Category: Product Reviews

No more clipboards for home inspections

Architect with mini tablet

Some habits are difficult to let go. For example, property inspectors are familiar with using the pen and clipboard method when conducting property inspections. With everything going digital these days, it is hard to find software that maintains the familiarity of traditional inspection reports. Snap Inspect is property inspection software that keeps the traditional checklist method for inspection reports, but provides these reports in an easy-to-understand digital format. We spoke with Sam Ovens from Snap Inspect to learn more.

APM: Hi Sam, it would be great if you could go into more detail about Snap Inspect.

Sam: Snap Inspect is property inspection software that works on iPad, iPhone or Android devices. Residential, commercial and vacation property management companies use it. For example, vacation rental management companies when families rent a home out for several days near Disney amusement parks. Basically, it allows a property management company to take their existing pen and paper forms and move them inside SnapInspect. We don’t change the checklist companies are used to using. We also don’t change the process that companies are used to using. We try not to change anything other than moving it from pen and paper to digital. We try not to interrupt the way they’re used to working. We try and make their reports look exactly how they want them to look. The key reasons why someone would choose SnapInspect over the competition is because we can customize their checklists to be exactly how they want it. We can make the finished PDF reports that they email their clients look identical to what they’re currently using, whereas other property inspection apps force you to use their format.

APM: Can you talk about some of the features that SnapInspect offers?

Sam: Well, our most popular feature, offered only by SnapInspect, is the video walk-through. You can do an inspection, use a checklist, write comments, take photos, and you can also do a video walk‑through of the property. SnapInspect helps create the report, turn it into a PDF, and then place a thumbnail of the video inside the report for people to access. There is also a URL they can go to if they have a printed version and are unable to click on the thumbnail. They are directed to a unique page where they can view a walk‑through video of the property, and also receive a normal condition report. Regardless of what city, state or country they are in, property investors can access the walk-through video and access the paper report. Property investors have a clear idea about the condition of their property.

APM: If we were to talk to your top three customers, what would they say?

Sam: Our top three customers are large companies. They have experience with our competition. They’ve tried and tested most of the inspection products available and assessed them thoroughly. These guys are spending thousands of dollars a month on software because they have so many offices. These are national franchises, and big real estate chains. Often the head office is trying the product, and when they’re sure they’ve found the best one, they mandate it for their entire franchise. Once they’ve picked one, they let their franchise know, “It’s now mandatory to use this product.” However, in order for them to mandate a product like that, they have to do a thorough test. They’ve tested the three major competitors, side- by- side for 6 months, out in the field and everything, and they chose SnapInspect.

APM: What’s the background story with SnapInspect?

Sam: I actually did not have a background in property management. I just remember watching my parents’ house go through an inspection. The guy walked around with a pen and paper, and I thought there must be a better way to do this. Everyone has smartphones, and everyone uses apps. Why is the property management industry still using pens and paper? I started calling different types of property management companies to learn how they handle property inspections. Even the biggest, most tech‑savvy companies were still using pen and paper. I could not believe it. I decided to mock up an idea. I was just drawing and talking to different developers. Eventually I found a development company that could do it for an affordable price. I went back to all the people I know and said, “Hey guys, I’m thinking about doing this thing. What do you think?” They all loved it. So I built it. We started off small, with just five to ten users, added some more, and the number has been increasing ever since. We constantly try to improve the product, and our software is used globally. Our main customer base is the US though. We have more customers in the United States than any other property inspection app.

APM: That’s a really unique background. It sounds like you just wanted to create a simpler product for home inspection reports.

Sam: I just wanted to solve a problem.

APM: Is there anything else you would like potential customers to know?

Sam: I’d be happy to do a special deal on SnapInspect for all of your customers. We can offer 10% off the monthly SnapInspect prices.

To Sum It Up!

SnapInspect is inspection software designed with the property manager in-mind. SnapInspect keeps the traditional property inspection, checklist format, in an effort to make the transition process easy. SnapInspect also offers a very unique feature, the walk-through video! Property investors can take comfort in knowing that wherever they are located they can receive their inspection reports along with a video to see their property’s current status.

