Last modified: December 27th, 2021
By: Lauren Suggett
You’re always looking to improve your business, and you should expect the same from AppFolio. Our software is constantly evolving to bring you solutions that better serve your business, your teams, and your residents.
As the year comes to a close, we’re sharing a look back at a selection of the most impactful enhancements we released in 2021 within five categories: Accounting & Reporting, Maintenance & Efficiency, Marketing & Leasing, Association Management, and Insurance Innovations, to ensure you can make full use of them.
Many accountants prefer to close the different sections of their books (i.e. Receivables, Payables, and Journal Entries) separately, so that transactions cannot be added or modified. We built this enhancement into AppFolio’s existing closed accounting period functionality to enable you to streamline the closing process, increase internal controls and flexibility, and close those books with confidence.
Keeping a pulse on existing loans and mortgages payable to banks is an important part of assessing and optimizing your debt financing strategy. You might want to know when to refinance a mortgage to get a better interest rate, avoid paying the balloon, and/or keep the property leveraged so you can use the cash elsewhere.
The Loan Tracking and Accounting Automation feature allows you to track existing loans and mortgages payable to banks; track loan identification information, interest rates, and loan terms for new and existing loans; and automatically create monthly journal entries and bills to streamline your accounting processes. The feature supports fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, interest-only, and balloon payment loan terms.
If you manage in or own a property management company, this feature gives you easy access to at-a-glance views of the current outstanding balance, interest rates, maturity dates, and amortization schedule so you can quickly determine your acquisition, disposition, or refinance strategies.
Accounting Teams, you'll see value in the automated creation of transaction records in AppFolio which contain breakdowns of Principal, Interest, and Escrow that match bank schedules.
“I was excited to see that the AppFolio Loan Tracking functionality has the option to calculate the loan with days/360 which was really helpful for our business.”
H. A. Langer & Associates, L.L.C.
Ending management of a property is something all property managers must do at one time or another, and it involves a variety of different tasks that can be tough to keep track of. We optimized this process by building a new End Management page which guides you through the various to-dos associated with closing out a property and enables you to manage and track these tasks in a single place within AppFolio. With this centralized view, you can be confident you've taken all the proper steps to avoid any potential issues related to the property you've closed out.
Find this feature under “Tasks” on any Property page.
Switching bank accounts is a common requirement that can have significant long-term repercussions if not done correctly. Due to the complexity of this action, you have historically needed to work with AppFolio Customer Support to complete a bank change...but not anymore!
You can now update existing bank accounts tied to properties through a simplified, guided workflow, without requiring the involvement of AppFolio Support. We account for a variety of unique scenarios in this workflow, freeing you to make bank changes on your own schedule.
AppFolio's Automated AP service processes your invoices for you so you can eliminate manual entry and free up more time for your employees.
In a recent enhancement, we expanded the number of fields Automated AP can capture during invoice processing – including due dates, work orders, and GL accounts, and even optional fields such as descriptions and check memo — to bring even more accuracy and efficiency to your AP processes. We've also added markup functionality, giving you an easy way to generate new revenue streams for your business.
Most inspections are done on mobile devices, require heavy data usage, and are completed at a unit without accessible Wi-Fi. If you don't have a reliable cell signal, don't want to use your personal data plan, or are using a non-cellular device, you likely have to take notes and photos separately and re-enter them into your property management solution when you get back to your computer.
With AppFolio's Offline Inspections capability, you can complete a full inspection — including taking photos, notes, and marking items that need follow up — on a mobile device, without the need for an internet connection. Simply use the AppFolio mobile app to complete the inspection, and upload it to AppFolio once you regain connectivity to keep unit turns moving quickly.
Complete all your unit turns from a single, convenient location in AppFolio. By giving you a consolidated view of all the work necessary to complete your turns, the Turn Board helps you maintain visibility and open lines of communication between operations, maintenance and leasing teams to get your units leased more quickly. Plus, with reporting that provides insights into turn times, costs, and specific work order drill downs, you can identify specific opportunities to optimize your turns.
“We've transitioned tracking our turn board process to the AppFolio turn board from Process Street. The integration and ability to create, schedule and track work orders directly from the Unit Turn board page has allowed us to monitor our turn process more efficiently and more transparently.”
Director of Operations, Maven Properties NW
1,174 Units, AppFolio Property Manager Plus Customer
From thermostats and doorbells to locks and light switches, smart home technology infuses modern conveniences into your residents' living experiences. But the benefits don't end there — smart home technology also empowers your team with remote management capabilities that save time and cut costs.
With the seamless integration between AppFolio and SmartRent — a smart home automation provider — you can easily access and manage information related to your smart home systems from a single, centralized location in AppFolio. There are many applications for this integration, including self-guided tours, automated move ins/move outs, and smart parking, which present opportunities for you to provide differentiated experiences to residents and team members alike.
