Some Questions To Ask A Property Manager

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This started out as “Some Questions to Ask Your Property Manager.”  But if you’ve already hired a property management company, you’re a bit late – you want to ask these questions before you make the hiring decision.   You may even want to ask them before you settle on a property purchase.

In some cases, you’ll hire management companies because you just don’t have the time or inclination to handle the hassles that come with rental real estate.  In other cases, you’ll have to hire a manager because you live too far from your properties to handle day-to-day management yourself.  The good news is that if you can find a qualified manager in a community where you want to buy property, it really doesn’t matter where that property is (as long as – I believe – in the country where you live).   The bad news is that there really aren’t a ton of qualified property managers out there.

Are there any good managers?

Indeed, when I started buying rental properties, I thought that qualified property managers were so rare as to make my day-to-day management a must.   Unfortunately, property management is one of those fields that doesn’t seem that difficult (much like real estate investing in general) to the novice or outsider.  This means that lots of unqualified people move into the field.  Of course, unqualified real estate investors don’t cause too many serious problems for the rest of us.  Unqualified property managers are another story – they are playing with our money.

I changed my opinion after talking to many property managers who bought my real estate management software.   Many of these folks were committed to providing quality service for their tenants and their owners.  I won’t name the others!

So what should you look for in a property manager?  First, you want somebody with experience and judgment – and judgment only comes from experience in this field.   Second, you want somebody who will be as careful with your money as you will.  Third, you want somebody who will keep you informed.

Here are the questions! (Part One)

I’ve got a lot of questions for you to ask – too many to fit in a single blog post.  So this will have to be in two parts.  The second part will come in my next post.

  • How long have you been a property manager?
  • How long have you been a manager in this area?
  • How many vacancies do you have right now?  Out of how many total units under management?
  • What is the average length of time it takes to fill a vacancy?
  • What does your lease look like?  (You need to see a copy of this, along with any other forms and documents the manager uses with tenants.)
  • What is your late rent policy?
  • What percentage of tenants do you have to evict?
  • How does the eviction process work here?
  • What are your management fees?
  • What do you charge for recruiting new tenants?
  • Do you charge for monitoring and maintaining vacant units?
  • What are my guarantees?
  • Do you also market properties as a broker?
  • If I decide to sell my property, do I have to list it with you?
  • Can I see some of the other properties you manage?  (Of course you will probably not be able to see inside rented apartments or offices.  But you should be able to see common areas and grounds.)
  • How do you market your apartments?
  • Do you recommend special incentives for tenants?
  • If I want additional marketing for specific vacant units, how would we arrange that?
  • How do you screen prospects?
  • How do your tenants contact you?

That should get you started, but remember, I’ve got a bunch more for next time.  There are also many other criteria to consider and I’ll dig into those as well.

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  1. I was wondering besides the percentage charge for managing the property say a single family home what are the other cost normally? Do most set up an account that you have to keep so much money in for repairs, ads, backround checks etc.? or do they bill you each time something comes up. I’m trying to figure out what is the intial investment to hire a property management company to manage a single family house rental.

  2. I personally charge 20%, and provide my clients with a great investment. They live in California, and I manage property for them in Missouri. I have turned one of the units around for them. He has not complained one bit, I am actually renting the property out and it is clean, and well cared for, it is not sitting empty for most of the year anymore.
    Some may say that is too much, well the way I see it, I only get paid when it is rented. What can one complain about there? I keep them informed as to expenses before I pay them out, and get their opinion before hand. I take care of the property as if it were my own.

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