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As new technology and real estate investment tools hit the market, they offer a competitive advantage to investors who adopt them early.
These tend to fall under two umbrellas: tools to score great deals on properties, and software for real estate investors to manage them. Keep the following real estate investment tools in mind as you hone your competitive edge.
Real Estate Investment Tools: Finding and Evaluating Deals
While most of the resources below cost money, make sure you also take advantage of free tools. On REtipster alone, we offer a dozen free calculators, including a mortgage calculator, ROI calculator, Airbnb calculator, and many more.
My favorite tool for scoring deals on off-market properties is Propstream.
In any given US market, you can pull up distressed property leads. That includes pre-foreclosure properties, post-foreclosure REO (bank-owned) properties, owners getting a divorce, and properties in a tax sale. You can view these by map and list.
To evaluate these distressed properties, Propstream provides market analysis, comps, and neighborhood data and trends. You can then contact the owners easily with the platform’s built-in owner records, with an optional feature to send postcards, text messages, or ringless voicemails directly through the software. If the owners have disappeared, Propstream offers a skip tracing service to find and reach them.
Propstream also has an intuitive mobile app for when you’re on the go.
To learn more, check out this interview with Braden about using Propstream in his wholesaling business.
- Pricing Starts at: $99/month
- Best For: Off-market deal hunters who prefer digital research
DealMachine is a mobile app that you use to snap a photo of any property. It combines your GPS data with your photo to pull up the property’s records, including transaction history, tax assessment, and owner information. When possible, they also pull up other contact information for the owner, such as their email address.
You can then click a button to send your customized postcard to that owner, automating everything except the physical driving. Which many investors like to do in person anyway, to see properties and neighborhoods with their own eyes.
For more details, read our full DealMachine review here.
- Pricing Starts at: $49/month
- Best For: Off-market deal hunters who like driving for dollars
Investors can search and screen turnkey properties all over the US, seeking high cap rates or stable neighborhoods or just about any other variable they like. Roofstock provides outstanding neighborhood data and trends, along with detailed public records.
In particular, Roofstock excels at transparency and establishing trust for long-distance buyers. Listings include home inspections, title reports, abundant photos, and other information designed to help out-of-state investors feel comfortable investing sight-unseen. And sure enough, nearly two-thirds (63%) of transactions on Roofstock take place among buyers who live more than 1,000 miles from the property.
Roofstock also includes two outstanding guarantees to make you feel even more secure. First, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you aren’t happy with a property you purchased, you can relist it for free, and they guarantee you’ll sell it for at least what you paid.
Second, they guarantee that you’ll rent vacant turnkey properties within 45 days of buying. If you don’t, they pay you rent until you do.
Read our full Roofstock review here.
- Pricing: Roofstock charges buyers a fee of 0.5% of the purchase price or $500, whichever is greater. They charge sellers 3% of the sale price or $2,500, whichever is greater.
- Best For: Long-distance turnkey rental investors
Mashvisor excels at market analysis, at both the city and neighborhood levels.
Investors can identify at-a-glance cities and neighborhoods with the best cap rates and gross rent multipliers, to narrow their search. They can then search properties for sale — including pre-foreclosures, REOs, and short sale properties — within those neighborhoods by criteria relevant to investors, such as cap rates and cash-on-cash return.
One particularly strong feature is Mashvisor’s comparison tools for long-term rental cap rates versus Airbnb cap rates. They include this in their detailed property analysis tools, complete with comps.
You can even view and search markets by Airbnb cap rate, including a nifty heat map feature.
For more detail, see our full Mashvisor review.
- Pricing Starts at: $17.99/month
- Best For: Short-term rental investors
While BiggerPockets tries to be everything to every real estate investor, it excels particularly well as a social network for real estate investors.
You can connect with other investors, either locally, nationally, or internationally. Whether you’re looking for a partner, a private lender, wholesalers, property managers, real estate agents, contractors, home inspectors, or any other support personnel, you can find them either directly or by asking for referrals.
