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Stessa vs. AppFolio: A head-to-head comparison for 2024

Woman working with data and graphs in spreadsheet document on desktop computer
by Jeff Rohde, posted in Investment Strategy

Rental property management software helps remote real estate investors to find and screen tenants, collect rent online, coordinate maintenance requests, and manage investment property accounting and finances.

Both Stessa—a Roofstock company—and AppFolio were recently recognized as 2 of the best software systems for rental properties. 

In this article, we’ll compare both products to help you decide if Stessa or AppFolio is the better choice for your rental property business.

 

How Stessa and Appfolio work

Stessa and AppFolio both provide software solutions for rental property owners and property managers.

Stessa is a cloud-based, asset management software designed to provide powerful tools to real estate investors at the lowest possible cost. According to Investopedia’s 2023 review of the best accounting software for rental properties, Stessa is ranked as #1 for providing the best value.

After signing up for a free Stessa account, real estate investors and property managers can monitor property financial performance at the portfolio and property levels, create multiple portfolios, automate income and expense tracking, and generate financial reports.

AppFolio is a property management platform that provides a full suite of tools to help streamline rental property ownership. 

Although AppFolio also receives a top rating from Investopedia for the best overall accounting software, it isn’t meant for small investors. In order to qualify for an account, AppFolio requires a minimum portfolio size of 50 units, an onboarding fee based on the portfolio size, and a minimum monthly fee.

 

Stessa overview

Stessa makes software for rental property financial management. The software was designed by and for real estate investors and provides powerful tools for automatically tracking income and expenses, monitoring property performance at the portfolio and property levels, generating financial reports, and exporting tax-ready financials.

Laptop and mobile screenshot of transactions page

Stessa recently joined the Roofstock family and is currently used by tens of thousands of real estate investors to track over 190,000 properties with a total asset value of more than $50 billion.

After signing up, Stessa users can manage and grow a portfolio with confidence, save time with intuitive features, get optional premium services, such as rent analysis, and access the Stessa Tax Center for a free, personalized tax package.

Pricing

The Stessa Essentials plan lets landlords use its primary features at no cost. Users can create as many properties and bank accounts as needed, generate unlimited financial reports, and export their transaction data to Excel as often as they like.

For access to more sophisticated features, Stessa’s tiered pricing structure offers a variety of features for different budgets and needs:

EssentialsManagePro
PRICING
Free$15/month
($12/mo when paid annually)
$35/month
($28/mo when paid annually)
ASSET MANAGEMENT
Track propertiesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
DashboardsKey metrics onlyKey metrics onlyFull chart history
Property manager connectionsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Document & receipt storageUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Organize & manage portfolios11Unlimited
Shared account accessYesYesAdvanced ownership metrics
BOOKKEEPING/ACCOUNTING
Advanced transaction trackingNoNoYes
Smart receipt scanning5/month5/monthUnlimited
Manual expense trackingYesYesYes
Automated bank feedsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Budgeting & pro-forma analysisNoNoYes
Project expense trackingNo No
Yes
REPORTING & TAXES
Reporting levelBasicBasic
Advanced
Full data exportYesYesYes
Accountant tax packageBasicPlus Schedule EPlus CapEx
BANKING
High yield Cash Management3.14% APY*3.14% APY*5.09% APY*
FDIC insured up to $2.5M/entityYesYesYes
No minimum balanceYesYesYes
1.1% cash back on purchasesYesYesYes
ONLINE RENT COLLECTION
Accelerated rent paymentsNoComing SoonYes
Automated reminders and late feesYesYesYes
Tenant autopayYesYesYes
Tenant ledger and rent rollYesYesYes
Tenant ACH fee waivedNoNoYes
LEASING
Vacancy advertisingYesYesYes
Syndication to ZillowYesYesYes
Tenant applications & screeningYesYesYes
Lease templateNoYesYes
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT
eSign leases, contracts, etc.No1/month7/month
60+ Forms and templatesNoYesYes
CUSTOMER SUPPORT
Basic supportYesYesYes
Priority chat supportNoYesYes
Live phone supportNoNoYes
Get StartedGet StartedGet Started

You can always start with the Essentials plan and upgrade to a paid plan as your portfolio expands and your needs evolve.

Feature summary

  • Track SFRs, small multifamily residential properties, and short-term vacation rentals.
  • Automate income and expense tracking by linking business bank accounts and property mortgage accounts.
  • Get performance dashboards at the portfolio and property levels, including multiple rental property portfolios.
  • Collect rent online with automated ACH payments from tenants and convenient automatic reminders with online rent collection.
  • Perform tenant screening on Stessa through RentPrep and handle rental applications within the platform.
  • Monitor key financial performance metrics in real time, including total portfolio value, income and cash flow, occupancy, net operating income, asset return, and outstanding mortgage debt.
  • Create monthly financial reports in a single click, including tenant rent rolls, income statements, cash flow, and capital expense reports.
  • Get automatic real estate balance sheet updates for assets and liabilities, including property values, outstanding mortgage balances, and owner equity.
  • Upload, store, and organize real estate documents in the cloud safely and securely.
  • Download Stessa’s iOS and Android apps to scan and upload expenses on the go.
  • Create different levels of account access to rental property performance data when applying for a refinance or new loan or sharing financials with investment partners.
  • Export tax-ready financials to make tax time a breeze.
  • Get free resources from the Stessa Tax Center, including a free tax package, tax resources created in partnership with The Real Estate CPA, and a TurboTax discount exclusively for members of the Stessa Community.
  • Integrate AppFolio with Stessa to automatically import monthly income and expense transactions.

