Vadim
Struk
Product Manager at Relevant Software

The Full Guide to Real Estate Management Software Development (+ Case Study)

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced nearly all industry sectors to up their digitalization strategy, and real estate was no exception. 

Real estate companies of all sizes were challenged with optimizing their workflows, reducing expenses, and shortening their lead conversion cycles to maximize profitability. Technology adoption provided one solution, which is why the market for property management systems (PMSs) and real estate management software is growing. 

In a recent Deloitte survey of commercial real estate leaders, 40% of respondents said their company has a digital transformation plan in place. If you’re not one of them, it’s probably time to consider making the leap.

As an experienced technology provider, Relevant is no stranger to custom real estate software development. We develop property management-related tools that deliver all the functionality modern businesses need to keep their competitive edge.

Read on to learn why you should develop a property management system for real estate in 2021, what challenges you could face, and how to overcome them without breaking the bank.

The real estate management software market: Where do we stand now?

The real estate industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors in the coronavirus outbreak. The overall level of impact was influenced by geographical location, the class of property, and government measures introduced to offset the damage. 

For instance, COVID-19 signaled the end of the office as we know it. Most businesses are rapidly adapting to the “new normal” of remote and hybrid work and have adjusted their requirements for commercial space to suit. Industrial complexes and shopping malls also stood deserted during quarantine and now face their own challenges. 

Deloitte’s 2021 report shows that most aspects of commercial real estate fundamentals and operations (liquidity, leasing volume, capitalization rates, investments, and operations) were negatively impacted by the crisis in 2020. 

Meanwhile, demand for rental and housing property rose sharply across the globe following the transition to remote work and related factors. 

In short, while the need to digitize real estate management operations was obvious even before the pandemic, it became crucial in 2020. 

Most companies had to reduce their expenses in order to stay afloat amidst the crisis, so they were forced to meet their customers’ needs in a more cost-efficient way.Here’s where proptech software development comes on the scene. 

So, it’s no wonder that the global real estate management software market is on the rise—and projected to account for nearly $630 million by 2027

Global property software market

What does this mean, and what are real estate companies doing in practice? To answer that, let’s take a look at the most common types of real estate management solutions on the market today.

Types of real estate management software

Property management is a broad sector, which means no proptech software can fit every use case. Here are the most common types of property management systems:

  • Condo management software. These tools are most suitable for managing condominiums and HOA properties. They provide in-depth reporting and analytics tools to all HOA members, along with features for project planning, resident communications, and vendor management.
  • Tenant management software (also known as apartment management software). This type of software is used for managing houses, multi-unit buildings, and individual apartments. It helps property managers deal with routine tasks such as gathering and storing tenant information, collecting rent, and tracking occupancies.
  • Hotel and hostel management tools. These tools help hotels and hostels with guest management, billing, and personnel scheduling.
  • Industrial property management platforms. These platforms incorporate ERP and other functions for managing industrial property in the most cost-efficient way.
  • Office management software. These systems make it easier to manage office buildings and retail property. Alongside basic features, they offer personnel management and scheduling. 
types of real estate management software

Once you’ve chosen the type of software solution for property management that best meets your needs, it’s time to decide between a ready-made platform and a custom property management app. 

There are a host of off-the-shelf cloud-based property management software solutions: some examples are HubSpot, Zillow Premier Agent, Apptivo, Wise Agent, Contactually, Appfolio, Buildium, and ManageCasa. Solutions like these are a good choice if you’re a smaller company looking to try out real estate software.

However, even the best online landlord software has limited customization, so if you want a solution tailored for your business, custom property management software development is the way to go. 

Let’s run you through the advantages you get with this approach.

The benefits of custom property management software development

Ready-made tools aren’t always the best answer to your needs. For starters, advanced platforms like AppFolio or Buildium don’t come cheap, while simpler tools may lack certain features or be unable to integrate with the tools you’re already using.