BiggerPockets also has a property marketplace to find deals directly from sellers.
You can also find an overwhelming amount of free educational material there. From thousands of articles to hundreds of webinars, you can find information on any real estate-related topic. But that depth of content means the articles range in quality from excellent to not-so-impressive.
Full disclosure: I myself am a regular contributor to BiggerPockets. Only of the highest quality, of course!
- Pricing: While BiggerPockets does offer a Pro level (starting at $32.50/month), you can access most networking and marketplace features for free.
- Best For: Any real estate investor looking to network
Rental Management Software for Real Estate Investors
Finding properties isn’t the only task that investors need help with. Once you own rental properties, you also need help managing them.
But there’s no one-size-fits-all property management software. Depending on your portfolio size, management needs, and investing strategy, you need different software as a real estate investor.
For large landlords and property managers, with portfolios in the hundreds of units, you can’t beat Appfolio.
To begin with, it does everything you need as a landlord or property manager. From rental listing syndication to tenant screening, lease agreements to online rent collection, Appfolio covers all the basics.
They also provide customized, branded websites for you to interact with your tenants and applicants. And if you want help with maintenance communications, Appfolio can serve on the front lines for you there too.
As you can guess, however, it’s not cheap. You pay by the unit, plus pay per item for many services such as rent payments and screening reports, with a hefty minimum monthly fee.
- Pricing Starts At: $280/month ($1.40/unit)
- Best For: Large property managers and landlords (200+ units)
Property management software giant Buildium offers a similar stack of features as Appfolio.
On the plus side, Buildium offers live phone support, not just email support like Appfolio. Buildium also provides easy custom websites for marketing your vacant units, rather than the more generic solution provided by Appfolio.
But Buildium falls short on the 24/7 maintenance support option provided by Appfolio. They also don’t offer Appfolio’s unique AI leasing assistant, that helps you respond automatically to sift through high volumes of rental applicants.
Most of all, Buildium’s minimum pricing is significantly lower than Appfolio’s however.
- Pricing Starts At: $50/month
- Best For: Mid-sized property managers and landlords (50-200 units)
Designed by mom-and-pop landlords for mom-and-pop landlords, SparkRental serves smaller landlords who typically work an unrelated full-time job.
For full disclosure, I’m a co-founder of SparkRental. So yes, I’m a bit biased, but I also know the platform well!
SparkRental provides all the fundamental property management tools with no monthly fee. Landlords can syndicate rental listings to eight other advertising platforms, collect rental applications and tenant screening reports (charged to the applicant), create one-click lease agreements for each state, e-sign them, collect rent online, and message tenants directly on the platform.
SparkRental even provides free eviction notices and tenant letters for each state. Planned upcoming features include reporting rent payments to the credit bureaus and maintenance concierge services.
However, SparkRental doesn’t provide the bells and whistles that Appfolio and Buildium do. It does not offer custom websites or AI leasing support services, for example.
- Pricing Starts At: Free (tenants pay for screening reports and a fee for rent payments made by credit card)
- Best For: Smaller property managers and landlords (1-50 units)
Lodgify helps you manage your vacation rentals from one platform, rather than having to individually manage them on each platform such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com. It syncs your calendar across platforms, so your units’ availability update instantly. You can also post-unit photos and descriptions directly on Lodgify to publish on all short-term rental platforms.
Among its best features, Lodgify also helps you create beautiful custom marketing websites for your vacation rentals. And you can even collect payments directly from your custom website.
- Pricing Starts At: $12/month
- Best For: Vacation rental owners and managers
The “prop tech” industry grows more advanced every year. You can leverage ever-advancing software for real estate investors to automate work such as direct mail campaigns or outsource work such as fielding maintenance calls from tenants.
At a cost, of course. Aim to balance convenience and competitive advantage with the cost of real estate investment tools such as those listed above, to gain the maximum edge for the minimum cost.
What’s your favorite software for real estate investors? What real estate investment tools have moved the needle in your own investing business? Start a conversation about your favorite resources in the Technology Solutions area of the forum!