Go here to create a free Stessa account.

Pros

Stessa offers a robust free option and is easy to use and can track SFRs, multifamily units, and short-term vacation rentals.

After entering a property address and linking bank and mortgage accounts, investors can monitor property performance from a comprehensive online dashboard for individual properties and entire portfolios. 

Income and expenses are updated in real time, and financial reports, such as income and net cash-flow statements, capital expenses, tenant rent rolls, and real estate balance sheets with owner equity can be generated with just one click.

The Stessa Tax Center makes tax preparation a breeze, and investors can sign up for optional premium services, such as market research and rent analysis, for a fee.

Cons

Investopedia rated Stessa as offering the best value for rental property accounting software. However, there are some features that Stessa currently doesn’t provide, such as coordinating maintenance requests. 

Investors can sign up for free services like these from other companies online, or subscribe to an all-in-one property management platform like AppFolio.

 

AppFolio overview

AppFolio was founded in 2006 and provides cloud-based property management software with basic and advanced features, including marketing, leasing, maintenance, operations, communication, service, accounting, and reporting.

The company is publicly listed on the Nasdaq and has more than 6 million units under management on its platform. While the software offers a wide variety of robust features, AppFolio isn’t a good match for investors or property managers with a small number of homes.

In order to qualify for an account with AppFolio, investors must have a minimum portfolio size of 50 units and pay a minimum monthly fee and a one-time onboarding fee based on portfolio size.

Pricing

AppFolio offers 3 straightforward property management software pricing plans based on portfolio size:

Core

This plan is designed for small to midsize portfolios with a minimum of 50 units and costs a minimum of $280 a month, with additional units billed at $1.40 a month.

Plus

This plan is designed for portfolios of 300+ units and costs a minimum of $900 a month, with additional units billed at $3 a month.

Max

This plan is designed for portfolios of 1,500+ units and costs a minimum of $7,500 a month, with additional units billed at $5 a month.

Feature summary

Core

  • Accounting and reporting
  • Virtual marketing and leasing tools
  • Resident and owner management
  • Online maintenance
  • Full mobile capabilities
  • Continuous software updates

Plus

  • All Core features
  • Leasing metrics
  • Performance insights
  • Inventory tracking
  • Premium integrations
  • Additioanal support

Max

  • All Plus features
  • Leasing CRM
  • Leasing signals
  • Database API
  • Custom fields
  • Dedicated support rep

Pros

AppFolio is a good fit for investors and property managers with at least 50 units, due to the minimum portfolio size to qualify for an account and the cost of onboarding and monthly fees.

Property management software from AppFolio provides a comprehensive solution for rental property management, including marketing, leasing, maintenance, operations, communication, service, management, growth, accounting, and reporting.

Cons

The 2 biggest drawbacks to AppFolio are arguably the minimum required portfolio size and the monthly fee. 

For example, the Core plan costs $280 a month and requires a minimum portfolio size of 50 units, while the Max plan costs a minimum of $7,500 a month.

 

woman using spreadsheet

How to choose between AppFolio and Stessa

Although many investors may not find AppFolio to be a cost-effective solution for rental property management, many large property management companies with hundreds of units use AppFolio software. 

For investors with smaller portfolios, Stessa will likely be a better fit.

There’s good news if like both of these tools – Stessa has developed an integration to connect with AppFolio. Connecting the 2 systems eliminates the time and trouble of manually entering AppFolio transactions into Stessa.

This recent blog post on Stessa Support explains how to import monthly income and expense transactions automatically every month if your property manager uses AppFolio:

  • Ask the property manager to enable the owner portal on AppFolio and provide access.
  • Have the property manager publish an owner statement to the AppFolio owner portal.
  • Import transaction data from the owner statement to Stessa.
  • Make sure the property address in Stessa matches the AppFolio address, (sometimes property managers use a nickname or partial address).
  • Link Stessa to AppFolio by going to the Stessa External Accounts page, selecting Add Property Manager, and adding the full web address of the AppFolio owner portal under the Stessa Owner Portal drop-down menu.

Refresh the AppFolio connection with Stessa every 30 days using 2-factor authentication (2FA) by clicking the Fix It link in Stessa under Data Sources and following the prompts.

 

*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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