Finding that property manager, though, can be challenging. How do you choose someone reliable? Someone with experience? Someone with sound judgement and the practical skills to manage the property? Someone you can trust to conduct business as you want and need?
The first step is to start with a detailed job description. What do you want your property manager to do? Some items to consider:
- Market and advertise your property
- Interview and screen potential tenants (including credit history)
- Collect security deposits
- Inspect units after tenants move
- Communicate with tenants
- Coordinate repairs and maintenance
- Conduct (at least) annual or semi-annual walkthroughs/inspections
- Collect rents
- Prepare end-of-year reports (e.g. 1099 Form)
- Carry out evictions, if necessary
Let’s Play 20 Questions
Now, just as you want them to interview and screen tenants, you’ll need to interview and screen applications for your property manager position. Some key questions to ask:
- How much experiences do you have? In which types of properties?
- What specific services do you offer?
- What are your fees, and how does payment work? Are there any miscellaneous fees? What if the property is empty - do I still pay?
- What do you charge for property inspections? Is this included in my price?
- How many properties do you manage? (In many cases, a manager who oversees several properties is a benefit because they will have relationships/contracts with services, such as HVAC technicians, and receive volume discounts.)
- Do you have experience in real estate investing? They should have a solid knowledge of your area or they will not be the best fit.
- How many staff members do you have?
- What are your qualifications/credentials? Contact the National Property Management Association to learn about the rules in your area. They may need an HOA management license or property management license.
- How do you screen potential applicants? Tell me about your process.
- How long does it take you to fill vacant units on average? How do you market properties to make them attractive to potential tenants?
- Do you have experience with rental contracts? What is my level of input/participation in these agreements?
- How do you determine appropriate rental rates?
- How do you collect rent?
- How do you remit payment to me?
- What happens if you get a maintenance request? What is your process for handling these, prioritizing tasks, and scheduling work?
- Tell me what happens when a tenant does not pay their rent on time. How do you handle that?
- Have you evicted tenants before?
- How will you communicate with me? How, and how often, will you update me on my property?
- If I sell my property, are you included in the deal?
- If I want to cancel my contract with you, how does that work? Are there fees? Under what conditions can I cancel?
All right, we added one more - and it’s a big one!
21. Can you provide me with references?
Look not only at the answers but at your candidates’ willingness to engage in the conversation and provide you with the information you need to make a good decision. You are putting your property, your portfolio, and your reputation in the hands of this person. Make sure they are worthy of that trust and responsibility.
A great property manager is a tremendous asset. Take the time to thoroughly interview and vet candidates. It’s well worth it!