Update, Web 2.0 meets Business Networking

Coulds and sunset

Like a breath of fresh air.  Well, it has been an interesting year for me.  The end of a major relationship caused a major upset in my life.  I'm just starting to get back into the swing of life again and now that fall has come around, am finding more time on my hands.  Thus, I'm starting to get back into writing and reading blogs.  Hopefully I'll have some useful stuff to post in the coming months, so stay tuned.

For now, I am buying a new primary residence and take possession November 2nd.  It is a small house in a good neighbourhood with lots of potential.  I've got a lot planned for the place and hopefully will find the time to share the results online.

Next, I'm hoping to get together with some new investors to see if I can get myself into a commercial deal (residential multi-plex, apartment, or retail).  Will keep you posted on that as I go.

LinkedIn

In order to build a network of investors, I'm trying to get people I know to start using a new service called LinkedIn.  LinkedIn has a very similar taste to Facebook, but with a twist.  LinkedIn is much more adept at managing contacts for business purposes than Facebook ever will be.  Some of the key features:

  • Find colleagues from past careers and educational institutions
  • Recommend your favourite service providers (e.g. lawyer, real estate agent, masseuse)
  • Apply to jobs posted by other LinkedIn users
  • Surf through your friends' "connections" (the term used to describe the people in your network)
  • Build your own reputation through recommendations and answering user questions
  • Network!

So, what are you waiting for?  Start building a network of professionals, friends, friends friends, friends friends friends!!!  And, if you're local to London, Ontario and are interested in joining forces, dropme a line.

Nick 

iiProperty Site Goes Live

I finally went live with an iiProperty website for my rental properties.  I liked the interface, and the ease of adding properties to the “web flyer” as they call it.  It takes a matter of about 5 minutes per property to add photos, descriptions, basic information and your contact info.  The output is somewhat basic by some web standards, but given the time investment, I think the look is adequate.  It doesn’t look out-dated, the main downside is that you can’t customize the placement of information on the page.

In my review of rental tracking software, I mentioned that iiProperty enabled direct posting to CraigsList.  I was unable to verify this feature because iiProperty does not have the ability to accept Canadian addresses in its CraigsList advertisement form.  To me this isn’t a deal breaker, but it sure would have been a nice feature.

Have a look a the site if you get a chance.

First and second (edit) Carnival

Well, thanks goes out to the folks at BiggerPockets.com for including my recet post on Rental Tracking Software in this-weeks Carnival of Real Estate Investing .

Now I just have to find out what other software packages he was talking about, or perhaps I should change the title to specify tools for the small landlord… either way.

Edit: The post also made the Carnival of Real Estate #22 although I did not make the list of the Top 11 at Active Rain, maybe next-time.

Thanks again, I hope the post had some useful information.

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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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Software: SolveIT!

SolveIT! by Pine Grove Software is a full-featured financial calculator in a compact executable. It costs $69.95, and a lightweight version called Loan Calculator Plus! is available for free.

Features:
Financial – loan calculators, NPV, IRR, compound interest, ROI
General Business – budgets, gross profit, net worth, bond values and yields
Financial Advisors – break-even analyiss, lease vs. buy, refinance savings
Depreciation – declining balance, straight-line, etc.
Loans and Debt – Accelerated payment savings, maximum affordable house price, balloon payments, etc.
Financial Schedules – Amortization, annuities, rental income analysis

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