Rental Tracking Software

Quicken does it, so do many other programs. I’d like to outline the features of Quicken, Rent Magic and iiProperty.  Specifically, I’ll outline what features each program has that can make a landlord’s job easier.  I cannot recommend Microsoft Money, as several reviews on Amazon.ca suggest that the Canadian version of the software is not adequate for Canadian users.  

Quicken XG 2007 WindowsQuicken

Price: $39.99 (Quicken Cash Manager, no business features) to $99.99 (Quicken XG, with business features)

Features: Quicken supposedly tracks rental properties, although to the best of my knowledge it does so in a very rudimentary way. So far, I’ve managed to set up my assets and liabilities, and it will update my loan balances automatically (I think). However, I have yet to locate any advanced features to keep track of tenants. I look forward to using some of the project tracking features that enable you to enter To Do type items.

Missing: Tenant tracking, property details, to-do lists for your properties, mailing letters, etc.

iiProperty Logo

Price: Depends on the features, $0.00 up to $64.99/mo for up to 55 units.

Features: There is a somewhat limited free version that anyone can try out. The software provides tracking options for multiple addresses, multiple tenants, etc. One of the most useful features I see is the ability to advertise your properties. You can create your own real estate site for vacancies and properties for sale. The site will have your company name across the top, and shows a picture of each of your properties. For each property, you can then add pictures, and a flyer detailing the terms of the offer. Furthermore, when you upgrade to one of their paid services, iiProperty will send mailings such as late payment notices, statements, repair notices, etc. This feature sounds like a real time-saver.

The best feature is that you can access this service for FREE with some limitations. 

Missing: Automatic account downloading, tax integration, Canadian flavour (although I am TOLD that this is on its way).

Price: Ranges, the hosted, online software is $10/month for 1-10 units.  There is also a locally-hosted version, but pricing is not available on the website (read: expensive).

Features:  Rent magic is a fairly robust package.  It includes the ability to track as many properties as you have, track your income, expenses, notices and letters, tenancy agreements and legal documents, and also helps with all of your accounting needs.  One feature that sets Rent Magic apart from other solutions is that it is able to do payroll for your rental business if you happen to have several employees.  You can also set up access passwords for your different employees.  Also, it integrates perfectly with Ontario rental law (the Tenant Protection Act), which is a huge bonus for Ontario landlords.  The system is advertised as being powered by ManageUDA, so perhaps you can find localized versions for your area.

Missing:  I don’t believe there is an advertising/marketing module similar to that offered by iiProperty.

This review is not meant to be exhaustive, it is merely meant to discuss some of the options that I have come across in the short two years that I’ve been a landlord.  Please let me know if you know of any other rental software packages that you would recommend.  Personally, I would recommend iiProperty for the small landlord with only a handful of units, and a solution like Rent Magic for the landlord with more than 10 units to keep track of. 

I know that there are a lot of high-priced accounting packages that do the same thing, but I think these solutions are much easier to afford for the landlord with only a couple of units.  I have signed up for iiProperty and will post more thoughts on it at a later date!

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Review: “I Will Teach You to be Rich”

Author: Ramit

Subject: Financial advice, interviews, etc.

Verdict: Good site, fun to read, sarcastic and synical.

Details: Ramit has a good sense of humour, likes pens, and thinks he’s better than everyone else (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This interesting mix makes for an interesting read, and the fact that Ramit is indeed knowledgeable in terms of becoming financially successful means you can learn something at the same time.

The best part of Ramit’s site are his weekly features. Every Friday he interviews a successful entrepreneur. These interviews have been very enlightening as the inverviewees run the gambit from owners of a small specialty pen distribution company, to Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation who blogs about how to successfully start your own business. Every Monday he will also be posting a new way to renegotiate one of your service contracts to save money (the first post showed us how to save on automobile insurance). We’re still waiting for the next installment which is due today.

Anyway, I strongly recommend checking out Ramit’s site. His site was a major contributor to my desire to start blogging about real estate, so it must be good. There is a wealth of useful information in the archives, so be sure to surf around.

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John T. Reed vs. Robert Kyosaki

http://www.johntreed.com/

I found this website was fairly honest and consistent. The real estate advice he gives in his articles section is fairly basic, but it gives a prospective real estate investor some basic fundamental understanding of what is required for the job, how to make sound financial decisions using ratios, etc.

