Editor’s note: This product review focuses on offerings by T-reX Global, which offers online real estate investment tools. Click here for a description of the product rating and review process. Please send your feedback, and recommendations for products to review, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About: T-reX Global was created by Pankaj Shukla (chief executive officer) and Narinder Sandhu (president). They both worked in product strategy and development for Intuit, which created QuickBooks and Quicken financial tools. The company offers free software for real estate investors and a free partner program that allows real estate professionals to brand and promote the company’s applications to prospective investor clients.
Cost: The products reviewed are free, though the company also offers "premium" (paid) tools.
Ratings: Ease 83, Value 87, Power 90.
T-reX Global, which offers online applications for real estate investors and marketing tools for real estate professionals, scored an 83 or above in three ratings categories in a review by three real estate professionals.
The reviewers tested T-reX Global real estate investment online applications Simplify’em and Depreciate’em, as well as a partner program that allows real estate professionals to brand and market themselves around T-reX Global’s tools.
Simplify’em is property management software that helps investors identify tax write-offs and track income and expenses for investment properties. The program also features automated rent reminders and tools to manage tenant and lease information.
The free version allows users to manage data for four or fewer units while a paid, premium version allows users to enter an unlimited number of properties, attach any and all relevant scanned documents, and export income and expense transaction information to an Excel spreadsheet.
Depreciate’em allows users to calculate a tax break for wear and tear of investment properties, as allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.
A team of three real estate professionals reviewed the T-reX’s software programs and the company’s partner program, which allows real estate professionals to place their branding and contact information around the T-reX software.
The rated the company’s tools in three categories: ease, value and power. Taking an average of the three reviewers’ ratings, T-reX tools scored highest (90 out of 100 possible) for "power," a measure of the level of innovation, advanced features, and effectiveness in replacing existing tools and methods.
Reviewers rated its "value" — usefulness for clients and themselves, and its cost vs. benefits — at 87, and its "ease," or ease of use, received a rating of 83.
Team leader Deb Agliano (aka DebOnTheWeb), who issued scores of 94 for value, 92 for power, and 90 for ease, commented that the software applications "are helpful for both agents and real estate investors." …CONTINUED
She commented in the review, "There’s no cost to agents to set up a partner account, which co-brands the programs with your information. Once you set up your partner account, you can download a customized flier to send to investors."
She also stated that "signing up for the partner program as well as using both (software) tools was very easy. There are tips for each step you take, as well as a "help" section.
She noted that the display of the agent’s details is "very small" for those who choose to co-brand the tools, "but there’s no charge, so it’s hard to complain about that," she stated.
There is also the ability to place a "widget" on real estate Web sites to allow investors to access the T-reX software tools there.
"You can also send your clients a free monthly e-mail newsletter," Agliano stated, adding, "There’s a free webinar every Friday to teach agents how to market these tools to investors."
Agliano tested out the widget and used Twitter to promote the tool — "within half an hour an investor had signed up through my Web site to use the applications."
Investors can use the software tools to generate information for specific tax forms.
Reviewer Janet Krauss said in her review, "There was essentially no learning curve to speak of here" with T-reX’s Simplify’em application. "What you see is what you get."
Depreciate’em, however, "was not as easy to use and left me with the feeling that I definitely need to talk to my accountant," she stated.
Also, she said commented that there is "a need for some redesign with Depreciate’em," and she suggested that there should be "more information … on how to use this program.
"If you don’t have a background in accounting or are not seasoned in asset separation depreciation of rental properties, you will probably be lost," she stated.
"I recently had a course in depreciation of investment properties. I found myself having to test my memory a bit. Although I don’t see where I may use this program as a Realtor, I will be partnering with the company in order to offer an additional tool for my investor clients.
"At the very least, consumers will have depreciation questions for their accountant, which may help them save money at tax time," she stated.
Investors are looking for easier ways to keep track of property statistics, she noted, commenting that she was "amazed" at the archaic means by which a few of her own investor clients track property details.
"Spreadsheets were common, but some are keeping their records on paper. They admitted that they literally spend hours each month on their paperwork and absolutely hate doing it. …CONTINUED
"A few of my clients didn’t want to tell me because they were embarrassed. Considering that some of them have 10-plus properties, I expected that they would have been more organized," she stated.
Anita S. Crum, another review team member, said T-reX programs are "surprisingly feature rich" and "the ability to export data to Excel gives you the opportunity to create additional reports and charts to meet your specific needs."
The partner program "is an excellent tool for agents," she also stated, as "each page of the Web site has your contact information," and participating real estate professionals get "free software tool for your clients, promotional fliers and e-mail newsletters."
She noted that Simplify’em and Depreciate’em allow users to upload additional files associated with properties, such as a property photo, copy of the lease agreement, any correspondence with the tenant or property owner, copies of invoices, etc." — the free version is limited to one file per property, with a maximum file size of 800 kilobytes.
"The programs offer good basic record keeping and reporting technology. The basic reports are good but an option to create additional types of reports would be useful," she stated.
Another possible downside is that the software programs are available online, which means that users would not have access to the online reports without an Internet connection (but could download data to an Excel spreadsheet).
The programs lack the ability to create charts and graphs, she added. And the tips provided on the site include contributions from other users, which "does raise some concerns about the legitimacy of the advice provided. It would definitely be worthwhile (and strongly recommended) that you consult with your tax adviser regarding some of the tax saving tips recommended on this site," Crum stated.
An annual subscription to the site’s premium tools are "more reasonably priced than some standalone software programs designed for managing your finances," she stated, though "the free version was quite sufficient for someone only handling a few properties."
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