Developing a custom property management system for real estate has multiple benefits. Here are some of the biggest ones:

  • It’s affordable. Yes, you’ll pay for development, but once the software is built, you can use it to run as many facilities as you want. This significantly cuts your running expenses, as you’re no longer paying monthly subscription costs.
  • It fits like a glove. When you build custom software, it fits the needs of your organization perfectly and works seamlessly with all the other tools in your workflow.
  • It evolves with your needs. When buying an off-the-shelf product, you’re stuck with the features it provides—even if you never use most of them. With a custom product, you control how it evolves, so it always does what you want.
  • It includes currencies and localizations that fit you. Turnkey solutions might not support the currencies or localizations you need, while custom real estate management platforms are built with these things in mind.
  • It’s future-proof. Many off-the-shelf PMSs have been around for some time. Unfortunately, this often means they are built using outdated technology, which makes it harder to integrate them with newer tools. A custom PMS, in contrast, will be built using the most relevant technology and provide seamless integration.
5 Key Benefits of Custom Property Management Software Development

Let’s assume you’re now convinced that you need to build custom real estate software. It’s time to consider what the development process looks like and the challenges you could face.

How to build a property management solution

When you decide to develop a property management platform, you should clearly understand the way ahead. Here’s a roadmap to follow when building your real estate software and a list of things to keep in mind while you’re doing it.

Real estate management software development step by step

The requirements for real estate software are actually no different from the requirements of any other management software: data must be stored in a database, users must be able to perform various tasks via a dashboard, the platform must ensure secure billing and provide in-depth analytics, and so on. 

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As a result, the key development phases are the same as for any enterprise-grade software:

  • Discovery phase. This is where you discuss your project requirements with the business analyst and product owner. A project manager and team leaders can join the process if needed. This stage results in a preliminary scope of work and an initial project roadmap.
  • Wireframing/prototyping. At this stage, you get clickable prototypes of all the screens in your future software to test out user stories and finalize your ideas.
  • UI/UX design. This is where you see the final design and can test the usability of the features you’ve requested. Based on your feedback, the team finalizes the tech stack selection, and you can determine your total project estimates.
  • Development. During this stage, your development team delivers your mobile and/or web app and implements the frontend and backend functionality you require.
  • Release and ongoing support. This is where the product is tested and released. You may also sign a long-term support contract for ongoing platform updates and maintenance.

As a result of this process, you get property management software uniquely suited for your needs and business goals. However, this is possible only if your development team delivers on its promises. If this doesn’t happen, you can end up with a mess of buggy code along with wasted time and opportunities. 

Challenges and concerns when building real estate software

Building a platform nobody will use is obviously not the best investment of time and money. As a result, you need to focus on the biggest concerns from the very start of the property management software development process:

  • UI/UX efficiency. Any user should be able to perform any task without too much hassle. Plan for a combination of texts and images to create a consistent and intuitive user journey.
  • Compatibility. Your PMS must be able to seamlessly import and export data via API integrations. Plan for compatibility with other tools you use from the start.
  • Cybersecurity. Billing automation is an important part of most property management apps, which means users will enter sensitive banking details. Make sure that this data—as well as passwords and other personal information—will be securely encrypted, hashed, and stored.
  • Support. Software crashes can happen for any number of reasons. It’s vital to have a retainer contract with your property management web developers, who should be able to solve any tech issues and explain any complexities to your end-users.
  • A future-proof technology stack. Your property management software will need to work and remain competitive in the years ahead. This means that when you decide to hire a software development team to deliver a property management system for real estate, they shouldn’t use a technology stack just because it’s time-tested or adopt the latest shiny tech which could be abandoned in a year or two. Instead, your stack should be current, stable, and unlikely to be replaced or discontinued in the near future. 
Things You Should Pay Attention to When Building Real Estate Software

The best way to meet these challenges effectively is to hire skilled professionals who can deal with them. 

Why outsource property management software development?

In general, there are two ways to access the expertise needed to develop real estate software: by building an in-house team or by outsourcing. 

