MHP Software: Maybe I will build one, want YOUR advice!


#1

Hello all.

Software management seems to be a very common topic here. In the past I have started and sold 2 software companies and I am considering creating a software management system specifically for the MHP operator.

A big reason why I chose MHPs as an investment type was for the great cash on cash returns and the nature of it being passive ( a glorified parking lot with utilities- ideally). But like many of you, I have not been happy with the options that exist out there for software management. They are either outdated and clunky, too expensive, or they simply don’t have some of the basic features that we need in this space.

So here is my question to you:

If you use a property management software right now, what do you use and what do you like and not like about it? What features do you wish it had?

If you do not use a property management software yet, why? What are you looking for that you have not found yet?

I am assuming our industry does not get a lot of attention due to stigma and the size of the opportunity not being as great as other asset classes. But it sure seems to be attracting a lot of smart investors these days. Please do let me know your thoughts.

I am always happy to connect at Charles@CharlesFrancisProperties.com


#2

You say “property” management software. OMG you are entering a crowded space. Look up Rentmanager to start with, and you can search on this forum for that word and go on from there.

Here’s what I see a need for. Plus one if you agree!

(A) Lots of MHP operators have to keep track of their rent-to-own mobiles and how far along on the rentals ppl are.

(B) Others have to keep track of their “Rent Credits” or other customer value proposition. “Like Airline Miles.”

[interjection thread STARPOINTS -> MARRIOTT rewards tracking – is this going to be treated by IRS like BitCoin? Because it’s sort of trading like virtual currency…]

( – C – ) A way to easily track a whole lot of chattel loans that have mortgages on them. This is what I want the most.

It does not seem too hard (it’s simple math and data structures plus good user interface) and I’ve often thought about hiring someone to do it for me in a custom rollup.

Our current software is just awful, but software that satisfies the need for all the reporting requirements in an easy-to-interface with manner would be just great.

Oh, reporting requirements? Yes, look up Federal Regs (Code of Federal Regulations, available online to anyone who can read) related to Mortgages and you will see what reports & records must be available to (and kept by) the user. Oh and it has to be certified secure enough to be compliant with rules to protect SSNs, because, after all, Mortgages and Taxes and the IRS!


#3

There is an over abundance of this type of software and depending on size of parks many people use excel and quicken. I don’t think there is nothing new to invent here.


#4

You can interface most of this with quicken for real estate.


#5

Quicken seems cheap enough to try, but I do not think it would stand up to a regulator’s scrutiny.

In other words, if you’re sued under federal law for predatory lending or high-risk lending, etc, the issues that matter are not going to be determined the way you or quicken decide to, there is an exactly right way and when someone complains that you’re screwing them, you want to be able to prove in court what you were doing (allocating this to principal and that to fees and this to escrows and that to blah blah blah).

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’ll try it out and see.


#6

I don’t do lending. However I know for certain that you can interface mortgages but don’t know to what level of detail. But I would rather do rent to own and go through a simpler process of eviction (for most states) than having to go through foreclosure. We can get to complicated in a simple business.


#7

I know its a very crowded space. I have checked out Rent Manager and it seems like the best option for a MHP owner but it has some major cons. I think the software is super dated and clunky. It’s also very pricey and doesn’t scale well for first time park owners.

Conversely you have very intuitive and scalable software like tenantcloud but it doesn’t have most the features you would need to track and run a MHP.

If I entered this crowded space, I would mostly do it as a hobby. At a minimum I’d have a very pricey solution for my own needs and if others wanted to pay for it then great.

I also agree with your A, B, and C being major pain points in accounting.

And @WhiteTrashGator, I currently use google drive but its many different spreadsheets. While its ok its not a great solution. Def. a better mouse trap to be had out there for me.


#8

There is a site out there that aks you a series of questions and based on your answers it will recommend which management software is best for you. There are actually roughly 10 or so out there with a host of other platforms that are not that expensive. I don’t know this space but always heard from those that own a lot of spaces that they complain about those bigger programs and the fact they don’t use many of the bells and whistles.

Our business just isn’t that complicated and if you structure your park for lots only then really not much to track. I just don’t see too much value here. I might be totally wrong though.


#9

I used QB Pro coupled with POS for another business I had. So I know most of their products fairly well and the only QB version I am aware of that tracks a mortgage where you are the note holder is Enterprise … which is an annual fee and not a cheap one. I will still need that software for another use, but am seriously looking into Rent Manager and PayLease for the park because it looks like it has most of the things I need covered. I am not sure about the regulations on reporting for the mortgage side of it but I will ask before I sign up for it. I think it could be customized for a fee though. And that would be worth the costs to me. I look at software as an necessary expense and it looks like Rent Manager simplifies management enough to be worth it for me. This is my first park but I plan to build a portfolio so starting off right seems like a good idea to me.


