The Dos and Don’ts of Property Management Software

Central to the business of brokerage, leasing and investing is property management. To maintain a smooth operation, it’s crucial to pick the right property management software.

As an owner of a property management company, in addition to my brokerage and development business, I can tell you the dos and don’ts of property management software options online today.

Do: TenantCloud

tenant cloud property management software

The software is free to use for up to 75 units and operates on the cloud. With just a few clicks, you can access details on the property, rental regulations and more. Not only that, but the software allows users to pay bills in minutes. TenantCloud makes it easy to record payment information into a concise report that can easily be stowed away for record keeping.

The small team at TenantCloud also offers a service to renters, looking for an efficient application process and easier route of communication to landlords.

Do: Buildium

buildium property management software

Dubbed the “property management software designed by property managers,” the software excels in usability. Buildium is also cloud based and is an optimal option for all types of computer users, making it easy to introduce the software to employees and others new to the portal.

In 2015, the software received recognition by Inc. 5000 for the fourth year in a row and has grown its user base to more than 12,000.

Don’t: Yardi Systems Inc.

yardi property management software

If you’re looking to save a buck, don’t look here. The price point begins at $10,000 to $15,000 just to implement the property management software and an added $15,000 to $25,000 to purchase it. I’ve reviewed the trials and while it comes in handy for residential and commercial management, the barrier to entry is just too steep.

The company has a staff of 5,000 with offices in 30 locations throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia and claims to have set the standard for real estate software solutions.

Do: AppFolio

appfolio property management software

I’ve been using this software for more than two years and, by far, it’s my favorite. The software is managed through the cloud and can be easily accessed on a mobile device. At any time, I can login and get a clear snapshot of the status of a property, including details on delinquencies, rent collection and more.

To say the least, it’s a time saver. It even helps out with the dreaded triple net reconciliations which need to be completed by the end of the year. Before purchasing the software, which costs $1 per unit, my staff and I spent months tallying up the costs. Now, with just the tap of a button, it’s done in a matter of seconds—forget the pen and paper.

I recommend testing out all of the software I’ve mentioned on the list. Talk to people, do your research, ask the right questions and see what works for you.

Commercial Real Estate News for Thursday, November 3

Spend some time this morning catching up on these five must-read articles for commercial real estate brokers and investors.

Real Liquidity Launches Program to Solve $5 Trillion Private Commercial Real Estate Liquidity Problem

Real Liquidity, a technology and commercial real estate firm, is attempting to solve real estate’s liquidity problem. The business wants to make it easier for partners to sell fractional ownership in their company by connecting buyers and sellers who would normally not find each other.

Chinese Property Marketing Firm Links with Dallas Real Estate Company

United Real Estate Group and Juwai Ltd have partnered to bring more Chinese investment money to Dallas and everywhere else the real estate firm has offices. “Texas is the fourth most-popular U.S. State for Chinese property buyers,” said Juwai spokesman Dave Platter.

10 Insights from the IMN Borrower and Investor Forum on Mezzanine Debt

Some insights into the state of the financial market including: “banks are beating on your door to give you money [if you put 15-20% equity in],” there’s a slight lull going on after a year of heavy investments, and debt-lenders are happy to invest in multi-family units.

Global Chain Restaurants Are the Future of Food: Megan McArdle

An argument against those who claim fast food chains are dying. Chain restaurants make good use of economies of scale and offer customers a consistent experience worldwide. The industry grew 1% last year, while their independent counterparts shrunk by 3%.

H-E-B Breaks Ground on Baytown Store

H-E-B Grocery Co. has begun work on a store in the Houston area. The store will be measure at least 80,000 sq. ft. and is expected to open around the end of 2017.


Trends in Retail that Center Owners Will Want to Know

With the continued evolution of eCommerce putting a dent in the bottom line of brick and mortar retail stores, from AAA national brands to local mom and pop shops, it’s tougher than ever for owners of retail centers, malls, villages, and the like to know what to include in their tenant portfolio to maximize effectiveness and ROI.

As a shopping center owner, you know that your property is very much a different beast than buildings in a downtown area or small local business strips. Yours is a space pre-built to drive demand due to factors like the interplay of tenants, available on-site parking, and overall convenience to retail customers.

As the shopping center has emerged and evolved as a cornerstone of retail commerce, complex patterns are emerging regarding types, naming conventions, societal preferences (in many places the “mall” is becoming a dinosaur), and even ecological impact—all of which influence consumer preferences and therefore the profitability of your tenants. Here are some of the top trends in retail happening this year:

What’s in a Name?

Marketing to recruit tenants, shoppers, and community support has lead to naming conventions that have in some ways become confusing or non-standardized. Identities such as “commons”, “market”, “village”, and even “mall” all mean different things to different interested parties. Considerations about where naming trends are going, or rebranding your space are both viable ways to keep your location competitive moving forward.   

Quora has a few brief articles if you’re looking for inspiration, here, here, and here.  

Pop-Up Retail

pop-up shop Trends in retail

One of the emerging trends in retail is the “pop-up” or flash retail phenomenon. This is the trend of opening short term sales spaces.

