Domin-8 is fast becoming a significant player in compliance software as it continues to grow by acquisition. And market-leader Yardi has released version 6 of its Voyager Affordable line, boosting its compliance capabilities in the process.
Yardi’s Voyager Affordable features compliance applications for low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project-based contracts, and—new with version 6—HOME funds and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (RD) Sec. 515 compliance.
The Duncan Group, the property management arm of nonprofit affordable housing developer Peoples’ Self Help Housing, based in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Calif., is in the process of upgrading to version 6 of Voyager Affordable, from version 4.5.
“They’ve added HOME compliance and Rural Development compliance, which is what I was looking for,” said Elaine Archer, fiscal project manager for the Duncan Group.
In the past, the organization used a separate software program to ensure compliance with RD Sec. 515. And compliance with the HOME program was checked manually through a series of Excel spreadsheets. Those processes now are integrated into the Voyager environment, cutting down on redundant data entry and the possibility of human error. “Now, I don’t need to maintain second software for the RD compliance,” said Archer. “And it means I can be more accurate in monitoring HOME compliance.”
Voyager Affordable lets users find out in real-time if all the households in a particular property, or a series of properties, are in compliance. The suite features streamlined qualifying, meaning that if a property has multiple layers of subsidy— project-based Sec. 8, tax credits, and HOME funds, for instance—the user can do a single data entry on a household to see if it will qualify for all three layers of subsidy.
The Duncan Group has been testing the software since December, particularly on sites with multiple subsidy layers. Aside from the compliance programs supported, the new version also includes a “dashboard,” a summary screen that offers a glance of the compliance issues of a property or group of properties. “It can give you a picture of key things like moveins and move-outs, and re-certifications that are pending,” Archer said.
Additional features include the ability to post rent and housing assistance payment contracts in a single procedure, since the software’s compliance features are linked with its accounting functions. Utility reimbursement payments are automatically inserted into the accounts payable system, for instance.
Domin-8 Enterprise Solutions continues to rapidly grow by acquisition, and is fast making its mark in the compliance software industry.
In March, the company acquired compliance software maker TCG Technologies, LLC, (following its acquisition of Property Automation Software Corp., maker of the popular TenantPro software). Last year, Domin-8 acquired PMAS, maker of the Real Property Plus product, and ACS, maker of the Windowsbased Management Plus product. Both were direct competitors with TCG Technologies.
Domin-8 is separately marketing, supporting, and enhancing each of those companies’ flagship products with an eye toward eventual mass integration into a unified software suite.
TCG Technologies began its life soon after low-income housing tax credits were created, and has written software for the compliance world for 21 years. Its i-CAM compliance software has evolved since its disk operating system (DOS) beginnings to a Windows- and Web-based environment.
NDC Real Estate Management manages more than 9,000 units at 100 sites, about a third of which are in Pennsylvania. The company began using the DOS-based CAM-II product in 1999 for all of its Sec. 8, Sec. 236, and Rural Development sites. Each property used a standalone version of the software, while the company’s LIHTC sites used lowerlevel software, like Excel spreadsheets, to manually enter and process compliance information. NDC transitioned to TCG’s Windows- and Web-based product, i- CAM, in 2005, and says the centralized nature of the suite is a big improvement.
In the past, the company backed up its data at each site separately, with floppy disks or a CD sent to the corporate office and archived. “Now we put it all on our servers here in Pittsburgh,” said Mark Lytle, a regional property manager and formerly an IT manager with the Pittsburgh-based firm.
From an administrative point of view, the ability to make changes in real-time is another advantage. “If I need to make changes to the accounting system, or change a letter—maybe we changed our late policy, for example—it’s easier to do it once than for each site individually,” said Lytle. From a support perspective, the Web-based approach helps when on-site staff have problems in reporting compliance. “If somebody’s having any issues with vouchers or special claims, we can remotely watch them do it, and walk them through it,” Lytle said.
Plus, human error is greatly minimized. i-CAM is a “wizard-driven” application, meaning the user is guided through the software by a series of prompts. If there’s a problem with subsidy compliance, the system prevents the user from further processing a current or prospective tenant. “If a resident or applicant is over-income, it will give you more warnings and error messages (than CAMII), which definitely helps the management aspect of compliance with HUD 4350,” said Lytle.
Document management is also easier. While CAM-II only allowed 12 months of tenant data to be collected, i-CAM’s archives can go back for decades.
Knocking on the Door
Yardi continues to be the platform of choice for property management executives— about 26 percent of readers surveyed earlier this year said they use it.
Domin-8 fared significantly worse in that survey—only 2.2 percent of our readers indicated using it. But by combining that figure with the tallies for Property Automation Software, as well as RentRight, Inc., (acquired by Domin-8 in February), Domin-8 fares much better, at 18.7 percent.