Table of contents
Millennials and later generations are known to avoid phone calls. They prefer to shop, book appointments and hotels, rent, and even buy property via the website and mobile application. So, the tried and trusted in-person approach is no longer in.
As a result, you have two choices: sticking to the practices you are used to and losing a big part of your target audience or adjusting to the new reality and thriving. If you choose to adjust, you need to invest in technology, custom property management software, in this case.
What is this and how to adopt it successfully? How much does it cost? Let’s discover together.
But let’s start with the definition – what is custom real estate software?
What is Custom Property Management System?
Property management automation software is used to automate business processes, such as communication of landlords and their tenants, hotel reservations, customer support in the property management, etc.
Why is it so important, you might ask? And the answer is simple – it is nearly impossible to track all the bookings and ensure proper customer support with no technology involved. As a result, the market for custom real estate software is developing at a high pace.
What are the main trends in the market of real estate investment and property management software? Let’s take a look together.
Trends & Stats in Property Management Software Development
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the usage of custom real estate software. To minimize human contact, real estate businesses had to adapt. And this adaptation demonstrates a range of trends you should keep in mind in 2022.
1. Virtual Apartment Tours
Virtual apartment tours appeared in 2020 when there was a pressing need to reduce human contact. Surprisingly enough, in 2021, they continue to grow in popularity. Yes, 41% of millennials are ready even to buy the property after a 3D virtual tour. To offer such tours, you should invest in custom property management software.
2. The Global Shift to Property Management Software Development
According to Buildium, 44% of property owners require more help from property managers than ever before. These professionals collect rent payments each month, schedule property maintenance, and so on. However, such an approach is accident-prone due to human factors. So, more and more landlords choose to manage all these aspects via custom property management software.
With the help of such platforms, you can not only manage payments and bookings but also get valuable insights on the money flows, payment frequency, and more.
3. Gen Z is Entering the Real Estate Market
Generation Z is slowly entering the property market. This fact is critical for real estate businesses to consider. And this is why: generation Z is currently one-third of the workforce and renter population. They are known as digital natives, so businesses should optimize their websites for a smooth user experience to win over this audience.
As a result, your business and marketing strategy should be different for Gen Z, as they rely on social media heavily when making life decisions. That leads us to the following trend.
4. Enhanced Marketing Strategies
Software for custom property management is leaning towards digitalization and targeting new generations. To keep up with the modern requirements, you need your existing website optimized for a smooth user experience, as well as for mobile access.
You should focus on new marketing trends. Implementing digital marketing techniques helps humanize your brand and establish long-standing relationships.
To satisfy the demand of new audiences – contact us and hire a strong team of developers and designers.
What can they help you with? A lot of things, actually. But let’s start with the types of software for custom property management outsourced developers and designers can create.
Types of Custom Property Management Software Development
The property development app types depend on the type of property itself. So, typically experts distinguish between residential, commercial, industrial, and special purpose real estate investment and property management software. Let’s view them in more detail.
Residential Property Management Automation Software
If you are the proud owner of apartment buildings and/or houses, you should consider this type of real estate investment and property management software. Such software allows you to manage your tenants, organize them into a single database, and receive different payments (e.g., PayPal, credit cards, etc.) Also, you will be able to track occupancy leases, schedule maintenance, and more.
Commercial Property Management Automation Software
If you want to work with finance, insurance, and retail businesses, you should consider commercial real estate management software development. The most successful shopping mall owners have already invested in property development apps. If you join them, you will be able to manage data from different renters, receive payments effortlessly, plan maintenance, and more.
Industrial Property Management Automation Software
Industrial property development apps are a must for manufacturing businesses in the first place. Such software is critical for businesses that have to deal with warehouses, supply chains, logistics, etc. Also, with the help of property management automation software, manufacturers will be able to calculate space, scheduled payments as well as maintenance, and track database updates.
Special Purpose Property Management Automation Software
This type of property management automation software is the best fit for smaller businesses. For instance, small hotels require such software to:
- Track rooms status,
- Check guests in/out,
- Create client database,
- Assign apartments,
- Manage bills.
Yes, the main benefit of real estate investment and property management software is the visibility into your operations and the ability to track different business processes. But let’s now take a look at some of the other benefits that a property management app has to offer.
Why Do You Need a Custom Property Management Software Development
Why is it so critical to go for real estate management software development? The Northell team has prepared some key reasons that are important for your customers and for your business.
For Your Customers
- Enhanced customer experience: with the automated approach, you will be able to deliver 24/7 support and provide up-to-date information;
- Financial transparency: your tenants will be able to see when and how much they are supposed to pay;
- Simplified communication with you: it is way easier for customers to contact you via the platform rather than communicating via email or phone;
- The ability to communicate with third-party services: shipping goods, repair services, etc.;
- The simple reporting system: all the bills are gathered in one place and can be easily accessed.
