What does it take for property management people to be the best? In other words, what qualities should PMs strive to improve, and should landlords/investors look for?
Here are a few of the most important.
Property managers need to have people skills. They should be able to read what other people are thinking and how they’re feeling during a conversation. PMs should also be able to steer a conversation in the direction it needs to go without angering or manipulating the other person. Simple body language like strong eye contact and not being closed off (such as crossing their arms) will go a long way.
This may sound like common sense, but think of how many people don’t have these skills. Those that do will make you feel like you’re the only person in the world when they talk to you, which is exactly what a property manager needs. When your house has a plumbing issue and the tenant is furious, you want property management people that can quickly fix the problem and calm down the tenant.
Let’s say a property manager is managing 30 different homes. At any one time, there could be:
- Maintenance issues
- Home improvements
- Incoming/Outgoing tenants
- Vacant property
- Legal or HOA issues
There’s a lot to stay on top of, so your typical PM has their hands full! That’s why you need to work with someone who is extremely organized. You shouldn’t necessarily care how they stay organized, whether its complex software systems or paper- as long as they know what’s going on, that’s a good sign.
Even though it’s not required to take classes to become a property manager, they are required to become a Certified Property Manager. That should tell you something- education is important!
Probably the biggest advantage an education provides is some accounting knowledge. Crunching numbers, looking at financial statements and even simple bookkeeping become much easier after taking a few accounting classes. And when you’re paying someone to take care of your property, you want them to understand what the numbers are telling them.
Education also provides some knowledge on the local regulations and laws. Landlords will expect their PMs to be knowledgeable about these things, as they may need guidance regularly if they have a large portfolio.
Property management people need more than just experience, but this one factor will likely be the biggest factor in your decision whether or not to hire someone. After all, isn’t the assumption that someone with 30 years of experience will be better than someone with just three?
The real answer is that it depends. Someone with 30 years of experience managing properties in southern Florida may not be the best candidate for a property in Chicago. A manager with 20 years of experience managing apartments would need to learn a thing or two before managing a portfolio of single family homes. But in general, experience goes a long way.
At the end of the day, honesty should be a make-it-or-break-it quality. Property management people are there to make a landlord’s job easier, but it will never feel easier if there’s a sense of distrust from either party.