Category: Product Reviews
Renovating a home can be both an exciting and exhausting process. Property owners go through numerous floor plans, but are often clueless on how to read the floor plans. Floorplanner is an app that makes floor planning easy. Property owners can use the app and work with their architects to understand the big picture and the small details of their floor plan, and feel like they are a part of the process in their home design. We spoke with Jeroen Bekkers from Floorplanner to learn more.
APM: Would you mind describing Floorplanner in more detail?
Jeroen: Yes, the idea is very simple. I’m an architect myself and we all have a background from the building industry. We were creating custom software for big building projects for quite some time and we were always missing easy, good‑looking floor plans. They were always created with CAD programs that were difficult to produce. They looked like black and white drawings and they were not very user‑friendly. Only those with an architectural background or a real estate background could understand the complexity of these floor plans. But for an average user, or an average homeowner, it’s pretty difficult to understand and grasp the scale by just viewing the floor plan. We thought we should make a way for floor plans to be easier to read and understand.
That’s why we started Floorplanner as an online tool to create floor plans easily. For example, you can place furniture in the floor plans to get an exact idea of scale. We launched it in 2007, and we saw several people using the app, and enjoying their overall experience with it. We did not really need to advertise either. We now have over 10 million users worldwide and over 10,000 per-day sign up for our tool. We see homeowners, people who are moving, real estate agents and property developers all using our app. Our tool is free to use for one person, for one house. But if you want to use it professionally for multiple homes and want to put your own logo in, then you pay us a small fee for having that premium service.
APM: It’s nice to hear that a homeowner can be a little more hands‑on and understand the details and changes in their own home. Can you talk a little bit more of some of the features you offer?
Jeroen: We have a very simple 2D drawing too that does not require any software to be installed. No plug‑in is needed, and it works with all browsers to create the floor plans. We have a real-time 3D view. So you can see your plans and turn them around. You see them, almost like a dollhouse, like a model. We have the option to place furniture and decorate the floor plans with a library of about 5,000 2D and 3D objects. We also offer premium features that include: inserting your own logo, exporting scales, using your drawings on scaled PDFs and creating high resolution, better looking 3D views from your plan. Traditionally, all this costs a lot of money to produce. With our tool you receive one free trial to create the floor plan, and from there you can pay for the Pro- account.
APM: Are there other apps like this? What makes you stand out from your competition?
Jeroen: There are other apps like us, yes. We see ourselves somewhere between AutoCAD, and “Sims.” It’s fun to use, but it still produces technically relevant drawings. There are other tools like us, but we are the largest online floor planning tool out there. I think we have the largest network of service providers by far. We have our own API. Our technical infrastructure is much larger than any of the online competitors.
APM: Can you talk about some of the customer feedback you’ve received, some of the things that customers say about the product?
Jeroen: On the most basic level, people say they feel empowered when they use it. They say “Oh wow! I can do this in a couple of minutes?” They love playing around with the 3D. The feedback we receive the most is that it is “fun to play around with” and is “addictive”. Once users create their plans, they will spend evenings, alone or together, making nice decorations. Real estate agents say it’s “cheaper and faster than previous options”. We see a lot of real estate agents making the plans themselves on our website, or in combination with a tool like Magic Plan which works on the iPhone. They can capture a house on location and send it to Floorplanner so they can make a full 3D floor plan pictures with their phone. Real estate agents appreciate it a lot because it provides flat drawings that are more detailed, at a substantially lower cost than before. These agents were paying big money for floor plans before they found us.
Interviewer: Great, is there anything else you’d like your customers to know?
Jeroen: Yes, we now have a companion product, called Roomstyler, which allows you to create a room plan with Floorplanner. From there you can decorate the room. You can make realistic interior designs and decorate it with objects from our library with over 150,000 real‑life objects, make interior designs, virtual stagings, all from your web browser. It is very interesting. We see this being used more and more, especially in European territories, where there are a lot of floor plans already created with our software. I think virtual stagings are a next big thing.
To Sum It Up!
Floorplanner is an app that allows anyone, no matter what their experience is, to have input in the design process of a home. Home owners can use the app to work with architects and real estate agents to better understand the floor plan and have fun during the process!
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Remembering what type of light bulbs are needed for a property is the last thing a property manager, who spends each day overseeing several aspects of maintaining a property, wants to think about. However, home maintenance is always a high priority. Whether or not property managers and homeowners like it, recording the last time upgrades were done and appliances were replaced is a must. With HomeZada, property managers can easily oversee home management projects, track the finances for these projects and record maintenance and upgrades. Now managing the small details in property management can all be done within one cloud-based system. We spoke with Elizabeth Dodson from HomeZada to learn more.
