Searching for the best property management software for your needs can get overwhelming fast. There are numerous software options all with varying features and price points for property managers, it’s no wonder that searching for a great property management software can leave landlords and property managers scratching their heads. This comprehensive list dives into the pros and cons of the top property management software options available and will give you a great starting point to pick the best choice for your business.
Each of the solutions listed below has been thoroughly investigated by our research team and fact-checked by multiple independent third parties. The solutions we’ve included here do not pay to be included, and are providing no affiliate commission for being mentioned in this article (learn more).
Research by: Brentnie D | Fact Checked by: Josh Ungaro, Keren Dinkin, Joseph Copella, and Nicole Kincaid
|Best for Customer Service||Rentec Direct|
|Best for Commercial Properties||MRI Software|
|Best Free Option||TurboTenant|
|Best for In Person Networking||AppFolio|
|Best for HOA Management||Buildium|
Best for Customer Service: Rentec Direct
If you want to make your software experience as easy as possible, client care and customer service are key areas to think about. Rentec Direct offers a robust and comprehensive software solution while focusing on customer satisfaction which includes an entirely US-based customer service team, many of which have property management training and experience.
Rentec Direct has a focus on client education and success. Rentec Direct offers free onboarding, regular updates based on client feedback, free award-winning customer support regardless of your portfolio size, a robust knowledge-base system, and offers a weekly updated educational blog to answer any rental or real estate questions you may have. Rentec Direct’s educational blog is available to Rentec Direct clients as well as all other property managers or landlords who may or may not currently use the Rentec Direct system. You can find important industry information on their blog or pass along tenant tips and tricks.
How much does Rentec Direct cost?
Rentec Direct costs $1.00 per unit for property managers and $0.90 per unit for DIY landlords. Rentec Direct is up front with their pricing and it can easily be found on their website pricing page. Rentec Direct is one of the only full-featured solutions that have no contract required and no setup fees. Both Rentec Pro (landlords) and Rentec PM (property managers) include all needed features; however, Rentec PM adds upon Rentec Pro by adding in features specifically needed for property managers, such as trust accounting.
|Rentec PM for Property Managers||
$1.00 per unit
|Rentec Pro for Landlords||
$0.90 per unit
Note: Annual billing is not required, but a 10% discount is available for annual billing.
What do Rentec Direct customers say?
Rentec Direct is ranked 4.8 out of 5 stars by their customers. This is based upon 136 Google Reviews. Their reviews are overwhelmingly positive and reference that the software is user-friendly, easy to learn, has an excellent knowledge base, easy to use online payment options, and has powerful features for property managers. Customer support is referenced over and over within their reviews as being excellent which is one of the reasons Rentec Direct is ranked highest for customer service. Rentec Direct has no recent negative reviews from any customers.
Pros and Cons of Rentec Direct
Rentec Direct is a great option for landlords or managers starting out or existing managers with growing portfolios who don’t want to have to switch to a new software as their portfolio grows. Its robust features and award-winning customer service makes it an excellent choice for any property management up to 5,000 units.
Since Rentec Direct has no setup fees and no unit minimums, it makes a great option for both property managers and DIY landlords who are just starting out and want an inexpensive way to have all the necessary professional features at a reasonable rate. Rentec Direct also includes a 2-week free trial using either sample data or your own data so you can see if the system works well for you before you commit to paying for it. Because the trial can use your own data, any work you do during the free trial is not lost when you exit the trial.
Rentec Direct does not host large networking events and does not cater specifically to commercial management needs; if these events are a priority you may need to look at some of these other solutions.
Best for Commercial Property: MRI Software
If you manage over 5,000 units, or you manage commercial rental properties, your needs can be very different than a smaller average property manager. MRI Software is a software solution for customers who need to manage commercial properties and those with very large residential portfolios.
MRI Software offers a feature-rich software that supports residential and commercial properties but has additional features to meet needs like investment management reports and strategic planning and analysis.
How much does MRI Software cost?
MRI Software does not publish their pricing which means to obtain exact pricing for your company, you will need to contact their sales representatives to get a quote. It is reported by Capterra (a Gartner company) and other sources, that MRI Software pricing starts at $10,000.
What do MRI customers say?
MRI Software is ranked 4.7 out of 5 stars by their customers. This is based upon 29 Google Reviews. All but three of their reviews provide a star rating only with no detail, so there is not a lot of information to get from their reviews as to their customer experience. There is one reference to their knowledgeable staff indicating a positive customer support experience, and a mention from one of their employees that it is a fantastic place to work.
Pros and Cons of MRI Software:
MRI Software has all the features for robust commercial management and includes important extras that let teams delve into the ROI and potential scenarios of current and potential investments. The software’s extensive sales process and additional tools mean that property managers with a smaller or midrange portfolio would benefit from a more simplified and streamlined approach for their software solution.
