By Peter Lamandre, Better by Design Real Estate, Scranton, PA
Whether your portfolio is made up of large complexes or scattered smaller units, performing unit and site inspections is an important value-added service that a property management firm provides to their clients. It is also one of the more time consuming aspects of our daily jobs. Performing the inspections requires scheduling with tenants, documenting observations, and follow-up on deficient items. It is also crucial to have the historic inspections readily available to reference changes in conditions.
Over the years my firm has tried numerous variations on a rather routine process; from the traditional pen and clipboard documenting observations on standard forms to utilizing digital cameras and even portable video.
Recently we have been testing and are just rolling out a new process for conducting inspections. A fully digital and paperless inspection process; allowing for a swift method to memorialize observations by following a consistent process.
With the advent and proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the marketplace this process is becoming more streamlined. As an avid iPhone user the apps we use are iPhone/iPad based. However searching though your application marketplace I am sure you can locate apps for windows and android based devices as well.
A few helpful apps that you may want to look are:
Tap Inspect. Tap inspect is a free app that allows you to customize the inspection process and deliver customized reports directly to your client from the field. You can include photos of the property and comment on your observations. The report is then transferred to a PDF and archived on their website. The reports are branded with your logo and name for identification. The app is text driven with a vast library of boilerplate comments. The app is free however there are pricing plans for the delivery and archiving of the reports.
Field Agent. Field agent is a free app that is more photo driven — a unique feature of Field Agent is the ability to overlay previous photos of the same area to compare condition. You also have the option of annotating the photo with comments. You can add some customization to the comments but as the saying goes “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” You also have the option of archiving your reports for future use.
Property Inspector. Property Inspector is a paid app which is a simple but effect interface — everything is rated thumbs up, OK, or thumbs down, with the ability to comment on an area and take a photo. You can customize the sections by changing the grouping of a specific area — for instance if you would rather have the lawn and grounds as a separate category or place them as a sub category of external features you can.
iInspect. iInspect is another free app. The advantage to this app is it’s extremely simple — if you are not looking for all the bells and whistles and just want to dabble in this type of inspection process it is a great way to get used to the whole concept.
All in all whatever route you take, inspections can prevent small problems from becoming big ones later on and you should have a consistent process to record and store inspections. They not only can come in handy during eviction cases, but can also help prove that you have taken reasonable care in the management of your portfolio should the need arise to defend that position such as during insurance claims.
Digitizing your reports can save you staff time and money, and help create a professional image for your firm.