The Best Property Management Company in the World

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What is the “best” property management company in the world?

Does one exist?

What would make for a perfect property management company? Other than one who pays you the rental income every month even when there are repairs and vacancies of course. Ha, I wish!

I’ve written a lot of articles on property management and things to look for and avoid and other tips, as have other writers, and even better than our articles are the comments those articles have triggered by the readers who have been able to contribute a lot of helpful insight. A lot of people have mentioned really good traits that a good property management company exhibits and a lot of suggestions as to ones they would like for them to exhibit. I’d like to consolidate all of those ideas. The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. Investors can use this list as guidance for things to look for (or avoid) with property managers on their own properties.
  2. Maybe a highly motivated reader will be able to take our newly established ‘perfect property management company business model’ and convert it into an actual business plan that could completely revamp the entire property management industry. I know there would be a lot of excited rental property owners if that happened! I know I would love to see a franchised property management company out there who is extremely reliable. I think there is a lot of room for this to feasibly happen! I’m not one to do it, but maybe somebody is and the information here will help with that creation.

I’ll start.

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Nothing gets under my skin more than a property manager who doesn’t communicate well or easily with me.

Either they don’t tell me when something happens to the property out of the ordinary or when something is going on, it requires me having to reach out to them to find out the status. I think a perfect property management company would have flawless communication with owners. They are always accessible, if something is going on they provide immediate updates with any new information, and they occasionally just reach out and say hello and let me know everything is going okay and maybe update me if we are nearing anyone’s lease running out and what the status of that is. The occasional reach out is far from required and likely not practical from a manager with a ton of properties, but couldn’t hurt if it was an option. But most definitely, regular communication about irregular events is critical. For example-

  • Notice of late or missing payment, if it’s going to affect my month’s statement
  • Repairs done on the property, even if they didn’t require my approval
  • Calls immediately following a tenant’s court date to let me know what happened
  • Tenants walking out on the property, likely with my appliances, and the house being put back on the rental market (I know that one from experience… I didn’t find out that happened in one of my properties until two months later when I was bored one day and looked up the Zillow values of my properties only to see one listed For Rent.)

Another thing I would require out of a perfect property management company, related to communication, is statements that I can actually read. I can’t tell you how many property management software program statements are completely unreadable in my opinion. Either they use weird negative signs that would suggest an expense but they really mean income, or the order of the line items and the consequential math makes no sense, or I really don’t know what goes on with those statements but I can rarely understand them. I have a degree in Engineering, I feel like if anyone should be able to read a spreadsheet with numbers, I should and those things just baffle me.

Related: 20 Questions To Ask Before Hiring Rental Property Management!

Your Turn…

I’ve got the list started. Now it’s your turn to add to it. I want input about procedures relating to:

  • Tenant screening and placement
  • Tenant management
  • Tenant sustainment
  • Tenant eviction
  • Maintenance
  • Communication
  • Fees
  • Anything else related to property management that is key

We are going to create a template for the business model for The Best Property Management Company in the World.

What are the must-haves and the must-have nots that make up the world’s most perfect property management company?

About Author

Ali Boone

Ali Boone is a lifestyle entrepreneur, business consultant, and real estate investor. Ali left her corporate job as an Aerospace Engineer to follow her passion for being her own boss and creating true lifestyle design. She did this through real estate investing, using primarily creative financing to purchase five properties in her first 18 months of investing. Ali’s real estate portfolio started with pre-construction investments in Nicaragua and then moved towards turnkey rental properties in various markets throughout the U.S. With this success, she went on to create her company Hipster Investments, which focuses on turnkey rental properties and offers hands-on support for new investors and those going through the investing process. She’s written nearly 200 articles for BiggerPockets and has been featured in Fox Business, The Motley Fool, and Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine. She still owns her first turnkey rental properties and is a co-owner and the landlord of property local to her in Venice Beach.


  1. Sharon Tzib on

    Haha, I had a PM that used the exact same general accounting format for their statements that you speak of. It may be how a bookkeeper thinks, but definitely not how your client thinks. My head hurt every month when I got mine.

