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Using Advances in Tech to Safely, Effectively, and Virtually Manage Your Investment Property

In early 2020 a pandemic hit the globe and forced changes on just about every factor of our lives. It was a tough and interesting transition, but adaptations were necessary and had to be made both personally and professionally. For our company, and the property management industry in general, this meant adjusting the way we ran some day-to-day operations. Using advancements in technology to safely and effectively manage our client’s investment properties in this new environment became priority one. 

Luckily, we’ve made sure to stay on top of integrating certain tech and software into our workflow over the years, so this transition was quite seamless not only for our staff but for all of our investors and residents as well. 

We’ve pulled together a list of our essential tech, software, and systems that we currently have in place in order to provide safe and effective remote property management. Whether you’re a self-managing landlord looking for some suggestions, a real estate investor that likes to be kept in the loop, or an agent interested in sharing some resources with your own clients, this information is for you. 

PRE-QUALIFICATIONS, BACKGROUND SCREENING, and ONLINE APPLICATIONS


If you were ever once a renter you most likely would have gone through this kind of online process before. However, it’s an important one and therefore had to be included in the list. 

PRE-QUALIFICATION

For all of our vacant listed properties, any potential new renter must pre-qualify in order to view a property. During this process, we use the Tenant Turner showing boxes and prequalification software, as well as, automated intelligence in our 24/7 leasing phone line and website chatbot. These methods include a call center, automated text capabilities, and electronic lockboxes, among many other features. The software enables us to virtually and securely schedule tenant leads to view our vacant listed properties after they have pre-qualified. The potential renter must answer a handful of questions in order to pre-qualify related to: 

    • Lease preference type
    • Number of pets and type
    • Financial and legal history
    • Source of income
    • COVID-19 safety

 

BACKGROUND SCREENING and OFFICIAL APPLICATION

After a potential renter has viewed a property and decided to move forward with the application process, they must fill out our official online application via third party background screening service, Acutraq. Their proven system accurately reports on the credit, criminal, and eviction history of tenants with less than a 0.01% error rate. 

Payment for the application fee is made online via our secure online tenant portal and all screening verification is completed via phone and email with our licensed property management specialists. Our screening verification is a thorough process in which we verify all of the items mentioned in our pre-qualification process, as well as:

    • Vehicle info, personal references, emergency contacts

We’ll also ask questions such as:

    • Do you have a waterbed, aquarium, boat, motorhome, motorcycle? Does anyone smoke? Do you have a legal right to be in the US? Have you had any judgments made against you? And many more…

 

PAYMENT PROCESSING and ONLINE PORTALS


All payments made by residents are made via secure EFT (electronic funds transfer) and credit card. We provide all of our residents with a secure online dashboard which they access via our tenant portal to submit their application and deposit fees, as well as, rent payment every month.

Our investors also have a secure portal where they can make online payments via EFT and credit card, should the need arise to cover additional maintenance repairs, etc. All rent disbursements to our investors are directly deposited into their preferred bank account. 

Having these online portals not only allows our investors and residents to easily manage the financial side of our agreements, but it avoids the necessity of them having to write out a check, or get a money order or cashiers check, and then drop it off at our brick and mortar location. 

Additionally, it also provides an online system to submit maintenance requests, manage paperwork, and so much more. Our go-to property management software is Buildium, which we’ve been using since 2008. From accounting to business operations, leasing, community management, data security, and ease of use, they’ve really thought about all of the important features in running an efficient property management business. 

LOCKBOX INTEGRATION


Lockboxes have been crucial in safe business continuity in a number of ways. These have been used to aid locksmiths in solo lock changes and upgrades to code, to assist in resident move-ins and move-outs, and to allow self-showings on properties that have just gone on the market. 

Our company uses two different styles of lockboxes. The Vault Locks lockbox (pictured on the left) is preferred to use during move-ins and move-outs and is operated manually by turning the dials to unlock. The CodeBox lockbox (pictured on the right) is used for self-showings on all vacant listed properties, is battery operated, and is shackled to the front door of the house. This battery-operated lockbox allows us to create a unique code for each new potential renter. Each potential renter must also pre-qualify and upload a copy of their ID before they are sent a code to view the property.


Before and after every interaction with one of these lockboxes our trusted and approved maintenance vendors are diligent in the sanitization of the devices, as well as, the property that it secures. 

REMOTE MOVE-IN and MOVE-OUT


When a property has successfully been rented and contracts have been signed, a combination lockbox used for move-ins is installed and the lockbox which was being used for self-showings is removed. Then the process for a remote move-in is put into motion. 

On the morning of the resident’s move-in, an email is sent with a code to that combination lockbox, which would have been installed on the fence of the property (or where applicable) before the new residents move-in so that they can access the keys to the property without having to meet a property manager at our office. Left inside each property is a customized sealed envelope which includes additional property keys, cards, garage remotes, etc. 

Residents must also fill out a customized detailed report before move-in and post-move-out on the condition of the property. This allows us to keep track of any and all property damages and which party will be held financially responsible in remedying the situation if action is required. 

SPRING WALKTHROUGHS


Typically, every Spring we do walkthroughs of every single one of our properties in our portfolio so that way we can assure that it’s being taken care of and isn’t in need of unreported maintenance. Given the need for social distancing, we’re now sending out an email to all residents asking them to walk around their property to look for preventative maintenance items such as trees touching/hanging over the roof, rotted trim/siding, overgrown shrubbery, etc. Afterward, residents are then instructed to use their online tenant portal to submit any maintenance requests with photos to reference. 

Here’s a look at some of the example images we provide to our residents so that they know what to look for. 


TEAM REMOTE WORK and COMMUNICATIONS


As has been the ever-increasing trend in many industries, and now the new norm, currently all of the 1836 Property Management staff are working remotely from their homes.
Google Suite has been and is an invaluable asset to our organization in many ways. We use it to access all shared files online, edit them as needed in real-time, create business operations documentation, remain organized, and stay on top of communication efforts between staff and clients. 

Speaking of which, we’ve also now transitioned all “in-person” meetings with our investors and residents to remote meetings, utilizing services such as Google Hangouts and Zoom to connect with our clients on a more personal level. And as a team, we use Google Hangouts to connect with our co-workers on a daily basis and during our weekly team meetings. 

Lastly, we’ve also integrated a 24/7 interactive website chatbot and automated phone system with texting capabilities, which allows our team to communicate with our clients and potential residents any time of the day, any day of the week. 

THE TAKEAWAY


While there isn’t a clear timeline as to when our lives and businesses will return back to normal, it’s important to remain steadfast in our attempts to stay ahead of the curveballs and adapt to our new environments. For us, as a professional property management company, part of that process means integrating and utilizing the best tech, software, and systems to safely, effectively, and virtually manage our client’s investment properties. 

If you’re a real estate investor looking to partner with a professional property management company in Austin, Texas or you simply just have some questions, we’re here to help. Our staff is always just a phone call away. (512) 994-4323

Click here to view a list of features included with our full-service property management, or view our monthly management services and pricing page

Listen to a few words from 1836PM founder, Matt Leschber, on the topic:

 


By: Kayla Gonzales, 1836 Property Management Marketing Manager



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