LandlordMax Rental Property Management Software Review

This LandlordMax Rental Property Management Software Review is based on version 11.05 desktop version and is current as of January 5, 2014

The first thing you need to realize about rental property management software is that it is your own personal accountant.  You have to input your information into it and keep it updated.  That sounds like more work to most people, but let me explain.  I managed to save over $1,000 in taxes on just one single rental property.  There were write offs and deductions that I didn’t know about and I was about to throw away more money than I should have.  That savings was well worth the price of the product many times over.  Now imagine how important that it is when you have multiple properties.  It is extremely important to keep track of things well.

LandlordMax

The pros

The software is very easy to use.  It’s even one of their main advertising features.  It took me about 5 minutes to add a couple of my properties and get things ready to use.  One thing that I really liked was the ability to add lots of detail and pictures in the information about the property.  There is the main property information at the top and at the bottom of the property information display are several tabs of additional information.  This helps me keep track of work history on the property, condition reports and changes, and keep a history record for each property.

There is a section where you can put your list of vendors you use and other contacts.  This is really helpful when you need to keep track of all the people you use in one place.  This is really important when there’s more than one person using the program.  The training time is minimal and very easy to follow so you could bring in an assistant and they’d be able to find the right contractor and get your opinion of him on their own.

There isn’t a limit to the amount of units you can add and the program is compatible with a mac or PC which keeps compatability problems to a minimum. They have several reports to help you figure out your expenses, income, and investment health.  There really are tons of features and you can try the software out for a month first.  It’s very easy to figure out and if you give it a try I’m sure you’ll agree.

LandlordMax Property Management Software They have a FREE trial and Network and Desktop versions!

The cons

There really aren’t too many cons but I know that there things that people either don’t like or wish could be changed just a bit.  The first thing you need to know is that you only pay once for the product, but you have to buy upgrades in the future.  You aren’t required to upgrade, but if you want to get the latest edition that has more features and any bugs fixed, then you’ll want to upgrade.  The nice thing is that they give you a discount on your upgrades so you don’t have to pay full price.

The network version is a self hosted network and not an online property managment software, not on the cloud.  What this means is that you have to have it installed on a network or do it yourself.  If you’ve got a few properties with more than one person working with them, then this is a necessary step and will take a little effort to migrate to a bigger version.  You can install this on your own computer, but it will take some technical expertise from either you or a professional IT person to get it taken care of if you want to go past a local network.  If all of this paragraph sounds like mud, then ask their support staff, they can give you some good information beforehand, but can’t troubleshoot your installation issues.

Overall

After looking at all the parts of this software, I give it a good recommendation for all ranges of real estate investing.  Keeping track of all your expenses and incomes are vital to making your investments work for you.  As with any program like this, you’ll only get out of it what you put into it.  It can’t help you if you don’t use it.

Side Note: I actually have tried out the program and used it.  The links are affiliate links and if you decide to make a purchase through them, I will make a small comission.  I will use that income to make this a better website and to bring you more good information to help you succeed in your own investing adventures.

Click to checkout the LandlordMax Property Management Software

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Who You Need on your Real Estate Investing Team

You’ll hear me reference the word “good” a lot.  There are huge differences in quality and information for each person.  For example, you wouldn’t want to use any lawyer for help with a contract.  You would want a lawyer who dealt specifically with real estate law and contracts.  It’s a subjective term, but I do recommend finding a good fit for each member of your team.

Your Real Estate Investing Team

Accountant

Accountants who are experienced in dealing with real estate can be a big benefit.  There’s these things called tax laws that drive most people crazy.  A good accountant knows them and stays up to date.  One huge thing that’s important to know is how to structure your finances.  Did you know that you can “make money” just by how you work your financial statement.  Nothing sketchy or illegal, but you can depreciate your assets, get write offs, take credits, and lots of other things.  A good accountant will help you save a lot more money than you pay him for his services.

Realtor

A realtor in short form is a deal locator and manager.  He finds deals, works several angles on your behalf, and helps move the hundreds of moving parts in the background and the finished product is closing on a deal.  That’s the short answer.  There’s a lot that goes into a successful real estate transaction and using a realtor with experience in your specific property type or investment approach can take out tons of stress and help you get what you’re looking for.

Lawyer

I know lawyers get a bad rap.  Sadly there are many is the profession that caused the stereotypes.  The thing is, you might need at least one or several lawyers to go over contracts, fight on your behalf and generally protect your assets.