    All of the areas you speak about are very important, but before you start qualifying a PM in any way, you need to make sure they are experts in your niche in the area your rental is located. You do not want to hire a SFR PM to manage your small apartment community who is located 50 miles away. I don’t care how good they are – this will not work!

    • I talked to a manager one time who was doing that Sharon. He said he never went to the properties himself but would have his proxies check them out. He lived like 60 miles away, and he was a big company. I was like, “huh?” He basically had no idea about anything. I was less than impressed.

    • Ang, my favorite PM software ever was a manual Word document that had the income and expenses listed (and what the expenses were actually for) and how much was deposited into my account. Simple math. Income, minus expenses, equals total deposited. What a concept! No idea where the formal programs stray off to.

  2. Graham Mink on

    Anyone that is great at managing property and who would make a great PM probably owns and manages their own property so they have no need or desire to run someone else’s. Being a property manager is a huge pain in the butt! Especially when you take into account that they are only making a paltry 10%. To get a great PM you would need to pay a lot more to have a competent person be in charge and actually care about your property. I suspect most have to handle so many units to simply make a living that they can’t possibly do anything except put out fires that come up. I can’t think of too many people who have made the Forbes 400 through managing property for other people. The great ones do it for themselves!

    • Graham, interesting. So a ponder would be- how can compensation be structured so that owners aren’t paying out most of their profits but the PMs are getting paid enough where it actually attracts quality people.

      Remember with PMs, they may be excellent as a PM but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are investors of their own properties too. They may have a few, but if they had that many they wouldn’t be working as a PM. So they are kind of two different things, at least how a PM company is structured. Someone landlording their own investment property is a different story of course.

  3. Neat topic, Ali!

    If only in a perfect world would the best property management company exist (lol!). Though, I have to say I’ve worked with some great property managers. And, let me tell you — they’re worth every penny.

    To answer the comment above regarding property managers and their income, they are in the business of managing properties with the hope that if you should ever have to sell one day you will use them. Also, some managers in larger firms will refer to a sales agent in exchange for a referral fee when the property sells.

    The income that comes from managing properties provide a steady paycheck for them. Most times, they need to manage properties in volume to justify their time. The skilled ones will have a good system for handling the bulk of the load.

    Managing properties takes a certain personality type. The good ones are very detail oriented and take pride in their work. They always talk about logistics and can be down right perfectionists. It’s almost to the point where you just want to hear the big picture but as we all know — the facts lie in the details.

    In my niche, I work with a lot of property managers. They love what they do and can talk all day long about the logistics of the business. Personally, I’ve learned so much from them. Being good at what they do, they have worked to perfect a system to manage their property load.

    Unfortunately, the ones that are not good at what they do will talk in generalities and will mostly agree to what you say. Most times, they may not have specific and detailed procedures when encountering specific situations. In my experience, the ones that say they can do anything are the ones to watch out for while the folks who say what they can and can’t do tend to be more skilled.

    To answer Ang’s question above, I find many property managers use Rent Manager for their software. Hope that helps!

    Great to hear your stories working with property management companies Ali, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  4. Only 10%?
    That’s a lot of money to answer your phone and shuffle some papers. That same “paltry” 10% is a big number as the rents rise. From an hourly rate
    approach, with a good tenant, the pay is astronomical.


    A great PM will have access to high quality low cost repair people. Landlords should never be paying retail for repairs. A great pm will have negotiated breaks with big companies based on volume as well.

    When a bill arrives and it’s retail or close to it, I’m usually bothered by it.

    • Sharon Tzib on

      Ed, your landlord entitlement attitude makes me and others who have participated in the property management field bristle. Clearly, if all you think a PM does is “answer phones and shuffle papers,” then yes, you are overpaying at 10%. In all reality, they are doing much more than that, and you know it, so don’t under simplify their duties in order to make their fees seem exorbitant.

