Finding the right property manager can feel daunting and over-whelming. You know you want to hand over your property – whether it’s a home you’ve lived in and loved or an investment property that you’re hoping will be hassle free – but how do you choose? Searching on Google and Yelp! can be a great place to start, and yet, when you’re handing something over as valuable as a house, you really want to make sure you’re giving the keys, and your soon-to-be-income source, to someone you trust.
Here are some tips for finding the perfect property manager for you:
Tip #1 - Check their experience
First and foremost, you want to find someone who knows the in’s and out’s of caring for properties like yours. You’ll want to make sure that they specialize in the kind of property you own – so if you have a single-family home, you may not want to go with a company that focuses mainly on commercial or large apartment buildings. Of course, they may not even take you on as a client, but even if they do, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to provide the focused, specialized service that your unique property needs and deserves.
Next, check to see how long have they been in business. Are they new to the property manager scene, or have they been around the block (pun intended!) a few times? One of the easiest ways to check for experience is the number of years a business has been incorporated, however you may want to check to see if the business owner or lead property manager has been doing other kinds of property care before starting the business. This will give you a good sense of how much the community has trusted them (if they’ve been around for a while, they’re likely well-respected around town), and also ensure that they have experienced many, if not most, of the normal and not-so-normal challenges that come up with rental properties.
Side note: New property managers aren’t necessarily to be overlooked, as they may have a fresh new approach or use the latest online Owner Portal software, but you’ll want to make sure that if you’re giving up years of experience for the new kid on the block, that you’re receiving value in another way.
Lastly, check out the range of skills the property manager has. For example, were they previously a builder, a home inspector, a care-taker for a property, a real estate agent, or a real estate appraiser? The more wide-ranging the experience and skills the property manager has, the more likely they’ll be able to handle any situation that comes with your property.
Tip #2 - Ask your go-to maintenance person for their recommendation
Talking to the maintenance people that care for your home and who are well respected in your community is a great way to get references for property managers. Property managers work with plumbers, electricians, house cleaning services, heating and cooling companies, painters, and more on a daily basis. Talking to some of the folks in these industries will give you a good sense of who they trust and like working with (which means they’ll likely take even better care of your home when they come for a repair or check-up).
Tip #3 - Talk to other property owners
Ask around your neighborhood, church, school community, workplace, etc. to see who else has a property that they have handed over to a property management company. You’ll want to make sure that they have a property that is similar to yours (i.e. if they own a commercial building and you own a single-family home, it might not be comparable), and then pick their brains.
Here are a few questions you can ask:
Does the property manager keep good records?
Is he/she responsive to their needs and the needs of the tenants?
Does the property manager take care of all the hiccups that naturally come up and pay the service and maintenance people on time?
Tip #4 - Ask renters about their experience with property managers in your area
A big part of making sure your property is well cared for is making sure that your tenants are happy and well cared for. Ask around in your neighborhood, church, school community, workplace, etc. to see if anyone is a renter and get their first-hand account of the property managers who manage their rentals.
Here are some questions you can ask:
Is the property manager responsive to your questions and concerns?
Does the property manager promptly schedule repairs or maintenance when things come up?
Is he/she respectful and easy to work with, even when there are late-fee’s or damage done?
Does he/she hold the tenants accountable for their rent and the cleanliness of the property?
Tip #5 - Set up an appointment to meet the property manager
While this can be done on the phone, there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting to give you a sense of someone’s professionalism and character. You can ask the property manager to tell you about their experience, their philosophy for caring for your home and dealing with difficult renters, and about their fees. Other than receiving financial reports and the occasional repair inquiry, you hopefully won’t have to be in regular contact with your property manager, however you’ll want to make sure it feels easy to communicate with them and ask questions and share concerns when they arise. Once having a live conversation, you should have a better sense of what the working relationship might be like.
All in all, if you put in a little time up front to get to know your property manager, you’re more likely to choose one that is good fit for you and your property.
Best of luck with your search!