APM: It would be really helpful if you could introduce HomeZada to our property managers.
Elizabeth: HomeZada is online home management software that helps you manage everything about your home in one place. What we mean by this is, it helps you manage home inventories for any of your possessions or fixed assets in the home.
We classify possessions as what goes into a moving truck and your fixed assets are things that belong to the house whether it is equipment like HVAC equipment or whether it’s walls, cabinets, sinks things of that nature.
HomeZada allows you to track home maintenance. We provide a calendar with 30 of the common home maintenance projects to get you started. There are over 150 more that you can choose from in the actual calendar. You can customize and personalize your maintenance with your own activities also. The maintenance calendar provides email alerts for upcoming tasks so you can take action accordingly.
The third thing it allows you to do is track home projects. Let’s say you have a property manager for a house with an upcoming project. They can take the whole project and say, “I need to update the house. Here are all the things I need to select. Here are all things I need to shop for. Here are all the things I need to start budgeting for. How do I conduct all these projects, and over what period of time?” HomeZada helps to oversee all aspects of the project lifespan.
Most home- owners cannot do them all at once. They need years to do all these so they can schedule that over time.
HomeZada also tracks finances for specific houses. In the case of property managers, they can manage up to three properties in HomeZada, the consumer version. In HomeZada the professional version, they can manage as many properties as they want.
APM: I was actually wondering if this is something that you do see property managers using instead of the individual homeowner, too.
Elizabeth: We actually have property managers engaging with the solution now.
APM: Oh that’s great. Are there a lot of products out there like this? What makes you stand out from other home management software?
Elizabeth: Ironically, I waited for this product for 10 years. I thought someone else was going to build it because I was working at another technology company. I kept saying to my co‑founders, while I worked with at the technology company, “There must be a tool that can help us do this because our previous technology company helped manage multi‑million dollar buildings.” I looked and looked for 10 years, and I couldn’t find anything. My co‑founders said, “You’re onto something. I think we need to figure this out. We need to start another company.”
That’s how HomeZada came to be. There isn’t anything that does exactly what we do on the market. Everything that we make at HomeZada is a cloud- based solution. A lot of people appreciate the cloud‑based technology because of the importance of accessing technology anywhere. A property manager for example, can manage five different properties in five different locations, whether it’s in the same city or whether it’s in five different cities.
Property managers need to be able to access the property data whether it’s on their phones, their tablets, their computers from anywhere in the world.
APM: What kind of customer feedback have you heard about this?
Elizabeth: We have great customer feedback. We have a lot of customers worldwide both on the consumer side and on the professional side. On the consumer side, they are telling us they love our product. It’s their best friend. They can’t believe it didn’t exist before this. I can believe that because I was in the same boat.
They also help place requests. Groups of customers actually engage in feature and enhancement requests. This means they are also committed to the product. They really are interested in seeing more features as am I. That’s why I am excited that they are actually validating some of the things that I want in the product for my co‑founders.
On the professional side, we break up HomeZada into four major professional groups that we service: real estate, residential construction, insurance and service providers. Property managers, professional organizers, inventory professionals all fit into the category of service provider.?
People from each category engage and show interest in the product each for different reasons. Real estate and insurance agents love it and recommend us to their clients. They are gifting HomeZada with their branding inside the solution and ?recommending it.
Builders want to see data inside the solution. They want to say, “OK, I need to transport information to the consumer after the new construction is done.”
They’re might giving their clients binders of information. Now they can give them and electronic format that they can continue to update and manage.
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Many property managers dream of expanding their property management companies. However, there are cost increases such as property management software associated with growth. Property Boss Solutions supports their property manager’s growth by using an unlimited pricing unit model. We spoke to Mario Villanueva, from Property Boss Solutions to learn more.
APM: Would you mind giving us an overview of Property Boss Solutions?
Mario: Sure. There are a couple of services we provide. We offer property management software and website design for property management companies. We offer web services like online payments that are tied to our software. This can either be tied into a third party site, where we integrate the services into an existing site, or we can do a brand new site that contains these services. We spend most of our time focusing on property management and handling the website services.
The company began in 1998. At that point it was designed for residential management, and it covered tracking management fees, paying owners and doing owner statements. From there, Property Boss Solutions grew to where we’re involved in multi‑family management, commercial management, association management, student housing, senior living, affordable housing and storage units.
