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  • Technology

    Arthur Online, Echo Sign, and other useful Apps.

    Hi there,

    I wanted to discuss some management system, apps I use, and other systems I have in place to ease the management of my HMO portfolio.

    A quick bit of background on myself, my portfolio is based in the West Midlands, but I myself work in Plymouth. I sometimes spend extended periods of time out of the country, where I am totally uncontactable. So I have been somewhat forced into using some of these systems, and I’m glad I did because my business runs so much more efficiently.

    It’s really important that you build a good foundation for your business, so that you can grow. Most of this stuff is ‘back office’ stuff, but ultimately improves your efficiency which can free your time up to source more deals, improve your customer service for your tenants, or spend more time relaxing. I’m going to plug a few apps and pieces of software here that I personally use, however I’m sure lots of other systems exist out there. It just depends what you feel comfortable with. I hope you can take something from this, and if anyone has anything to add I’d love your contribution so we can all further our knowledge and improve our businesses.

    I rarely visit the properties myself, as I have a guy on the ground John Colclough who acts as my manager when I’m not around. He conducts viewings, and arranges any maintenance/general stuff for me. I think if you wanted to, it would be possible to go completely without any need to even be in the same country as your portfolio, as long as you had internet access at all times. It would be quite easy to have other tenants do viewings for you, arrange access for trades etc without you ever being present. If you had an empty house, a local agent would do viewings for you, for a fee.

    Property Management.So I personally use Arthur Online. I find this to be a really great system, and costs about £25 a month. Costs vary depending on number of units. It allows me to add all of my properties, then each room as a ‘unit’, and then within each unit a tenancy. Arthur will notify me of when tenancies are 2 months from the end date, and I can send an automatic message from Arthur to the tenants E-mail reminding them of the tenancy end, and if they want to renew or not. Very handy. I can input viewings, whether the tenant has been approved or declined, I can put in deposit details, when rent has been paid. This will create a receipt for the tenant, and for my records too. When rents are paid I can either manually select that each tenant has paid their rent for the month, or I can sync Arthur into Xero accountancy software, and it will automatically update whether rent has been paid or not. If rent has not been paid, I can set grace days, so if rent is not received within say 3 days, Arthur will message/E-mail them a reminder. You can also add tasks/workorders, which can be assigned to your property manager, maintenance man, whomever. Very handy. Arthur and Xero offer free trials, so it’s worth checking out.

    ‘Groups’ is an App available via the App Store (for Apple products) and I believe an Android equivalent also exists. Thanks to Jonathan Burrow for getting me on to this. I can add all of my tenants into ‘groups’ which are basically each house, and then I can fire off a quick text/E-mail to all of them. So if I notify them of any work, inspections, or monthly parish notices I can.

    Echo Sign, also known as Adobe eSign Manager. Available in the App Store. This is fantastic. You can set up templates, such as application forms, AST’s, any documents you can think of. This allows you to E-mail people any document, that requires filling in or a signature. It can be electronically signed and is all legal. No more 10 page long AST’s. You can conduct a viewing, if the prospective tenant is happy with the room, fill out an application form (so you fill out the first bit such as house details etc) and then you E-mail it over to the tenant. They fill in the rest and E-mail it back. You can then download to your computer, and upload to your Arthur Online Management System. Just picture yourself at a viewing, firing application forms off with your phone or tablet. Very modern and professional. This costs about £10 a month but they also do a 30 day free trial. Highly recommended.

    I also use Dropbox, which is a Cloud based storage system. I can share documents, photos etc with anyone I want. Tenants, my property manager etc. It will simply E-mail them notifying that I have shared a Dropbox folder with them, and they will be able to access that folder. Very handy for a number of reasons, use your imagination.
    Any further questions let me know.

    http://www.njlhomes.com
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    Nick Jon Leatherland Director | Pegasus Property Group info@pegasuspg.com | http://www.pegasuspg.com

    Very useful - can i ask how many properties you manage in this way?

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    http://www.Rentcent.co.uk

    A blog and information source for buy to let landlords

    Thanks Nicholas, great tips. I've read about Arthur a few times and definitely considering it now that I am expanding. Not heard of Groups before, but had heard of Text local...maybe Groups is a good option, will check it out! 

    Cheers

    Phil

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    Your link seems to take me to some generic apps rather than property specific ones.

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    Just adding another one:

    A new VR app called Ikea Place.

    Tap through the app's catalogue of over 2,000 products—nearly the company’s full collection of umlauted sofas, armchairs, coffee tables, and storage units—then hold up your phone and use the camera to place the digital furniture anywhere in a room.

    ​Want to see how the Strandmon winged chair looks by the window? Done. Can you really squeeze in that 7-foot-long area rug? Open the app, point your camera at the floor, and watch it appear at scale. You can even place a futon where it would go in the guest room, then see what it looks like when it unfolds into a bed.

    Find out more

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