These days, there are a lot of reasons why you may find yourself looking for a property manager. Maybe you have moved to another state and chosen to rent your home out while you are gone. Maybe you are an investor that was looking to sell a home quickly but are choosing to keep it as a rental. Maybe you have rented a home out for a while but are now facing an eviction or damage to your property. Regardless of the reason, here are some tips to help you be successful in your search.
In general you are looking for a responsible, trustworthy property manager who will:
- Collect rent and other fees
- Respond to your renters' needs
- Handle Day to Day Maintenance Issues Professionally
- Provide an Accurate Accounting of Profit / Loss.
- Work to fill vacancies quickly, with a complete marketing plan to get SOLID tenants
- Communicate with you when issues come up
Question 1: Referrals?
One way to ask them for referrals: "Please send me referrals from client where they had an issue with a tenant and you helped them through it."
It is pretty easy for a Property Manager to provide referrals from clients where the only news has been good. The purpose of a property manager is to help with the times when things are not as good or when issues arise. That makes this not only a fair question to ask, but an important one as well. Property managers who have been in the business more than just a short time will have plenty of these referrals for you?
Question 2: Please send me referrals from REALTORS or other real estate industry professionals who refer their clients to you. Can I ask them about you?
This is another very good way to locate the truly qualified property managers. REALTORS, and other real estate people will only work with the BEST people for their clients. They will often be aware of frustrations that their clients may have had. If they are referring their clients to someone, that is a pretty decent indicator about that property managers' ability.
Question 3: How do you handle vacancies? What is your marketing plan to attract quality tenants?
You can ask this a number of ways:
- Where do you advertise vacant homes?
- Do you use signage in front of the property?
- Do you have an internet strategy to attract tenants? What sites can I see you on?
- What is your website? How much traffic does it get? Can I find you on Google?
- How many vacancies do you have at a given time?
- How long (on average) does it take you to fill a vacancy?
- What types of rentals do you have vacancies for? Are they single family homes for example?
Question 4: Can I see your lease agreement with tenants?
Here are some things to look for/ask about:
- How much of a security deposit is required of the tenant?
- What is the monthly rent you would propose for my home and how long are the lease terms (i.e. months, years)?
- How are late rents handled? Does the tenant understand what is required of them?
- Make sure maintenance responsibilities for the tenant are clearly written?
- What happens if the tenant breaks the lease?
Question 5: Who does the tenant call with questions? How is this handled after hours? Who do I call with questions? How is this handled?
This is where an established property management company has systems in place that others may not. This is also an important part of your satisfaction their service as well as tenant satisfaction.
Question 6: What are their Fees and How do they work?
The interesting thing is that the fees are the last question. They are important but if a Property Manager does not feel like a good fit based on the first 5 questions, then there is not a reason to ask about fees. Many people looking for Property Managers START the process with Fees / Pricing Question and then work to make sure the other items are in place. Since choosing the WRONG property manager can be really costly, reversing the process you use for screening may be much more useful. Make sure that you are a good fit with what they provide and how they provide it, and most times the fee structure works out just fine.
There are a number of other questions that you can and should ask! These are just the top 6 that are included in this blog post. Others may include how many properties they currently have under management, how do they keep up on the latest legal requirements and changes, and what financial systems to they have in place to accept payments and fees, etc. Another great idea is to visit their place of business and sit down with them. You can learn a lot about their level of professionalism simply with a visit and conversation.
Please note that we do have a Property Management Division. Our Property Management professionals are happy to answer the questions above and any others that you might have. Give them a call today, they are happy to assist you.
Final note: Typically when you are screening property managers to find the one that is perfect for you, they are doing the same thing (screening) on you! Just like you, they are looking for high quality clients that are a great fit for how, where, and the types of properties that they are managing. Finding a property manager is not an easy task, but devoting extra effort in the beginning will save you hours of headaches later on. Make sure you do your due diligence, and your property manager will reward you with a worry-free investment.