Loan officers / Mortgage companies / Banks

You’ve got to take care of financing your real estate transactions.  This is just one of several people that you’ll be talking to in order to some kind of financing in place.  Sometimes it even makes sense to finance a property if you have all the money to buy it outright.

Title Company

A title company isn’t really involved until a transaction gets going and most of the negotiations are taken care of.  You still need to stay in the loop because they might find something that your own due diligence hasn’t found.  You don’t want to find out about problems after closing on the property.

City zoning, planning, and appraisal district

The governing authorities and rules that you’ve got to know about are a huge deal.  At least the rules that will affect your property are a big deal.  Dealing with the appraisal board and making sure you’ve got the right zoning can make a big impact on your business.  It always helps to be friends with these people.  It doesn’t mean that you get to skirt around the rules, but it will make getting things done or approved go better for you.

Property management company

The hardest part might feel like finding the right property, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t find a tenant and get it rented out.  A property management company specializes in finding, approving, and helping tenants rent your property.  Then on top of that, they are also managing many of the day to day tasks of the property.  They are only limited based on what the owner or landlord is willing to let them do.

Handyman or general contractor

A general handyman can take care of all sorts of minor and a few major problems for you.  Sometimes it might be as small as screwing in a new sprinkler head or as big as removing a tree from the property.  A general handyman is the normal go to guy that will take care of lots of problems and normal maintenance.  This isn’t really an official position for a lot of people, but it is good to have a reliable or trustworthy individual who can look at and evaluate what needs to be done to help you out.

A general contractor is actually a manager who oversees a construction operation and gets the right people to do the right parts at the right times.  A good general contractor makes your use of time an money.  They’ll also know how to pull permits and make sure that things get done correctly.

Don’t forget that as the owner, no one will take as good care of a property as you will.  So if you find someone who does, then you’ve found a very valuable member of your investing team.

A list of different skilled workers you might need

  • Electrician
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Plumber
  • Lawn care / landscaper
  • Drywall
  • Painter
  • Pest Control
  • Roofer
  • Window and Glass
  • Garage Door
  • Carpet / flooring
  • Foundation
  • Concrete / slabs

These are a sample of all the different skilled workers you might need in managing your investment.  I learned the hard way that it most often is much better to have a professional take care of something in a couple hours that would have taken me a couple days and I would have done a horrible job.

Commercial Real Estate Investing for Beginners

There are a lot of similarities and differences that you’ll want to take into account when you get started investing in commercial real estate.  The first thing that you’ll want to do is go over the categories.  Most people end up finding one investment type that they like and stick with it.

Need a more basic overview? Click here to read How to Start Investing in Real Estate

So here is a quick overview of the different types of Investment Properties.

  • Single Family Homes
  • Duplex / Triplex / Quadplex
  • Apartment Complex / Townhomes
  • Industrial
    • Warehouse / Distribution
    • Flex Space
    • Special Purpose
  • Office
    • Medical
    • Multi Tenant
    • Mid rise / High rise
  • Retail
    • Strip Centers
    • Restaurants
    • Malls
  • Special Use
    • Assisted Living
    • Sports Complex

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you’ll start to quickly see that there are a lot of different property types.  There’s as many property types out there as there are different jobs.  Everyone will need a place of business or a place to live.

Learning about commercial real estate investing for beginners should make you realize that your real goal is to help businesses succeed.  You can’t just buy any building out there and think everyone will show up wanting to throw money at your face.  That dream does sound nice, but that’s just not the way it works.  You’ll probably want to spend time learning about the businesses that you want to end up serving with your properties.  By looking at your skills and inventory as a solution for others and not just a way to make cash for yourself, you’ll be better able to see the bigger picture and how it will end up affecting everyone involved.

What you need to know about commercial real estate investing for beginners

What doesn’t change?

The basic aspects of any real estate deal no matter how big the numbers are will always stay the same.  This is something that you need to remember.  Yes the risks and rewards can be much bigger, but the basics of looking for and acquiring an investment property doesn’t change.

Basic property needs will never change.  You’ll have to pay taxes, maintenance will be required, and you better make sure you have insurance.  Sometimes you can change who is in charge of paying for different things, but they will need to be paid by someone.