For Your Business
Out-of-box property development apps lack uniqueness, thus are not likely to engage a loyal customer base. So, it is a good idea to consider custom solutions. And here is why:
- Lowered human factor;
- The ability to grow your real estate portfolio x8;
- 25% of your transactions and technical maintenance will be automated;
- You will be able to decrease the number of bad reviews by 85%;
- With the help of custom property management software, you can save up to 60% time, as these tasks will be managed by the platform, not your team.
Property Management Software Development: Features in 2022
Custom property management software requires the selection of the necessary features for your platform. What features do you need to implement in the first place, and which ones are of lower priority. We have grouped the features into two sections: basic and advanced ones. Also, we distinguish between the functionality critical for tenants and for homeowners.
But before we start, let us remind you that responsive design is critical. 60% of users use custom property management software through their phones, so the design must be responsive. It is necessary to provide the user with the essential functions of the website: menu, search, content, functionality for placing an advertisement, etc.
Now, let’s view the features required in more detail.
Basic features for tenants
Search Feature for Custom Property Management Software
The search feature is critical, as the tenants should be able to look for an advertisement, a specific house, or an apartment in a particular city and area. If your custom property management software does not offer such functionality, they will most probably find the one that does.
Listings in Real Estate Management Software Development
Listings are probably one of the main features a custom real estate software should have. Moreover, listings should be easy to use, filterable (by city, price, etc.), and contain only the most important information.
With the help of property management automation software, you will be able to provide top-notch support to your customers. Yes, if you add FAQ sessions, video tutorials, and chatbots to the platform, you will save time dealing with each problem individually. Your customers, in turn, will benefit from the ability to contact you effortlessly.
Many young people live together to make the rent more affordable. However, many of them have separate budgets and bank accounts. So, it is important for such tenants to be able to split the payment and pay the rent separately.
Basic features for homeowners
Payment History Feature
You aim at providing as much convenience to your users as possible. So, payment tracking is the first feature you have to implement. It is a good idea to enable receiving rent payments directly to the bank account of a landlord. Also, when it comes to cost management, your platform should be able to bill late payments automatically. The expense tracking, online maintenance requests, and receipt storage online should be in one place – your custom property management system.
Quality Content of Property Development Apps
Strong, selling, and engaging content always positively impacts website performance. For property management automation software, the content should be helpful.
It is vital to prove that your property is top-notch and is worth renting. Visitors should understand who they deal with and what it can provide them if they decide to cooperate.
It is also critical to fill the site with good-quality photographs of the property. If there are low-quality images on your site, it is unlikely that your web application will gain trust among users.
Advanced features for tenants
Automatic Selection of The Best Landlord
Tenants should be able to choose the best landlord, relying on the ranking, reviews, and pictures of the property itself.
As we mentioned above, virtual tours are getting more and more popular. So, it is a good idea to provide such a feature on your platform. Thus, you will save your users time and money and make the renting process as efficient as possible.
The Ability to Involve Third-party Services
Property management comes hand in hand with maintenance challenges. So, you should consider integration with repairing services, shipping services, and so on.
The System of Personal Offers
Based on how active your customers use your platform, you can offer personal bonuses. Just add the information on the apartments renting which users can get bonuses, how to spend them, etc. You can also add personal recommendations: analyze the interest of your users and provide recommendations based on these insights.
Advanced features for homeowners
Automatic Selection of The Best Tenant
Homeowners should be able to evaluate the potential tenants’ profiles and choose the most suitable one for them. Thus, the process of renting and managing real estate becomes easier, faster, and, most importantly, more effective.
The calculator is a handy feature. For example, you can add a calculator to estimate the approximate cost of renting their homes. Thus, homeowners will know in advance what approximate amount of money they will receive after the deal.
Northell Experience at Property Management Software Development
Northell portfolio of property management automation software includes two main projects: Tenex.io and Fundock.
Tenex.io is a tenant experience platform that helps its users boost engagement, reduce the number of phone calls, and optimize operational costs.
Fundok is a guest-facing solution that gives users incredible dynamic content about the city and things to do, digital apartment guides, and a platform to order things such as in-room dining, groceries, book restaurants, and fun experiences around the city.
For both these clients, we worked on the discovery phase, which involved requirement collection. During this phase, all the relevant information is collected from the customer to develop a product as per their expectation and requirements.
After that, we continued to the architecture design stage. This stage of the software development life cycle involves designing the entire system and its elements, including the system’s architectural design and design of its components.
Using the documentation and architecture from previous steps, software developers write code for the components. The tasks are divided between the team members according to their area of specialization.
Front-end developers are responsible for the client-side of the application. Back-end developers are responsible for API and database development. DevOps team working on the CI/CD process. QA engineers work on testing all delivered code and write automated tests for developed components.
After that we started the development and regression testing from the QA team. The tested version of the software is delivered for beta testing. Our team collects feedback from the users, fixes bugs, and implements improvements.
Let’s view the main stages of these collaborations in more detail.
Property Management Software Development: Step-by-Step Guide
1. Choose a Reliable Contractor
How to tell that a vendor is reliable, you may ask? Here is the checklist of aspects you should consider before signing a contract with a certain provider of real estate management software development services.
