Here’s everything you need to know to find a property management company that can meet your needs and make your life easier.
Rental properties are a worthwhile investment, but being a landlord requires much more than collecting rent checks. Do you have a plan in place in the event of a pipe break? What happens when the AC power goes out in the middle of summer? Are you ready to handle pest control and HOA packages?
Tenants regularly have maintenance problems that are often urgent. Property management companies often promise quick and lasting solutions. Read on for everything you need to know about finding a company that can meet your needs and make your life easier.
What is property management?
Property management is the monitoring of residential or commercial real estate. Sometimes it may be a single contractor serving as a third-party representative.
However, property management often comes in the form of a company that oversees many different properties. This may be around a dozen for small businesses, while larger property management companies may have hundreds of properties on their list.
If you want effectively manage your rental properties, answering these questions will make you a better property manager. On the other hand, those who wish to pursue a hands-off approach should find help.
Most property management companies also offer a wide range of services. While every business is different, these often include:
- Advertise vacant properties
- Screening and selection of tenants
- Drafting of contracts and accounting
- Monthly rent collection
- Receiving and processing maintenance requests
Sorting through these services and determining your need is an essential first step when looking for a property management company. It will help you select the best fit for your rental properties.
Finding the Right Property Management Company
Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to get to work. Finding a high quality property management team doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are three tips to help you find the right company:
Ask for references
Do some research when you start looking for a property management company. Ask people you know and trust to recommend you. If you have colleagues or friends in the real estate industry, they may have already done the heavy lifting in this area.
Another great resource is the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
Once you have some ideas, don’t be afraid to take a look at the properties. Rental prices are on the rise across the country, which means renters expect to get what they pay for. You want to make sure you’re dealing with a company that will help you keep your properties in good shape.
Focus on quality, but stay local
If you are managing your rental properties from another city (or maybe another state), it helps to have a local property management company. It doesn’t matter how big or reputable a business is if it can’t be there when you need it.
This will make things much easier when it comes to meeting maintenance requests, while keeping high quality tenants.
For sellers, the main fear is a house that takes too long to sell. Similarly, real estate investors worry about homes that sit vacant without tenants for months. One of the best ways to avoid this is to have boots on the ground locally.
Conduct in-depth interviews
It is important to check several companies before signing on the dotted line. Take the time to conduct interviews with at least three different property management companies. This will give you a chance to determine who seems trustworthy and reliable.
Here are some ideas to start the conversation:
- Do you have solid experience in selecting tenants?
- What do you charge for your services?
- Are there any other fees to be aware of?
- How quickly do you respond to maintenance requests?
- What is your process for collecting rent from tenants?
Don’t be afraid to ask other important questions that need answers. You should leave with the certainty that your rental property will be in good hands.
How to work together
You’ve found the right company and now it’s time to get to work. Fostering a great relationship with your property management company is essential. This will ensure you have happy tenants who want to stay long term and pay rent on time. Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult to accomplish if you’ve found the right company.
Staying in touch
Find all possible ways to communicate with your property manager. Whether it’s a monthly conference call or a quarterly face-to-face meeting, you need to stay in the know.
Additionally, a strong property management company will provide regular reports and other information real estate forms about your property. Be sure to read them and use them to guide accounting and maintenance decisions. Communication is the key to a smooth relationship with your property manager.
Keep everything in writing
Although most reputable property management companies do this automatically, it should be noted that contracts are important. Study yours carefully before signing it and refer to it whenever you have a question or concern.
Also, it is important to disclose any stipulations you have. For example, if you want to limit the amount spent on certain repairs, make sure this is stated in your contract. Whether it’s $200 or $500, choose what you authorize and put it in writing.
A detailed contract will keep everyone on the same page and aware of expectations.
You chose your property management company for a reason, and now it’s time to trust the team they put together. They need to feel empowered to make the right decisions on your behalf. Provide context if necessary, but resist the urge to control her every move.
While communication is important, micro-managing won’t help you foster good working relationships. This is especially true when dealing with a property management provider. Show your property management company that you trust their qualifications by allowing them to do the job you hired them to do.
Luke Babich is the CSO of Smart real estate in Saint Louis. Connect with him on Facebook Where Twitter.