In the past, retail center owners were less likely to allow a pop-up operator into their space, preferring long term leases and stability. Convention was that a large anchor tenant was ideal, supported by long term smaller chains or local vendors.

Pop-up vendors were first seen in the early 90’s in major urban areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Pop-up stores allow for creativity and risk taking that consumers respond well to.

As defined by, a pop-up shop has a few features worth considering as a part of your tenant portfolio:

Term: Typically 1 day to 3 months

Location: High traffic areas (city centers, malls)

Price: Significantly lower than a traditional store, lease paid up front

Use: Sell products, allow a more diverse presence during holidays or events, supporting the launch new products, generate awareness (PR stunts and publicity), allow a retailer to move specialty or excess inventory, test a new idea or location, and for you (the center owner) increase the ‘cool’ factor of your property.

Pop-up shops are a great way to keep consumers interested in your space through novelty factor alone, and support your “anchor tenants” by drawing in new and diverse shoppers who may not have been exposed to the space previously.

And don’t think the Pop-up store is only a gimmick—Business Insider reports that Amazon is planning to open a slew of pop-up retail locations across the US in the next year.

Medical Facilities

massage Trends in retail

Modern life is, if anything, focused on convenience and maximizing time efficiency. Many medical outlets—physical therapists, massage, spa, general clinics, urgent care centers (for both people and pets), dentists, chiropractors, and alternative medical practitioners (Chinese, Ayurvedic, Reiki, etc) can now be found in retail centers, side by side with conventional stores.

As reported by, Americans are now spending more than ever on healthcare, want healthcare that is easily accessible and fast, and landlords are looking for creditworthy tenants to fill the space left vacant by failing traditional retailers. This focus on healthcare is pushing one of the current trends in retail. 

It is easy to imagine a couple on a shopping outing, stopping in for a massage or an acupuncture treatment, extending their stay in your shopping center and making it an overall more enjoyable experience.

It could even be argued that you, as the owner are now more responsible than ever for creating an engaging and multi-faced experience for consumers than ever before.

The sorts of medical-related occupants that are acceptable to consumers has changed significantly over the last 10 years, wellness, rehab, or medical locations now offer a slew of possibilities for you to consider.

Final Thoughts

As you and your property management team consider how best to manage your portfolio, be sure that you are thinking “outside the box” as new opportunities and consumer expectations abound. Your retail center can evolve from the traditional, long-lease-all-mercantile, to more of a service based, exciting, and consumer-centric location.

Follow these trends in retail for successful investments. Build space for the community to spend time, and they will.

Commercial Real Estate News for Wednesday, November 2

Good morning! We hope the weather is nicer where you are than where we are. Below you’ll find six articles on commercial real estate covering everything from specific city investment news to the impact of the presidential election on property types.

Black Lion Scoops up North Palm Beach Mixed-Use Center for $14M

Chesser Group, a California based real estate conglomerate, has sold their Crystal Tree property in Palm Beach to Black Lion Investment Group for $14 million. The space was attractive to the investors due to the high numbers of surrounding luxury condos but relative lack of retail property.

Done Deal: Warehouses, Apartments, Retail Sold for Almost $6 Million

A list of recent commercial real estate deals in the Memphis area. Useful information for any brokers or investors interested in Southwest Tennessee.

Influx of Foreign Dollars Continues to Power Commercial Real Estate

A good interview Greg Warsek, senior vice president and senior regional manager with the Chicago office of Associated Bank, where he discusses foreign investment money and its movement away from American coastlines and toward the center.

Commercial Real Estate Market On Strong Run

Andy Cates, president and CEO of brokerage services for Colliers International in Memphis, is optimistic about the city’s commercial real estate growth in 2017. Cates bases his enthusiasm on the heavy amount of construction in 2016 and the land capacity for even more projects as demand goes up.

“Problem” Loans Create a Drag on CMBS Refinancing

While the number of CMBS loan maturities has been shrinking, research groups have estimated around $103 billion worth of loans still need refinancing. Office and retail spaces are facing the most pressure from this development.

How U.S. Election May Impact Factories in Mexico

Border cities are seeing a slowdown in office and industrial space leasing as the possibility of a Trump presidency looms large.

Commercial Real Estate News for Tuesday, November 1

Enjoy these 5 articles and get a leg up on other brokers!

Avi Katz to Expand His $650 Million Real Estate Fund to New York

Hagshama Fund, a private investment firm, will begin operating from New York in 2017. The firm is looking for people willing to pool around $25,000 with other investors to own slices of real estate around the globe.

Holiday Inn Construction Underway in Tonawanda

Construction has begun on a three-story, 84-room Holiday Inn Express hotel in Tonawanda, NY. The $10 million project is located along I-290, as tourists head North toward Niagara Falls.

The Election’s Effect on the Economy? Doughnut Sales are Probably Safe

Many commercial businesses are factoring the presidential election into their quarterly performances, but experts say it’s likely impossible to tell how much the election has affected anyone’s field in the short term. The most prominent effects won’t show up until years down the line, when the winning candidate has implemented their policies.

