Property managers is not the easiest role in the world; how often do we hear, ‘the property manager did not communicate with me, tenant selection was poor, my property was just a number and the managers kept changing’?
I agree that there are property managers out there who fit this scenario, however there are professional managers who have years of experience and are passionate about what they do. They have exceptional customer service, have outstanding communication, negotiation and organisational skills. The best property managers know how to apply a broad skill set to the unique situations they encounter including the ability to manage the more tangible related concerns such as maintenance and repairs. This skill set is acquired with years of experience, the support of mentors and the personality trait of being a “people person” and having an eye for detail.
This skill set is a prerequisite for any property management role for the following properties:
- Long term unfurnished
- Long term furnished
- Short term furnished rentals
The easiest mistake to make is to choose a management company purely based on price alone.
It is an important factor, however the old adage “you get what you pay for” is never a truer word. You may end up with a bad experience in hiring an unprofessional property manner who can’t perform their duties and you could end up losing money.
So, what should you go on when you hire a property manager?
- Look deeper than price
This bears repeating! You may think that all property managers or management companies are essentially the same, so the lowest commission must be the best. When it comes to the care and management of your property, it behoves you to base your decision on factors outside the scope of a simple percentage. A typical management fee for rental properties is between 8 – 12% of the weekly rent and it is at the higher end for the management of fully furnished properties. Be sure to check what the percentage is based on.
- Ask for references
Be sure to ask for references from other property owners, ideally owning properties similar in size and scope to your own. If the property manager cannot provide suitable referees, this in itself is a warning sign that they may be inexperienced or may not have any positive reviews.
- Is the property manager qualified?
Requiring a qualification to be a property manager has not been enforced until recently. In the majority of states in Australia there has been legislation passed to have all property managers qualified. A trained and qualified property manager gives you confidence that they will provide a professional level of service and have a good understanding of legislation relating to the role of landlords and tenants.
- The need for strong communication
You will be hearing from the property manager often enough so you need to feel comfortable that you will be able to get along with them on a personal level and you like their style of communication. It is important to recognise that you will be working through large and small issues with the manager. You need to feel that you are on the same page from the start and have confidence that they will choose the right tenant for your property. Ask how they would communicate, by what method and how often. Suss out whether they are interested in building a trusting relationship with you and do they ask questions to get to know your ‘needs & wants’. They must understand your persona.
- Managers need to be exceptionally organised
Property management requires a high level of organisation relating to all aspects: routine inspections, maintenance and repairs, open inspections, assessing tenant applications. It is a good idea to ask the property manager to describe a ‘day in the work place’ to you, ask specific questions around daily routine and any management software used to keep things on track.
- Understanding the basics of marketing
Most property managers are skilled at property maintenance and related tasks but may lack the skill of basic marketing. It is important to know how to write the content when listing a property both on and offline. Writing a great property description requires knowledge about the amenities of a property and the surrounding location and therefore identifying the type of tenant the property would attract. Ask for an example of how they gather the content about a property and their involvement in advertising the property.
- How many properties do they manage?
The number of properties managed by a property manager, too few and too many can be problematic. Too few can be due to inexperience and or poor service, too many can mean that the property manager has too much to do leaving not enough time to manage your property effectively. Be mindful of extremes.
- Do they own any rental properties themselves?
This in an interesting question to explore – if the property manager has owned a rental property they would possibly have more understanding as an investor. This knowledge is invaluable!
Property Managers deal directly with prospects and tenants, saving you time, money and worry over marketing your rental properties, collecting rent, handling maintenance and repairs, responding to tenant complaints and tenant breaches. They also must have exceptional customer service skills backed by effective property management systems. There needs to be a personality match between you and the property manager and you should feel this synergy between you in the first 5 minutes of meeting. It doesn’t need to be a difficult process, and ideally these tips will help guide you in finding the correct property manager for you.