#10

Seems like a huge effort (I was in the software biz as well… We were a SalesForce ISV selling customized software into the merchant acquiring/payments processing space). What’s the target market? My guess is that the guys with less than 200 lots will easily manage their park(s) using excel and maybe accounting software. Guys with 200 to 1000 lots will need some sort of queue based workflow mgmt to process applications, manage evictions, track background checks, etc, etc… Then Frank and Dave level guys will have all of those needs and have tons of reporting requirements… Questions, I’m sure you know, you’ll get asked are; How long will it take to make a change to my software (all users have different needs)? How much will you charge to make those changes?

You may want to buy your first park and then determine how to build out the software… perhaps in a few years you’ll have something niche - and by then there will be hundreds of more park owners to sell it to as the mom and pops disappear.


#11

@Charlie.Ansa , as per your post:

  • “…In the past I have started and sold 2 software companies and I am considering creating a software management system specifically for the MHP Operator…”

First of all Congratulations on starting and selling 2 software companies! That is awesome!

Two of my previous jobs was being a “Quality Assurance Analyst” (ie…finding bugs in computer software) for two publicly traded Computer Software Companies.

I agree with @tmperrault breakdown of Users and their needs:

  • “…What’s the target market?..”
  • “…guys with less than 200 lots will easily management their park(s) using excel and maybe accounting software…”
  • “…Guys with 200 to 1000 lots will need some sort of queue based workflow mgmt to process applications, manage evictions, track background checks, etc, etc…”
  • “…Then Frank and Dave level guys will have all those needs and tons of reporting requirements…”

My Husband and I use Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word. We have 2 MHPs and fall under the “less than 200 lots” User Group.

Personally, I like to keep “My Data” on “My Computer”.

I do not want my Data to be held “hostage” per say on a cloud based server, so when I no longer care for the “Professional Software” I will either have to “Export” my Data or “Lose” my Data.

All Computer Software has “Bugs” / “Issues” as it is made my Humans and we are all imperfect.
Sometimes when one “Bug” is fixed it causes other “Bugs”.

Will you have the resources to not only create this Computer Software, but to also maintain this Computer Software?

One of the publicly Traded Computer Software Companies that I worked for still does not turn a profit (after approximately 18 years).

Since you have started and sold 2 Computer Software Companies, you obviously have knowledge and skills in this area.

We wish you the very best!


#12

Hi,
Congratulations.
I would add for small park owners not using QBO, Excel, etc (like me) that Park Sidekick is great bec our park is submetered and they have calcs factored into the software, so all I need is to know the multiplication factor and voila!
Makes the billback much easier.

Just some thoughts.


#13

I use COZY.co as it is basically free. Unfortunately I would like to customize monthly repetitive emails and I would like to issue credits to tenants within the system which cannot be done but they are thinking of doing both.

If you made software what 3 key features would you add?

I might just sign up!


#14

I have been using Appfolio. One of the best programs out there . I’m almost 98% paperless . Have to say one of the best all around accounting & property Mngr app. I spend little time in the offfice and more in the field with an IPad now. Collections are almost non existent and work orders and inspection are so easy .


#15

Buildium.com is popular in my area


#16

Buildium.com Is very good, I was using rent manager for years but made the switch!


#17

Thanks all for the feedback.

I have decided to put this on the back-burner.

I may come back to it down the road if my own needs get greater.


#18

I think your the first person I’ve come across who went from RM to Buildium, would think its the other way around. Can you share why you made this switch, anything you miss, anything you are happy that you gained?


#19

Hi Charlie,

I’ve seen some people doing cool things with Podio that are real estate specific and then selling those interfaces. Scott is one (https://strugglinginvestor.com/). He’s been very helpful to a lot of people and is getting paid well for it now.

If you want to help me build a very small but fun side hustle project I’d love some help from a software developer! I tried to build this thing a few years ago and get some of that “internet money” but realized in the end that my skills are better suited to real estate.

Hope all is great! Will


#20

Rent manager had became very dated to me when I made the change over a year ago. After being on hold for over hour one afternoon I decided I was going to make the change if I could find better system. Although the process of changing over was not easy, It has been a good change. The entire interface is much more user friendly and easy to use. The tablet and phone features are better than rent manager in my opinion. I have had good customer service with them so far quick to pick-up and call back within 10 minutes if not shorter. Rent manager often would have a hold times over hour in my experiences.