One of the most popular ways agents and investors do a rental property analysis is with real estate investing software. And, of course, it is prudent to buy any software program at the most affordable price (we all do that), but should you ever expect to find free real estate investing software anywhere on the web or elsewhere?
As one who has developed investment software, and therefore can boost of having first-hand experience in what it takes to produce a quality program, I would have to respond with an adamant, no way. Remember the adage, "There is not such thing as a free lunch"?
Okay, let me explain why the idea of trying to find free quality software is both, improbable and naive.
The Hours Invested
Any software worth its weight in salt requires untold hours to develop. Whether the software is coded as an application for Microsoft Excel or as a stand-alone program, some developer spent untold hours writing the code, or otherwise paid an arm and a leg to someone else to write the code.
In my case, I wrote the code for my real estate investment software with blood, sweat, and tears over long arduous hours. In fact, there was a point early on (a few weeks following the release of ProAPOD in 2000) that my earnings worked out to be something like fifty cents per hour. Thankfully it's changed (I would not be here to offer my software eleven years later otherwise), but you get the idea. Real estate investing software does not (as they say) grow on trees, and there has only been one Mother Teresa; so you should expect to pay something for the time a developer has invested creating his software.
The Cost of Marketing
I am the first to applaud the marketing opportunities that have opened up due to the World Wide Web. It affords entrepreneurs at every level a chance to broadcast services and products to an audience in numbers never imagined even as early as ten years ago. But it does cost.
To begin with, there is the cost of establishing a website. This requires the registration of a domain name, a fee to the hosting server, and, of course, the actual design work.
Next, there is the cost of advertising. The most common method on the web is known as PPC (ie, pay-per-click). For those of you unaware, the companies you see displayed while browsing have to pay each time their ad is clicked; whether you buy the product or not.
Next, there is the fee to the company who processes the order. I use PayPal, and they are terrific, but they do take a bite out of every transaction.
The Cost of Support
I am committed to giving those using my real estate investing software quality support, and never begrudge having to field questions from my customers. But it does require time; and unlike an attorney who might start the meter the minute the conversation begins, most software developers like me (at least those of us smaller than Microsoft) do not charge customers for support calls.
The point here is not to bemoan the costs associated with running a business, but to help you understand that there is no such thing as free real estate investing software because no software with any measure of quality can be offered to you without cost. In my case, I have purposed to make ProAPOD as one customer put it, "The most affordable software of its kind on the market today." But alas, despite my personal commitment to provide the real estate community with the best product at low-cost, it is still not free.