Professional property management can sometimes feel like it's hard to come by. And when you've been let down once it can be hard to rebuild your trust in a property manager's quality and ability to take good care of your property.
The last thing you want is to be kept awake at night with the thought of your investment property being in incapable hands. With a good property manager comes peace of mind and better returns on your investment property.
36% of owners we surveyed explained that "trust in property manager's abilities" was a big pain point while they were searching for a new agent.
So, what do you look for in a property manager, and how do you know if your property manager is legitimate?
In this blog post, we outline the 9 signs of professional property management services. That way, you'll know what to look for in a property management company to tell if the person managing your rental property is a proactive doer or a lackluster bystander.
1. They have good communication skills
Professional property managers know when to keep you in the loop on your investment property as well as what you don't need to be bothered with. What's more is that they don't keep you hanging when you're trying to reach out, and respond in a reasonable time.
A good rule of thumb is that you should receive a reply no more than two hours later, even if it's just "I'm looking into this", acknowledgement and knowing you've been heard helps a lot.
A property manager who knows how to communicate helps you:
- Keep tenants happy
- Not feel like you're being kept in the dark
- Get better quotes on property maintenance
- Solve tensions and disputes orderly
Testing this is one of the best things you can do when finding a good property manager before you sign on. If they spend more than a day getting back to you when you've notified them that you're interested, they probably won't be super responsive normally either.
2. They're well-organised
As much as you might like the idea of having a property manager solely dedicated to your particular property, this just isn’t the case. The real estate business is a busy one. So, you can expect your property manager to be handling multiple properties with multiple owners and tenants at any one time.
Did you know that the average traditional property manager takes care of as much as 150 properties on their own? With these types of numbers, you need to be an organisational beast to make it work out.
Having a readily accessible and detailed database of properties is a must! But so is having a seamless filing system for paperwork! A property manager who uses technology will be better prepared for this.
You should ask a potential new property manager about the tools they use to help them stay organised and on top of all the properties they manage.
Without it, your property manager is going to struggle to handle the tasks and demands they contend with on a daily basis. With that, you can be sure they'll struggle to attend to yours.
You should ask yourself if your property manager has been providing you with inspection reports that show how everything is faring. If your tenants have reached out to you because the property manager hasn't been caught up on requests, then it might be time to consider switching property managers.
3. They're good with technology
Technology in property management is good news for you as an owner and for your tenants, but only if you have a property manager who knows how to use it.
The property management space is becoming ever more digital with many new-model property managers entering the space to use technology for better solutions. This lets property managers keep an eye on, and quickly respond to, all aspects of operations, be it maintenance requests, late rent, or lease renewals.
That being said, technology shouldn't replace the people-aspect of property management. In fact, it's there to make it better.
For example, at :Different we use technology to automate a lot of manual and time-consuming tasks, which lets our experts spend more time and energy on the aspects of your property that need a proper human touch.
Professional property managers should follow a similar philosophy. If your property management company's technology only makes tasks a headache and take longer than they need to, then it's a clear sign that you should switch property managers.
If it helps you keep in touch and make it easier to get a glimpse into your property, then they're doing it right.
4. They have the knowledge they need to help you succeed
Knowledge is a great indicator to know if your property manager is legitimate. Their expertise and knowledge in the property market and real estate space should set you up for a successful investing journey. Essentially, professional property managers have the answers you need, or they know how to find them.
There are generally two types of knowledge you want a professional property manager to have:
- Local market knowledge
- Legal knowledge
Let's dig into these.
Local market knowledge
Having a property manager who is well versed in the local rental market is an easy way to give you that extra edge. It will mean that they know:
- How to make your rental property stand out in your specific area
- The right amount of rent to charge on your rental property advertisement - not overcharging or undercharging
- What features local tenants are looking for in a property to help increase your returns
- How to attract tenants through a catered advertising campaign
- What time of year demand is quiet – ie. when to not raise the rent or get rid of tenants
A professional property manager with this kind of knowledge will ensure you're keeping your vacancy rates as low as possible.
