Some of the largest affordable housing software providers, including RealPage, Inc., and Yardi Systems, are integrating new compliance features with their flagship product lines in 2007.
RealPage’s OneSite Leasing & Rents Affordable will add a document management system and rural housing compliance capabilities in 2007, and Yardi added HOME funds and rural housing compliance capabilities to its Voyager Affordable product line in February.
RealPage’s OneSite Leasing & Rents Affordable is a property management application that handles resident and subsidy rent collection and automates certification processing. Unlike the company’s HUDManager 2000, a DOS-based product that has to be hosted on the user’s system, OneSite is Web-based and can be accessed from anywhere.
The Web-based environment can be a boon to disaster recovery efforts. For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Standard Enterprises, Inc., a property management company headquartered in Monroe, La., was unable to contact seven of its properties in New Orleans and Lake Charles.
Using OneSite, it was able to access the data for all seven properties from the Monroe office, allowing that month’s work to be completed. “Standard could still conduct their business outside of the areas impacted by the storm,” said Ranjeev Teelock, vice president of affordable housing for RealPage. “The staff was able to transmit vouchers to HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) and still got paid on time.”
OneSite Leasing & Rents Affordable incorporates HUD regulations and validation checks into its workflow and data entry screens—such as building monthly activity transmission guidelines and rules into the tenant rental assistance certification system file creation and record-review feature.
The product also features Claims Finder, which mines the system’s data to find all possible HUD vacancy special claims and generates the necessary paperwork to file them. For example, if a door handle was damaged when one tenant moved out, and a purchase order was filled out for a new one, Claims Finder will expedite the related HUD paperwork. “The government will reimburse the site for unpaid rent or damages by a tenant, so the system will recognize the service request for damages to the tenant’s unit and produce an unpaid rent or damage special claim,” Teelock said.
RealPage offers a sliding pricing model depending on the number of features the user needs, and can also be priced on a $15 per-unit basis. So while an annual license of HUDManager 2000 costs $1,500, a 50-unit property could pay half that amount for OneSite.
RealPage is working on several new features for rollout later in the year.
This month, the company will unveil a Document Management System that can be integrated with the OneSite platform. The product provides electronic storage, retrieval, security, and archiving of compliance documents and forms like leases and certifications. RealPage also is including electronic signature technology with the system. While HUD doesn’t currently accept electronic signatures, RealPage says it has launched a major effort to proliferate acceptance of the signature technology, talking with contract administrators, housing finance agencies, and HUD authorities.
In July, the company will unveil its new OneSite Leasing & Rents Rural Housing, which offers rent collection tools and automates certification processing, compliance reporting, and electronic data submissions. The product supports all Rural Development Sec. 515 project types in addition to managing layered subsidies. The company offers a similar product for compliance monitoring and reporting for tax credit properties.
While Yardi’s browser-based Voyager Affordable has featured both low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) and HUD project-based 50059 contract compliance capabilities for a few years, several new features will round out the offering in 2007.
Voyager Affordable, an accounting-based system, features the ability to post rent and HAP contracts in one procedure—the software ports all HAP billings from the general ledger to create the contracts. The system also automatically inserts utility reimbursement payments into the accounts payable system.
The LIHTC feature allows the user to estimate tax credit eligibility, based on income and family size, before beginning the qualification process. Select a unit, and the software will tell you whether the property will maintain compliance if the household occupies that unit.
“It’s a single point of entry for all of the data,” said Dave Kessler, vice president of affordable housing for Yardi. “So, once data is entered, the home office sees it, the accountants see their view of it, and the data is reported to the oversight agencies without ever having to do redundant data entry.”
Yardi also gives the user an option of purchasing their own copy of the software and hosting it themselves, or contracting with the company for the hosting services.
Last July, Yardi acquired Classic Real Estate Systems, LLC, a provider of rural housing development software. In February, the company added that product to its Voyager Affordable line.
The new RHS Sec. 515 feature integrated into Voyager will allow users to reconcile assistance, overage, and mortgage payments.
The rural development feature prevents the user from giving rental assistance to households already receiving other subsidies, and also tracks total rental obligation balances.
Having integrated components of Classic into Voyager, the company will keep the standalone Classic product in place for customers who prefer a Windows-based environment.
In February, the company also added to the Voyager Affordable platform a HOME Funds feature, which allows the user to define the number of HOME units in a project and track whether those units are fixed or floating.
Yardi is working on several upgrades to Voyager Affordable, including to its online tax credit compliance monitor, which shows real-time compliance data on a given property. The company is also updating Voyager’s analytics function, a type of benchmarking feature that shows how the property is performing through multiple demographic break-outs of the tenant base.