Is free software really free? In this article, we will take a closer look at the pros and cons of free real estate management solutions.
Property management solutions are a popular tool in the real estate industry. And there’s a wide selection of property tools on the market, all of which have varying features, capabilities, integrations and pricing. For smaller real estate agencies, free property management software serves as a steppingstone into the world of property management systems. But do they really come completely free of cost?
As with most other industries, these software vendors are in it for profit. So, if the property management solution you’re using is truly free, how are the developers behind the product managing to maintain this offering? What are they getting out of giving you a well-designed product?
Does free software mean poor design or limited capabilities? Not necessarily – and the vast selection of free open source software is proof of that. However, it does mean that – most of the time – software products marketed as free are actually bringing in profit in some other way. And this is where hidden fees often play an important role.
Before you decide whether to go with a paid platform or a free real estate software, we have gathered up a quick list of a few things you should consider first.
Free isn’t always free
Free software solutions, most often referred to as “freeware”, are a dime a dozen these days. What the software developer is betting on is that the customer downloading the free version of the software will eventually like it and then be willing to pay even more money in order to activate all the premium features and capabilities of the program.
You see, most free software solutions will be limited in terms of features and capabilities. You can think of them as an Android or iOS app – while they’re free to download and use, they come with extensive in-app offerings. If you want to enhance your experience using the app, you will be forced to make certain additional purchases. Freeware works the same way.
Software maintenance will cost money
Downloading and using a particular software solution might be free, but the maintenance and customization costs are not. And no company is the same on every aspect: your needs and strategies may differ from your counterparts. With that said, you need a property management solution that suits your needs and your own specific solution.
Most businesses will want to tweak their software solution in order to accommodate their needs. If you got a free out-of-the-box software however, this might prove difficult to do without a substantial investment.
Freeware customer support is limited
With free cloud-based property management solutions, there can be little to none of the customer support you would receive with a state-of-the-art software solution.
This means that, as a business owner, it’s important to ask yourself how much good customer support is worth to you? Do you have developers in-house that can fix things easily if your software faces a problem? Or would any potential issues hold you back for days?
Even if you end up paying a little bit more for a vendor with excellent customer support, it will definitely be worth it if issues arise. Unfortunately, there are some vendors on the market that will offer great customer service – but when the time comes, they’re nowhere to be found. We believe that great customer support should be among the deciding factors when you choose your next property management app or solution.
There will be limitations of your freeware
Like it or not, free is not always as good as it sounds when it comes to software solutions. With a freeware solution, there’s often
· No customer support
· No technical support
· No customization abilities
· Limited features
· Limited users
· No user training
Paid software solutions, on the other hand, come with a wide variety of useful features and capabilities. Often, paid software typically comes with training and user forums to help new users becoming more acquainted with their platform, and to ensure that they use it in the most optimized way possible.
Believe it or not, but a simple training program can and will affect your productivity.
Limited access to necessary features
If you compare all the free software solutions on the market, whether it’s for real estate, accounting or HR, you will soon notice a pattern in all of them: restricted features.
More often than not, the free versions of these products are merely tools – tools that will entice potential customers to eventually pay for access to the full, premium experience. Freeware solutions are often just a way for vendors to have their software product get the attention it needs. By getting as many people as possible signing up to your free software, eventually some of them will pay good money to get access to the full version, with all the bells and whistles.