Dairyland Property in Kenosha Lined Up for Sale, Manufacturing Redevelopment

Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, WI looks to have found a buyer in an unnamed national development group. The property has been on sale for over a year, after plans to build a sprawling casino/entertainment complex were rejected by the state.

Should You Sell Everything? Cycles, the Long-Term View and the Next Recession

A good overview of adopting long-term investing strategies and the state of the current market.

Commercial Real Estate News for Monday, October 31

Three articles to pay attention to on your Halloween afternoon.

Condo developer takes over Seattle’s long-stalled $400M Civic Square project

Bosa Development submitted a $22 million deal to take over development on Seattle’s Civic Square. The project has been in development for nine years and has suffered from a number of setbacks and slowdowns.

HOK: Coworking trend picking up steam in commercial real estate

Millennials are pushing commercial real estate spaces in new directions. Young employees prefer coworking environments, despite the style making up less than 1% of commercial real estate.

There are 5.6 million cheap apartments in America. Not for long

Investors extensively renovating old apartment units are driving up the cost of, what what previously, affordable housing. Unlike subsidized housing, there are fewer obstacles for developers renovating their outdated properties and driving the prices out of the range of low-income earners.

Commercial Real Estate News for Friday, October 28

Enjoy these 4 articles on the big happenings in commercial real estate, then enjoy your weekend!

NREI/Marcus & Millichap Investor Sentiment Finds Post-Peak Stability

The results of the most recent NREI / Marcus & Millichap Investor Sentiment Survey show a balanced view on the market. After peaking at 187 in 2014, the survey has leveled out at 162.

New Buildings, Upgrades Planned for South Sac Retail Center

It’s about time. Florin West, a 1960s era shopping center near South Sacremento, has submitted a proposal to upgrade. The plans for the surrounding land include a new multi-tenant building and a restaurant.

The List: Multi-tenant Office Buildings

South Florida Business Journal has released their list of the Top 5 Multi-tenant Office Buildings. The Southeast Financial Center ranked #1.

Westside Provisions Sells for Close to $130M to Jamestown, Clarion

The Westside Provisions District in Atlanta, which has seen extensive redevelopment into restaurants, lofts and offices, has sold for $130 million, according to inside sources. Jamestown L.P. and Clarion Partners LLC came together in a joint venture for the deal.

Commercial Real Estate News for Thursday, October 27

Start strong in the second-half of your Thursday with these three articles.

Cash-strapped Archdiocese sees high-rise towers for Cathedral campus

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia had a vision—and it involves hundreds of new buildings around its central cathedral. Many churches are suffering from financial woes and are looking to real estate to provide some relief from the dropping attendance rates.

Cushman & Wakefield shakes up US leadership

Cushman and Wakefield, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the world, has made a big swap in its upper-management. Global president Tod Lickerman will become Americas CEO, while Joe Stettinius will move to oversee brokerage and capital markets in the US.

Chicago developer puts big downtown Phoenix parcel up for sale

Speaking of Cushman and Wakefield, they’ve been tapped by a Chicago developer to sell a large parcel of land in downtown Phoenix.

Commercial Real Estate News for Wednesday, October 26

Catch up on commercial real estate’s most exciting stories today with these 4 articles.

Asian home goods emporium Pearl River Mart is making a comeback

The famous Pearl River Mart will not stay down. After being forced to close its SoHo doors last year due to rising rents, it is set to reopen at a new, smaller location in Tribeca.

Game-changers: 40 projects that are transforming metro Birmingham

There’s lots of investment opportunities in the city of Birmingham. This article collects 40 of the most exciting.

Construction update: Here’s what’s happening with this I-Drive hotel and a sales rumor

The Hyatt House under construction on International Drive in Orlanda is on track to open in June of 2017. There’s been gossip the property is for sale, but Scott Marchand of Whitestone Realty said the company plans on holding the property for at least five years.

Non-Traded REITs work to appeal to investors

 Banks and other financial firms are working to improve non-traded REITs image among investors by providing more reasonable fee structures.


Commercial Real Estate News for Tuesday, October 25

Get a global view on commercial real estate this afternoon with these three articles.

Does Modular Construction Work?

The article posits the question without ever answering it. Developer Full Stack Modular claims its buildings are cheaper to build thanks to ease of assembly, but the savings didn’t materialize in its most recent New York project, which suffered from a disagreement between parties. Future projects will be a better indicator of the construction style’s potential.

Global Troubles Likely to Prove a Boon for U.S. Real Estate Sector

The United States’ market stability will attract foreign investors who are looking for safe bets in the era of the Brexit and Chinese stock tumbles. American investors should take their cue and look for projects at-home before peeking overseas.

Miami Among Top U.S. Metros for Asian Real Estate Investment

Miami ranks #4 in the list of United State cities benefiting from Chinese investment – having received approximately $665 million this year.  Still Hunter III, executive VP with CBRE Capital Markets, said the city is popular for overseas investors due to “supply constraints, consistent population growth, an expanding and diversifying economy and growing international recognition as a true global gateway market.”