Comparing Traditional Versus Tech-Enabled Property Management

Co-Founder & CMO at Poplar Homes, a tech-enabled property management company with 2,200+ doors under management across 10 major metros.

Property management is going through an evolution right now, and tech providers have stepped up to the plate to disrupt the industry. There are plenty of incentives as to why. Among them, rental market share continues to grow steadily, making real estate investing an appealing alternative to stock market volatility.

Investors looking for assistance in managing and maintaining their portfolios are now faced with choosing between traditional and tech-enabled property management companies. 

The Key Differences In Property Management Operation Styles

Whether you have one property or five, you’re more likely to feel the impacts of poor performance when operating at this scale. This makes management style crucial. With that in mind, what do property owners need to know when looking at a potential partner?

Traditional Property Management

Traditional property management companies use tried-and-true methods that could be mostly handled in person with a mix of tools. Their tool kit typically looks something like this:

• In-person property tours

• An accounting program for the books

• Applications that need to be completed on-site

• Emails and phone calls to handle issues

• A work order or ticketing system of some kind

Each of these systems or processes is usually handled as an independent task. This means that traditional portfolio management requires years of expertise. It also means that the flaws inherent in these kinds of hands-on systems were felt keenly as the world went digital to navigate the impact of the pandemic.

Tech-Enabled Property Management

Tech-enabled property management focuses on creating an interconnected ecosystem or platform from which they run their business, allowing both property owners and renters to have a seamless experience by leveraging digital tools. Tech-enabled property management uses unifying solutions to:

• Manage accounting, owner disbursements and collection of rent

• Schedule showings, either in person or through a self-showing option

• Process applications efficiently

• Accept and track the status of work orders

• Provide round the clock customer service through distributed teams

• Manage relationships and more

Tech-enabled property management makes it easier to effectively manage more properties. It also makes it easier for someone tech-savvy — but not necessarily experienced in property management — to take on tasks that were once reserved for experts. The result? Savings for property owners with better turnaround time when dealing with issues.

Building The Right Renter Experience

One of the top reasons why residents won’t renew a lease comes down to poor management. This proves that the property management experience from a renter’s perspective matters to your bottom line as a property owner.

Positive renter experiences are linked to higher renewals, so providing increased accessibility will make the entire process one a renter can appreciate. 

With half of online traffic coming from smart devices, offering a mobile-friendly leasing experience is one way to make a good first impression on renters. Renters should be able to browse listings without frustration, view floorplans and access 3D walkthroughs while waiting in line at the coffee shop.

Renters should also have a seamless experience when applying. Too many property management companies charge an expensive application fee or combine this with an in-person application process on a sluggish desktop. 

Removing these hurdles leads to a faster process that gets vacancies filled faster. Tech-enablement can also reduce the work of your property management team so they can provide a better resident experience.

Creating An Improved Owner Experience

Like renters, owners are looking for a better customer experience from the property management companies they work with. When there is an issue with a rental property, owners want answers right away. A rental property is not a $500 stock; it is an asset with a much higher value that can be very expensive to repair. In this case, tech-enablement can provide peace of mind to investment owners through transparency. 

When data is stored in the cloud on the owner’s portal — and not on separate, proprietary systems — an owner can find the answers they need fast, without making a call to a management office. Taking that workload and letting tech handle it provides a better owner experience, which frees up the property manager to provide stellar service elsewhere.

The Best Of Both Worlds

That said, it is important to have the right mix of tech-enabled and experienced property management services. The best owner and renter experiences are built from years of experience in the property management space melded with advances in technology.

New owners should seek out the mentorship of experienced property managers — even if they have the best technology available. Traditional property management processes have worked for a long time; it isn’t the process that needs to be changed so much as how it’s carried out. Property management systems built from these time-tested processes are always going to be the superior option.

What Property Owners Should Be Looking For

Tech-enabled property management built from the wisdom of experienced property managers is the future of this industry. I suspect we’re going to see more and more companies moving to adopt the tech that other companies have embraced from the start.

Tech-enablement across the industry is a positive change for all owners and renters — and for the industry as a whole. Better experiences also boost positive reception toward property management and rental property ownership. This kind of improved service is crucial when interacting with the current generation of renters.


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