Things that do change

Complexity is the first thing that you’ll notice changes once you start working on commercial real estate deals.  Buying an apartment complex with several units or buying a huge industrial building will both have completely different needs and different laws that affect each property.  Your knowledge will be stretched a bit further than compared to a small single family home investment.

Speed of transactions can slow down on a lot of commercial deals.  You might find that it takes much longer to buy a commercial property, get all necessary and extra due diligence finished, and it can also take much longer to get a tenant into a property.  All that being said, all of these can work in your favor as well when you structure things right

It’s even more about the numbers than single family home investing. You’ll find more conservative estimates will serve you well as you spend time looking and getting properties.

You’ll find commercial deals might be much fewer and less easy to find than single family homes.  That’s why commercial realtors can be huge help.  I almost always recommend using a realtor when buying.  Not only because I’m one, but because of the immense amount of help they can be.  They get paid if the transaction closes and it doesn’t affect the price you pay at all.

Get your real estate financing in place

Financing a commercial property is different than getting a single family home.  I highly recommend starting with your finances first and seeing what kind of loans, terms, and conditions you have.  The ratios, limits, and requirements are different and will really affect you.  You’ll also find a difference in owner occupied properties compared to investment only properties or build to suits.

You’ll find a lot more owner financing and creative financing deals in commercial real estate.  A lot of times it might seem a lot more confusing so you want to start getting as much in place as soon as possible.

Network the right way

The people that you’ll be dealing with in commercial properties is a much smaller circle and everyone knows everyone.  Protect your reputation.  Even if this is your first day, you want to have a good reputation.  Long standing business ethics and Biblical principles of helping others, being honest, and doing what you say you will are the cornerstones that will help you have a long and fulfilling career in commercial real estate investing.

The people that help you with your investments are your team.  You can think of them in many different ways, but they are the people that affect your income and success so it would be a good idea to start thinking of them as your team.  Many of the best deals will never be known to more than the two or three people who made them.  I’ve personally witnessed mind blowing deals go down with one phone call.  I watched $1,000,000 get made in 3 days from one phone call.  You know what?  this happens a lot more often than you think.  Your network can speed up your journey to success.

Property hunting

Looking for deals is a little bit different than a single family home.  You have to get into the mindset of what your tenant is going to need.  Your property is the product and you are going to have to sell it to a business to pay you money every month to stay there.  You’re products will fit very specific criteria and you’ll have a much better experience if you can get in your future tenants head first.  Who cares if you love the special features of a property if all the possible tenants hate it.

You’ll need to be able to find out more on zoning rules and regulations, permits, and many other things that will affect a commercial property compared to a residential.  I’m not trying to scare you off, but I get really mad when people lie about things.  There’s a lot more to know about commercial properties and they can be more work.  The thing is, with high risk comes high reward.  This is not like gambling where the house has the upper hand and you’re most likely going to lose.  You can do all sorts of things to make the best educated and well planned decision possible.  It doesn’t take away the risk, but it dramatically lessens it.

Negotiating and Closing

Negotiating on a commercial property is not that different up front than a single family residence.  You will have all the same elements in place such as offer, counter offer, option period, inspection period, title search, and final closing.  The scale will be bigger and you can get even more creative.  There have been numerous books written on commercial real estate, I highly recommend reading as many of them as you can get your hands on.

Negotiating might be seen by many as a soft skill, but it brings about huge rewards.  Buying a small $100,000 property that is really valued at $140,000 creates $40,000 of value out of thin air.  You might also see a bigger deal that good negotiating works out even better.  For example, an $800,000 build to suit buidling with a 20 year lease with 0 personal money invested and the property paid off in 8 years.  These are not made up numbers.  I have personally witnessed these deals and I know it happens and will continue to happen.  It takes a whole lot of work to find those deals and I’m not kidding on the lots of work part.  Good negotiating will really help you out in your efforts and if you aren’t good at it, then find someone who can help you.

Property Management

Effectively managing a property means getting the most rent produced while minimizing expenses.  Making a good deal on a property is a huge hurdle, but its completely worthless if you can’t do anything with the property once you have it.  A single family residence is much easier to get rented out.  Your tenants will have very specific needs and requirements which will make or break the deal many times.  Knowing this ahead of time lets you prepare for as much as you can and allows you time to work on overcoming obstacles.