      PM’s exist because they can do what many landlords can’t (due to lack of time, knowledge or location), or simply don’t want to (most owners love collecting their rent checks, but lose interest when confronted with tenants, trash and toilets).
      Frankly, this one size fits all PM fee is out-dated and ineffective. The PM in many cases feels like they are being underpaid on the low rent properties (which, coincidentally, require much more work); and the owners feel like they are being gouged by the PM on their higher rent properties (which generally, require less work). PM’s should adopt a sliding scale based on rents, areas, property type, and number of units the client has under contract with you.

      In regards to your demand that if you hire a PM, then they should provide you with “high quality, low cost” repairs, the correlation between the two escapes me. Unless a PM has an in-house construction arm of their business which allows them to offer volume discounts, they are going to be hiring other companies to make these repairs. In my experience, high quality and low cost do not go together – this is where the phrase “you get what you pay for” came from. Now, if your PM’s company is such that they are large enough and do enough volume of repairs for their portfolio, then yes, perhaps they can negotiate discounts with the higher quality companies. But this is your job during the interview process to find out how the process works. If you are surprised by a retail repair bill, then clearly you didn’t interview the PM properly to discover how this was handled and what the going rates were.

      Also, investors should always be budgeting for repairs separately from PM fees – they are not one in the same – so repairs once in a while should not be “bothersome.” Now, if you have a PM routinely making maintenance calls on your property for above market dollar amounts, then that is a different conversation and should be investigated, especially if your property is on the newer side.

      Bottom line, unless an owner really sees “value” with the whole concept of property management, they will always feel they are over paying. People who use Turbo Tax clearly don’t see the value of CPA’s. Does it mean CPA’s charge too much? No, for those of us who appreciate their services and can sleep better at night knowing they’ve brought their expertise to the situation, they’re worth every penny. The same can be said for PM’s.

      I think Ken McElvoy said it in one of his books, that his dad noted a PM is damned if they do or damned if they don’t. If they are performing well, then the client thinks they aren’t earning their fee. If there are problems, then the client thinks they aren’t doing their job. Being a PM is not as easy as people make it out to be, and with all the bad ones out there, they don’t make the good one’s jobs any easier. Sorry for the rant, Ed, but I see this attitude all the time on the forums (so I’m not necessarily directing my reply solely at you), and I felt the need to respond. Take care.

      • Great input Sharon. I agree that there is a lot more that goes into being a PM than what it seems. I feel great about what I pay my PM (12%, not even 10%) because of how well I sleep at night, how little I stress, and knowing that everything is taken care of. When I was interviewing PMs though, I talked to a few who literally told me they collect checks from tenants and call contractors for repairs. I could do all of that on my own from 2000 miles away. So for them, paying 10% would have been way overpaying. But for my guy who manhandles all my properties, 12% almost feels like I’m shorting him.

        • Sharon Tzib on

          Yes, Ali, that’s why I believe PM’s should either use a sliding scale and/or a fee for service type billing system (similar to what realtors have begun doing). I think it could alleviate some of the disconnect between owners and managers.

    • I completely agree about the repairs Ed. My theory is, I can call a contractor on my own to go out to the property and fix something. If a PM is going to coordinate it, I definitely expect that they have some kind of ‘in’ with repair guys or contractors and can do it cheaper than I could on my own. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of point to using them.

        • Sharon Tzib on

          Ali, realtors have been using the fee for service method for years now. For instance, if you are an owner who is comfortable showing your own property and holding open houses, you can pay a set fee for an agent to simply list your property on the MLS and possibly provide a sign or fill out the purchase agreement for you when you find a buyer. It’s a pick and choose kind of concept – kind of quasi FSBO.

          Since PM’s generally charge a % of rent, I was saying it may be easier for them to use a sliding scale (I’ve not heard of realtors doing this, however). For instance, for a $500 rental in a rougher neighborhood, a PM may charge 20% (or $100)/month. But for a real nice home in a safe, suburban neighborhood, with a $2000 rent, maybe they only charge 5%. Or, you can simply hire a PM when you need a lease up or an eviction on a fee based basis, if you are someone who can easily collect your own rent checks and has a contractor on speed dial.

