Note: This is part one of our series on technology innovations that help property owners and managers get the most from their investments.
Managing properties, whether your own investment or as a fulfilling career, is a lot of work. But property managers today have more options than ever for cost-effective ways to manage that work load more easily and effectively. Improved interfaces, faster applications and cloud-storage options make these tools ever-more-accessible and easy to use.
Azibo Integrates Property Management and Accounting in One System
A truly free, cloud-based management tool, Azibo sets itself apart from many other property management tools in a few key ways, according to CEO Vikas Gupta.
Gupta explains that, while other systems also include options like lease generation and application screening, Azibo is the only one with a bespoke accounting system built in. “We realized that most off-the-shelf accounting software aimed at small businesses wasn’t set up for the unique needs of independent rental owners and property managers,” Gupta says. “We created integrated accounting and banking to complement our automated rent collection, tenant applications, tenant screening, and lease generation functions to help these owners save time and maximize cash flow.”
Azibo’s accounting was built from the ground up for self-managing independent property owners with anywhere from 1 - 200 units, with tailored features such as a chart of accounts created with property owners in mind and property owners specific financial reports (e.g., T-12, rent roll, Schedule E) in addition to the standard reports that all accounting suites provide. The Azibo team worked with an expert in the field so the categories met the needs of customers right off the bat. “
The banking piece is important for both compliance and accounting reasons,” Gupta explains. “You can bring in your Chase or Wells Fargo or other bank accounts, but with us, one can easilycreate accounts for each property so that bookkeeping is clean; every expense and income through each property specific bank account is connected to the same single property. We also allow bill pay through our system to minimize the need to go to other sites and allow expense coding at the same time. That makes everything easier come tax time.”
Although Azibo sells valued-added services through its platform, such as insurance, that they make money from, use of the software itself is truly free for landlords. It is also completely customizable to the property owner or manager’s needs.
Landlords and property managers say they save 1 to 2 hours per unit per month by using Azibo, Gupta says. That can add up for owners with multiple units. Because late fees are charged automatically and tenants can pay right in the system, landlords also report more on-time rent payments.
Livable Helps Property Owners Recover Rising Utility Costs
In an article last week, Globe Street reported that “For the first time in Realtor.com’s data history, there was a year-over-year rent decline for 0-2 bedroom-units since numbers started to be tracked three years ago. The two-bedroom properties dropped 0.5% to $1,923, which was $10 lower than a year ago and $47 lower than at the July 2022 peak."
At the same time, the team at Bigger Pockets said that rent growth is negative for the first time in three years, leading to cash flow concerns for some Housing Providers. "Earlier this month, Redfin reported that rent growth slid 0.6% on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the pandemic. This is, of course, a modest decline in rents, but it begs the question: will there be a bigger correction or even a crash in rents?"
“That may not sound like much, but it's more evidence of a trend we've been noticing since November, 2022. And it doesn't show any signs of slowing as more inventory becomes available,” says Livable CEO Daniel Sharabi.
Globe Street also published an article in June that says "Repairs and maintenance costs rose from $816 to $1,045 and utilities spiked from $1,487 to $1,693."
That combination of rising utility costs and softening rents has a lot of independent rental owners who master-bill utilities concerned about the health of their investments. But there’s good news! Livable helps those property owners recover those same rising master-billed utilities for a healthier bottom line.
Ratio Utility Billing, also known as RUBS, is the pillar of Livable’s utility recovery options. RUBS allows landlords to bill residents for their share of master-billed utilities, including water, sewer and trash pickup, in a way that is fair, accurate and transparent.
The Livable platform takes a variety of factors about the property and its residents into account to calculate their fair shares: square footage, number of occupants, common area amenities like a pool and lawn sprinkler system, in-unit amenities such as a dishwasher or laundry facilities, and more to determine how much each unit is responsible for. Residents can pay the property manager directly or use Livable’s platform to pay their bills each month.
“We’ve seen units recover up to 90% of their master-billed utilities in as little as 60 days,” Sharabi says. Unlike many platforms, Livable is designed for the independent rental owner, with no minimum number of units required to sign up.
Some communities have instituted rent control that includes RUBS, limiting how much housing providers can recover.
Even so, Livable can help. Sample Statements generated using the same data show residents how much they would pay for utilities if they could be billed. Studies show that simply informing residents of their consumption can cause them to conserve, reducing bills for housing providers and conserving valuable natural resources. To further that conservation savings, Livable helps educate residents about ways to conserve. “We believe that what's good for the planet is good for your wallet!” Sharabi says.
Stay tuned for part two of our series, coming soon! We will share innovations and cool tools that help housing providers do more in less time while maximizing their real estate investments.
To learn more about how Ratio Utility billing promotes conservation while saving you money on master-billed utilities, book a discovery call with one of our experts.