For example, a kitchen would be necessary for any type of cafe or food establishment.  What if you bought a property that didn’t have a kitchen but was the right location for a cafe owner.  You’ll need to spend some time overcoming that obstacle.  After getting zoning, planning, and permits done, you might be able to do a build to suit kitchen add on for that great tenant on a longer and higher lease to cover your costs.  This is just one example of creative thinking that you’ll need to start working on.

Exit Strategy

It can take a lot longer to buy a commercial property.  In the same way, it can take a lot longer to sell one.  An effective exit plan is something that you’ll need to spend a little more time planning on and using as a tool to work to your advantage.  There’s more than one way to exit out of something and you can come out far ahead in the game with effective planning.

 

Commercial real estate investing for beginners is a huge field and its a lot of fun.  You’ll find your niche and what you like and don’t like and then you can run with what you’re good at.  If you end up really like single family homes, don’t waste your time on commercial.  At the same time you can stay away from residential investing and stick to only commercial.  You can even do both if you want.  The decision is up to you.

How to Start Investing in Real Estate

Real Estate Investing breaks down into three main categories.  These are the three main hurdles to overcome and I’ll touch on them more further on down, but everything you do will end up falling into one of these three categories so knowing what they are in advance will help you start thinking about what areas you know about and where you need to learn more.

The three main areas of real estate investing

  • Financing your real estate transactions
  • Buying and Selling Properties
  • Property Management

Get an education

This is the most important place to start.  You’re going to have a lot to learn with all the ins and outs of investing in real estate.  You can spend a $100 in books and educating yourself and it will be one of the absolute best investments you can make.  There is a steep learning curve and your money is at stake.  That small investment will pay off in the several thousands down the road so get started reading real estate investing books now.

I’d stay away from the get rich quick schemes as much as possible.  Solid reading that covers the main principles and information you need might now sound as exciting, but if you want to succeed then you’ll need to build a solid foundation first.  Here’s a few examples to help you get started.

These links all go to Amazon so you can check them out for yourself.

You’ll Notice that there are a lot of books on this list.  That’s because an education is the absolute best thing that you can get started with.  These are the books that I’d recommend to start with.  There are lots out there and you’ll eventually decide what areas you want to go in, but until then you will need a very solid general understanding of all the principles involved in your investments.  Don’t stop with just the books I mentioned, go get more and read more.

Get your financing in place

Financing is going to be the starting point for any of your investments.  You can’t acquire a property if you can’t buy it.  The earlier you can get started on getting financing in place, the better off you’ll be.  I always recommend starting with what you know best and are comfortable with.  You’ll also save a lot of time by narrowing down your list to what you can actually do versus looking at million dollar properties if you only qualify for 100,000.

One of the first steps of turning your dreams into reality is by making the first few steps.  Once you see a result, you’ll start to realize that you can make that dream into a beautiful reality.  Yes it will take hard work and time, but the benefits are huge.  Go talk to banks, loan officers, mortgage companies, and find out your options and actually apply to get pre-qualified for a loan.  You have to start and this process can take a few weeks to a few months so get started as early as possible.  You don’t want to lose a deal because you were lazy and don’t have your financing in place.

Start networking

You will be spending a lot of time interacting with people to manage all the moving parts of any investment.  Start talking to people and making friends.  You don’t know what you don’t know and these are the people that might help you make a fortune or keep you from it.  Don’t let fear take hold here.  Many people are scare that their golden opportunity will be stolen.  Don’t even let it cross your mind.  There are always golden opportunities popping up and you want to be ready for the one that’s right for you.

You can also network online at Richer Times.  You’ll find lots of good information here and you can make friends, business partners, check out deals, and more.  The more time and effort you put into your education and networking, the better payoff you’ll get in the long run.

Look at potential investment properties

Time to start looking for deals. You can start online with your computer and start looking there, but you’ll have to go spend some gas and look at properties in person.  Looking around can take a long time and there are several different ways to speed things up.

You want to look at lots of properties and deals.  You need to figure out what you like and dislike and what type of investment you’re interested in.  You can do this all by yourself or use a realtor.  Using a realtor helped me do things much faster and more efficient.  He was also an investor so he helped me skip all sorts of problems and pitfalls.

Start gathering a team

Your team can be either formal or informal.  You might be the only person on your team or there might be several.  The best way to think about your investing team is to find who will bring the most positive results out.  If you feel you can do all of it yourself the best with the amount of time you have, then use yourself.  If you feel that you can multiply your results or let others do the things you don’t want to do, then look for people to help out.