          If PM’s were more willing to go outside of the box and find a fee model that fairly and adequately compensated them, but didn’t make the customer feel gauged or like they were paying for things perhaps they could easily do themselves, I think it would go a long way towards transforming the industry and the profession instead of the one size fits all mentality we have now.

        • Ali Boone

          Yeah, I would be totally in favor of that Sharon and makes complete sense! Some of my properties are flawless and the PM does barely any work on them and others are constant headaches, and he gets the same pay for both. Doesn’t make sense.

  5. Currently I live in an Apartment Complex and I can see what is going on here. I like to add my 2 cents if that is ok.

    Needed Repairs: You don’t know how many times I made a comment about certain repairs (windows and security gates). In the 13 years I have lived here we have told management that our Living Room Windows needed to be replaced. The wood surrounding the window is rotten, they need to replace the whole wall including the window sill. Of course we got ignored, and it still has not been repaired.

    Security Gates: I have notice that our NEW security gates are broken (again), granted I know its expensive to repair them but the idea for the gates is to keep unwanted people out, it don’t work if the gates are broken and those same unwanted people can come on to the property whenever they feel like it (normally after the office is close). I was told they ain’t going to repair them, sheesh what was the idea to put them in the first place if they’re not going to repair them. btw, we are now a gated community which is new for us, we were never a gated community until last year.

    And lastly, background checks. Here the idea of doing a background check for which the prospective tenent pays $37 for is to see if there were any evictions on record, and any criminal charges on the prospective tenent (ie: Domestic Violence) and any drug related activity for the prospective tenent as well as any other adult occupant. Our management team takes the $37 looks to see if there is any evictions and thats about it. We have a neighbor downstairs from us who keep smoking Pot (which is legal in the State of Washington, but this complex gets Federal Subsidise housing, which means they can legally not allow pot smoking on the property), and we have complained about that (of course we hear we will talk to them about it, but it continues)I am tired of my family getting a contact high and we’re not even smoking it. Ok thats my 2 cents worth, which ain’t much 🙂 have a great day.

    • Ha Richard, I know the feeling living in Venice Beach. All I have to do is sniff hard and I get a free high 🙂

      Yes, you make great comments about the tenant side of PMs and how PMs should handle tenants. The buildings on each side of me where I live now have horrible PMs and the tenants are always complaining nothing ever gets done. It never affects me except when a vacant apartment has a smoke detector with a low battery that no one will replace for 2.5 weeks while I have to hear the ‘beep’ every 2 minutes, which can drive a person insane. Versus my building, the PM and the owner are incredibly quick on fixing things, even before they break. It’s great. I’d never move next door.

      • Deanna Opgenort

        Any option of calling law enforcement? A smoke alarm with low battery is both a noise nuisance AND a fire hazard (how long before the battery runs out and it no longer goes off in case of fire).
        One of the other options may be to contact the OWNER directly. Some owners have a PM to keep a wall between themselves and the property. In truth, they are the only ones with any real control over the PM.

  6. Great article – especially the part about communication. As an investor who happens to own a property management company since 1985, I will weigh in with other suggestions when hiring a manager.

    Are they members of This shows their commitment to continuing their education, and keeping you informed of legislative updates such as lead based paint regulations and the like

    Do they own any rental property themselves? Drinking their own Kool-aide is a sure sign of a manager who knows both sides of the fence when it comes to being a manager AND a property owner.

    Do they leverage current technology to produce you results? Our industry is changing rapidly, frequently more quickly than the average property manager likes. Does your manager offer online owner and tenant payment portals, video walk through tours of available rentals and etc… Any manager that stays relevant with technology is likely to be better able to provide investors better results.

    Does their website look like a ‘new template’ with standard text, or is it a valuable local investor resource, rich with useful content?

    Do they have a relationship with a prominent local landlord/tenant law attorney? How much does an eviction cost? How quickly do they file? How long does it take. If this information isn’t readily available from them in writing, why is not?

