How SparkRent Helps a Property Manager Track Payments

Time is limited for Kevin Hanks, who holds down a full-time sales job at a major software company while also managing a fourplex in Santa Cruz, Calif. And he has better things to do than manually process and track rent checks from his tenants.

His new time-saver is SparkRent, one of Intuit’s latest products for helping landlords — or just part-time property managers — manage the rental process. SparkRent automates the rent collection process by sending rent reminders, providing an online web portal for tenants and depositing the funds directly into the landlord’s account. The entire process is much faster than checks and provides helpful tools for tracking all rental income.

The Intuit Small Business Blog recently caught up with Hanks to chat about his experience as a landlord and with SparkRent.

ISBB: Why did you become a property manager?

Hanks: I wanted to make a real estate investment, and I had been watching the market for the past few years while I was saving up for it. We all know it’s been pretty bad.

What was your interest in buying real estate?

It’s an investment property. It’s different than looking for a single-family home that you want to live in. An investment property is very good for saving for retirement, and that was the main reason for the purchase. Also, the mortgage interest rates were going down, but rents were starting to go up. So it was an owner’s market and a buyer’s market at the same time. 2011 was a great time to buy.

How did you know what to do?

My family owns investment properties, so I had been introduced to the experience pretty early on. It’s like running a business. But it’s not for everyone.

How much time did it take to get started?

I spent quite a lot of time on the property during the first year. It needed a lot of repairs. Some of them I could do on my own, and the rest I had to manage. Instead of a general contractor, I hired individual contractors to do the repair work, which saved me a lot of money.

Do you have advice for anyone contemplating whether to invest in property?

You need to be able to understand your finances and know whether you can afford the investment and still earn income from it.

Communication and managing expectations with your tenants are key. You’re always going to run into snags. It’s a property — things break down. As long as you’re keeping people happy and they’re paying rent, you can move forward as a business.

You began using SparkRent in February. What do you think of the product so far?

It helps me manage the property from the finance side, and my tenants really appreciate it as well. The dashboard, which provides landlords with a payment history of each tenant, is going to be helpful for the next tax season. Sometimes you have tenants who move out halfway through the year, and there are gaps.

I would like to own more properties down the road, and I’ve noticed that SparkRent will be able to help me manage multiple properties and make sure all the payments are coming through by sending me reminders.

About Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson is a business writer and editorial consultant. Her work has appeared in CFO and CIO magazines.
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5 comments
Real Estate Wollongong
Real Estate Wollongong

Thank you for sharing about SparkRent! Like Justin, I tried to use it for just one employee. It is so perfect for busy persons like me.

Justin00
Justin00

I ran across SparkRent today and - even though I've only been using it for 45 minutes - I have to say it feels like it was custom made for me.  This is EXACTLY what I needed to simplify my life.  It's easy enough to keep track of things when you've got 1 or 2 tenants, but the minute you get different tenants with different payment methods paying on different schedules (1st of month, 10th of month, 18th of month...), it's like a constant dull pain every day of every month making sure you're not missing someone's payment.

 

If SparkRent works as advertised (I'm testing now with just one tenant), it's going to save me money on my monthly Excedrin bill while making my tenants happier - both of these go a long way towards a successful rental business!

camillestyles
camillestyles

@Real Estate Wollongong   Be careful!  I signed up and they have my rent money.  I never received  a $2800 check.      Now what do I do?  Get an atty.     The spark dashboard states it is deposited.   I was thrilled, but it never came to my acct.    Also, I tested the bank acct process once before I started  acting as itf I was a tenant andpaid myself $10.    so I know the bank acct works.     No support from Spark!!  no phone numbers.  I called intuit-- no help-- said they didtn' have phone number either.     BE AWARE    BE AWARE-- bad JUJU. 

camillestyles
camillestyles

@Justin00   Spark has my rent-- it never came into my acct and it has been 10 days.  no support, no phone number.    STay  Away.   it is scarey.  I wish I had never signed up.