What do you look for in a good property manager? The answer to that question depends on what responsibilities, if any, you‘re willing to take on. Do you want to turn your property (or multiple properties) over to someone and have little involvement in the day-to-day management? Or would you rather be an active owner and know the details? Property ownership can either be an advantage or a burden depending on your involvement and the responsibilities you turn over to someone else.
Hiring the right property manager can help keep your investment secure. And giving someone else the responsibility for the detailed, everyday tasks can be a real help. Some owners want to handle their own rentals, and while that’s possible, you may not want to take on those responsibilities if you do not have the skills to maintain a house.
Hiring a property manager is at least worth considering. What criteria should you use to judge different management firms? Knowing what questions to ask is important.
Make a list. One of the first things you might want to do is think about what duties a property manager may take on. What responsibilities do you think you can handle and what do you want someone else to take care of? Here are some ideas.
- Collecting the rent. A property manager often has a system for collecting rent. It’s automatic and takes the burden out of your hands.
- Taking the calls from the tenant. Calls often come at the worst times – very late or in the middle of the night. Remember the last time your plumbing went on the fritz? How often do you hear about someone’s garbage disposal backing up in the middle of the Holiday dinner? It’s Murphy’s Law!
- Arranging for repairs. It’s good to have a list of companies that repair items, and make sure there are plenty of backups in each category!
- Scheduling repairs promptly. A tenant is very seldom patient when key repairs are needed. Prompt service is extremely important.
- Sending notices as needed. There should be a process in place to address appropriate notices as – late fees, nonpayment, violations and other occurrences.
- And taking care of necessary evictions. You want to make sure you follow the law and do it properly.
Residential or Commercial?If you own residential property, you’ll want to find someone who specializes in the issues that are particular to residential property management. Then, starting with the list we’ve outlined above, meet with the property manager and come with a list of the things you want this property manager to offer.
Discuss key topics.Here are some things you might want to discuss with any potential property manager you interview. Judging by their answers, you will know whether they can provide the services you need.
- Advertising vacancies. A great management firm will be aggressive in their advertisements. You bear the burden of vacancies so you don’t want your property to be vacant for a long time.
- Showing properties. Is the property manager able to show property on the weekends or evenings? Knowing the process a manager uses to show your property will reveal what precautions are used and whether or not your property manager will be able to find quality tenants.
- Screening tenants. It’s important that your property manager use background checks to make sure the prospective tenant is responsible.
- Collecting past-due rents. There should be a process in place. Make sure that it sounds like a good one.
- Maintenance costs. Knowing how they address regular maintenance is important
- After hour emergencies. This is important to your sanity and ability to be successful in renting properties.
- Accounting systems. Make sure your property manager can give you the reports you need.
- Fee structure. Various firms may have different fee structures, so ask.
- Insurance. Be sure to find out what coverage(s) your manager has. This is one area where you want to make sure you’re covered.
- Inspection. Inspecting the property yearly (at least) helps ensure that any issues that are discovered are either correct or noted. Impromptu inspections should also be done when repair work is completed.
When you interview property managers, come prepared. This is an area where you want to be well-informed. You also want to feel comfortable. Is the property manager capable of renting your property, taking care of it and reporting to you regularly? Your relationship with the property manager is important. Being able to pick up the phone and talk to your manager can relieve a lot of stress!
If you need more information on renting your property or just want some advice, call Tim Knobloch at 240-292-1040.