Real Estate

Single-Family Rental Investment Is Booming. These 5 Apps Are Here For It

Show us your tech! All August long, Inman will be talking to agents about the best technology they’re using now — everything from their favorite CRM platforms to the hottest 3D tours and everything in between. Plus, Inman tech reviewer Craig Rowe will work overtime on extra product reviews on the latest and greatest tech. 

Real estate investment strategies differ greatly. There are people who buy and hold, some flip and others tear down. You can buy small apartment properties, duplexes, land or simply but into a REIT.

Perhaps no form of real estate asset is garnering more attention at the moment than single-family rentals, and the reason isn’t entirely good. There’s a lot of equity out there that won’t end up in the retirement plans of tens of thousands — and growing — Americans.

Wall Street has realized, or at least taken the time to understand, that being a residential landlord is a financially rewarding endeavor.

Institutional money has been behind apartment properties for some time; but that too, is a relatively recent practice. REITs became legal in 1960, according to Statista. In 2018, they accounted for more than $860 billion in assets.

On the heels of that almost incomprehensible success, eyes (or wallets, rather) have turned toward single-family suburbia, the haunt of individual, private landlords no longer.

The long-term consequences of all this may be hard to determine at this point, but rest assured, for every house a giant fund owns, it’s one more home your client won’t.

Don’t panic yet, though. For those agents who have or want to work with single-family investors, the leads, tools and technology are out there, and here are a few of the apps your clients could use to become better landlords.

NestEgg can do as little or as much as the landlord needs it to do. However, given its super-sharp user experience and engaging, streamlined functionality, there’s little reason to not engage it to its fullest.

The software can handle all aspects of leasing, from advertising vacancies with photos and ad copy to credit checks and application comparisons. The company will find and pay a local real estate agent to assist where needed. It uses official state (or custom) leases and charges only a month’s rent to handle it all.

Every resident, even under the same roof, can have a separate NestEgg account in case payments need to be separated or paid at different times. Text alerts and reminders are sent to all parties in regard to due dates, missed payments and when money has been fully collected.

The company is directing its marketing at younger, tech-savvy real estate investors — and it shows. This software reminds me of Freshbooks, the at-home entrepreneur’s bookkeeping platform. It covers cash flow, bookkeeping, banking (it is a bank), per-lease accounting and revenue projections, as well as a good deal more in a minimalist, tightly coded solution that would take even the most number-phobic only an hour or so to feel comfortable using.

Real estate agents partnering with such investors would be wise to have a look at how Baselane can assist clients in understanding the monetary ins and outs of owning rental homes and vacation properties. It can do the same for your own rental interests.

Like a few other alternative home purchasing and investing services on the market today, you’re buying a property from Plotify, which it secures with a deep pool of credit. The company’s goal is to remove the hassles that are unique to investing in residential homes (versus multifamily), such as securing management, the mortgage process, ROI tracking, and accounting and leasing.

Plotify was built by a team of entrepreneurs who also happen have thousands of single-family rentals (SFRs) between them. One of its founders, Anish Malhotra, said that he’s “always had an affinity for products that break down barriers and democratize access to platforms that promote broader participation.”

Plotify certainly reflects that mindset.

The software automates tenant repair requests through a user dashboard, rapidly filtering them to the most appropriate preferred vendor and keeping property management in the loop, helping it avoid operational duress.

Tenant relations are strengthened by a slew of benefits accessible through the system’s interface, including cashback incentives for timely rent payments and securing various forms of renter’s insurance, among other proactive actions. It also facilitates home cleaning, television mounting, landscaping and any number of chores vital to comfortable rental home occupancy.

Latchel’s development was driven in part by the increased strain placed on property management professionals during the pandemic, which resulted in millions of Americans spending much more time at home, in their rental properties. More use tends to equal a greater need for service, especially as more Americans see rental homes as a long-term solution.

According to a press release, in June, 2021, Invesco put $40 million into Mynd, with the goal of making it the largest buyer of single-family rentals in the country and to “accelerate the development of Mynd’s all-in-one technology platform for real estate investment and management.”

The company offers a vertical solution ranging from finding appropriate properties to marketing them for lease, collecting rent and providing ongoing tenant services.

In conclusion, when new products begin to emerge in support of an industry trend, rest assured that trend is going to stick around for a while. In fact, it’s safe to say that single-family rentals are on their way to becoming the next major real estate asset class.

Buy now, sell … never?

Email Craig C. Rowe

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