One segment that I enjoyed was his complete disdain for Robert Kyosaki that culminates in a 185kB plain text document outlining inconsistencies in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, his life, and other musings. It really is quite scathing, I’m sure Ken over at ARRDPD would disapprove.  However, it is consistent, and reads well.  It is actually quite amusing to look at how JTR’s research disproves many of the careless comments in Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

I do see JTR’s point though. When reading RDPD, one gets the feeling that everything is exceedingly vague. I think Kyosaki, if anything is a fantastic salesperson who has managed to find a key niche of selling real estate investment advice to people who will probably never get involved in real estate investing.  The book is dumbed down, and mostly amounts to a bunch of flag waving like you see at a highschool pep rally. 

For some readers, Kyosaki makes them feel smarter by giving them ‘insider’ information like how to calculate your net income.  For other readers he makes you feel superior to the rest of the world by constantly putting down people as not being able to figure out the most basic foundations of accounting.

The article entitled
“Suggested sequence for starting a real
estate investment program” has some good information.  Its more of a
pre-questionairre to see if you have the right-stuff for investing in
real estate.  It is a simlar approach to that used by Robert Griswold in “Property Management for Dummies.”

Either way, there is some good information on John’s site that is worth a look and skimming the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book review is good for some amusement on a Friday afternoon.

NG

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Blog Review: EscapeFromCubicleNation

I have been a regular reader of Pam Slim’s EscapeFromCubicleNation since it was featured on IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com

Her most recent post/podcast reviews two books that discuss negative self-talk.  Since Pam’s website focuses on helping entrepreneurs to succeed and make the jump from the shackles of the cubicle to the freedom of self-employment, her focus in this article is how negative self-talk affects a new entrepreneur.

As always, her advice is highly useful, and written in an accessible way that anyone can read and quickly apply in their own life.

She offers up this questionairre from Finding Your Own North Star:  Claiming the life you were meant to live by Martha Beck, to help people determine whether they are in-touch with their true personality.

  1. My life feels like a great adventure
  2. I feel sure I can solve any problems I encounter
  3. I have fun
  4. I laugh out loud
  5. I feel overwhelmed by gratitude
  6. I spend time in comfortable solitude
  7. I am fascinated by things I am learning
  8. I feel deeply understood
  9. Things just seem to work out for me
  10. I get so involved in projects I forget to stop
  11. I use my imagination
  12. I do things I loved when I was a kid
  13. People seem to enjoy being around me
  14. I play
  15. I feel perfectly safe
  16. I get excited when it is time to go to work
  17. I feel mentally sharp and alert
  18. I have really cool ideas
  19. I love my body
  20. I’m flooded with love for other people
  21. I do new things, or old things in new ways
  22. I do what I want to, even if it is scary
  23. I’m completely relaxed with other people
  24. I feel intense physical pleasure
  25. I am very pleased with myself in general

I find that these questions really do make you analyze your current situation in life, and think about whether you are truly satisfied.

Are you?

Personally, I could use a little bit of a makeover in some of these categories.  But, is that just my personality?  Maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about it? 🙂

The Dark Side of Real Estate Investing

I came across this website on Friday via GRS and didn’t have much chance to look over it (actually… my work spam filter blocks this address for some unknown reason). Now that I’ve had a chance to read over the content, I can add some more details.

It appears as though this gentleman invested in about 8 properties in the space of a few months with very little downpayment. The idea was to fix and flip the houses.

The best part about the site are the comments.  They range from the understanding and encouraging to the arrogant and hateful.  There is some really nasty stuf on there.

There are two main reasons for the negative comments.  One, is that some people figure that if the author was actually able to secure high-ratio loans for so much money, he must have done so dishonestly.  A fair judgement since when reading blogs one can never be too sure about the authenticity of what is written.  The other reason is that the author has made several statements that don’t quite add up.  For instance, when talking about possible bankruptcy, he mentions having spoken to some bankruptcy lawyers.  However, some of the details of the bankruptcy as well as the advice he says he’s been given do not sound like something any professional would utter.

Anyway, have a look and you be the judge.