Is Buildium Worth it?
If you're anything like me, you've toyed with the idea of signing up for property management software, but you've procrastinated for months or even years.
After all, you've made it this far without any help, why do you need to pay for software?
Or perhaps you're one of those who already has property management software. It may not be as robust as you'd like but don't want the hassle of switching over.
So the real question: is Buildium worth the cost to finally get property management software for the first time, and is it worth the time to switch from the one you currently have?
I'll answer those questions in this review of Buildium.
What is Buildium?
Buildium is an online service that offers an end-to-end solution for property managers and real estate investors. They have solutions for everything from accounting and financials to rent collection and inspection checklists.
Buildium - at a Glance
Exclusive: Get a 2-weeks free when you click through this link, no credit card required. (keep reading to see how)
Buildium has just about every feature you could want and it's just too much to cover everything. I will cover the aspects that set them apart from the competition.
Any property management software worth looking at will need to have some form of accounting integrated into it.
Buildium takes it to another level by offering bank reconciliation as well.
Simply pull your transactions from your bank accounts then reconcile the individual transactions with the bank transactions in order to balance the books.
You can also track payments, checks, refunds as well as accounts payable. Another great feature is the ability to create work orders then convert them into bills and then pay them online.
Personally, I like the financial reports the best.
Anybody who has been using QuickBooks can create reports pretty easily, but now it's integrated in one place. You don't need to keep your books in one place, track maintenance in your notepad, and invoices in a folder.
Plus, you can get one click rent-rolls. You know, every owner that wants to buy more property needs to send the bank updated rent-rolls...now you can do it in under 30 seconds.
Another important thing you need to do is 1099's. Quickbooks can do it, if you have that, or your accountant can do it for a fee. I don't know about everyone else, but I find this the most annoying part of tax-time.
Buildium offers 1099 eFiling.
It's $25 per batch and $3 each to mail. If you've ever done this yourself, you know you are spending a minimum of $40-50 if you do it yourself, and way more if your accountant does it.
It's really quite cheap and really helpful.
This is the bread and butter of any property management software. If it doesn't make your day-to-day life easier, then why pay for software?
Buildium absolutely dominates in this area.
You get your own dedicated sub-domain that tenants can use to login, put in maintenance requests, or pay their bills.
Owners and managers can also log in via this site.
What I like about it.
The logins for management, tenants, and owners are all on the main page. Also, any vacancies will be listed right on the website, along with any disclosures or other documents you want to put there.
What I don't like
The sub-domain is a pro and a con. Your sub-domain will be YourSite.ManageBuilding.com instead of a standard domain of YourSite.com.
You can point your domain to the subdomain, but when tenants and owners type in your web address it redirects to the sub-domain.
It's a little nit-picky, but I know it isn't that hard for your actual domain to have the portal without redirecting, and it looks more professional than a redirect.
This feature is pretty straight forward. You can upload documents and then people can access them. It could be everything from lead-disclosure paperwork to move-out requests.
One way to cut costs is to reduce the labor involved with taking phone calls and scheduling routine maintenance requests.
Every time you spend ten minutes on the phone with a tenant, it is 10 minutes' worth of labor you wasted.
Instead, tenants can take pictures and write notes about the maintenance request, then upload them directly online.
Not only will this save you time, but by documenting the request with a picture and notes, the maintenance person can easily find the problem and fix it without requiring the tenant to be there.
Honestly, this is my favorite feature.
Buildium has partnered with HappyCo and integrated with the Happy Inspector app. Your Buildium properties and information will automatically sync with Happy Inspector so you don't have to worry about setting everything up twice.
You simply set up the inspections you want, such as annual, periodic, quarterly, or move-in/move-out inspections.
Once you finish the inspection, you can turn it into a pdf and email it to anybody.
Imagine doing a move-out inspection with the tenant and actually giving them a copy of the inspection before they walk out the door. This sure beats having to take the inspection and adding it to a stack of inspections you need to write, then hopefully getting it done before the window closes to charge them for damage.
This is the primary reason I chose to go with the Pro version of Buildium instead of the Core version. I Love the inspection app.
