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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 services called Stessa and why it might be suitable for many investment property owners.

Key Takeaways

  • AppFolio is a good choice for landlords with 50 or more units under management, with fees starting at $280 per month.
  • Buildium works is a good option for owners with one to 5,000 units or more, with fees starting at $50 per month.
  • Both platforms offer owners and property managers key features including listings, tenant screening, leasing, rent collection, financial reporting, and tax management.


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 two 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 $1,500 per month
  • Minimum portfolio size of 500 units required for implementation
  • 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


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 $50 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 2.95% per transaction


  • Starts at $160 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 2.95% per transaction


  • Starts at $460 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 2.95% 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 why Stessa developed a rental property financial management system that’s 100% free. 

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.


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

  • Track unlimited properties
  • Get performance dashboards at the property and portfolio level
  • Automate income and expense tracking
  • Collect rent online with free ACH transfers (other payment options coming soon) and a recurring payment option for tenants, as well as the ability to collect late fees
  • Track expenses on the go with the iOS and Android app
  • Organize and store all real estate documents safely and securely
  • Run numerous monthly reports including income, net cash flow, and capital expense statements
  • Export tax-ready financials
  • Personalized tax package on the Stessa Tax Center, including an income statement, net-cash-flow report, and a ZIP file in a single email

As an added benefit, Stessa’s Cash Management deposit accounts currently earn 2.00% APY (compared to the national average interest of 0.03% on checking accounts as of July 2022, according to the FDIC). Stessa Cash Management users can earn interest on balances from automated rent collection deposits, CapEx account, and operating account.

Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 2.00% is effective as of 8/5/2022. No minimum opening deposit or account balance required. Fees could affect earnings on the account. Stessa is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Blue Ridge Bank, N.A., member FDIC. The national rate is the average of rates paid by all insured depository institutions and credit unions for which data is available to the FDIC, with rates weighted by each institution’s share of domestic deposits.

Go here to create a free Stessa account.


Wrapping Up

AppFolio,Buildium, and Stessa each make owning and managing rental property easier. 

AppFolio and Buildium’s online property management platforms offer an array of services, including listing vacant units across multiple online rental websites, screening tenants and signing leases online, collecting rent and charging late fees, and monitoring the financial performance of every rental property.

However, with prices ranging from $50 to $1,500 per month, AppFolio and Buildium may not be cost effective for every real estate investor. Before signing up for either service, ask about a free trial period and investigate free alternatives such as Stessa to make tracking real estate investments simple.

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