Whether you’re a first-time rental property owner, or an experienced mogul with an impressive portfolio to your name, when it comes to maintenance you’re always going to want a property manager who goes above and beyond. Settle for anything less and could be staring down the barrel of some needlessly blown-out repair costs.
A good property manager will have an investor mindset. They’ll do everything they can to prioritize your interests and make good maintenance decisions that will put you in the financial green, including regular property maintenance (a common pain point for owners and tenants!)
At the end of the day, property maintenance is one of the most important aspects of real estate investment. So, it makes sense that you’d want a property manager who knows what they’re doing.
In this article, we’ve jotted down some top tips for rental property owners on how to find the best property manager when it comes to good maintenance. Lets start with the top qualities you’ll want to keep an eye out for before you sign on the dotted line.
Qualities that make a property manager good at maintenance
Consider this your property management checklist. All the things indicators that suggest a property manager will actually do a good maintenance job for your property.
1. A clear and timely communicator
If you’re not being kept in the loop, how on earth are you supposed to know whether your investment is doing well, or is on its way to burning a hole in your pocket? You want a property manager who won’t hesitate to contact you when something goes awry with your investment, even if it’s something as small as replacing some window coverings. Knowing when repairs are taking place and how much they cost is a must if you’re going to have any chance of sticking to a maintenance budget.
Poor communication is also one of the top complaints among Aussie tenants!
A Queensland-based owner already copped it big from not heeding this advice. Their 5-bedroom rental property went vacant for 4 months under their property manager because “no one had told the landlord” the residence needed a bunch of maintenance work!
2. A specialist in property maintenance
If you’re on the lookout for a real estate expert to look after your investment – maintenance and all – it’s no use hiring a property manager who’s only dealt with sales and short-term leases. Get yourself a property professional who has a speciality in long-term, residential properties. These are the managers that have cultivated a focused skill set, who know exactly what goes into good maintenance decisions.
Short-term v/s Long-term leases
Very High tenant turnover
Rental rate in line with surrounding short-terms stays
Doesn’t screen prospective tenants
Limited law around liability and owner/tenants protection
Low tenant turnover
No necessity for furnishing
Rental rate in line with local market average
Involves a rigorous vetting process
Highly regulated by State and Territory Governments
With so many important distinctions between short and long-term rental, hiring a property manager who’s an expert at one is almost a necessity if you want to come out on top.
3. Well-sized property portfolio
A property manager worth hiring will have a decent number of properties under their belt but won’t have so many that they’re constantly overworked. Getting a manager who overloads themselves is a one-way ticket to an inefficient service for you. Exactly where maintenance issues get handled poorly and cost you a pretty penny more than it should.
Now there are a fair few factors that will determine how many properties a property manager can juggle at any one time. Things like software, how geographically scattered the properties are, and general services on offer all make a big difference to the magic number.
But, on average, a property manager should be able to work with 150 to 200 properties on their portfolio. That’s assuming all the standard tasks like conducting property inspections, completing entry and exit reports, renewing the lease, of course, providing good maintenance.
4. Well experienced in real-estate
How to vet a property manager
When you’re trying to figure out how to vet a property manager, one of the things you just can’t skimp on is industry experience! Not only will you be getting a property expert with a rich knowledge of the local market who can price your rent just right, but you’ll be working with someone who knows their way around a residential property maintenance checklist. Someone who will have a good idea of how much a repair might cost so they can work with your budget.
One way a lack of industry experience can really stick out like a sore thumb is with entry condition reports. The whole process of going through a property, noting down everything little thing from the state of the doors and walls to the condition of appliances and furnishings - it’s an art that can take years to master so you know what you’re looking for!
Hire a property manager who’s only done this a handful of times and chances are they’re going to miss something. Why is that bad for you? If there’s ever a dispute between you and your tenant over who’s paying for some accidental carpet damage, for instance, you could well be stuck with the check if there’s no record of how it looked prior to leasing.
5. Has a wide network of connections
Hitting the mark with a residential property maintenance checklist can really come down to which tradies you have on speed dial. Top notch property managers will have a close-knit group of sparkies, technicians, and plumbers they’ve worked with before. So, you can sleep easy knowing that you’re getting the most competitive price for the best quality repairs.
6. Conducts routine inspections
Nothing is worse than having some small, inexpensive issue balloon into a major problem that could set you back thousands of dollars. Good property managers know this. So, they make it their business to conduct regular inspections to uncover even the smallest of repairs that might need attention.
Entry and exit condition reports are prime examples of this. You should expect your property manager to go over the residence with a fine-toothed comb. They should take pictures of windows, power points, taps, drawers, floors and all! Make comments on the working condition of everything, and even write a checklist of potential problems.
It’s a tried and true way of pre-emptively solving disputes and issues. This way, you won’t be caught out with massive maintenance costs down the line.
7. Has a team-based approach
Even if a property manager ticks all of the above, they still won’t top an entire team of property experts. One of the best tips for rental property owners is to find yourself a property manager with a team-based approach!
This means each unique aspect of your property will be handled by a dedicated team of experts. A leasing team for finding tenants, a finance team for the bills, and, of course, a maintenance team for a good maintenance job!
But it doesn’t stop there. A property agency that is the cream of the crop won’t only direct your particular property issue or question with a dedicated specialist. They’ll also pair you with your very own personal point of contact, there to offer support and advice when you need it.
A property partner like this will know your property like the back of their hand. There for you, day or night, reachable by phone or email, to help you out of any tricky situations like lease renewals, tribunal cases, or, the all-important, maintenance work.
8. Is well reputed
You always want to find a property manager who ticks all the boxes. They have loads of experience, a pool of trusted tradies, operate on a team-based approach, and all the rest of it. But one detail that often gets overlooked until it's too late is their track record. Hop onto Google Reviews to see what their current owners are saying about them. Have a chat to other real estate experts and get their critical point of view.
Getting that outside info on how well a property manager actually manages properties can go a long way in saving you the headache of poor property maintenance.
How to find a property manager who’s good at maintenance
Your first stop for sussing out whether a manager meets the criteria of the property management checklist is their website. They should list all their responsibilities and duties that they offer as part of their service.
So, you’ve had a gander at their website and, so far, they seem to fit the bill of a manager who won’t dawdle when it comes to dishing out good maintenance. But you can’t stop there. It’s always a good practice, whether you’re a first-time rental property owner or a seasoned tycoon, to arrange an interview with the property manager or agency you have your eye on.
This gives you the golden opportunity to ask hard-hitting questions. How many years of experience do they have? Do they have a trusted network of repair people? Do they have a team-based approach? How do they go above and beyond to ensure they do a good maintenance job?
If they’re ticking off these boxes left, right and centre, then they may very well be the ones you want.
Like it or not, maintenance is part and parcel of the investor journey. Leaky taps and chipped paint is bound to happen at some point another. And when it does, you’re going to want a property manager who takes care of it quickly and thoroughly. Anything less and you best be prepared to be slapped with some big bills over the life of your investment.
Knowing what makes a property manager good at maintenance, and how to find them, isn’t all that intuitive. But by following our 8 point checklist, you’re guaranteed to be in a much better position than when you started.
When all is said and done, a good maintenance job falls to the property manager with clear communication, specialising in long-term rentals, with a sensibly-sized portfolio, industry experience and a network of contacts, who conducts routine inspections and has a team of property experts behind them.
Like what you just read? Well, there’s a lot more where that came from
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