MRI targets enterprise clients with 10,000+ properties and therefore does not list many specifics about their platform on their website, instead opting to handle feature delivery via their sales process.
Best for Low Budgets: TurboTenant
DIY landlords who are just starting out can get overwhelmed by all the software options on the market. TurboTenant is a free and basic software for DIY landlords who seek a free way to track basic items and are willing to offload some expenses to tenants.
TurboTenant’s software is not as feature-rich as other options on the market, but its à la carte pricing can save DIY landlords a little cash under the right circumstances.
TurboTenant keeps its software free to landlords by collecting rental application fees, but landlords will likely need to supplement with other accounting software or methods.
How much does TurboTenant cost?
TurboTenant bills itself as a free solution; however, the free level of their product is limited. Phone support, lease agreements, electronic signatures, and tenant applications are all charged extra. To support the free platform, costs are offloaded to the tenants with a $45 application fee and 3.49% credit card processing fee. The manager can optionally pay for the application fees themselves rather than passing it along to the tenant.
What do TurboTenant customers say?
TurboTenant is ranked 4.6 out of 5 stars by their customers. This is based on 250 Google Reviews. The bulk of reviews appear to come from small landlords managing one or two properties. Those landlords indicate a positive experience citing ease of use, vacancy listing options, and how it is easy to screen tenants. There are some complaints about no customer service and poor customer service.
Mixed within the reviews from landlords are a lot of complaints from tenants stating that they were charged excessively for their rental applications by the service.
Pros and Cons of TurboTenant
* Some services, which are typically included in paid platforms, within the pros list for TurboTenant have an added cost at the time of use.
TurboTenant is a reasonable option for landlords looking for a free DIY solution for tracking or accepting online payments. Unfortunately, free property management software requires an investment in other ways. Customer service for TurboTenant’s free software is limited to email and chat. To support the software, costs are largely deferred to your tenants and/or through higher à la carte pricing which can accrue significantly.
Landlords and investors who place a high value on their time or wish to add more than just a couple properties to their portfolio would likely benefit from choosing an alternative feature-rich software with a low monthly fee.
Best for Networking Opportunities: AppFolio
If you place a high importance on networking and meeting new people within your industry, a property management software company that prioritizes these opportunities could be useful. AppFolio offers “Connect Events” that consist of a complimentary lunch where they cover best practices while using the software and allow you to connect with other real estate professionals in your area.
AppFolio also chooses to invest in booths and opts to sponsor many real estate trade shows and events, so you are likely to find them at popular industry conferences. During COVID-19, AppFolio put a pause on many in-person events, and instead offered virtual events. You can find their Full Events Calendar to see if they will be offering an event near you.
How much does AppFolio cost?
AppFolio’s Core plan is designed for small to mid-size portfolios and includes the basic features needed for property management and costs $1.40 per unit with a minimum requirement of 50 units. AppFolio’s Plus plan adds support for workflow management, priority customer service, and enhanced reporting and has a per-unit price of $3.00 with a minimum requirement of 500 units. Both plans require an onboarding fee that is not disclosed and require an annual contract. AppFolio is up front with their basic plan pricing and has it available on their pricing page; however, they do not publish their setup fees or any other extra fees which could substantially elevate your total cost.
|Residential Core for Small Portfolios||
$1.40 per unit
Minimum: $280 per month
|Residential Plus for Med-Large Portfolios||
$3.00 per unit
Minimum: $1,500 per month
Note: Annual billing and annual contract are required. Setup fees listed are minimums, and go up with the size of your portfolio.
What do AppFolio customers say?
AppFolio is ranked 3.2 out of 5 stars by their customers. This is based upon 67 Google Reviews. The bulk of AppFolio’s recent reviews for the past three years reference a poor customer support experience, increasing product prices, and the software not performing as promised by AppFolio sales staff. Many reviewers indicate that AppFolio used to have better support years ago, but it has degraded in recent years. The bulk of the positive reviews are 4+ years old and many are from AppFolio employees.
Pros and Cons of AppFolio
AppFolio is easily the most prominent software when it comes to networking and events, but that can come with a hefty price tag. If networking is a must-have and you have a large portfolio, AppFolio might be an easy choice. However, if you simply want software that has robust features for your day-to-day management tasks, or you are a property manager or landlord with a growing portfolio, another option could serve you well without the hefty investment.
AppFolio does not offer a free trial so there is no way to demo their software without navigating through a sales process. AppFolio also requires an annual contract and that contract automatically renews annually. Other options like Rentec Direct and Buildium do not require an annual contract.
Best for HOA Management: Buildium
If HOA management is your goal, it is important to evaluate what you truly need to track to make your day-to-day management tasks efficient. Many software options can be used for HOA management, but if you are a large HOA and specifically need features such as violation tracking and board communications this could influence your choice.
