Digital Must-Haves For Virtual Property Management in 2020

While real estate is a physical asset and there will always be a need for some onsite maintenance, many of the essential pieces of property management can be handled virtually from tenant showings and lease paperwork to rent collection. We live in a world where tenants expect a level of digital availability and as a property owner, you need to accommodate this in order to drive rents, increase retention, and stay competitive. Now, more than ever before, it’s essential that you have a system in place to virtually manage your properties. If you aren’t fully versed in ways you can turn your paper process into a virtual one, here are some tools and platforms you can use today to provide a secure rental experience.

Renting Occupied Units Virtually

Through tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and FaceTime (among others) owners can coordinate with their current tenants to enable prospective renters and their agents to see the apartment virtually. While it’s not the same as seeing it in person, it’s pretty close and a quick way to adapt to current social distancing guidelines. There are also great video tools out there to use to make your own virtual 360-degree tours. Now is the time to build a video library of units for the future (in the case of access issues with re-rentals in the future).

Digital Tools to Check Out:

Ocurus
Google Tours
Asteroom

Handling Rental Screening and Lease Paperwork Online

There are several services available for renters to apply and sign leases online without having to print and sign hard copies. Services such as DocuSign and Dotloop have become more commonplace in residential leasing and sales over the past several years. If you set up an online account, you can load and create your own templates for leases and application packets.

You will also want to set up an account with a credit screening service, such as CoreLogic, to screen the resident’s credit.

Digital Tools to Check Out:

Docusign
Dotloop
TransactionDESK

Collecting Rent In A Secure, Virtual Way

Given the coronavirus outbreak, you should not be encouraging renters to pay with a check, whether they send it themselves or their bank does. Through management software services such as Buildium, among others, a landlord can capture the rent via ACH from the tenant’s account into their account. You’ll see an immediate correlation between providing renters an easy, virtual way to pay and timely rent payments. As a property manager in 2020, having an online portal to collect rent and fees is essential.

Digital Tools to Check Out:

Buildium
AppFolio
RealPage

Resident Communications

resident communications for virtual property management

It’s more important than ever to communicate with residents. By using a property management portal or email marketing software, you can email all of your residents on a blind copy email to give them important updates on the building management. This is a great tool to communicate directly with residents and a key part of a successful virtual property management strategy.

Save time by emailing all your tenants at once and get insight into who is engaging with your communication. Successful virtual property management starts and ends with a strong and consistent communication plan. Often a comprehensive management software will also have tools built in to do this seamlessly as well.

Digital Tools to Check Out:

MailChimp
Constant Contact
GetResponse

Handling Maintenance

While many of the functions of property management can be handled virtually, maintenance requests will require you or your staff to be physically onsite. Ensuring you have the proper tools, facemasks, gloves, sanitizer, cleaning products, and an overall plan is essential. Having a maintenance and cleaning team prepared to address issues that arise while maintaining good social distancing is a key part of managing today, and for the foreseeable future. This requires planning for supplies, constant communication with maintenance and cleaning teams, as well as proactive tenant communication. You’ll especially want to communicate what is an emergency and what is not, if the tenants are home or out, and if anyone in the unit is feeling sick.

If there’s ever a question as to whether or not a situation requires you to be onsite, utilizing tools like Facetime, Google Hangouts, or HappyCo can give your maintenance team a virtual first look at the issue. Even though owners and property managers often like to see the property in person, it’s tough to do so as frequently, if at all, in the current climate. Using something like FaceTime, Zoom or Google Meet with maintenance staff can help get a set of experienced eyes on the property to see if there are items that need to be urgently addressed. Leaning on these digital tools will help you effectively and virtually manage your properties.

The Bottom Line of Virtual Property Management

As landlords, we have an important job: to provide the basic human need of housing. Implementing a digital-first process for your rental properties is essential, especially as we all adapt to the new landscape. While many of these services have fees associated with them, the benefits of significantly increasing your bandwidth and keeping your team and tenants safe and healthy far outweighs the cost. Adopting a virtual property management strategy and implementing some of the tools discussed here will not only make the process more safe for yourself, vendors and tenants, but will improve the tenant experience and lead to higher retention and ultimately less expenses.

Looking for help with virtual property management? Contact us to get started.

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