Choosing a professional property management company to care for your investment is not a task to be taken lightly. With all the options available today, you need to of course know how to properly vet each company, but you also need to be aware of the types of services they offer and how those services coincide with your specific needs. Doing some research and asking the right questions in terms of services the company offers will prove invaluable when it comes to deciding on the best property manager for you and your investment.
One of the major components of managing an investment property is accounting. It is crucial that you understand what accounting services a property management company provides, how they handle rent collection and owner payments and what types of financial reports and tax documents you'll be provided before deciding to sign a contract. You'll want to find out how often they pay owners, if they pay electronically and if you'll have access to an online portal that allows you to view your statements. Another important factor is whether they'll provide you with tax documents at the end of each year - you don't want to end up scrambling to gather these yourself because you've signed on with a management company that isn’t setup to readily provide them to you.
Maintenance and Repairs
How does the company track maintenance requests and work orders? Do they allow tenants to submit maintenance requests online? What about after-hours emergency services? All of this will lend to preserving the condition of your property and thus allowing it to retain its value. If tenants are able to easily submit maintenance concerns, they'll be much more likely to do so. Also, doing these things electronically keeps everything in writing and creates an automatic record of such.
Another key component of maintenance is property reviews - does the property management company you're vetting do these regularly? A good property management company will have representatives review the condition of your investment home a few times a year to ensure its being cared for. In addition, they should provide you with detailed reports that include photos and suggestions of repairs and improvements that might be made to the property.
What about the vendors they use? Do they have a set of trusted vendors or are they scrambling for the phone book every time an issue arises? Companies who have a core set of trusted vendors are intimately familiar with the maintenance needs of rental properties and know exactly who to call (and are ensured that person will answer) when an issue arises. What about when tenants move out - does the company have a process for making repair and upgrade suggestions at turnover? An experienced property management company will be able to guide you through the turnover process and not only make suggestions but have vendors available to do the proper work to prepare the property for a new set of tenants.
A key factor in successfully leasing a property is, of course, advertising. Some of the things you should inquire about when it comes to advertising are things like where the company advertises, their social media presence and how much traffic their website receives. You can also ask about their vacancy rates - are most of the units in their inventory rented? If so, then this is a good sign that they are very proactive in getting properties leased. You may also want to know what types of showings they do. Do they show occupied properties? Do they do agent accompanied showings, lockbox showings or both? The answer to these questions will likely vary depending on the particular circumstances of a property, but its good information to have as it will paint a clear picture of the company's business practices.
A reliable property management company will have proven tenant screening processes in place to find their clients the best tenants possible. When considering a company, ask some questions about their rental criteria - what are their credit score and income requirements? Do they check rental references? Do they make all adults who are going to be living in a home apply? Do they make exceptions if people miss the mark in one area but meet it in all others?
Another thing to inquire about is the lease document used by the company. Experienced professional property management companies will have ironclad leases that protect property owners.
Though lower prices may sound nice on the surface, beware of "cheap fees". These are often an indication of service levels - as they say, you get what you pay for. Fees lower than most competitors can also be a sign that a company has lowered their rates in order to bring in more clients than they can perhaps handle and wont' be able to give your property the attention it deserves. If a property manager isn’t paying attention to your property, this can lead to lease violations and property damages being ignored or missed, which can in turn lead to expensive costs on the backend. What good are low fees if the company isn’t doing its job properly? When choosing someone to handle your investment, the truth is quality of service should be the top priority and fees should be one of the last things considered.
Research the Company Itself
These days, you can find out most anything you want with a simple Google search and gathering some basic information on a property management company is no different. Find out how long they've been in business. Do they just do property management or are they also involved in real estate sales? Do they employ licensed brokers? The top companies of today will have well-established websites and lots of online feedback.
All of this probably sounds like a homework assignment and in some ways it is. However, your investment portfolio isn't something you want to hand over to just anyone. Asking the right questions and doing your research can make all the difference in the experience you have working with a professional property management company. If you'd like to learn more about the services offered by Sweyer Property Management, reach out to our new business team today to go over these and any other questions you might have.