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Thoughts When Looking for a New Property Manager


A friend of mine is looking to rent out her house, and asked me for advice in finding a property manager for her place. Here's what I suggest when hiring a property manager.

Is the communication good?

Property managers need to communicate effectively and timely with you.

Even on the initial call expressing your interest in hiring them can give insight into their communication styles. Do they respond in a reasonable time? How are they with follow up questions?

Will they communicate with you how you want? Phone, email, text, your choice.

I had a property manager that never answered the phone. All calls went through an answering service, and were often not returned. Tasks were done, but the communication was strained.

My representative at another company was the son of the owner and, well, had such horrible communication skills that I asked to have another person assigned to my account.

What are their after hours procedure?

Pretty much, you want to know your tenant has access to them in emergencies.

What does the renters / owners website / portal look like?

These days, property management companies have websites for both renters to contact the managers, and owners to receive documents and

What "extras" is the property management going to charge you?

One charges me for quarterly property walk-throughs but doesn't actually do the walk throughs. Quarterly I call them up and ask them to refund the charges.

What services are they going to provide?

One management company refused to handle an AC unit repair.  Another management company put in a new driveway for me.   Clearly you want the latter if you need a new driveway.

How are their online reviews?

Take with a grain of salt, because the people who post are the ones upset. Happy people rarely post reviews. However, see if there's a pattern to the complaints.

One property management company "loses" rent checks, then charges the tenants a late fee. They did this with one tenant before said tenant called his bank and me, and told us what was up. The company stopped with him, I don't know that they don't still continue the practice with other houses.

How large is the property management company?

If it is too big, I am ignored as being too small. They might let a property go unrented for months, asking for too high of a rent.

If it is too small, the tenant or you may not have good communication.

Best luck with a company more than 6 employees, fewer than 20.

How long have they been in business?

Short isn't bad if the members have experience. Shorter is also okay if the company is a new franchise of a larger property management company like Real Property.

What is the property management company going to charge you?

Rates should be no more than 10% of the monthly rental income.

Watch out for initial fees. Most are $500 to get you into the system, sometimes they charge a full month's rent, to "get you into the system," without guarantee of rental.

Check referrals.

A good property manager will be happy to provide referrals, as they'll have many to give, so ask to talk / email with satisfied customers. Ask questions to these about their opinions of the property manager. Do they communicate repairs and issues to you?

Ask about any unexpected fees the property manager charged. Ask about any problems encountered and their resolutions.

If you have an HOA, ask the referral how well the property manager communicates with the referral's HOA.

What are the property manager's expectations for you?

How soon do they expect a response to authorize a repair, for example?

If you'll be inaccessible, what would the property manager do?

When I talk with them, do I like them?

You're giving money to someone for a service. Do you like them?

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