The Defining Features of Property Management Companies
by Kevin Ortner, CEO of Renters Warehouse
Maybe you’ve been thinking about engaging a property management company for some time and only now starting to consider taking the plunge. Or perhaps you’re rapidly found yourself in over your head and threats of divorce are flying your way given that you’re never home - well in your home with your family. There are many property management companies out there that are all ready to help you with your properties.
it’s not enough to just hire any property management company though.You need to find one that is professional, reliable and well-established in the community. The horror stories of unprofessional property managers which you may have heard circulating around only damage our industry’s otherwise fine reputation.
Even though there are a few (very few) bad apples, the reality is that property management companies, for the most part, are solid and reputable. They are equipped to manage your properties efficiently and with the utmost of care. Bottom line, they work to help you make the most of your investment.
Here are a few defining features that professional property management companies have in common with one another.
A Rock-solid Reputation
Beyond anything else, a professional property management company should have a rock-solid reputation in the community. Now, it’s easier than ever to discover information about a company. Head online and do your homework before trusting someone with your valuable investments.
Check out the net and examine reviews and recommendations. Act like a detective and run a complete check on the companies you are considering to make sure everything looks up to snuff. People are apt to share their bad experiences online, so there’s a good chance that if the company isn’t reputable, this will come up in your search results.
A Large Client Base
Watch out for the property manager with few or no clients. This could be a sign of someone who has trouble managing their rentals and keeping tenants in their units. It could also point to disorganization, laziness, or an overall weak work ethic. As you do research on property management companies, be sure to ask for references, and highlight those with an extensive client base. This will both help validate their ability and experience, but will also point to the potential that the company will also be able to find the best deals on repairs and maintenance given they’re already familiar with local contractors.
A Record of Short Vacancy Periods
Be wary of property management companies with long vacancy times between tenants. Look out for how quickly they were able to get their properties to market. Companies with an excellent vacancy rate will be more than happy to share this information with you.
Formalized Tenant Screening Procedures
A landlord’s life can be made a living hell from just one bad tenant. It’s best to stop them from becoming a pain right from the start by having a solid tenant screening procedure in place. A reputable company will go on more than a gut feeling for screening potential tenants. Find one that conducts solid background, reference, and credit checks as part of their procedures. They should also have airtight anti-discrimination policies in place to protect you in case a tenant alleges discriminatory practices.
Policies say a lot about a company. Any property management company worth it’s weight will have established policies already in place and will be happy to share many of them with you. Be sure to inquire about their systems and evaluate whether they seem solid or make sense to you.
It’s also a good idea to find out if they offer any routine maintenance services for rentals. Property management companies that offer this, are able to help minor issues from escalating into major repairs. Inquire about their process for collecting past-due rent, and how they handle after-hours emergencies.
Provide Written Contracts
Property management companies that aren’t able or willing to provide a written contract raise a red flag for you as it’s often a sign of a group that doesn’t have its act together. Those who do, will be more than happy to provide you with a contract clearly outlining their terms and conditions, as well as pricing and fees. Reviewing the contract will help you to know what to expect from them- with no surprises!
By spending a bit of time upfront searching for and vetting a professional property management company, you’ll save yourself a world of pain (and money) in the future. They will be able to help you find qualified tenants much faster, putting more cash in your pocket than if you went at it alone. Finding a company who is your partner will help you generate maximum income from your rental properties, allowing you to get the best return on your investment - and you’ll be free to spend more time with family and friends doing what you’re truly passionate about.