Landlording & Rental Properties

The 6 Non-Negotiable Habits of a Top-Notch Property Manager

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties
61 Articles Written

Over the past decade or so, I have been managing vacation homes here in the Orlando area, and I will tell you — it has been quite a ride. Over the years I have met and worked with a lot of great homeowners, many who have become very close friends, and those friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life. Today I thought I would write an article on 6 habits that makes a good property manager.

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The 6 Non-Negotiable Habits of a Top-Notch Property Manager

They understand that owning a home is a business.

As in every business, the income has to be greater than the expenses, and as the property manager, you should always be looking for ways to decrease your owner’s expenses. This is the number one thing that separates good property managers from the crowd. Most property managers make their money on repairs and services, which can be billed back to the homeowner.

Related: A Great Property Manager is More Important Than a Great Property: Here’s Why

While there are always going to be repairs and services that need to be done to a vacation home, the property manager should always be looking for ways to save the homeowner money. For example, in one of the developments we manage, we had seven town-homes that needed to be repainted so I contacted a several painters in the area and asked for a bid to paint all seven units. By bundling the units together, I was able to save each homeowner a little over 40%.

They call their homeowners back.

This should be really simple, but I seem to pick up new vacation properties every month because some homeowners are mad at their current management company for lack of communication. The way I look at it, the homeowners pay my bills, so in effect they are my boss. Every homeowner should have their property manager’s cell phone number and email address. It is inexcusable if a homeowner calls and your property manager does not get back in touch with them within 12 hours.

They make sure the rental income checks are correct and paid on time.

There is nothing that will build up trust more than to make sure the homeowners’ rental income checks are paid on time and that they are correct. When the homeowners get their statements, they should not find any hidden charges or fees that they are not aware of.

They take care of the house like it was their own.

Most property managers do a great job of taking care of a vacation home, but what truly sets the great property managers apart from everyone else is that a great property manager takes care of a house like it was their own. If you have been with your property manager for a while, when you walk through the property together, there should be nothing that surprises or catches the manager off guard. After all, it is their job to be taking care of the house.

They inspect the property before and after each guest.

It would amaze you how little some property managers actually visit the properties that they are managing. After all, if someone knows that no one is checking up on them, a lot of times the work just does not get done. If you think your property manager is not visiting the house as often as you like, then you should either get a new property manager or make them fill out a checklist of the condition of the vacation home after each guest has checked out. My father had a saying he used to tell me: “Check what you expect to get respect.”

Related: How to Choose the Right Rental Property Manager

They contact their homeowners at least twice a year and keep them up to date.

We started doing this with our owners a couple of years ago, and it has worked really well. During these calls, we talk to the owners about what they should be able to expect from us in terms of booking for the upcoming few months, about maintenance items that need to be fixed now, and about what maintenance issues they should prepare for in the upcoming months. A lot of times, major repairs give you some warning before they actually have to been done, and the more time homeowners can prepare for large expenses, the easier they are to deal with.

Managing vacation homes is not a hard business, but if you do not stay on top of a vacation rental, then the house can deteriorate pretty quickly. The main thing you should be looking for in a property manager is trustworthiness and work ethic.

What would you add to my list? What are your experiences with property managers — both good and bad?

Please let me know in the comments section below!

Trey Duling is the President/CEO of, a large travel company specializing in Florida getaways. He has over 27 years of...
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    Mike McKinzie Investor from Westminster, CO
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Let me add that good PM’s don’t GOUGE their investors for every little thing. PMs like to INVENT ways to charge more money for doing the same thing they were doing before. The monthly fee covers collecting rent, inspecting the property, doing HUD Section 8 inspections, overseeing repairs, renewing leases, etc… The ONLY extra charge should be for getting new tenants and then ONLY if they incur extra charges. Here in California, getting a new tenant entails putting a For Rent Sign on the property and running a Craigslist ad, LESS than one hours work. Then maybe a couple of hours of showing and interviewing tenants, and getting it rented. How do I know this? Because I managed over 100 properties BY MYSELF with NO Computer, NO Cell Phone, NO Fax Machine, NO Staff and NO Extra Charges, just the monthly Fee. Instead of Craigslist, I ran an ad in the local paper, about $20 which I passed on to the investor. I did everything, up to Court Appearances for Evictions and Sheriff Lock Outs and DID NOT CHARGE EXTRA TO THE INVESTOR! And yes, today, two of my PMs work exactly like this (but they have computers, cell phones and staff) and all my others find ways to GOUGE money out of me, but when I call other PMs in that local, they all do the same thing.
    Angelou mast
    Replied over 5 years ago
    That’s a very sad way of doing business that’s why I’m very leery of hiring a PM.
    Jeremy Cochran from Applegate, California
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Hi Mike, What do you believe is an acceptable monthly fee?
    Minh Le Investor from San Jose, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Trey, Those are great tips. Thank you.
    Eric D
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great pointers for any PM. I like the 2 inspections.
    Eric D
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great pointers for any PM. I like the 2 inspections.