Since Yardi Systems was founded in 1982 by CEO Anant Yardi, the Santa Barbara-based company has become one of the world’s top real estate software developers serving the property and asset management industry. The global firm employs 1,200 and serves more than 15,000 businesses and agencies globally, representing about 5 billion sq. ft. of commercial space and 5 million residential units.

Yardi’s products are geared toward real estate managers, owners and investors and extend through numerous industry sectors, including affordable housing, investment management, commercial real estate, multifamily, public housing and senior housing. For six years running, Apartment Finance Today has recognized Yardi as the industry’s top provider of property and management software, illustrated by its 2007 survey showing that 26.4% of respondents used Yardi as their primary software suite.

Vice President of marketing Brad Setser recently discussed Yardi’s products and growth with NREI Newsline Technology Edition.

NREI: What differentiates Yardi from competitors’?

Setser: We unite operators and investors within a single database, so there’s no data transfer needed. We fully integrate clients’ property management and operating data with their portfolio investment financials and reporting. By automating portfolio accounting and asset valuation, it makes manual entries of operating data and spreadsheets unnecessary. And this minimizes the errors that have long characterized spreadsheet-based portfolio management.

NREI: How do Yardi products benefit real estate investors?

Setser: They allow investors, advisors and users to give their stakeholders a whole new level of confidence in their companies’ transparency, risk-mitigation and accuracy. Our systems also fully integrate investment accounting with the business intelligence, property management and general ledger components.

NREI: What are some of your most popular products?

Setser: Investment Management, RealDCF, Executive Dashboard and Portal are now among the most in-demand products. We view these as the next generation of automation and we anticipate broad acceptance of them across the real estate spectrum.

NREI: In which of your market segments do you see the greatest growth?

Setser: We expect significant growth in all segments, particularly commercial real estate, investment management and seniors housing. In light of all the expansion in international investment, we also see tremendous growth potential as a global solution provider for multi-national portfolios. Our company has recently grown through acquisitions of rCash, which specializes in electronic workflow for invoice processing, and SiteStuff, which automates and centralizes e-procurement and expense management.

NREI: How do your investment accounting and investment management products benefits clients?

Setser: They give investment managers an edge. By automating investment management, valuation and investor reporting, they can automate all the accounting, analytic and modeling tasks that were previously done manually.

NREI: Tell us about Yardi Voyager Commercial, which you market as the real estate industry’s leading software for retail, office and industrial property management functions.

Setser: It features the industry’s most advanced commercial property management system. It’s completely browser-based and has an extremely flexible lease management system. No matter how complex a lease is, all lease charges, common-area maintenance charges, percentage rents and critical dates can be automated. It also includes reporting of portfolio-analytics, automated workflow and notifications that are integrated into customers’ operating databases.

NREI: Do you cater mostly to large investment firms?

Setser: Some of the largest investment managers in the world use our system, although we cater to all sizes. The great thing about our investment management solution is that it’s scalable. Our system is also being adopted by managers and advisors of new funds who will rely on it to help them expand as they grow.

NREI: Do customers prefer self-hosted systems or Yardi-hosted systems?

Setser: We accommodate both options, but about 75% of our clients choose our ASP hosting service. Many consider this more cost effective than maintaining their own IT networks because our hosting system allows them to better focus on their core business: real estate. Our own economies of scale allow Yardi to deliver better access, security and disaster recovery than most companies can provide for themselves. But in some cases, internal policies require companies to maintain direct control over their network security and infrastructure. Self-hosting can also allow some clients to better leverage their own IT resources and initiatives.

NREI: As your technology products and software solutions go global, how do you account for all the different tax rules, currencies and languages?

Setser: Our product suite is developed on a browser-based platform with a single global database that can handle multiple tax and accounting rules, language translations and currency conversions — all in fully integrated systems. Management and reporting can be done in the currency and language of choice. This enables global managers to operate as an integrated organization worldwide.

NREI: What’s next for your research and development pipeline?

Setser: We’re committed to creating a global infrastructure and a comprehensive product line that helps our clients maintain their industry leadership roles. We’re always developing and expanding our offerings with a focus on innovative ways to promote data standards, minimize paper, support green initiatives and improve the availability and the usability of information.