Offer insurance and track it online. By integrating the insurance, you can make sure your tenants maintain their coverage and don't cancel it after signing up.
Filling vacancies quickly is essential to keeping property owners happy. Turnover is extremely expensive and is the single largest cost for owners.
Since it's so expensive for owners, then it's essential the property manage really targets this area.
Since you need to target this area, your software needs to make this as easy as possible.
Buildium has all the essential integrations you need as well as online applications.
As I grow my real estate investing business and become more automated, I find things like paper applications are just too cumbersome to deal with.
I just can't handle the mess on my desk or in my email inbox. I have too much else going on to deal with dozen of applications, half of which I know don't qualify to rent from me.
Now the property manager can take an application on a smartphone or tablet, right at the property. No paper, no filing, no messy phone numbers.
I can easily check the application and accept or deny the application.
Also, you can quickly get background and other record checks that are also integrated into Buildium.
I really like this feature.
Hopefully you are already listing your properties online when they are vacant. I'm sure everyone uses craigslist, then maybe one or two other sites.
You have to create each listing and login to upload the files and pictures, update it, and take it down when the vacancy is filled.
It's a hassle, right?
Once you have pictures and details uploaded into Buildium, it's really easy to list a property as vacant and post a listing.
Once you've listed the vacancy, Buildium syndicates it with several major apartment listing services online. These include:
- Apartment List
You literally do the work once, and you have thousands of eyes looking at your listings. More eyes mean more applications and shorter turnover and vacancies.
The shorter your vacancy, the happier the owner is.
This is a really cool feature that I'm just starting to integrate.
Currently, I print all leases, have tenants sign them, then I scan and upload them on to my cloud storage. I also maintain a paper version.
Buildium allows you to generate the lease online and sign electronically on a tablet or phone.
Bringing it all together
Consider this scenario which is made possible with Buildium.
You can list your vacancy where thousands of people can see on every major website. The leads show up for a showing and put in an application online through their or your smartphone.
Within minutes the background checks come in and you can approve the applicant.
You generate the lease agreement and sign right there. Then you can take the payment electronically straight from the applicant's bank account.
You have literally done everything on a cell phone, easily, and within minutes.
This is the strength and beauty of it! This is why I recommend Buildium.
How to get 2 weeks free
When you sign up for Buildium through this link, you can get 2 weeks free.
Here's how you do it:
First, go ahead and sign up for the 2-week free trial.
The problem with the free trial is whatever you do inside the trial will be deleted when you convert to a paid account. So, if you set up all your properties and tenant lease information...gone in 2 weeks.
Instead, once you have decided become a paying customer, go ahead and convert the account to a Core or Pro subscription.
The remaining trial period will be credited back to you. This is 2 full weeks free. Then you can set everything up and it won't be deleted when you convert from trial to paid.
Setting up your Buildium Account
Setting up your free trial is super easy.
That's literally all there is to it.
No credit cards or anything so you know this isn't a gimmick. I hate it when I get a free trial and then it's almost impossible to cancel.
Just fill it out and sign up, no credit card.
Then convert your account to a paid account to get the 15 days free.
That's all there is to it.
Buildium Core vs Pro
Of course you can expect the up-sell with anything you buy. Buildium is no different by offering 2 tiers of service.
Buildium Core offers the main service but doesn't include property inspections, ACH payments, and electronic leases. Buildium Pro subscriptions get all the features with no setup fees.
If you opt to get Buildium Core, you can choose to get any of the optional add-on features, you just have to pay the setup fee for it which costs around $99 for most of the features.
If you really, really want tenant ACH payments but don't want inspections, you can get the CORE plan and just pay the onetime fee to add ACH. Sure, it's a bit more up front, but you won't be paying the huge difference in price every month.
Buildium is a full featured property management software suite. It covers every aspect of management and doesn't cut corners. You will pay more than other services, but you are getting the most robust set of software available for residential property managers.
Buildium could use a little improvement, especially for an established company that may not want to have its domain redirected, but overall this is not a reason to avoid the product.
If you are interested in testing it out, it's completely free and has no obligations and no credit card required.