Outsourcing offers standard benefits such as cost reduction and zero recruitment expenses, but there are several more positive outcomes you may not have considered:

  • Relevant expertise. Unless your company specializes in property management software development, you’ll be in unknown territory and be unprepared for serious challenges. Gaining access to developers with relevant expertise can save you a ton of time and nerves—not to mention the cost of fixing expensive mistakes.
  • Experience in developing similar solutions. This is another advantage of expertise—a team that’s successfully developed a PMS in the past is more likely to have ready solutions and modules at their fingertips, which can significantly reduce your overall development time and budget.
  • A result-oriented team. An outsourcing partner is contractually bound by your service level agreement (SLA) to deliver results. In contrast, an in-house team has less pressure to deliver on time, which can lead to missed deadlines that you’re powerless to cope with.
 4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Property Management Software Development

In summary, outsourcing the real estate software development process to skilled professionals is a good way to get a highly performant and robust platform with all the features you need. 

This brings us to the next question: what should those features be?

Common property management software features

Property management tools come with a wide range of functionality, but obviously, some features are core. Here’s a list of the essential features of real estate management software.

  • Lease management. This helps you deal with rental property and manage all your tenant-related processes.
  • Inventory management. This is essential for industrial and commercial property applications. It reduces equipment downtime and improves operational performance.
  • Data analytics. This allows you to view crucial facility reports and data in an easy-to-understand format.
  • Payments and accounting. These cover all payment-related operations, from rent collection to tracking utility bills and maintenance expenses.
  • Landlord/tenant portals. These are useful for tasks such as handling tenant requests and maintenance tickets and timely communication.
  • Administrative tools. These include communication channels, calendars, listing management, and tools for other administrative tasks.
  • Integration with various rental and listing platforms. This helps you centralize your property listings and publish them seamlessly across different platforms. 
  • Housekeeping module. This feature helps schedule and oversee housekeeping tasks and personnel performance.
  • Booking module. This helps applicants select and book rental spaces and allows landlords to pre-screen and approve booking applications.
9 Common Property Management Software Features

This list is not exhaustive and will be significantly expanded by a team that knows the details of PMS development. 

How can you know which of the real estate software development companies you contact will be able to implement the features you need? The answer is simple—look at their portfolio. Make sure that when you outsource, the team’s previous expertise is relevant to your needs.

Bidly: How we enhanced an online rental platform for the Dutch company

Relevant is a Ukrainian outsourcing technology provider with expertise in several domains, including real estate. Bidly is one example of a successful project we completed in the sector for a client from the Netherlands.

About the project

Bidly is a web app that helps landlords and tenants to interact, apply for rentals, pay rent, and manage rental income. The client asked us to refresh Bidly’s overall design, upgrade the existing platform architecture, and create a reliable CI/CD pipeline to ensure stable deployment and updates of the platform.

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Implemented features

We developed the following functionality:

  • Property management. Property owners can easily access essential information (e.g., tenant contact details and documents).
  • Tenancy applications. Users can apply for tenancy via an online form.
  • A simple payment setup. Homeowners can easily set rent start/end days, recurring payments, deposits, and so on.

Technologies and challenges

We used the following stack to implement the client’s brief: Angular, Node.js, GraphQL, Docker.

The core challenge was the existing ill-configured platform and Docker setup. We had to restructure the product and create a reliable CI/CD pipeline for its deployment and releasing new features. We also had to update the platform design and refactor the Angular frontend code to ensure stable backend interactions. 

All of these challenges were addressed successfully. The customer hired Relevant for full-scale development of another product, and Bidly is steadily growing.

Summary

Whether you’re a property management company or a real estate software development provider, you need access to skilled professionals to ensure reliable software delivery. At Relevant, we know what it takes to enhance an existing PMS or develop a new property management app from scratch.

Whether you’re still at the PMS platform planning stage or need to hire remote developers to complete your current project, we’re ready to step in and provide all the necessary support.
Get in touch today to explore what value real estate management software development could drive to your business. We’re always ready to assist!

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Written by
Vadim Struk
Product Manager at Relevant Software
For more than 6 years, I've been working as Business Analyst and Product Manager at Relevant. I'm responsible for requirements engineering and management and solution implementation control.

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