Buildium offers many of the features that top property management software options like Rentec Direct and AppFolio offer, but also offers a number of unique features for community association management.
How much does Buildium cost?
Buildium is up front with their pricing and has it readily available on their pricing page. They have three separate plans, each with varying monthly per-unit costs.
The Essential plan has the lowest monthly per-unit pricing and lowest minimum; however, the add-on fees for electronic signatures ($5.00), incoming ACH transactions ($1.00), outgoing ACH ($0.50), and bank accounts ($99) can easily add up and make this one of the more expensive options. Additionally, Buildium’s Essential plan does not include phone support.
Buildium’s Growth and Premium plans are more inclusive and do include phone support and have fewer add-on fees; however, that comes at a higher per-unit cost. Their premium plan includes access to a rewards program which can provide a 15% discount on your subscription if you encourage 30% of your tenants to signup for insurance and 30% to pay rent using their credit card. Buildium offers the discount as they retain the revenues on both insurance and credit card fees.
$1.60 – $3.10 per unit
|Growth (Small-Medium Portfolios)||
$1.20 – $4.00 per unit
Setup: Based on Units
|Premium (Medium-Large Portfolios)||
$2.50 – $3.00 per unit
Setup: Based on Units
Note: A 10% discount is available for annual billing for Essential & Growth. Annual billing is required for the Premium plan.
What do Buildium customers say?
Buildium is ranked 3.5 out of 5 stars by their customers. This is based upon 26 Google Reviews. The bulk of the recent reviews for Buildium indicate that their customers are currently having problems with customer service, and that the software is cumbersome and expensive. Earlier reviews, 4+ years ago indicate a positive experience with the customer support, and the software being flexible to use on any device. Of note, Buildium was acquired by Realpage in 2019 which is around the time their customer reviews started to trend downward.
Pros and Cons of Buildium
Buildium can be a good choice for HOAs with high unit counts searching for a software solution with specific HOA and Community Association Management. Buildium’s features are similar to other top software options, so property managers who do not place a high value on the HOA features may be better off choosing a solution that performs better in customer service or cost. While a less-expensive option than AppFolio, Buildium’s monthly minimum, and required setup fees mean these features come with a price tag that those with small to mid-range portfolios need to carefully consider.
If budget is an issue, smaller HOA communities with 200 or less units can easily be accommodated in other property management software using custom fields and term customization.
Buildium does offer a free trial using sample data, which is helpful for getting a feel for the system. However, since they do not allow you to enter your own data within the trial, anything you do during the trial will be cleared and you will start fresh on their platform at the point you begin paying.
What is the best property management software for my needs?
The key to finding the best property management software is to assess your current needs and future growth. A good software should have the features you need now and long-term as you scale. The best property management software will also offer excellent customer care now and provide affordable or free customer service as your business expands.
Considering your portfolio size currently and your unit count as you scale is vital to ensure you make a choice that balances affordability with the ability to grow. You also need to consider any unique feature requirements that are a must-have for your business.
From a feature and pricing perspective, if you are just starting up and plan to grow your portfolio up to as many as 5,000 units we recommend looking at Rentec Direct, Buildium, or AppFolio. If you are well established today, or plan to grow into the tens of thousands of units, you might look into MRI Software or even Yardi (which is not reviewed here) for a solution.
Questions to ask when choosing a property management software:
- Do you plan to exceed 5,000 units in the near future?
- Is the bulk of your portfolio commercial properties?
- What type of support are you looking for?
- Is phone support from a US-based support team important to you?
If you plan to manage residential properties and stay under 5,000 units long-term, consider which of these is most important for your business’s success and growth:
- Does having direct access to award-winning customer service feel crucial to your success?
- Are HOA-specific features vital to your management needs?
- Do you place a high value on in-person or online events?
- Do you need one-on-one training and onboarding support?
- Will a lack of affordability impact your business’s ability to scale?
How can small landlords and property managers get the best property management software value?
Small landlords should keep in mind that changing property management software can be a frustrating process, so if you are a growing landlord, you may want to consider starting right away with an option that you are willing to keep long-term.
It can be tempting to opt for a free option simply because saving can feel like a win for your ROI, but your bottom line is impacted by your time and your future investment opportunities. Starting off with a feature-rich software solution that doesn’t require a minimum fee can give you the most bang for your buck long-term, and won’t require you to spend time pivoting down the road.
Property managers require specific features in order to complete daily tasks efficiently. An owner portal and mobile app are a must, and a software solution that allows you to complete important tax filing and assign tasks to other managers will be key as time goes on. Invest in the business you want to have, not the just unit count you currently manage.
How can landlords and property managers with larger portfolios get the best property management software value?
