step-by-step guide to selecting a new software provider for Build to Rent assets.

This article provides guidance for those looking for a new property management software solution. You might be considering replacing your current system or may be new to the industry and curious about what’s available to property managers today.Whatever your reasons, this guide aims to help you make an informed decision and includes a checklist with guidance on which features to look for and which questions to ask.  

Roadmap for Property Managers

1. Assess your needs

Start by deciding what you need from your property management software.

Property types

Plan ahead by identifying not only the types of properties that are in your portfolio now but also the properties you’d like to add in the future.


Be prepared to tell software providers how, when and where you need to work. Are you in your office or onsite or both? What do you wish you could do from your phone or tablet?


Make a list of everyone who will need access to the software, from leasing agents and onsite staff to maintenance personnel and accountants. If you have multiple users, will you need different levels of access? For example, you might not want all parties to have access to financial information.


Consider whether you’ll need an out-of-the-box solution or something with options that will adapt to your needs. Turnkey solutions offer the ability the hit the ground running. Configurable systems will suit your portfolio more precisely and grow with you as your needs change.


Determine whether you need your software to integrate with other services necessary for your business. A fully integrated platform makes daily operations easier. The suite keeps data consistent between services such as accounting, leasing, resident screening, marketing and maintenance.

2. Select your features

Next, figure out which features you need, which would be nice to have and which you could do without.

Property Management

What do you need to effectively manage your properties day to day? Look for solutions that guide you through the leasing process step by step, helping you simplify tasks like move-ins, move-outs, work orders and email communications.

Marketing and Leasing

Wouldn’t it be nice if your property management software helped you market your properties too? Some solutions include property marketing websites, online applications, automatic listing distribution and integrated self-service leasing options.

Customer Retention

Getting residents and tenants is great, but keeping them is even better! Make sure your renters are happy by providing them with modern conveniences like online payments and mobile maintenance requests.


What does your accounting wish list look like? Do you have reports that you run monthly, weekly or even daily? How easy or hard is it to view, analyse and share your data? Write down exactly which numbers you need visibility into, how you need to share that data and with whom.

3. Identify Providers

Now it’s time to figure out who makes solutions that fit your business needs.

Search online

Check out property management software providers’ websites. This should give you a good idea of what each offers, how long they’ve been in business and who their customers are. Do they share client references or success stories?

Ask peers

It’s always a good idea to talk to your peers to see what software they use. Learn what they like and don’t like about it. Do they like the people they interact with at the company?

Get demos

Once you’ve identified a few options, it’s time to see how they really work. Most providers offer free demos that will give you a peek at the user experience.


CAUTION: It's easy to get caught up in new features during a demo. Remember to ask if the features are included in the price and appropriate for your specific property types.


Use the checklist to help you make the right decision when reviewing the different solutions available to you.

Does your property management software support all of the property types in your portfolio?

  • Residential
  • Student Accommodation
  • Office
  • Retail
  • Logistics
  • Flexible Workspace
  • Mixed Portfolios

Does your software include the tools you need to effectively manage your properties?

  • Move-ins and move-outs
  • Correspondence
  • Rent collection and vendor payment
  • Work order management

Does your software include the accounting tools you need to manage and grow your business?

  • Full general ledger, A/R and A/P (Accounts receivable and accounts payable)
  • Automated configurable reports
  • At-a-glance insight into accounts
  • Quick Service Charge calculations for commercial
  • Built-in budgeting and forecasting tools

Does your software help you convert leads into leases and process renewals?

  • Online applications and lease renewals
  • Real-time unit pricing and availability
  • Complete online leasing with e-signatures
  • Integrated lease documents

Does your software include the marketing tools you need to help attract prospects?

  • Dynamic, mobile friendly property marketing websites
  • Automatic listing syndication to ILSs (Internet Listing Services)
  • Self-service access for renters, including online tour scheduling, applications and screening
  • SEO, (Search Engine Optimisation) PPC (Pay-per-click), reputation management and social media services

Does your software help you provide better service to residents and owners?

  • Secure online portals for customers to view accounts, make payments and submit maintenance requests
  • Convenient options for renters to pay rent online or via text
  • Built-in tools to communicate with residents and owners via email, text or app
  • Amenity options like smart home features, package managementand Wi-Fi connectivity

Is your operational, financial and customer data secured, stored, backed up and accessible?

  • Data is securely stored in the cloud with a recognised leader in cloud services
  • Easy application and data administration
  • Ongoing and nightly data backups
  • Data can be accessed anytime, anywhere from any mobile device
  • Automatic updates and upgrades
  • Professionally maintained IT network
  • Secure infrastructure and support to reduce IT costs

Which types of training and support are offered?

  • Live webinars
  • On-demand video training
  • Document knowledge base
  • Chat support
  • Help from experts with real estate and property management experience

Does your software include convenient mobile options for staff and residents?

  • Mobile leasing
  • Mobile maintenance requests from tenants
  • Mobile work order retrieval
  • App, voice and text payments
Not a member?

The ARL is the leading member association for all those involved in the Build to Rent sector. Members get access to the Best Practice Guide as a benefit of membership. Members also get access to our events program, opportunities to join Forums and Working Groups and our research and thought leadership outputs.

Join now Contact us