Excel has been a tool for property management companies, self managing landlords and even letting agents for decades, but as technology advances, there are new options available that offer greater ease of use.
Some landlords report better efficiency and improvement in how they manage their business as soon as they make a switch and even better avoid the costly mistake of having data erased or altered by using troublesome excel sheets.
As a result, the transition away from excel often results in a better ability to streamline tasks which means you don’t have to spend hours going over boring data while still having the peace of mind that documents are secure.
In fact, at Lofti, we have helped hundreds of landlords avoid this headache with just a few clicks of a button by using our tenant onboarding process.
But we understand this option isn’t for everyone and you shouldn’t just take our word for it, so, read on to get informed with what options you have and sign up below to trial our software for free for five active tenancies!
What is the best alternative to excel for property companies?
First of all, the most well known alternative for property management that is considered better than excel is property management software. But what are the main types of software? Are they complicated? And what do they help with?
What does property management software do that excel doesn’t?
First of all, there is a range of additional things property management software does that excel doesn’t below are some of the advantages available at Lofti. Before you read on, consider the features excel actually does has by reading on here.
Receives automatic leads
As you start renting a property, the tenant onboarding process can be quite overwhelming as you have to manage enquiries from multiple different platforms.
This can lead to you missing out on the perfect tenants for your property who will just find another landlord who answers their requests and spending countless hours answering questions from tenants and replying to emails.
With a property management software like Lofti, you will be able to receive automatic leads from Rightmove, Zoopla and other listing portals so you can simplify this process and respond in one place.
Our users are able to reply to far more tenants and therefore find the right tenants for them that suit their property, without having to fight between multiple portals and messaging platforms.
Arranging property viewings
As you receive enquiries from prospective tenants, the next step is to find out their availability so you can arrange a viewing.
Without property management software that organises viewings quickly and at the right time for both you and the tenant, you may face delays and further void periods in a property that is trying to rent, losing money.
With a property management software rather than excel, you can arrange these viewings with calendar integration and even collect holding deposits once the tenant is interested with simple to use e-signing solutions.
Integrated tenant referencing
Everyone has their own unique way of doing tenant referencing. Usually it relates to an income in relation to the rent amongst other factors. Typically, the stricter this process, the more likely you are to find tenants who pay rent on time.
Nonetheless, if you’re too strict, you may drive tenants away and not be able to rent out your property for long periods of time. Either way, you could end up losing a lot of money.
Software that helps with property management completes your tenant referencing process for you and it is done automatically. What’s more is at Lofti, we are so confident in our process that any tenant who passes the referencing process is compliant with rent guarantee insurance.
This means a property that is rented out though the Lofti will have the rent covered by an insurance company in the rare event that a tenant falls into rent arrears or there is an emergency where they do not pay rent.
Tenancy agreement templates
If you’ve ever tried to create a tenancy agreement template yourself, you’ll find it is a nerve wracking process making sure everything in the template that needs to be there legally is there.
If you miss out on a category, you could face legal issues, especially if there are disputes with your tenant in the future. Events like this may harm your reputation as a landlord and bankrupt you as you face court fees that were unexpected.
Avoid this by using the tenancy agreement templates that are designed specifically for your tenancy. Simply plug in the information you need and let Lofti do all the work by following our instructions on generating your own documents.
Enhanced communication with tenants
If you are involved in the management of a property in any sense, communication is important as things go wrong in a property a lot of the time. From a boiler breaking in an emergency to a tenant having general questions.
Unfortunately, a lot of communication is ineffective and costs you time as a landlord, not allowing you to focus on the more important things in a property business.
This is where property management software is perfect as communication all comes through one app and you can easily assign a contractor or professional to deal with the issue at hand with in-app messaging.
Property maintenance data
Historical data to do with the maintenance of a property and the costs associated with them can remain hard to keep on top of. Especially for those managing larger portfolios.
The failure to update an EPC certificate or conduct a boiler check in a property can cause landlords a lot of stress when these deadlines creep up or worse yet, expire without you knowing.