A tax accountant is a good example of an informal team member.  If you use an accountant who knows about real estate investing, he’ll be able to help you save thousands of dollars compared to their nominal fees. If you use an accountant who doesn’t know about real estate investing, depreciation, write offs and more, then you’ll be losing out on thousands of dollars.  The same idea goes with property management, rehabbing, maintenance, financing, and all the other pieces of taking care of your investment.

Choose a property type

I bet you’ve already got a great idea of what it is that you’re looking for.  You might now exactly what you think you want to do at this point.  That’s the idea.  You’ve gone through and started learning about properties and all the different kinds that exist.  If it’s your very first one, you might have gone with a single family residence or duplex.  These two are the most common first rental properties that I hear about.  If you’ve chosen something else, that’s okay too.

Within single family homes, there is a huge difference in types, locations, and quality.  You’ll now be better able to narrow it down to the type of single family home you are interested in.  You might know the school district you want to be in or the size you feel works best.  There are lots of different parts and only through spending time looking and having your financing in place will you be best able to decide which property type will suit your needs best.

An example list of property types

  • Single family residence
  • Duplex / Triplex / Quadplex
  • Apartments
  • Industrial Space
  • Office Building
  • Retail Space
  • Restaurants

Click here to learn about investing in commercial real estate

Decide on your skills

Most people aren’t the best at everything they do.  It’s called dealing with reality.  A smart investor will take stock of their abilities and decide which ones need to be handled by other people.  The earlier you can decide on this, the better.

For example: Repairs needed on a property are rather extensive.  If you don’t have a lot of experience and are not good at doing all the repairs plus the amount of time it will take, then you might save a lot of money by hiring a professional to do it for you.  On the other side, if you’re really good at repairs, then this might be the part you do yourself.  You’ll have to honestly look at your skills see what works best for each situation.

Make offers

You’ll never make a purchase if you don’t make offers.  The entire process of buying a property is a series of negotiating steps and it all begins with the first offer or letter of intent.  During each step of the process you’ll be able to make changes and adjustments that help both parties come to an agreement.

You’ll also be dealing with contracts and it helps to spend time reading all the fine print.  You shouldn’t be afraid of contracts, but you do need to make sure that you understand what you’re doing and how it will make things workout.  If you want to use an attorney, that’s fine.  You can also use the prepared contracts a realtor has which is a nice perk of using a realtor.

Negotiate on the deal

The art of negotiating is most closely aligned with the art of listening.  You want to make sure that you meet your goals with the deal and listening to what the other side needs is also helpful.  A single family home can be a very easy process compared to some much bigger deals, but the process is still generally the same.

You can negotiate on any part of a deal and this is where a lot of real estate investors will talk about making deals work.  By spending time looking at lots of other deals, talking to people, and the selling party you’ll be better able to find out a solution that gets you both what you want.

Close on a deal

Conogratulations on getting a property! Now the hard work begins. Many people think of getting the deal as the end point of the investment.  The next part of managing your investment is where you have to get the “investment” part out of it.  You’ve now got to do the work to get a return on your property.

Manage the investment property

Taking care of your investment is extremely important.  This is the part where you add value of some kind and then get a return on the property.  This is a huge field and can involve everything from rehabbing to renting.

Fixing a property can involve a multitude of things.  This is something that you should have found out about and planned on before you ever closed the deal.  Sometimes there are unexpected problems that you’ll find so you do need to be diligent in looking for problems and have plans in place to fix whatever you find.

Renting or making an income from the property is also really important.  Part of managing your investment is getting a renter and continued maintenance.  It’s an important topic that you plan on.

This is a very small section in this article, but it is a huge part of any investment property so be sure to plan ahead and make as many plans in advance as possible.

Exit plan

You might not have all your properties forever so you need to have an exit plan in place.  Selling your property is the easiest exit plan, but you can also find other solutions such as trading and sale leasback options to help you finish your investment.

This is the best and quickest run through of the steps that you will take on how to start investing in real estate.  It’s not something that happens overnight and it can be thought of like a marathon more than a sprint.  You can run your marathon at a sprint pace if you want to.  Those are the people who tend to find all the best deals and take them.

You can do it!  You can get great results and there are hundreds, no thousands of people, who have had successful experiences and have had richer lives through investing in real estate.

Best Wishes and we’re here to help.