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AppFolio vs. Buildium: Which Tool Is Right for Your Portfolio?

property management
by Jeff Rohde, posted in Investment Strategy

AppFolio and Buildium are two of the most well-known online property management platforms available to real estate investors today. Both companies offer a wide variety of features, including online marketing of vacant units, tenant screening, leasing, rent collection, and financial reporting.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at AppFolio and Buildium, including the main features and pricing structure of each service, to help landlords better understand which option may be best for their particular needs. We’ll also cover another tool with free features called Stessa and why it might be suitable for many investment property owners.


AppFolio Overview

AppFolio has been in business since 2006. It has over 5 million units under management on its platform, was recently ranked as the #1 fastest-growing company by Fortune, and is publicly traded on Nasdaq under the symbol APPF.

AppFolio primarily focuses on cloud-based property management software solutions, services, and data analytics for residential and commercial real estate investors, property managers, and community associations.

AppFolio requires a minimum of 50 units for implementation, making the software a good match for real estate investors with large portfolios and residential property management companies.

Visit the AppFolio website

Residential Pricing

AppFolio offers three pricing packages for residential rental property:


  • $1.40 per unit per month
  • Minimum fee of $280 per month
  • Minimum portfolio size of 50 units required for implementation
  • Onboarding (start-up) fee varies based on the portfolio size


  • $3 per unit per month
  • Minimum fee of $900 per month
  • Onboarding (start-up) fee varies based on the portfolio size


  • $5 per unit per month
  • Minimum fee of $7,500 per month
  • Onboarding (start-up) fee varies based on the portfolio size

Software Features


  • Accounting and reporting
  • Built-in virtual marketing and leasing tools
  • Resident and owner management
  • Online maintenance
  • Fully mobile experience
  • Continuous software updates


  • Everything in Core
  • Workflow management
  • Performance insights
  • Revenue management
  • Data export capabilities
  • Strategic account management


  • Everything in Plus
  • Leasing CRM
  • Leasing signals
  • Database API
  • Custom fields
  • Dedicated support rep


Buildium Overview

Buildium was launched in 2004 by two real estate investors with the idea of making property management simpler and easier to control. The company has rapidly grown over the years, and by 2017 reached a major customer milestone by surpassing 14,000 customers.

Buildium works with real estate investors and property managers with 1 to 5,000 units or more, including residential properties, affordable housing, student housing, and community associations.

Visit the Buildium website

Residential Pricing

Every Buildium pricing plan includes software modules for Accounting, Maintenance, Tasks, Violations, Resident & Board Member Communications, and Online Portals.


  • Starts at $55 per month
  • Basic tenant screening
  • Standard reports
  • Ticket customer support
  • Property inspections starting at $40/month
  • eLeases $5/lease
  • Bank account set up fee $99/account
  • Online payments fees of $1.00 for incoming and $0.50 outgoing EFTs
  • Credit card fees 2.99% per transaction


  • Starts at $174 per month
  • Basic and premium tenant screening
  • Standard reports
  • Ticket and live phone customer support
  • Free property inspections
  • Unlimited eLeases
  • Bank account set up fee first 5 free, then $99/account
  • Online payments free for incoming EFTs, $0.50 per transaction for outgoing EFTs
  • Credit card fees 2.99% per transaction


  • Starts at $375 per month
  • Basic and premium tenant screening
  • Standard reports
  • Ticket, live phone, and priority customer support
  • Free property inspections
  • Unlimited eLeases
  • Bank account set up fee first 5 free, then $99/account
  • Online payments free for incoming EFTs, $0.50 per transaction for outgoing EFTs
  • Credit card fees 2.99% per transaction

Software Features


  • Property accounting
  • Company financials
  • Online payments
  • Retail cash payments 
  • 1099 eFiling

Business Operations

  • Resident site
  • Owner portal
  • Document storage
  • Maintenance request tracking
  • Property inspections
  • Renters insurance
  • Analytics and insights
  • Open API


  • Rental listings
  • Rental applications
  • Showings coordinator
  • Tenant screening
  • Professional website
  • eLease

Community Association Management

  • Violations tracking
  • Board communications
  • Accounting and budgeting
  • Online payments
  • Maintenance request tracking
  • Document management

Buildium has a dedicated team to make switching software and onboarding easy, and employs industry-leading data security measures to protect customer data.


business woman working on computer 1

AppFolio vs. Buildium

Choosing the right property management software for a rental property business isn’t always easy. Here’s a look at some of the similarities and differences between AppFolio and Buildium based on the top features that most real estate investors use:


AppFolio prioritizes flexibility and service with automation-driven innovations. Lisa is AppFolio’s AI Leasing Assistant who handles routine tasks like scheduling showings. AppFolio can accommodate virtual showings as part of the lead-to-lease process, with listings syndicated through online listing platforms like, Zillow, and Zumper.

