Whether you have just one property or dozens, a great rental management company is worth its weight in gold. While most wary investors complain about “fixing toilets at 3 a.m.,” you can rest easy knowing that your property manager is taking care of it.
Unfortunately, not all property management companies are top notch. After all, someone has to be average, right?
That’s why we’ve put this short guide together. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know what you need to do to make sure you get one of the best.
Step 1: Research Local Rental Management Companies
Even though it’s not necessary to have a local company, it is the most logical choice. Local property managers will know the local laws, have great contractors they work with, and be able to visit the property if the need arises.
The first place you can start researching is online. Search engines such as Google and Bing work well, but you may also want to consider joining a paid membership, like Angie’s List.
The second- and perhaps more important- place to do your research is in the coffee shop! Take other real estate investors out to coffee and see who they recommend. Some probably choose to manage the properties themselves, but you’ll find those with bigger goals will always use a company to do the dirty work for them.
Step 2: Come Up with Questions for the Rental Management Company
You’ll need to interview the best candidates, but you can’t jump into that just yet. Instead, you need to prepare the questions you want to ask. Here are a few examples:
- How much experience do you have in property management?
- Is all of your experience in the local area?
- What certifications do you have?
- Do you have any existing and previous customers I can talk to about your service?
- How many properties do you manage?
- Do you have your own handymen/plumbers/etc. or do you always subcontract house maintenance?
- How do you market the property for new tenants?
- Do you track everything manually, or with a more sophisticated property management software?
- What are your fees? Not just the monthly fee, but are there additional fees for setting up the contract, advertising to fill vacant homes, visiting the property, etc.?
- How many property managers do you have? If you are unable to handle an issue due to vacation, illness, etc. does someone else in the company fill your spot to help me until you return?
- How do you deal with troublesome tenants? What are your policies for late rent payments, damages to the property, breaking part of the contract (such as having a pet that’s bigger than the weight limit,) etc.?
You may be able to come up with more, but again the idea is you want to know as much information as possible before moving forward.
Step 3: Interview at Least 3 Rental Management Companies
When someone applies to a job, does the employer normally just interview one person to fill the position? When you looked at investment properties, did you buy the first one you saw? When you’re considering someone to come do major work on the home, do you just get one quote from a contractor you don’t know very well?
That’s why it’s important to meet with several different companies. Each property management company does things a little differently, and you need to see which works best for you.
Keep in mind that the interview starts from the second they pick up the phone. If you call to ask a few questions or set up an interview and the person is rude, that should go into your consideration. Sure, maybe they’re just having a bad day, but you don’t want poor customer service- especially because your tenants may be turned off by it as well!
As you interview each company, remember that the interviewing process extends until the moment you make your decision. If one company follows up and seems really excited about working with you, that’s a good thing! But those companies that decide it’s not worth following up with you or just don’t seem excited about helping solve your problems may not be the rental management company for you.