Property Managers Revitalize Business With Technology

November 11, 2020

Property management software is helping companies maintain business continuity, become more efficient, and incorporate tools that will stick around long after COVID-19. Despite the benefits, the software can create problems, such as having to deal with so many databases that you don’t have time to do your job.

Presenters expressed these views at the Single-Family Investment Management Committee meeting on Tuesday, part of the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. The meeting covered topics ranging from property management technology trends to the status of eviction moratoriums and the NAR 2021 legislative outlook. 

Property Managers Get Technology Support

Property managers are using technology to invigorate their marketing. Many are rebranding or setting up a business or corporate-level website and ensuring they are mobile responsive to help boost their SEO, said Dustin Dalee, a sales manager at Yardi Systems, a property management software vendor.

Also, many companies have moved their entire leasing workflow online, Dalee said. “That starts with communication and having a business-level platform to engage with text messaging versus texting from your cellphone,” he said. Being able to track emails and chats from a business website is a newer idea, he added.

Juggling multiple databases can drag down a property management business, said Chris Griesinger, director of implementation and training for London Computer Systems’ Rent Manager software system. “Business should be housed in a single solution,” he said. “Property managers don’t want to have seven different programs with different versions of the same program to handle their portfolio.”

What property managers do want is actionable data, Griesinger said. “They say, when I enter data, it needs to drive the next process. So if I’m putting in notes about a service issue, I want that service issue communication to be created, alerts to go out, and workflows to be tied together,” he said.

Directing Rental Assistance to Housing Providers

NAR is continuing to fight to make sure rental assistance goes to housing providers on behalf of their tenants, said Megan Booth, NAR’s director of federal housing, valuation, and commercial real estate policy. That’s what will sustain rental housing in the long run. Continuing eviction moratoriums isn’t sustainable, she said: “Renters will never be able to make up the money they owe, and they’ll be in worse shape when the eviction moratorium expires.”  

Committee Chair Deb Newell and Vice Chair Don Wilkerson participated in a meeting with White House officials about this issue and the need for rental assistance. The administration indicated it would be willing to reprogram existing funds, Booth said. “A lot of money was provided under the CARES Act that went into programs where it hasn’t been used,” she said.

A Look at 2021 Legislative Goals

As we move into the next Congress, the main priority for the White House and House Democrats will be the health care response to the pandemic, said Joe Harris, NAR’s director of federal legislative and political affairs. “Congress knows you cannot achieve a true recovery until the economy opens back up,” he said. “But people need to feel safe to go out into that economy and open it back up.”

Harris said that if tax reform happens next year, it will be tied to an economic recovery package. “There may be changes to the opportunity zone program,” he said. “The biggest change will be requiring more detailed reporting and more disclosure for developers—more accountability in the program.”

Fair housing will continue to be a priority for NAR, said Helen Devlin, NAR director of federal legislative and political affairs. Coming up early in the Biden administration will be a push to pass the Equality Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. “The Equality Act is something that Congress will work to pass,” she said. “We’re going to continue to work for funding on various programs, rental assistance programs, that are already in the appropriations pipeline. “

NAR supports the $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, Devlin said. One challenge in working with lawmakers is that the housing industry is doing so well. “We’re laying the groundwork because we know this can’t last forever,” she said.