  7. Fired the first property management company and have to say this second one is not any better. On the other hand the one I have who manages the short term vacation rental is much better and communicates very well.

    • Sharon Tzib on

      If the second one is already not working out, probably will not change. Head over to the BP forums and ask for referrals. Like Bruce just said, it works!!

    • MY situation has been screwed up from the start. Basically, the first property management company was hard to get in touch with, months went by without locating me a tenant so I fired them. I am dealing with eviction right now and won the full judgement, but these people are such deadbeats it would not surprise me if the marshall will have to come and physically remove them. Anyhow, the eviction process was delayed basically because of incompetence of the current company. I have a feeling they are all the same want that first months rent and that is all.

  8. One of the main reasons we continue to invest in one of our out of state cities is the PM. They can make or break your business.
    -Communications is key – I told one of my pm’s to get back to me phone, email text, or carrier pigeon. Just enough to let me know what the heck is going on.
    -They are willing to turn away bad owners. I don’t want my PM’s time wasted with bad properties and bad owners.
    -I agree the statements are horrible. My local pm actually issues me a different statement because I asked for it.
    -They run their business like a business. That means a leasing agent, maintenance manager, bookkeeper etc.
    -they are investors too, I get calls from my pm’s on property leads all the time. They make money from the wholesale side and the future rental side.
    -I like to know their average turnover cost and duration of tenant stay,

    All good stuff. I think there is a disconnect between managers and owners. Owners want a perfect rental scenario at bargain (unprofitable) basement prices and many managers do not feel the pain an owner feels on bad turnovers, vacancies, high repair bills etc.
    Thanks Ali, I love this topic. I wish more pm’s would chime in. I always ask, as an owner, how can i make your job easier.

  9. Fired my first manager as well… second one I got recommended from here and is working out VERY well. Just wrote him an email about a re-hab unit that was getting close to done yesterday. He called me today to let me know he saw the email and just didn’t have time to write ! that is a 200% improvement from my last PM.
    I’m very glad to have found a PM that does what they say they are going to.
    Thank you Bigger Pockets.

    • Congrats Bruce! I know most would be jealous that you found someone so good. What market is that guy (your property) in?

      I’m telling you, you’d be surprised (and by ‘you’ I really mean everyone) how amazing it feels to find someone who is that easy to communicate with. What a concept!

  10. Great Discussion.
    Ali, I’m taking on your challenge: “Maybe a highly motivated reader will be able to take our newly established ‘perfect property management company business model’ and convert it into an actual business plan that could completely revamp the entire property management industry.”

    Obviously, there is an unmet need in the market. I started working in pm at the very bottom, as a resident manager in exchange for rent. Just wanted to get the experience while figuring out how to become an investor myself. In the past 3 years, I have worked for 4 different pm companies, because the owners kept firing the companies, but keeping the on-site staff with the building. Property management companies are a dime a dozen.

    Truth be told, there is no money in property management. (see ‘What I Learned As A Professional Property Management Company Owner’ by Jeff Brown, Biggerpockets blog) Its a lame gig that requires 24/7 ‘on’ for very little compensation.. keep your day jobs folks. PM sucks….

    …UNLESS you are managing your own properties, managing enough multi-families and/or using the service as a holding tank for future business. As Jason stated in the comments above, “They are investors too, I get calls from my pm’s on property leads all the time. They make money from the wholesale side and the future rental side.” Genius.

    I started my business March 1, 2014 with my first client, I manage 54 apartment units in Seattle, WA. In researching & developing a company growth plan, I came across this post. I don’t believe in coincidence 🙂

    Basically, my model, that I’ve deemed ‘Property Oversight’ is this (and yes, I’m asking for feedback:))
    *Tenant Placement- Fee for service as needed (Rent Analysis/Recommendation included)
    *Turn Over- Fee for service as needed (3 estimates: bare minimum, middle of road, everything under the sun.. complete revamp; I’ve got this pretty well systemized with pre-made lists at Home Depot, etc)
    *”Oversight”: Payment Processing, Respond to Maintenance Requests & Monthly Drive–Rent Collection, Statement & notes on Drive by (Tenants can use our online portal for payment as well): Fee for service
    *Owner Portal: Online Access to Reports, Invoices, Everything (thanks to Buildium)
    *Communication: Catered to owner desire. Some owners want to know every detail, some use the “Fire, flood or blood” policy.