In the worst cases, tenants could report you to the local council of your property and make sure you’re able to
Check how your property portfolio performs
Fighting the everyday troubles of managing a property means you rarely are able to keep your head above water and take a general look at your property portfolio to see how it is performing relative to the market.
Over time, you could fall behind, charge below market value rents and miss out on opportunities to refinance, buy or sell a property at the right time in the market.
Because of the economic cycles that naturally happen in property and the need for growth in the property market, this can set you back and you could be leaving money on the table.
With lofti you can check how your property portfolio performs with access to analytics specific to you so you can make sure you’re not missing opportunities and maximising your income. On top of this, arrange surveys on the app so you can keep up with a property’s value.
As this is integrated in the software already, our users don’t have to do so much additional work as this is all recorded in the app in one place.
Store property documents
While property documents are becoming more and more digitised anyway and you can certainly store this on an excel sheet, with a large portfolio, the storing of documents can become chaotic.
Especially when a document is required as soon as possible, like if you have to renew a tenancy at short notice, strong documents in excel can waste unnecessary time and get confusing.
With property management software, it is easy to see where documents have been issued at what date and the exact document that was given. Being able to replicate a document and be confident in what you have issued your tenants with is a great advantage.
In addition, property documents don’t just relate to tenants. You’re also able to store any legal documents with property management companies, letting agents or even solicitors within the lofti dashboard.
Property management software vs excel?
So, now you know what property management software has to offer, how does this compare to excel? Of course there are still advantages to excel if you’re after something simple to use.
However, think about the time and money saved by keeping things simple if you’re able to make sure there is no
What are the advantages of excel?
- You don’t have to spend time learning to use a new platform
- It is an easy way to manage a property
- It is best used when there are only a few properties you have to manage
- Trends and insight can clearly be found through filters
What are the disadvantages of excel?
- You’ll have to learn complicated formulas to get complex information
- Most things must be inputted manually as there is no automation
- The learning curve for complex operations can be long and hard
- You need a Microsoft office licence to use effectively
- It is harder to save files as automatic saving isn’t as effective like alternatives such as Google Sheets
What spreadsheets are better than excel for property companies?
If you still want to manually input property information if you’re managing a property, there are still alternatives to excel that may be just as good if not better than other types of property investments.
Google Sheets and excel have long been the leaders in spreadsheet software with google sheets becoming more popular in recent years.
One of the biggest advantages of google sheets is how you can access it for completely free with nothing but a google account alongside the ease of using it online with just a tab open in google.
Where google sheets falls short is there aren’t that many file types that google is able to integrate with. Nonetheless, Google Sheets integrates with excel well so a lot of users do their file conversions with excel and transition later on to google sheets to complete the bulk of the work.
The good thing is that the transition to Google Sheets is usually straightforward if you predominantly use excel. The formulas and features are for the most part the same if not better.
Apple Numbers seen here is a spreadsheet application developed by Apple for use on its macOS and iOS platforms. Where the platform shines is its user interface. Like most Apple products, there is an emphasis on how easy the software is to use and Apple truly pride themselves in creating a software that is ergonomic, streamlined and bug free.
Be prepared for the app to come with a lot of updates over time as the software is improved as the technology is relatively new.
All in all, Apple Numbers stands out because of its easy-to-use features alongside the fact that it comes with a variety of pre-built templates that can be added to suit a property management company’s needs.
Furthermore, benefit from the easy integration the software has with all of the apple products. Simple apple drop between devices and share documents with ease.
PDF tables aren’t used in any specific software but the ability to add PDFs into tables remains a feature of most PDF softwares whether that be Adobe PDF or the basic editing tools within PDF readers of browsers.
For example, if you’re looking to add a PDF table, you can quite easily head over to Google Chrome and add in a table feature which will allow you to format numbers in the same way you would as if you were using excel.
If you use PDF templates for a lot of your other workflows in a property company, this can save you a lot of time as you can use one platform and software for all of your needs.