With Property Boss you can customize the system, integrate your processes into the system and design a language specific to your portfolio. We expanded into all these different industries.
If someone were to ask me, “What are the main strengths of Property Boss,” I would say it’s the power of choice. We offer a web‑based option. We also offer a self‑hosted option, where you can purchase and own the software. The customer can decide what is the best fit for their organization.
For some folks who have the infrastructure to host an application themselves, the self-hosted option makes a lot more sense for them. Other companies don’t have the infrastructure to host an application themselves. In this case a web‑based option is more convenient. They don’t have to go buy a server or keep an IT person on file.
The choice is up to the customer. You can start web‑based, and from there you can migrate to the self‑hosted option and run Property Boss indefinitely. We offer a perpetual license. We also offer a choice in regards to accounting. We have an internal general ledger, and an interface to QuickBooks. If someone is using QuickBooks, and find they grew too large for QuickBooks to efficiently manage their properties, Property Boss can step‑in as the front‑end. You can see all your properties, tell which tenants are late, what available properties you have and what work orders are in process. Property Boss can also print checks or financial statements.
Having all these options might make it difficult for some companies to support. You need to collect information from the client in order to understand, “What is your specific configuration?” However, Property Boss Solutions believes this is a better option long‑term for a client. Clients design their own Property Boss system and integrate the power of the choices they make and the processes that are important to them.
APM: Can you maybe describe some of your favorite features?
Mario: Sure, when it comes to residential management, you are managing on behalf of other owners. Property Boss helps tie management fees to the transactions. It’s not a situation where you have to go into the software and claim your management fees. Property Boss has a balance associated with each owner. You can also set a reserve amount for the owner’s balance and hold the bill if there are not sufficient funds. Being originally designed for residential management helps our application. The experience of being in the industry helps how we approach accounting for our property managers.
Another big advantage is our web-option. Online applications, resident portals, owner portals are all available with our software. You don’t have to go with our web‑based option in order to have portals. If it makes more sense for your company to purchase the software, we can still offer owner portals, tenant portals, online applications and vendor portals. All of this is still available. I think the power of choice we provide is a powerful advantage.
APM: Great! If we were to talk to your top three customers, what do you think they would say about the products?
Mario: Well, we are willing to work closely as a partner with our clients. For years we have been receiving great feedback from our property managers, as to what they would like to see in the product, and their feedback is used in future implementations. It’s more of a conversation about, “What do you want to get out of the program, and how can we enable that growth?”
We also offer an unlimited unit pricing model. This works really well in the residential industry. Basically, the more properties you’re managing the more management fees you can collect.
You’re not penalized for growth once you’ve use Property Boss. Property management software makes you more efficient. It is how property managers can maximize growth on the front‑end. With Property Boss, as you add additional units, there are no additional fees.
APM: I can definitely see how property managers would appreciate that, especially if they are trying to grow. Usually, there is some sort of cost associated with that. I think they would really appreciate that.
APM: What do you think makes you stand out from your competition then?
Mario: Well, certainly the fact that we offer both a web‑based and a self‑hosted option. That’s becoming more rare nowadays, and we do not plan on doing a strictly a web‑based option. We’ve way too many clients hosting the application themselves. I also have not see the level of customization you can do in Property Boss in other property management tools. You can create an unlimited number of custom fields, and then design custom reports to incorporate the data from those fields.
You can create custom, what we call “Work Order Groups” in Property Boss. If you need to track activity around collections, or for associations for example, violations, any activity that is meant for your property management business, you’re able to track all of that in Property Boss with the core product. It goes far beyond just giving you the ability to see what a tenant’s balance is, or see what properties are available. It is a deep enterprise system. You can see the activity from your entire team, and analyze the important metrics for your business to enable that growth.
APM: Is there anything else you would like your customers to know?
Mario: Our options across a variety of industries, contributes to our client’s success. For example with our unlimited unit model, someone can have 30 HOA’s and 1,000 residential units, and it’s not going to cost them $3,000 a month to use our product. As they bring in additional associations and properties, they are also simply bringing more money in for their businesses.
To Sum It Up!
Property Boss Solutions is property management software that provides property managers the choice between choosing a web-based option or a self-hosted option. Property Boss Solutions can customize their experience with the software, and should they continue to expand they can take comfort in knowing that they use the unlimited pricing unit model.
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