How Landlords Can Use Technology for Better Rental Property Management

October 11, 2021

Now, more than ever, remote access and remote management are taking over in the workplace, in healthcare, and in rental management.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic moved life into the technology fast lane, real estate professionals had been taking advantage of the ways that technology can make property investment faster and more convenient. Landlords who use technological innovation can help to create a seamless process for renters, which makes renters more likely to sign the lease and stick around. It also gives property owners new tools for managing real estate assets effectively from far away. Use these five tips to put tech tools to work for you and your rental property.

1. Virtual tours save landlords time and money

Virtual tours, also known as 3D tours or 3D walkthroughs, have been a growing trend in real estate for years, but the COVID pandemic greatly accelerated the number and acceptance of virtual showings. Being able to show the physical details and layout of an available rental home in an online virtual walkthrough saves landlords time that would otherwise be spent taking multiple prospective renters through the home. When landlords interact with only truly interested renters, everyone saves time. And when it comes to real estate investment, time is money.

It’s possible to create a virtual tour yourself for free. The process for making a virtual tour on most real estate platforms is relatively simple and is often part of the listing service. On the Zillow 3D Home App, for instance, you can create a free 3D tour of a 1,500-square-foot home in about 30 minutes using an iPhone (even less time if using a 3D camera).

Another DIY option is to sign up for 360 virtual tour software, either through a monthly subscription (starting around $10 a month) or one-time purchase (from about $160 and up). You can also contract with a real estate video company to create the walkthrough for you. Depending on where you live, the size of the property, and the extras you want with a professionally shot virtual tour, it could cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand.

  • COST: Free if you DIY, $200 and up for professionally made videos.
  • SAVINGS: Many hours in dead-end showings.

2. Digital lockboxes or smart locks allow easy access to rental homes and provide security

The days of having to shoot back and forth to rental properties to open doors for those showing the rental property or needing access to fix a problem are over. It’s easy and relatively cheap to install digital lockboxes or smart locks. With digital lockboxes, a code is given to a secure box at the front door that opens to reveal a key, or that reads a signal from a Bluetooth or WiFi device. With smart locks, a code is programmed to allow access to the home. The real estate industry has been taking advantage of this technology to easily access homes for some time, and there are both real estate grade options and consumer lockboxes from which to choose. Hiring a drive-by security team or enabling a remote security system can further protect your property when there’s no tenants.

  • COST: Lockboxes — Prices vary widely, from about $20 for the simplest designs to more than $100 for Bluetooth compatible versions. Digital locks — Prices vary widely, from about $40 for basic ones to $300 or more for digital locks with extras like fingerprint recognition.
  • SAVINGS: Time spent waiting to let realtors, repair people, and others access the home.

3. Handyman services booked with a click

Whether you have one rental property or 100, things break and tenants tend to want them fixed ASAP. Technology driven websites like Thumbtack and local community networking groups such as NextDoor can help landlords quickly get a handyperson, plumber, or electrician to do repairs, and they are especially useful when landlords live far from their rental units. You can even find property managers on Thumbtack. According to data from Sundae on its investor portal, 40% of bids on properties come from investors who live outside of the market. As more and more real estate investors look to buy outside of their geographical area, online portals for home repairs will become even more valuable.

  • COST: Searching is free for landlords and others looking to book services. The only cost comes when you hire and pay a professional to complete a task.
  • SAVINGS: Time spent chasing down leads for a plumber, electrician, or other rental home-related services.

4. Online applications and rental management via mobile apps

Are you still having prospective renters fill out paper applications? Stop. It’s easier than ever to have renters complete the entire rental process online. Everything from filling out an application to paying deposits and signing leases to submitting monthly rent can be done using online portals and mobile apps such as ClickPay, Wave, and PayYourRent. In fact, some mobile apps even allow tenants to place maintenance requests right from their phone. There are a lot of helpful apps for landlords available. Some, like the Turbo Tenant rental application, are free to landlords. Others, like Zillow Rental Manager and similar landlord management sites put everything from listings to applications to collecting rent in one place. These sites may charge fees for some but not all of the services they provide.

Other websites that can help long-distance landlords include Rentometer, which you can use to check area comps and see if you’re charging the right rent, and AppFolio and other property management software that helps track the business side of your real estate investment business. Companies, such as Nationwide Compliant, enforce lease compliance and evictions nationwide.

  • COST: Free to reasonable monthly or yearly fees, depending on level of service required.
  • SAVINGS: Ease for renters, streamlined experience for landlords and time savings for both groups.

5. Use technology and apps to find properties as a landlord, distanced or local

Today’s real estate technology works in favor of the out-of-state buyer and owner. Connecting with vetted properties has never been easier. Find real estate on investor marketplaces such as at Sundae.com, where you can search and connect with underwritten off-market properties that are ready for offers. Sundae’s dedicated Investors Advisors are there to help you every step of the way and take pride in their transparency around properties and the Sundae offer process. Email your dedicated Investor Advisor today to place bids. Want to get onboarded? Email [email protected] or visit sundae.com/investor to begin the process. Expanding your real estate investment range means you have access to the right deals for you. This can help grow and diversify your business — and buffer your bottom line.

  • COST: Sundae’s investor marketplace is free to join.
  • SAVINGS: Hours of time spent researching, driving around to properties, and attempting to contact owners. Thousands of dollars that you don’t need to sink into marketing campaigns, cold calls, and mail that don’t work.

Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any firm or corporation, is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by Sundae.

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Erin B

Erin Behan is a writer and editor covering real estate investor strategy for Sundae. She's lived in L.A., New York, and Atlanta and currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where she writes and edits for a number of outlets, including WebMD, Farmers Insurance, and Vox Creative. She spends her free time hiking with her two boys, snuggling with her cat, and enjoying the best of the Pacific Northwest.