    *On-going Education: Monthly Newsletter with Local Market Updates, Law Changes, etc

    *Promotions & Discounts on goods & services: Negotiating bulk order deals, sending out offers to owners to take advantage of those deals. Eg 20 dishwashers at 30% discount, who needs 20 dishwashers? Perhaps 8 of the owners I work with…My company purchases them & bills each owner individually. Or using our maintenance guys, generally, you can pay someone less if you can guarantee full time work. If you only own 4 rentals, you’re paying $25-$35/hour for solid handyman work versus us paying them $16-$20/hr since they can count on 40 hours/week.

    The money for my company is made at Tenant Placement & Turn Overs. The actual management & other services are a value add to keep owners around for future business, either buyers/sellers of transactions (lease options, rehabs, etc) I put together as well as to keep our maintenance team employed.

    I’m 3 months in.. be gentle, but tell me What do you think?

    • BB French, great stuff! I to am an up and coming management company and I have a lot of the same ideas or should I say I agree with a lot of your ideas. I have been offering ala cart myself, sometimes I just list a rental, screen the prospects, write the lease and hand it back to the owner. Other times I do full blown management. My favorite is the under managed properties that I can go in and basically do a fix and flip to a tenant, I’ll make a little on the renovations, I get a bonus from the placement and everyone is happy for long term.

      Your right in saying this is not a great money making business but if you build it correctly there is more business to be done with the owner contacts that you gain and in the long run I will build a management company that I can trust to manage my rentals when I’m away.

  11. Dick Rosen , above, is my new property manager that I speak so highly of.
    I have nothing but good things to say about him.
    And I found him from a lead on Bigger Pockets !
    Great info, and site.

  12. MAY become a property manager by “accident” –
    1) property 75 miles away (home owned by someone in skilled nursing — doesn’t want to lose it, but may need to rent it to pay mortgage/maintenance)
    2) property next door (so on average the two are only 35 miles away LOL!). Elderly neighbor passed away, conventional PMs around here won’t touch a probate property with 10 ft pole, but it would be wasteful to have it empty for a year while probate being settled. I know the cast of characters enough to be sure that the person claiming to be the executor actually is.
    I’m fairly sure of some of the drama to expect (“75 mile away house” owner is a self-confessed hoarder, which his son confirms, while next door house has the potential to drag through probate for years if everyone can’t agree to get along, but is equally likely to have a hasty sale in order to “get everything over with” – IMHO would be best kept as a rental, as it’s a very quiet neighborhood with very long-term owners AND renters)

    So, anyone dealt with similar situations? any suggestions? Cautions? (“run away” LOL?). I’m not thinking of this as a full-time career, but wouldn’t mind it as a sideline.
    I know that for my own rental having a separate bank account has simplified things considerably (and kept me “honest” about what my actual profits are, as it reflects all those little “extras” that crop up along the way. Has anyone ever with “escrow”-type accounts for rentals?

    • Are you suggesting that you may manage these 2 rentals for their respective owners? If so you need to understand the laws in your area, you probably need to be licensed and your broker will have a trust account for the rent flow.

      • Deanna Opgenort

        I ended up just assisting both owners find professional management companies. The neighbor’s son used the management company that manages the property I live in, which seems to be working well.
        For the house up north I did quite a bit of research and I found a PM company called B-line, I grilled the owner for about 1/2 an hour, & felt like I got the “real ” answers rather than the brush-off easy answers. They have some rather innovative ideas – they even offer eviction insurance for a moderate fee, which means that if they choose a bad tenant they bite the bullet getting rid of them….cool idea! The property has been under management and has had a tenant for about 6 months now, and so far so good from what I’ve heard.

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