"Things are always changing, and yet they still remain the same," says Howard M. Haberman, the vice president for sales and marketing with ReManage, a major supplier of property management software.
..."As simple a thing as posting the monthly rent charge to the tenant ledger card takes time," says Haberman, who has an extensive background in accounting.
"It can be replaced by a keystroke that will post from one to thousands of rent charges automatically. "Haberman
says that the bookkeeping aspects of property management are fairly straight-forward -- until it comes to do taxes and handle large numbers of units.
"If it were not for the tax requirements, much of the accounting, especially for smaller ventures, could be done on the back of an envelope," says Haberman
Owners with small properties, says Haberman
, those with 8-unit strip malls or four-plex apartment units, can often satisfy their bookkeeping needs with a basic accounting system.
Unfortunately, says Haberman
, many of the larger management systems have become so complex that many owners and managers can't take advantage of sophisticated options.
"One of the benefits of a simple program is that you'll use it," Haberman
As well, he
says, simple systems make sense because new people are always entering the field.
"Turnover is a reality in any business, and certainly so in the property management field.The simple program is easy to get up-and-running, and consequently is easy to teach the new person.The complex program takes more time to implement, and takes time to train the new arrival. "
In the future, says Haberman
, we're likely to see more landlords relying on electronic funds transfers, or EFTs, both to collect tenant rents and to pay vendors who supply services to the property.ReManage
4.1, the company's latest management tool, runs on desktop, LAN, wireless, and Internet technologies.In essence, the system can use just about any medium to screen potential tenants, pay bills electronically, schedule repairs, and keep the books.
And in the near future, it wouldn't be surprising if the system also collected rents directly from tenant bank accounts.
"We're just beginning to see the use of electronic funds transfer for automatic repayment of rents," says Haberman
, who suggests that in the San Francisco Bay area -- where rents are high, the availability of residential units is low, and many tenants routinely use computers -- owners may be among the first nationwide to routinely collect rents electronically.