Real estate investment software is one of the best tools real estate investors and professionals have at their disposal to analyze and evaluate rental property. Hands down.
Good real estate investment software provides user-friendly forms, makes every computation, and generates professional-style reports. With a good real estate software solution any user (novice or advanced) can create professional-quality rental income property reports for personal decision-making or as presentations to buyers, sellers, colleagues, partners, or to lenders within minutes.
Moreover, real estate investing is all about the numbers. Hence, successful real estate investors concentrate on (nay, make the investment decision based upon) the bottom line when considering real estate investment opportunities.
Real estate investment software therefore becomes an essential tool for people who seriously work with investment real estate because it provides quick and concise cash flow and rate of return numbers.
10 Aspects of Good Real Estate Investment Software
So let’s get back on topic and consider 10 things you should expect to find in good real estate investment software.
- Easy to learn and use – You want simply to enter the values and have the software do the rest. You never want to look and wonder, “What do I do next?”
- Unlimited units – You want the ability to analyze one unit or a thousand units, or even more units if necessary.
- Loan amortization – You want lots of control over the financing assumptions for the property. Therefore you want the ability to enter multiple loans (e.g., a first, second, and third loan), the flexibility to enter the loan either as a loan assumption or as a new loan, and either at a fixed-rate or interest-only rate.
- Crucial rates of return – You want the real estate investment software to calculate returns for cash flow such as cap rate, gross rent multiplier, cash on cash, operating expense ratio; and loan analysis ratios like debt coverage, loan-to-value, break-even, profitability index.
- Concise, top-quality reports – You want a wide-range of printable reports to include comprehensive data with eye-catching appeal. Remember, you might be trying to influence the opinion of a buyer, seller, colleague, or lender regarding this property. At the very least, you would expect superior software to create an APOD, proforma income statement, rent roll, acquisition report, and sales proceeds report. If you’re pragmatic, you can also find software with sensitivity and scenario reports, a comparable sales report, a marketing package (executive summary), amortization tables, and charts.
- Upgradeable versions – In the event that you purchase their less-than-platinum-grade-version without “time value of money” and “tax shelter” consideration, you want the ability to upgrade to it later if you choose. This is crucial. For you will discover over time that time value of money and taxes are extremely important to real estate investors and you will want the software to compute them.
- Technical support – You want to have easy access to tech support in the event of a problem, e.g., your computer crashes and you need to re-download the real estate investment software. Email and telephone support (preferably with the developer) is recommended. Exercise caution if the company or developer appears overly allusive or lacking in experience.
- Affordability – The good news is that there is very good real estate investment software available on the web for under $300. Be sure to examine the website carefully, however. Remember, the same software company that’s wanting you to purchase their software publishes the website. Unless it’s well organized and informative, or if its lack-luster and confusing, the software might not be worth the price regardless how affordable.
- Customer satisfaction – Customers freely willing to write and submit a testimonial about the software should not be taken for granted or lightly regarded. Look for names, professions, and titles. If you can relate, then you’re on the right track.
- Lots of special features – You should expect good real estate investment software to provide at least these benefits: Seamless printing, picture function, branding and name-rider integration, email capability, help file, and Vista compatibility. In some cases, there could be even more features that are special, so spend time on each website looking around to be sure you don’t miss something.
Stop Wasting Your Time
There are, of course, options other than investing in third-party real estate investment software. You can, for instance, simply scratch out the numbers with a pad and pencil, perhaps make a hasty rule-of-thumb calculation off the top of your head, or maybe listen to someone’s advice.
But it should be obvious that these approaches, although useful in limited cases, are fraught with weaknesses.
They clearly do not provide a deep enough property analysis required for such an important investment decision, nor do they represent the data adequately enough to sway the opinion of any other person, entity, or institution.
Of course, you can develop your own real estate investment software solution on a spreadsheet program like Excel. The problem here is time.
It takes loads and loads of time to embed the computations properly and to format the forms and reports. Given the affordability of some software solutions, successful real estate professionals do not waste time or effort reinventing the wheel and rely on real estate software, preferring rather to spend their time generating moneymaking deals.