Top Strategies for Finding a Good Property Manager
Tips to Find the Best Manager for Your Rental Property
You likely have screening procedures in place when you want to find a great tenant to fill a vacancy at your rental. When you are trying to choose a property manager to oversee these tenants, you should be just as thorough. You want someone with good referrals, strong experience and a solid management contract. Here are six strategies for finding a good manager for your property.
Get Referrals From Different Sources
One of the best ways to find a good property manager is through referrals from people you trust. By talking to real estate agents and other property owners in your area you may be able to find some great options. Get a list of the property managers or property management companies they have used or are currently using.
- What have they been happy with?
- Have they had any problems with the property manager or management company?
A referral can be biased. This is why it is important to get referrals from different sources. If you hear the same thing about a property manager or company multiple times, whether it is good or bad, there is a greater chance that it is true.
Do an Independent Online Search for Property Managers
While you may find a great property manager through a referral, it is important to do your own research. You can search online for property management companies. Websites like T-Rex Global and AllPropertyManagement allow you to plug in the size of your property and your location and they will generate a list of property management companies in your area.
Once you have a few names, you should check out the company’s reviews on sites like Yelp or even Facebook. It’s not a bad idea to check with the Better Business Bureau as well to see what kind of rating the company has and if any complaints have been filed against them.
In your research, you may come across some of the same companies that you got through referrals. This will allow you to learn more about the company and see additional reviews.
Check Out Their Current Work in Person
Rather than relying solely on word of mouth or online opinions, you should go right to the source. Look at some of the property manager's current rental ads.
- Are they professional, compelling and free of discriminatory statements?
- Do they advertise in a variety of places, or are their ads limited to free sources like Craigslist or community bulletin boards?
Visit the actual properties they manage.
- Are the properties clean and well cared for?
Ask to speak to the current tenants: These questions will help you decide if the current tenants are happy with management’s performance.
- Do the tenants feel like their complaints are addressed?
- How long does it take for a repair or maintenance issue to be fixed?
- Is the building clean?
- Is the building quiet?
- Does the tenant plan on signing a new lease? Why or why not? These questions will help you decide if the current tenants are happy with management’s performance.
Interview Several Property Managers
The fourth tip is to interview several prospective property managers. Don't just go with the first manager you speak to. Just as you will interview and screen several tenants before you rent out your property, you will want to interview several property managers/management companies so you can compare them and find the one you are most comfortable trusting your property with.
Interviewing several prospective managers will allow you to separate those with real knowledge and a proven plan, from those without. A property manager who has placed 10 tenants in the last two months and is currently evicting five of them, either has the worst luck in the world or, more likely, does not know how to properly screen tenants.
You should ask questions about their education and experience, services provided, fees charged and if they have an understanding of landlord-tenant law. Is the candidate receptive to your questions or are they dismissive? If they aren’t putting their best foot forward during the interview, things will most likely get worse if you allow them to manage your property.
Check Their License and Certification
Most states require that a property manager/management company have a real estate broker’s license or a property management license in order to show vacant apartments. You should check with your state's Real Estate Commission to see if their brokerage license is active.
You will also want to know if the company or manager has been certified with a trade organization such as:
- Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM),
- National Apartment Association (NAA),
- National Association of Residential Property Managers(NARPM)
- Community Associations Institute (CAI).
These organizations offer certification after completion of a tough training program. If the property manager is willing to spend the time and money to go through continuing education courses, it can tell you that they are committed to their job.
Of course, you should also trust your instincts. Just because a property manager has paid money to take a class doesn’t mean they are putting into practice what they were taught. A property manager who doesn’t have the money for expensive classes may have more passion for managing your property. Therefore, you will need to look at the whole picture before selecting a property manager.
Examine Their Management Agreement
The management agreement should clearly define the responsibilities of the property manager and that of the property owner. Pay close attention to the sections on services provided, extra fees charged, responsibilities of the owner, compliance with fair housing laws, hold harmless clause and reasons for cancellation.
Are the same terms you discussed during the interview included in the contract? You should also ask the management company for an example of the monthly report you would receive.