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April 22, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Building Community While Managing Properties

If you ever lived in an apartment, you know it is rare to know your neighbors much less invite them to your parties. Property Solutions is a property management software provider that includes resident services that can create a sense of community within a building. Property management software generally offers several capabilities, but building a sense of community is generally not one of them. Roommate matching with Entrata Core helps student-housing communities match residents with compatible roommates, and also their ResidentPortal website provides a platform for neighbors to share community events, clubs and announcements. Property managers often experience higher resident retention when residents have a sense of community. We spoke to Chase Harrington from Property Solutions to learn more.Property Solutions Entrata property management software tablet browser ipad mobile

APM: Hi Chase, it would be great if you could describe your product overall.

Chase: Certainly, Property Solutions currently has 22 features. We cover everything from online payments and insurance to utility billing. You name it, and we have a product for it. That is the biggest difference between us and other property management software. All of our products are built on a single platform. We are different than most of our competitors, because we built everything. For example, our revenue management system is built from the ground up and is inside our system. When you log into our system, Entrata, all of your products and services are in one place. With our competitors, you need to log into multiple software platforms.

APM: It is certainly helpful for a property manager to be able to access one system over needing multiple login names and passwords.

Chase: Yes, and in addition to being a platform service provider, we offer the ability for third parties to integrate freely within our system. Property managers can still log in to one place and access the other services integrated inside of it. For example, if you’re using somebody else for insurance or utility billing, all of the information can be accessed from our interface for free. We don’t charge the property management companies or the vendors, which is a radically different approach.

APM: Can you go into a little bit more detail about features that you offer?

Chase: The first feature is Entrata Core, full property management software which provides front- end resident management integrated with back-end accounting and purchasing. There’s an entire student- housing module that includes a move-in checklist, a make-ready board, unit assignments and roommate matching. It also entails a full facilities piece, where you have all of your work order management and a make-ready board. The make ready boards are digital so you can see the turn of units in real-time.

Our marketing feature, ProspectPortal websites have everything prospective residents need when looking to lease at your apartment community. With real- time availability you can access guest cards, applications, pictures and images, basically anything with an online presence.

The ILOS portal is an online apartment listing syndication service. We are able to take your current unit pricing and syndicate it out to the internet listing services property managers utilize to make sure information is consistent across all listing sites. For example, property managers see the same price on apartments.com and rent.com that appears on their private website.

APM: I was looking at your website and thought the student features would be helpful for someone like myself. I like the ability to find roommates and manage day-to-day affairs.

Chase: Yes, it’s very simple and a great interface. It shows you the property digitally, so you can see virtual diagrams of the community, and then you can drag and drop people to the rooms. It tells you who would best match with that individual, how to pre-lease and how many open areas are available. It’s great.

APM: I can see how property managers would benefit from something like this as well. For example, when property managers are dealing with a tenant who needs to sub-lease, this would be a really great tool for them to help their residents to find the ideal fit. Please continue telling us more about the features.

Chase: We do full SEO and PPC services for our websites. We can also automate and manage campaigns. Pricing Portal, our revenue management software, is able to price all of a property manager’s units according to current market values.

We have a SiteTablet leasing app to make all of our services available on a tablet. Leasing agents have all of these tools at their fingertips on an iPad or any other tablet, if they’re walking around the community. Their prospects could fill out an application or sign their lease with a finger. Property managers can also show availability, collect a guest card, pictures and videos.

LeaseExecution is a full online lease execution tool. Applicants fill out the application, integrate the lease, and then they can sign it online. Like I said, they can even sign it on a tablet or other device.

LeadManager offers full lead management. It schedules follow ups, handles communication and conversion ratios.

Leasing Center is our full service call center. Leasing Center can answer your rollover calls, after hour calls, maintenance calls and helps lease the units. It’s more than an answering service and has all the information about the property. It can help lease the property, collect the applications and help with the lease-signing process.

ResidentVerify is a full tenant screening service. Seamlessly built-in to our application process, we can automatically screen the resident’s full credit background, eviction and criminal history.

Another feature is ResidentPortal. Residents can log in to make online payments and submit maintenance requests. There is even a social aspect to Resident Portal.

APM: Can you please elaborate on the social aspect?

Chase: Residents can have roommates, create clubs, hold events and communicate with other residents within the community using the Resident Portal.

APM: I have never heard of a feature like that. That’s a really great way to connect people especially since most residents do not know anyone else in their apartment building.

Chase: Yeah, residents could log in and create a book club. Then other residents can go in and see that there’s a book club. They can see when neighbors are going to have events. Residents can post notices for parties like, “Hey, I’m going to have a Super Bowl party, anybody’s welcome to come.” This creates the social aspect.