Landlords and property managers with medium to large unit counts often make the mistake of simply focusing on the features that a software solution offers. Realistically, the top players in the professional property management software space (see Rentec Direct, MRI, AppFolio, Buildium) have very similar features but offer a very different customer experience and price point.
It is also vital to pick a solution that works for your workflow. Although the top solutions contain similar feature sets, each operates slightly differently. Your workflow might work better with one software over another. This is another good reason to try out a free trial of any software you are interested in to make sure the workflow feels good to you and your staff.
Avoid this common mistake when searching for a software:
Since comparing software can get overwhelming, many landlords and managers opt for the most popular big-budget software. They assume that expensive software will definitely meet their needs as they scale.
Don’t fall into the trap because most solutions discussed on this page have nearly the same feature set. Just because software is priced on the higher end, it does not guarantee you all the features your business needs.
Investors often eye big-budget software as a means of getting their ROI. This, in turn, leads to elevated prices.
How to find the best property management software for your needs:
- Be on the hunt for software that offers reasonable pricing and will offer good customer service regardless of portfolio size.
- Meet with a sales representative to ask them what sets their software apart.
- Sign up for a free trial of the software to see how well it fits with your workflow.
- During the free trial, contact their customer service to get a feel for the support you will be receiving.
- Look for extra fees, signup fees, and unit minimums.
- Ask how often new features are introduced, and if clients can suggest software updates.
- Look at unbiased customer reviews on a 3rd party site. (Ie: Google Reviews etc.)
Do you need an app for your rental property management?
An app is not necessary for your rental property management needs as long as your software is designed to be mobile responsive. Each solution tested here has a mobile-responsive interface and therefore will work well on any mobile device.
A mobile responsive platform will use your device’s web browser application to connect to the software so you can use your program on the go. The software’s visual appearance will adjust to behave efficiently on the screen size you’re using, whether you are using your smartphone or a tablet with an internet connection. You can even create a mobile app shortcut to add to your home screen, so you can instantly open your software account.
What apps do you need for your rental property management?
You will want a separate app for your rental property management clients who do not have access to your full software. A tenant portal is a must-have for landlords, and an owner portal is a must-have for property managers.
A tenant portal app and an owner portal app can bring your property management to the modern era and can make life convenient for your tenants and owners. With mobile phones becoming the prominent way many access the internet throughout the day, an app for your tenants and owners just makes sense.
Tenant Portal Mobile App
Tenants will be able to report maintenance issues and take photos of the unit, receive important property notices, complete online rent payments, and have instant access to important information at their fingertips at any time of day or night.
Owner Portal Mobile App
Owners can track important property information on the go. This ensures that your tenants and owners feel like they’re getting 24/7 customer service, even when your lights go out for the day.
Can you use QuickBooks for property management?
QuickBooks is a software program for managing the bookkeeping for your business. QuickBooks has many great features but is not designed for landlords and property managers specifically.
Despite being the leading accounting software for small businesses, QuickBooks has limitations for rental management. Property management software includes all the vital accounting features that a rental business needs, but also includes crucial features that help with banking and financials, tenant screening, marketing and communication, insurance needs, and even leasing and inspections. A property management software solution will save you lots of time vs QuickBooks and also provide you with important tools for your owners and tenants that QuickBooks does not provide.
How is this review of property management software different?
There sure are a lot of websites on the internet talking about software reviews, and unfortunately, most of them are not at all impartial. Most of the review sites related to software are just an ordered list of software of who pay the most to be on top. These sites earn huge sums of money pretending to organize a list by the most popular when in fact the list is entirely based on who pays the website the most. By definition that is nothing more than selling ads and to us it feels wrong to frame it as anything other than paid listings. Other websites focus on earning commissions for referring business to a software product and refer the most business to the software that pays the most commission, which often is not the best software choice for the consumer.
The Rentec Direct blog has always been an ad-free platform and we continue that tradition here with this ad-free selection of the best property management software. None of the software recommended here pays be included, and we are not incentivized in any way for recommending the other solutions listed here. That means that this list is based upon actual facts and customer experiences, which is a far more accurate representation for our readers. While the article is researched and written by an affiliated Rentec Direct contributor, it is fact-checked by numerous independent and unaffiliated third parties before publishing to ensure the facts and comparisons are accurate.
Why do we evaluate with Google Reviews in this comparison?
We utilize Google Reviews to determine the sentiments of the product’s customer base for a few reasons:
- Google Reviews is the most widely used review platform globally
- Google Reviews are not incentivized
- Google Reviews allow you to click through to verify that a reviewer is a real person who also reviews other products and services that they use
Many other review services out there, especially in the software industry, use a model where the reviewer is incentivized to leave a good review for the product. We do not believe it’s in the best interest of consumers to rely on those services.