What’s more is if you ever want to create a graph or display this data differently, you can export the data to other softwares such as Adobe InDesign, and PDF editing software.
As a result, using PDF tables can work well if you want the data of your property management software represented graphically perhaps with multiple colours and explained clearly.
The LibreOffice suite contains a variety of apps and one of them is the LibreOffice Calc. It is a free spreadsheet program that is part of the LibreOffice suite of office software. The software arguably has fewer features than excel.
However, the main advantage of LibreOffice Calc is that there is no fee to use the software. Anyone can use it and once done, you can easily integrate it with other softwares by exporting the file.
For instance, a solicitor can use LibreOffice to calculate the finances for the property and conduct budgeting and then export the file away to be used by a property management who will use it to add tenants.
Power BI is a business intelligence and data visualisation tool developed by Microsoft, so while you probably won’t be able to get rid of excel by installing excel, adding Power BI to your workflow is ideal to benefit from the features of Microsoft.
If you are collaborating with a lot of other people as you manage a property, this is ideal in the creation of additional documents that can represent data visually to help convey ideas.
For example, a property manager could communicate with a landlord about the property’s occupancy rates, income and expenses with a series of graphs rather than only relying on tables and colour that excel provides.
This is also great for if you want to identify trends and help spark ideas from a clear graphical representation of a property.
In terms of property management, Zoho Sheets can be used for many of the same purposes as Excel, such as keeping track of rental properties, creating budgets and financial reports, and analysing data on occupancy rates and income.
Nonetheless, it stands out because of its ability to perform calculations such as those that manipulate data and represent that data all in one.
Zoho sheets also come with a lot of the other Zoho apps that are all easily used with each other so you’re able to make sure the property you are managing has the correct data, is represented clearly and whatever else you need.
So, it wouldn’t make sense to use Zoho Sheets if you aren’t using it with the other Zoho apps already too.
What other options do landlords have?
We get it, sometimes you may find that storing anything digitally is simply hard to get your head around and especially if you only have a few tenants and are a self managing landlord, it may be far easier to store documents manually.
Below are some tips on how you can utilise ancient technology of pen and paper to make sure you’re still able to run your property company efficiently as an alternative to excel.
Taking notes by hand
Taking notes by hand and bringing a notepad with you everywhere you go can be a great place to start when looking to manage a property.
This can be better than excel as you won’t have to walk around with a laptop or a piece of technology like a mobile phone everywhere you go. For someone conducting a lot of property visits, this can be a game changer.
You can organise yourself further by having a different notepad for each property or perhaps a different type of page or colour you write in for different property problems.
Before computers were mainstream, this is how property management was conducted so the process is entirely manageable. However, it is recommended you still take advantage of modern technology when it comes to calculations and forecasting property growth.
It is easy to make a manual error here so even if you’re the most old school property management professional, even in this case it is best to lean on modern technology. At least by using a calculator.
Storing documents manually
If you don’t choose to use excel, then the storing of documents can become a difficult issue. Not only for organisation purposes but also because of the security issue.
If you store a tenant’s documents in a public space such as in a company office, people’s data could be stolen. Under GDPR rules, it is the right of the tenant to have their data protected and only used for the tenancy.
This means storing important documents behind lock and key and making sure they are safe from things like mould, the potential to become wet and even fire are all necessary for those storing property documents manually.
What is better overall, excel or alternative management methods?
To accurately answer the question of whether there are better options to excel for property management, you’d need to define what better means to you.
For some, a better software could mean cheaper as it saves them money. However, for others, a good alternative is something that saves time and adds additional value to a property business.
For example, someone who values a property business to be efficient, streamlined with as little back and forth between contractors will have different reasons for using a property management software than someone who is just looking to save some money in the tenancy referencing process.
Nonetheless, most people find that there is significant benefit to using a type of software that isn’t excel as being able to benefit from multiple different features all in one place is ideal for those looking to streamline their workflow.
So, if you want to avoid the problems that come with solely using excel, sign up to Lofti below where you can start creating active tenancies and have them free for the first five you create.