Tax credit financial managers who need to send documents to every lender, lawyer and other party involved in a development already have their hands full doing the rest of their jobs. If they could just stop sending the reports, they could save valuable time.
Of course, if they want to keep their jobs, they have to get that information into the hands of everyone who needs it, so some, like Mei Crowe, have found another way to accomplish that goal. The tax credit manager at Atlanta-based Capitol Development Group used to find that her biggest problem “was that I would always be looking up the documents and forwarding them to those who requested them.”
That kept her busy. Capitol has more than 3,700 units under construction or in service. Of that total, 3,000 are low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) units and the remainder are market-rate units. Crowe’s involvement, as one of three accountants in the company, is to handle the tax credit accounting from groundbreaking through to completion of construction. After that, she turns over the books to the management company and works with outside accountants to complete annual audits and tax returns for the investors.
Some of the third parties that need to get her project performance reports are:
- the limited partner investors, whose portfolio and asset managers need to view monthly financials;
- the accountants, who need ready access to financials and other permanent documents while they are preparing audits and tax returns; and
- the lenders, who need to access due diligence materials as the projects are converting from construction to permanent financing.
Two years ago, Capitol began using a hosted service from Starta Development to handle the documentation. Now, Crowe simply scans documents into digital form and uploads the files to the Starta online service, where they can be accessed at any time by third parties with the proper authorization.
Her staff saves time by not needing to copy and send out of the documents every time someone needs them. “The biggest benefit is that outside parties as well as those in the office are able to access documents at any time without the hassle of waiting for someone to send [them],” said Crowe.
Starta developed the service specifically to handle the development and funding of affordable housing, with expertise in low-income housing tax credits, New Markets Tax Credits, grants, and loans, according to Gordon Blackwell, chief technology officer of Starta Development. He estimated that users could save about $17,000 by automating the documentation processes instead of handling them manually.
Starta charges the partnerships that own the developments monthly fees of $139 per project.
Those costs decrease to $35 per month after a development has been in the system for two years. (Companies can remove their projects from the system at any time.) For full pricing information, see www.startadevelopment.com.
Affordable housing tech briefs
RealPage, Inc., announced that it had integrated its OneSite Leasing & Rents Tax Credits – the version of its software for compliance monitoring and reporting for properties using low-income housing tax credits – with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The integration will allow electronic submission of compliance reports to the state agency.
RealPage also unveiled new features in its OneSite Web-based software that integrates OneSite Accounting, OneSite Leasing & Rents, and OneSite Purchasing systems. OneSite Accounting includes general ledger, accounts payable, cash management and consolidation systems. The integration will allow users to drill down from OneSite Accounting’s general ledger bank deposit summaries, deposit details, and the resident accounting ledger or resident deposit ledger in OneSite Leasing & Rents (the central property management component of the OneSite software suite). Users can also access their accounting and operational information from the OneSite Purchasing purchase approval and control system.
In other news, RealPage launched a billing service for the OneSite suite that incorporates Velocity Convergent Billing Services for utility payments. The system enables Velocity to print and mail monthly resident bills – including rent charges, utility charges, other charges and resident messages – for any property using OneSite Leasing & Rents.
For more information, go to www.realpage.com.
London Computer Systems, Inc., introduced Prospect Manager, an add-on to its Rent Manager property management system. Prospect Manager tracks interaction with prospective tenants and analyzes marketing programs. For more information, go to www.rentmanager.com.
The Multifamily Information and Transactions Standards (MITS) initiative has released two new tools for firms that use the MITS standards in their technology. MITS is a set of voluntary data standards covering resident screening, property marketing, leasing, physical asset management, maintenance, and revenue and expenses. The first new tool, the Online Data Exchange Testing Tool, lets users test their software’s performance with the MITS data-transfer process. The second tool, the MITS Messaging Protocol, is a set of best practices for using the MITS standards to create data exchange processes. The MITS releases are the result of collaboration between many of the top firms in the apartment industry, including Equity Residential, Forest City Residential Management, Yardi Systems and RealPage. For more information, go to www.mitsproject.com.
Cincinnati-based Domin-8 Enterprise Solutions acquired American Computer Software (ACS), based in Madison, Wis., earlier this year. Both companies provide multifamily property management software, but Domin-8’s Paradigm Residential Property Management system is Web-based, while ACS’ Management Plus product is Windows-based. The companies announced that Domin-8 will continue to support current ACS software and that it will create a Web-based version of it. In addition, Domin-8 will deliver to ACS customers such value-added services as background screening (for credit, criminal activity and evictions), renters’ insurance, and electronic payments. Upgrades between the products will also be available.
Domin-8 also acquired PMAS, LLC, a Rockville, Md.-based company whose software is also Windows-based. PMAS’ product is the Property Management Accounting System, a front- and back-office system for the midsize multifamily market. It includes features for handling commercial and retail tenants and an integrated accounting system. As with its ACS customers, Domin-8 planned to offer its new PMAS customers its value-added services.
For more information, go to www.domin-8.com.