Your name:  Anita S. Crum 

Name of product: T-reX Global partner program, including evaluations of Simplify’em and Depreciate’em 

1. Ease. Is it easy to use for real estate professionals? For real estate consumers? How steep is the learning curve?

To borrow a phrase from Geico, "It’s so easy a caveman could do it."  The step by step process was very simple and easy to follow.  I had my partner program information up and running within minutes.  Loading property information into the software for Simplify’em and Depreciate’em both only took a couple of minutes.

–Strengths (250 words or less)

The program walks you through the process step by step.  It keeps things very simple and in layman’s terms.  It’s very much a “fill in the blanks” format that is great for someone who has little to no experience with software programs or with investment property tracking systems.  For those with experience, the simplicity of the process definitely reduces the amount of time spent maintaining records.  Inputting information in Simplify’em was very easy to do using the basic preset data fields provided (i.e. expenses such as utilities, repairs, advertising and income from rent).  And it also gave you the option to add more fields to suit your particular incomes and expenditures.  The same also applies to Depreciate’em.  Very easy to input information and make adjustments.  The page views are clean and precise.  No distracting pop ups, banner ads, etc.  The side bar offers quick summary views (some with edit options) and the Tips section full of helpful hints and useful information.

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

Although the site promotes the benefits of upgrading to the Premium version of Simplify’em the promo info did not link to a site where you could upgrade.  I finally found the upgrade link when actually using the spreadsheet and it was just a small text link that could have been easily overlooked.  Another weak point in the system was that there is no actual save data button or option.  It appears that the data is being automatically saved but its unclear how often the auto save feature refreshes. 

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

95

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

This site is very easy to use and it offers tutorials, help links and even tips.  It’s pretty intuitive and doesn’t require a lot of knowledge about managing investment properties to get started.  With the ability to expand upon its preset options, it gives even the more seasoned property manager or investor the tools needed to easily maintain and track finances for multiple properties.

2. Value. Is it helpful and useful for real estate professionals? For their clients/customers/consumers? Cost vs. benefits: Is it worth the cost?

The free version was quite sufficient for someone only handling a few properties.  However, it was unclear if the free version was going to be available forever or if it was for a limited time only.  Still, at $90 for an annual subscription, the price seems very reasonable for the tools that are available.  The tracking of incoming and outgoing expenses, the report and the tax forms appear to be fairly comprehensive and could be a great time – and money – saver.

–Strengths (250 words or less):

At just $90 for an annual subscription it is more reasonably priced than some standalone software programs designed for managing your finances.  And the ease of use makes it well worth the money.  The program will also generate a year-end report or Schedule E which will be very helpful come tax time.  And for a one-time fee of $39.95 you can access your IRS Form 4562 and a detailed report on Depreciate’em. Although the fee is on an annual basis, it’s not much more than one would pay to upgrade more conventional financial software.

As for the partnership program for Realtors, you can’t beat the value on that.  Free software tool for your clients, promotional fliers and e-mail newsletters.  The links direct all traffic to your personalized Web page and tracks it so that you will know when your clients are taking advantage of your offer. 

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

The tips section is actually more like Wikipedia, with contributions from other users of this product.  This 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 advisor regarding some of the tax saving tips recommended on this site. 

There isn’t a downloadable version that would allow you to work on your spreadsheets when not connected to the Internet.  It would be great if there was an optional software download you could install on your computer and then upload or sync data as needed. 

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

90

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

The product offers a lot of features for a moderate price. 

3. Power. Would real estate professionals and consumers be likely to use this often? Can it replace existing tools/methods? How much information and how many features does it put at the user’s fingertips? Does it have the power to change the industry? Can real estate professionals and consumers use this on the go? Is it innovative and cutting edge? Is it scalable (can be used by individuals and entire offices/companies)? Does it have advanced features for tech-savvy users? Does it integrate with other products?

I see this product being a great tool for both real estate professionals and consumers.  It is surprisingly feature-rich for a seemingly very simple program.  Although this system is not currently designed for use via a mobile devise, I would not be surprised to see additional developments that would allow you to update records via a smartphone.  It can be used by one person managing just a few properties or can be used to manage all the properties for an entire office.  The ability to export data to Excel gives you the opportunity to create additional reports and charts to meet your specific needs.

–Strengths (250 words or less):

The partnership program is an excellent tool for agents.  The co-branding allows you to provide your investor clients with a great tool for managing their properties.  Each page of the Web site has your contact information.  The system creates a flier you can print out, provides the HTML language you need (and instructions on how) to include a link on your Web site and sends an e-mail to your client inviting them to take advantage of this program.  There is also a monthly newsletter that you can send to your clients.

As for Simplify’em and Depreciate’em, the ease of using these will be a great benefit to anyone who manages property, whether it’s one or 100.  The data input process includes a method for creating “rules” that will facilitate things by eliminating the need to enter repetitive data (i.e. monthly rent amount, POA fees).  Another great tool provided by Simplify’em is the tenant notification.  You can set the system up to automatically e-mail the tenant a reminder that their rent is due.  Or you can print it out and send it to them. 

Both programs allow you to upload additional files to associate with a particular property.  You could upload property photo, copy of the lease agreement, any correspondence with the tenant or property owner, copies of invoices, etc. 

–Weaknesses (250 words or less):

At present this product appears to only be available as an online system which means if your connection is down, you will not be able to access your data.  It does offer the option to download your data to Excel but that doesn’t give you the access to the reports.  With such critical data being inputted, it would be nice to know that the data could be backed up locally.   The free version only allows you to attach one file per property with a size limit of 800 kilobytes.  The premium version gives you unlimited file access, although I suspect if this program catches on, they may have to start limiting file spaces.  The basic reports are good but an option to create additional types of reports would be useful.

–Numeric rating, from zero to 100 (zero is the worst and 100 is the best):

90

–Explanation for rating (250 words or less):

The programs offer good basic record keeping and reporting technology.  The ability to upload files for specific properties allows you to keep all your records in one place and access them as needed anywhere you can connect to the Internet (go green).  The system lacks the ability to create charts and graphs which would be a good analytical tool.

***

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