With the NetVendor integration in AppFolio, you benefit from a single platform experience that makes it easy to ensure your company only works with approved and compliant vendors. AppFolio Property Manager becomes your single source of truth for vendor compliance, removing the burden of double data entry, reducing the risk of using non-compliant vendors, and ensuring vendor information is always current. This AppFolio Property Manager Plus feature has been a huge time-saver for customers!
One of the most anticipated innovations to be released in 2021 was Smart Maintenance. This new service intelligently manages all maintenance requests that come in — no matter the time of day or night — so your team can focus on what matters most. Read our Smart Maintenance article to learn more.
Gathering references from an applicant’s prior property managers or landlords can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of screening. To help you streamline and systematize this process, Rental History Verification is now included in AppFolio’s Tenant Screening service.
With the click of a button, a short, standardized verification survey gets sent to an applicant's references. Once completed, the responses are automatically synced in AppFolio and can be viewed alongside application data, enabling you to make an informed decision about the applicant. Best of all, this tool minimizes manual outreach and processing, so your team can quickly fill vacancies with qualified tenants.
“Now that we have a process that doesn’t ask redundant or unnecessary questions and can be filled out quickly and electronically, we are seeing same day (sometimes same hour) returns on those verifications, which makes our turnovers so much quicker and still provides proper tenant verification.”
Property Manager at Century 21 Haggerty Co.
Moving to a new unit — whether to upgrade, downsize, or simply achieve a change of scenery — is a resident request you should be able to happily accommodate, and with the Tenant Transfers enhancement, this workflow has been made easier than ever.
This tool enables you to accurately and efficiently move tenants between units, while increasing visibility around current balances to tenants. It eliminates manual, error-prone work, takes the guesswork out of moving or refunding security deposits and balances between ledgers, and creates tenant retention opportunities you may otherwise lose out on.
Make your leasing and renewal flows even more convenient with PDF Leases from AppFolio. Easily upload any PDF to build reusable, paperless leasing templates by adding fillable form and merge fields, then send them out electronically for completion. Applicants will appreciate the easy, modern experience of reviewing, completing, signing and returning their application without printing — and your team will be amazed at how much this digital workflow expedites application submissions. It’s all done within AppFolio, so you can send, track, and access your leases from anywhere.
All HOAs have at least two funds: Operating and Reserve. Fund Accounting is visualizing balance sheet and income statement activity for these funds separately, on one financial statement.
With the Multiple Fund Accounting release, we visualized assets, liabilities and equity in a balance sheet, by fund, making it easy for you to confirm funds are only utilized for their intended purpose in your HOA.
“The ability to set up Multiple Funds in addition to Operating and Reserves, helped us to satisfy the client requirements and produce detailed Accounting Reports for them.”
Mary De Armas
Accounting Manager, Southwest Property Management
102 associations, 11,200+ units
Cost Centers enable the tagging of recurring charges, bills, and journal entries with their respective cost center, allowing you to produce a statement of income and expense for each cost center and ensure expenses are equitably funded.
With this enhancement, you can categorize financial activity in a manner compliant with the board’s practices, empowering board members with the financial insights that they need to fulfill their fiduciary duties.
“AppFolio reporting has made my life exponentially easier. I spend a fair amount of time investigating issues, and being able to pull a report and click on each item and see all the detail on an item is so helpful. The financial integrity of AppFolio is far and away superior in that respect.”
Association Accountant, Dodson Property Management
58 associations, 7,850 units
Board approvals just got easier. This release enables you to set up automatic board approvals that are triggered when a bill is approved internally. Not only does this streamline the bill approvals workflow, it also saves your team time, and ensures consistency and adherence to board approval requirements.
Use AppFolio's Community Calendar to keep your association happenings current and organized to foster more connected communities. The Calendar provides on-demand visibility of upcoming activities to all members while enabling your team to provide better service through a single solution for communicating and tracking key events, projects, and dates.
With the ability to check the calendar at any point in time, your residents will feel more connected to their community and your board will stay informed of important goings-on.
“Using the Association Calendar is a great way to communicate with owners! Everything from annual and board meeting notices, meeting agendas, scheduled maintenance, and community events can be shared here.”
Association Manager, Coastline Management LLC
39 associations, 2,753 units
Liability insurance is a type of coverage you can implement to protect your units and properties, even when residents don't provide their own insurance. While having this type of coverage provides peace of mind, managing, tracking, and enforcing it often proves to be time consuming and cumbersome.
To help you streamline this insurance workflow we released Smart Enrollment automation, which uses set criteria to run daily scans of your resident's coverage, identify coverage gaps, and implement coverage if a resident does not provide proof of their own insurance. In addition, Smart Enrollment now uses an "insurance requirement" setting to determine which residents have an insurance requirement on their lease. Our system will automatically suggest if this setting should be on or off for each occupancy, but will always give you the ability to change it. Any occupancies with this setting on will be considered for automatic enrollment in the LLI program 30 days after their move-in date.
As an AppFolio Property Manager customer, you can find out more about each one of these features by logging in to the Help Center to explore and learn.
Not yet an AppFolio customer, but want to see how these powerful tools can help your business grow? Let’s chat — sign up now for a customized product demo.
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