One of the most important duties and responsibilities of a property manager is being there when things hit the legal fan. Without a professional property manager who knows real estate legislation in and out you put yourself at risk of getting caught in a legal bind.
Say you want to evict a tenant. Do you know the rights and responsibilities of tenants in your local state? The notice period you have to give? These are examples of the things a legitimate property manager will stay on top of for you.
If you have a legal question, professional property managers can answer it.
5. They're personable and make you feel at ease
Can you imagine having a Scrooge as a property manager? At the end of that day, a property manager is dealing with people. So you want someone who knows how to get along with others and build good landlord-tenant relationships.
Professional property management means being able to engage with owners and tenants with a friendly and positive attitude. It means having those exceptional customer service skills that are essential in developing trusting relationships.
The better your tenants get along with your property manager (and by extension, you), the better chance:
- That your tenants will renew their lease
- You have of getting word-of-mouth recommendations about your property
- You'll be notified of necessary maintenance and repairs at a reasonable timing
6. They're assertive when the situation calls for it
In the world of real estate, things don’t always run smoothly. There are bound to be a few hiccups here and there. When this happens, you’re going to want a property manager who can rise to the occasion and make decisions.
Of course, your property manager should always show your tenants respect and compassion. But, at the same time, they need to be a chameleon - able to change things up according to the situation.
It could be a difficult tenant or less than a thorough contractor. Either way, your property manager must be able to know when to be accommodating, and when to be assertive.
Asking for a copy of your property manager-tenant correspondences will tell you straight away whether they have that assertive spirit.
High-quality property management means knowing when to push your tenant for rent arrears and when to show leniency. And if the tenant is clearly in the wrong but refuses to forfeit, the property manager is not afraid to show strength and make the appropriate decision.
7. They have the experience to back up their decisions
There's no question having your head in the books will tell you a lot about your profession. But, let’s face it, knowledge is nothing without experience. And that’s especially the case with professional property management.
You want an agent who either has a wealth of personal experience in the industry or is part of a highly experienced team of property experts.
Experience is one of the most important criteria property owners have when looking for a new property manager and with good reason.
Experience will mean your property manager is a seasoned veteran in:
- Dealing with problematic tenants
- Resolving repair/maintenance issues and getting fair quotes
- Conducting routine inspections
- Dealing with day-to-day things like rent collection
Finding out how much experience your property manager has can be as easy as asking the questions: How many years have you been in real estate? How many properties have you managed? And if they lack the experience, ask them how they plan to accommodate for their lack of years spent in the role.
8. They take accountability
A big part of being trustworthy is coming clean about your mistakes. We’ve all been there, and we know it’s not the easiest thing to do. But accountability is an absolute cornerstone of professional property management.
Problems do arise. It’s almost a guarantee. But your property manager should never shy away from taking responsibility for their own errors, or try to shift the blame.
Honesty and transparency are two more key signs of high-quality property management. You should come to terms with the fact that your property manager is only an imperfect human, but you should not accept it if they don't take responsibility for their mistakes.
9. They have an investor mindset
When all is said and done, you want your property manager to help you increase your returns. You’re an investor after all. So, you’re going to want a property manager who will treat your property as if they were real estate investors themselves.
A good property manager will give you recommendations for how you could improve the returns on your rental property. Where possible, they will look to:
- Maximise your rental yield
- Minimise vacancy rates
- Stay on top of maintenance issues before they turn costly
- Increase rent when appropriate
- Add value to your property through local insights
But they will also be conscious of your investment strategy and make sure your property is being taxed effectively. A good property manager will know the difference between positive gearing and negative gearing, and how to go about maximising return for one or the other.
A property manager who lacks an investor mindset could easily lead to a poor cash flow. So, keep an eye on your bottom line to know if they have the investor instinct.
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