Review of: Buildium
Reviewed by: Eric Rosenberg
Last modified: November 29, 2017
Buildium is an online service that streamlines property management tasks, from advertising vacant properties and screening potential tenants to handling all aspects of bookkeeping, to facilitating maintenance requests. With two pricing tiers, Buildium may not be cost effective for smaller landlords. But for larger operations, it might be the perfect solution for your management needs.
It’s no secret that there’s money to be made from real estate. But if you’ve decided to invest in rental properties, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. How are you going to manage the whole shebang?
You could hire a property manager to take care of nearly everything for you. But this can mean big fees — usually around 10% of the monthly rent.
Or you can manage the properties yourself. But if you go that route, there is a lot to handle.
Landlords are in charge of screening potential tenants, providing them with contracts, collecting the rent, doing the maintenance work, handling the accounting and everything else that goes into managing a property.
Lucky for us living in the internet era, there are high-tech options that can handle most of the items on landlords’ to-do lists with one web app. And Buildium is one of them, offering extensive landlord features for leasing, operations, accounting and even taxes.
What Is Buildium?
Buildium is a cloud-based software company that was founded in Massachusetts in 2004 by Michael Monteiro and Dimitris Georgakopoulos. Michael and Dimitris were landlords themselves and saw the need for an app that would make property management “simpler and easier to control.”
But the app does more than just track what needs to be repaired on a day-to-day basis. Buildium manages the entire billing process, from sending reminders to renters to automatically collecting the rent, to paying property managers. It also provides services to help list vacant properties, collect rental applications and screen would-be tenants.
|Price||$45.00 - $5 000.00/month|
|Access||Website, Windows, Macintosh, iOS App, Android App|
|Point of Sale|
|Third Party Intergration|
|Import QFX, QIF Files|
|Promotions||Free 15-day Trial|
How Buildium Works
Buildium offers a number of features to streamline the property management process every step of the way.
Your use of the app can begin with the leasing process. Buildium handles listing the rental property, including syndication to Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo and Craigslist. Then you can use the service to take applications and screen tenants. The app will facilitate the e-signing of the lease, as well. Buildium can even help you build your own website if you don’t yet have one.
Screening is an often overlooked but very important process for landlords to protect their properties and income. The Buildium screener gives access to credit, criminal and eviction histories so you know if an applicant is someone you really want to move into your property.
Buildium gives owners and residents an online portal where they can manage documents, maintenance requests and payments. Owners can view financial reporting via the web or a mobile experience.
Maintenance requests are one of the biggest nightmares for landlords, particularly since they usually seem to come in the form of an emergency repair needed on Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve. Buildium gives you the ability to receive maintenance requests, generate work orders and send requests directly to vendors from the owner dashboard.
If you own rental properties, you are a business owner. Part of owning a business is bookkeeping, accounting and taxes. Buildium has that covered, as well. The software handles property- and company-level accounting and financial reporting, takes care of rent payments and bills, and allows you to e-file 1099s for vendor payments.
When tenants pay online via the renter portal, the payments are directly deposited from the renter’s preferred payment method. Payments automatically flow into the general ledger, where they are automatically recorded for accounting. Buildium comes with about 50 different reports useful for property owners and investors.
Buildium pricing is on a sliding scale based on the number of units you manage. There are also two levels of subscription: Core and Pro.
Core starts at $45 per month for up to 20 properties, but many services are additional charges on an á la carte basis. With a Core subscription, electronic fund transfer (EFT) payments cost 50 cents, and credit card transactions charge 2.75%. There is a $99 setup fee per business bank account you use to receive payments. Mobile inspections require an additional $99 setup fee and a $40-per-month subscription for up to 60 units. Electronic leases cost $5 each, and basic tenant screening costs $15. For 21–40 units, Core costs $60 per month, and the monthly fee continues to rise to a maximum of $225 for 141–150 units. You can’t use Core to manage more than 150 properties.
Pro includes free ETF payments and free bank account setups for up to five accounts. Outgoing payments still cost 50 cents each, and credit cards remain at 2.75% for processing. But you get 30 free lease documents per month. Basic tenant screening is free with Pro, and premium screening is available for $18 each. Mobile inspections are also included at no extra charge with Pro. Pro starts at $150 for up to 50 units and $200 per month for up to 100 units.
Buildium offers additional services for additional fees. Renters insurance is available for $14.50 per tenant per month. You can have Buildium print and mail checks for a $30 setup fee and then 80 cents per check. 1099 fling costs $3 per form plus $25 per batch. Buildium mails documents for 80 cents for one page, plus 15 cents for each additional page.
While Buildium comes with many features, the cost doesn’t stop at the monthly subscription. The platform nickel-and-dimes you with setup fees and usage fees for various services. This makes Buildium look less attractive to smaller operations.
Pros and Cons
- Easy Access to Services — Tenant screening, 1099 filing and renters insurance services are readily available.
- Automated Accounting — Save time on bookkeeping and at tax season with built-in automatic accounting features.
- Widely Used — Used by more than 12,500 property managers working with more than 175,000 owners and 1 million tenants.
- Tenant Screening — Make sure you know who your prospective renters are.
- Lots of Reporting Tools — Buildium comes with about 50 reports you can use.
- Pricey for Small Businesses — Relatively high pricing for landlords with just a few rental units.
- Add-on Fees Add Up — Additional setup costs and usage fees can add up quickly.
There’s a lot to like about Buildium. It’s a great software package for landlords looking to manage their entire investment property management experience online. The end-to-end features to manage tenant screening, leasing, documents, payments, maintenance, accounting and taxes really do bring everything you need to run your property under one roof. And you can access it all online from your computer or smartphone.
The only big drawback that we can see with Buildium is the pricing. For larger property managers, the cost is a drop in the bucket, but for small landlords it may feel as if you’re getting hit with many additional setup and service fees.
Landlords with only a few properties might be better off using QuickBooks, the gold standard of accounting software for small business owners. We also like Shoeboxed for managing paperwork and receipts.
However, Buildium offers a free trial, so we’d recommend taking Buildium for a spin and seeing if it’s worth it for your own needs.
Overall, Buildium is a winner, but go into it with eyes wide open on pricing.