- Check the vendors’ portfolio;
- Assess the customer reviews and testimonials;
- Pay attention to the industries they serve.
2. Describe Your Problems and What Needs To Be Improved
You need to describe your problems and visions clearly so that your team has a clear idea of what needs to be done. Without precise requirements, real estate management software development will turn into chaos.
Usually, the document with requirements comprises such aspects as project overview, your needs, and goals, the audience you want to target, your desired features set, recommendations, references, and prohibitions, etc.
Learn more about writing project requirements
3. Product Discovery
Once you specify your project requirements, you can continue to the product discovery stage. At this stage, Northell experts research the market, analyze your competitors and your target audience. Apart from that, within this stage, it is vital to identify business, users, and discovery goals, create user stories as well as customer journey maps.
Northell team has helped our clients Tenex.io and Fundox with product discovery. At this stage of these collaborations, our specialists were:
- setting business and user goals;
- interviewing stakeholders and users;
- researching the market;
- developing the strategy for monetization;
- creating personas.
4. Create UX/UI Design
The activities Northell has helped Tenex.io and Fundox can help you with at this stage are:
- sketching your ideas;
- developing prototypes;
- gathering user input;
- make design decisions.
Based on the concept of the application and its design, we prepared a roadmap to start the UX and UI design process. During this stage, we have created the information architecture and wireframes.
5. Development Process & Integration
After both UI and UX designs are ready, you can start the development process. It is critical to hire developers who can completely turn the design into a working product at this stage.
Northell team sticks to the world standard of software development. Skilled architects gather requirements and develop the platform architecture based on the requirements. Front-end developers work on the client side of the application. Back-end developers develop APIs and databases. DevOps professionals streamline the CI/CD process. QA engineers test all delivered code and prepare automated tests for developed components.
Learn how to hire a Dedicated Software Development Team
Also, at this stage, you can implement all the features that you find useful for your custom property management software.
6. QA and Launch
Proper testing is critical when it comes to the development of real estate investment and property management software.
Northell is among 1% of companies that use UX Eye Tracker methods to perform user testing. This approach is used to explore user behavior when interacting with the product. An eye tracker captures the movement of a person’s gaze. It is needed to track and record where and for how long the user was looking.
This eye-tracking tool provides Northell experts with a deeper understanding of behavioral patterns. Apart from UX Eye Tracking, our specialists conducted in-depth interviews of focus groups, performed assessment research, and worked on usability reports.
Make sure that the backend and frontend parts from the previous stage meet all your requirements. When everything is ready, you can launch your redesigned product.
Property Management Software Development: Tips From Northell Team
- Start gradually: don’t try to integrate all your business processes to the platform at once. Take your time;
- Involve the stakeholders: gather feedback constantly to make sure that the product looks and performs well;
- Create only the necessary features: constantly collect feedback from your target audience;
- Find the right interviewing approach: the methodology ten pains and ten ideals works well when interviewing your audience. You analyze the input and implement the needed features.
Property Management Software Development: Сost and Timeline?
The price of real estate management software development significantly varies depending on the size of your company, business location, the required functionality, the duration of your project, and the cooperation model you choose. So the final price depends on your specific business case.
Nevertheless, we have compiled a table of approximate prices for different development stages in different regions.
You should also consider how long the development of software for custom property management takes. We calculated how much time each stage of development of custom real estate software will consume for different sizes of businesses:
With this information, you can estimate the approximate development cost and timeline of your project. However, if you need more accurate calculations, contact us.
Property Management Software Development: Summary
How to develop real estate investment and property management software successfully?
The development of custom real estate software is a rather challenging yet exciting process. If you stick to the tips and best practices mentioned in this article, you have a high chance of succeeding.
Ready to innovate – feel free to contact us. We will assist you on both the development and design path.
Where is the best place to find a contractor?
For instance, Asia has the lowest rates, yet the lower quality of services, as the region legs behind in terms of digitalization.
Eastern Europe, at the same time, offers the optimal price-quality ratio.
Among the countries of the region, Ukraine, Poland, and Romania have the three most significant tech talent pools, so they are the primary countries to consider.
How to check the contractor?
There are many factors that are critical, but we will focus on the most important ones.
For instance, you have to assess the portfolio of your partner-to-be.
The vendor should have experience providing services in your domain. Also, pay attention to the customer reviews and testimonials.
This information should be available on the vendors’ websites or directories, such as Clutch.co or Manifest.
Which model of cooperation with the contractor to choose?
All these models suit different business cases, so the best one is really up to your individual case.
However, according to Northell experience, the dedicated development team is proven to work best for the vast majority of businesses.
Within this model, you hire a team that is fully immersed in your project, which leads to the best outcomes.
Which technology stack to choose?
For instance, if you need embedded or IoT system development, you need skilled C# or C++ developers, if you need API development - hire Node.js or Reacr.js developers.
However, no matter what technology stack you use, you need a vendor that can implement DevOps best practices, the one that has experience with cloud computing, has vast expertise in UI/IX, as well as testing solutions.