APM: That is a fantastic feature. That’s probably the first I’ve seen of something like this, where you can connect people that way.

Chase: Yeah, we see better resident retention by doing that. As residents become more connected and engaged within the community, your retention rates increase.

APM: Yeah, that makes sense, and it probably takes a lot of the stressful aspects of property management away from property managers and landlords.

Chase: Right.

APM: Ok, the next feature is ResidentPay.

Chase: ResidentPay is the online payment system. Residents can make payments in real time using a credit/debit card, e-check or money order. It really simplifies making payments for residents. Property managers can see their ledgers, see what tenants owe and how much they need to pay and set up recurring payments.

ResidentUtility is a utility billing solution. Utility bills are split according the property. All of their utilities and these charges are placed onto one bill, provided digitally or we can mail out a paper copy.

Let’s see, we also offer ResidentInsure, it’s our renters insurance program for both liability and contents coverage. Residents can buy the insurance for an extremely affordable price. It’s built right into the application and lease signing process. The application asks potential tenants if they have insurance, if they don’t, it provides them a quote for a policy right there, and they literally can buy the policy with one click and it’s simple for them.

Message Center is a mass communication tool that gives property managers the ability to communicate with all of their prospects, residents, and even employees. You can send out messages via text, phone or email. For example, every morning at eight am, you can send out a Happy Birthday greeting to everyone who has a birthday.

APM: I really love how personal this software is, especially the ability to connect with your employees, and remembering important events in their lives. Connecting residents and building a community is really a unique part of what your software has to offer.

Chase: Yeah, it definitely is a unique aspect. And the great thing about the Message Center is that is goes one step in automation, with an actual trigger that knows whose birthday it is and will send an email. It’s not like you have to go and find out when everyone’s birthday is in what month, create a list, and then send the message. You set the triggers and it sends the message. Or if they’re moving out in 10 days, you can set up a message to be sent with final move-out instructions.

APM: Great, if you were to talk to your top three customers, how do you think they would describe the product?

Chase: One of the biggest things we always hear is how intuitive it is. We put a heavy emphasis on our user interface. Software can be the best product out there, but if users don’t know how to use it, it doesn’t do them any good. The systems also take everything a step further. It connects all the dots. For example, you mentioned the community events and announcements in Resident Portal. It’s not the traditional resident portal, right? It’s taking that next step to help connect residents together and provide a sense of community. The Message Center is not just a mass emailing system; it helps provide detailed messages at the exact time of need with residents.

APM: Is there anything else that you want your customers to know?

Chase: The two other pieces we didn’t cover here are, ParcelAlert and Lobby Display. ParselAlert is a full tracking system. As the package arrives, you scan it and the system automatically texts and emails the residents notifying them to pick up their packages.

APM: Oh wow, I really like how you’re connecting all these different aspects of a unit, or a building. That’s a big deal.

Chase: It is. We have twenty-two products, but really when you get into our system, it’s one big product. All of these are features are part of one product. With our competitors, it is physical separate products.

Entrada is capable of doing all of these items, and you can turn on whatever capabilities you want. Where everyone else in this space is focused on one product, and then has to integrate or connect to other products to achieve full feature functionality.

APM: OK. Is there anything else you’d like your customers to know?

Chase: We’re extremely dedicated to our customer support. We have customer support via live chat, phone and email. It’s built right into the system. Any time you’re signed into the system, you can click on the live chat button and we can assist you. We provide great training materials and we receive rave reviews on our manuals. There are training documents, videos, and a program we call simulations. This teaches you how to generate leases. You click on the screens and it walks you through the process and you get that tactile learning experience. We hear really great reviews with that training support system.

To Sum It Up!entrata property management pm software property solutions accounting multifamily software reporting bi

Property Solutions is a property management software provider that offers 22 features. Property managers can use this platform to effectively manage all aspects of their day-to-day affairs. Property Solutions goes a step further from most traditional providers by helping residents build relationships with one another, and property managers to build better relationships within their office.

April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Create beautiful floor plans with a fun and easy- to- use app

Floorplanner pictureRenovating 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!

Like this article? Check out other similar articles with information on technology resources on our Property Management Tech Tools Reviews Page!

April 7, 2014 | 0 Comments More

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