Buildium offers rental property owners a free website with every pricing plan. Once a vacant listing is posted to the owner’s website, listings are syndicated and promoted via a variety of online listing sites including Apartment List, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, PadMapper, the entire Zillow Rental Network, and Zumper. 

Tenant Screening

AppFolio allows property owners to pre-set leasing criteria to quickly and easily screen applicants. Tenant screening is an add-on service with AppFolio that checks things like a prospective tenant’s credit score, rental and eviction history, criminal history, and verifies employment and income.

Buildium tenant screening is powered by TransUnion. Once a landlord requests a tenant background check, the screening process begins. Buildium provides full credit, criminal, and eviction data with results that show up on the owner’s dashboard. Applicants are notified when they’ve been rejected or accepted, and added to the Resident Center to begin accepting online rent payments.


AppFolio lets landlords create customized, branded leases that can quickly and easily be e-signed using any mobile device. Lease renewals are automated with lease dates and rental amounts automatically updated.

Buildium eLeases help landlords manage the entire leasing process online and collect applicant signatures from any computing device. Property owners can quickly set up lease templates, have leases and addendums electronically signed, then securely stored online so that documents can be accessed anytime from anywhere.

Online Rent Collection

Both AppFolio and Buildium let landlords collect tenant rent payments online, create and schedule automatic late fees, and receive partial payments:

  • AppFolio: Contact for current pricing.
  • Buildium: EFTs vary from $0 to $1.00 depending on the pricing plan, with credit card fees of 2.95% of the transaction amount.

Financial Reporting

AppFolio property owners with real-time, flexible reporting with more than 80 customizable reports including owner statement, income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and rent roll.

Buildium simplifies rental property accounting with online bill payments and automatic entry of repeat expenses. Comprehensive accounting reports and key financial metrics including monthly profits, real estate balance sheets, income statements, cash flows, and bank reconciliations can be generated with just a few clicks.

Tax Management

Both AppFolio and Buildium provide property owners with tools to help manage taxes, in addition to e-filing of 1099-MISCs and 1099-NECs. 


business man using computer

Stessa vs. AppFolio and Buildium

While both AppFolio and Buildium provide robust property management platforms for a monthly fee, there are a lot of features that many small rental property owners may not need. 

That’s where Stessa might be more useful. 

Created by real estate investors for real estate investors, Stessa makes it easy to track rental property performance at both the property and portfolio level, manage finances, and create an all-important paper trail that every real estate investor needs.

Stessa has also expanded its feature coverage to include tenant applications and screening, publishing vacancies, eSigning (with the paid plan), rent collection, landlord banking services, and document storage. Its iOS and Android mobile apps keep you connected to your portfolio on the go and offer automated receipt scanning that’s particularly helpful around tax time.

Laptop and mobile screenshot of transactions page

After signing up for a free account with Stessa and entering some basic property information, real estate investors can:

  • Organize and categorize transactions automatically from connected bank, lender, credit card, and property management accounts.
  • Get 24/7 visibility into your portfolio’s performance.
  • Generate income statements, net cash flow reports, balance sheets, and more.
  • Connect to your property management software for a complete portfolio summary.
  • Collect rent through ACH payments – free for property owners and tenants.
  • Publish a vacancy for rent and syndicate it out across a variety of websites for maximum exposure to high quality tenants.
  • Use Stessa’s tenant screening tool and free rental applications.
  • Open an FDIC-insured high-yield bank account* for each property and seamlessly integrate them with Stessa’s financial tracking features.
  • Add an unlimited number of properties.
  • Invite other investors with different access levels.
  • Access a suite of tax resources created in partnership with The Real Estate CPA.
  • Upload your own document, tag it for digital signatures, and send to tenants, vendors, partners, etc. 

Go here to create a free Stessa account.


*Stessa is not a bank. Stessa is a financial technology company.Terms and conditions, features and pricing are subject to change. This article, and the Stessa Blog in general, is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and is not investment, tax, financial planning, financial, legal, or real estate advice. 


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