The top three questions to ask a property manager
Posted on Tuesday, September 30 2014 at 1:48 PM
By George Kafantaris
Finding a great property manager is one of the keys to having a successful ‘set and forget’ investment.
It means you’ll be able to safely leave your property in someone else’s hands, knowing the rent will be in your account at the same time every week or month and the home will be well maintained, along with its value.
We’ve all heard nightmare stories about terrible property managers. So how do you find that gem of a property manager – one who has your best interests at heart and will go out of their way to attend to the small details?
What you shouldn’t do is just pick the one with the cheapest fees. Your asset is worth a lot of money and consequently you should be looking for someone who will provide the best service rather than simply charging the lowest rates.
You should interview a few different property managers before making a decision, and while there’s a raft of things you should find out before engaging the services of a particular property manager, here are three questions that are a must-ask.
1 How much experience do you have?
An experienced property manager will have thorough knowledge of the relevant rules and laws that affect your property and tenants. They’re also likely to have come across most scenarios regarding maintenance and tenant issues, so they’ll know the best way to respond and consequently be able to take the best possible care of your property. In addition, an experienced property manager will be able to identify a bad tenant right off the bat, which is invaluable to the success of your investment.
A property manager who has good experience in the industry will also be able to accurately gauge tenant demand for your property and set the right rental rate to attract tenants. They’ll also be able to conduct regular rent reviews and ensure the rent accurately reflects the market, including increasing the rate at appropriate times, which will give you the highest possible return for your asset.
Property managers who are committed to their career are more likely to go that extra mile for you and your property. But rather than simply looking at the experience of the individual property manager you choose, you can look at the collective experience of the team they operate in, as you’ll be able to access all of this expertise.
2 How many properties do you manage?
It’s the norm for property managers to handle around 100 properties, unless their duties are split between other team members. Some companies have leasing consultants as well as property managers, which means the latter can focus solely on maintaining your asset and taking care of the tenants. Ask the property manager you’re considering what their workload is, as you want to ensure they have enough time to tend to your property properly.
A good property manager will conduct regular inspections of your property and will provide reports to you as the landlord, including photographs. Regular inspections are essential as they enable the manager to pick up on any problems with the property before they get out of hand. For example, they might discover that a tenant is failing to treat the property properly, or pick up on maintenance issues that might cause costly damage to your property in the long run. If problems are picked up early they can be remedied quickly and the value of your property can be maintained.
3 How do you find and screen tenants?
Finding a good tenant is the first step in risk management for your investment, so it’s very important that your property manager has a thorough selection process in place. To find out what this involves, you can read my previous column on choosing great tenants.
You’ll also want to ensure your property isn’t left vacant for long periods of time, so it’s important to ask a potential property manager how they plan to find a tenant for your property. There are two main factors that will lead to your property being rented quickly: the way it’s presented (which includes the quality of the advertisement); and price. If your asset remains on the market for a longer period of time, some property management companies will offer incentives to attract tenants, such as offering a rent-free period or throwing in an iPod, or even a holiday.