Not feeling like my property manager is trying very hard.

22 Replies

So my property manager listed my San Antonio SFT rental on Monday. The pictures she posted were so-so. The Zillow add doesn’t even show the kitchen which we just put granite counters in. They haven’t listed the place on their own website yet. I’m begging to get concerned. I don’t really feel like they are making renting my property out a priority. They are slow to respond to my emails; a day to a day in a half. I’ve asked twice for them to upload photos to a drive for me to look at the property as I’m an OOS investor and can’t go there and take them myself.

Anyways, Am I expecting too much in the 5 days or are my concerns legitimate and do I need to have a come to Jesus talk with my property manager?

Have you used them before or is this your first property with them? If the former, how does this compare to what they've done for you on the other homes? If the latter, do you have a contract and did you ever discuss expectations on both sides of the table?

Originally posted by @JD Martin :

Have you used them before or is this your first property with them? If the former, how does this compare to what they've done for you on the other homes? If the latter, do you have a contract and did you ever discuss expectations on both sides of the table?

 This is my first property in this market. I do have a contract.  I guess I could have been clearer with my expectations, but I don't feel that I should need to say "I expect prompt responses and good photos."

As someone who works in PM in SA,  I don't think your expectations are over the top. Pictures are what prospective tenants see first. It's all about the first impression. I would talk to your PM and go over your expectations again.  

@Conrad Metzenberg I do not think your expectations are out of line. However, “prompt” and “good” are subjective. I’d be clearer, instead of ”prompt” define your expectations as ”except a response within 24 hours or 8 business hours” and in instead of “good” photos define “photos front of house, newly renovated kitchen with granite, bathrooms, other photIs woth jey features, and back yard”

I think I'm going to have to have a talk with them.  I've always been a big believer in setting expectations upfront; it's the simplest form of leadership.  I suppose I failed to do this in this case and now must have a corrective discussion.  I hate having these kinds of talks.

I hate having these talks also. Especially when it was my fault. I expect people to do things in an efficient and expedient manner because it is what I would do. NOT always the case. I try to ask all the questions up front. If they dont do things the way I do or would like them done, next.

I would CALL them, not email, not text. Call them and talk with them and let them know your concerns. It may take a little while to get better photos(I have a great photographer), but let them know what you expect. Or at least ask what is their usual way of doing things. That way you know they will not respond for a day or two.

Gool Luck

Originally posted by @Rick Pozos :

I hate having these talks also. Especially when it was my fault. I expect people to do things in an efficient and expedient manner because it is what I would do. NOT always the case. I try to ask all the questions up front. If they dont do things the way I do or would like them done, next.

I would CALL them, not email, not text. Call them and talk with them and let them know your concerns. It may take a little while to get better photos(I have a great photographer), but let them know what you expect. Or at least ask what is their usual way of doing things. That way you know they will not respond for a day or two.

Gool Luck

 Rick I think you're absolutely right. Even a mild reprimand should be done face to face if possible or over the phone if face to face isn't possible.  Only a small fraction of human communication is the words themselves, you just loose too much with written word sometimes.  That's a problem for me as I'm not in phone reception half the year due to work, so I have to rely on email.

I'm a property manager and I bend over backwards to get a new listing on the market quickly. I want to put my best foot forward and prove that I'm worth the effort.

I doubt your PM is violating the contract but you've hired a dud. You can't force a St. Bernard to perform like a Cheetah. I recommend you start looking for a new property manager that sets higher expectations and then meets them.

You can start by going to www.narpm.org and search their directory of managers. These are professionals with additional training and a stricter code of ethics. It's no guarantee but it's a good place to start.

1. Ask how many units they manage and how much experience they have. If it's a larger organization, feel free to inquire about their different staff qualifications.

2. Review their management agreement. Make sure it explicitly explains the process for termination if you are unhappy with their services, but especially if they violate the terms of your agreement.

3. Understand the fees involved and calculate the total cost for an entire year of management so you can compare the different managers. It may sound nice to pay a 5% management fee but the extra fees can add up to be more than the other company that charges 10% with no add-on fees. Fees should be clearly stated, easy to understand, and justifiable. If you ask the manager to justify a fee and he starts hemming and hawing, move on or require them to remove the fee. Don't be afraid to negotiate!

4. Review their lease agreement and addendums. Think of all the things that could go wrong and see if the lease addresses them: unauthorized pets or tenants, early termination, security deposit, lease violations, late rent, eviction, lawn maintenance, parking, etc.

5. Don't just read the lease! Ask the manager to explain their process for dealing with maintenance or problem tenants. If they are professional, they can explain this quickly and easily. If they are VERY professional, they will have their processes in writing as verification that it is enforced equally and fairly by their entire staff.

6. Ask to speak with some of their current owners and current/former tenants. You can also check their reviews online at Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Just remember: most negative reviews are written by problematic tenants. The fact they are complaining online might be an indication the property manager dealt with them properly so be sure to ask the manager for their side of the story.

I hope this basic guide helps. If you have specific questions about property management, I'll be happy to help!

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

I'm a property manager and I bend over backwards to get a new listing on the market quickly. I want to put my best foot forward and prove that I'm worth the effort.

I doubt your PM is violating the contract but you've hired a dud. You can't force a St. Bernard to perform like a Cheetah. I recommend you start looking for a new property manager that sets higher expectations and then meets them.

You can start by going to www.narpm.org and search their directory of managers. These are professionals with additional training and a stricter code of ethics. It's no guarantee but it's a good place to start.

1. Ask how many units they manage and how much experience they have. If it's a larger organization, feel free to inquire about their different staff qualifications.

2. Review their management agreement. Make sure it explicitly explains the process for termination if you are unhappy with their services, but especially if they violate the terms of your agreement.

3. Understand the fees involved and calculate the total cost for an entire year of management so you can compare the different managers. It may sound nice to pay a 5% management fee but the extra fees can add up to be more than the other company that charges 10% with no add-on fees. Fees should be clearly stated, easy to understand, and justifiable. If you ask the manager to justify a fee and he starts hemming and hawing, move on or require them to remove the fee. Don't be afraid to negotiate!

4. Review their lease agreement and addendums. Think of all the things that could go wrong and see if the lease addresses them: unauthorized pets or tenants, early termination, security deposit, lease violations, late rent, eviction, lawn maintenance, parking, etc.

5. Don't just read the lease! Ask the manager to explain their process for dealing with maintenance or problem tenants. If they are professional, they can explain this quickly and easily. If they are VERY professional, they will have their processes in writing as verification that it is enforced equally and fairly by their entire staff.

6. Ask to speak with some of their current owners and current/former tenants. You can also check their reviews online at Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Just remember: most negative reviews are written by problematic tenants. The fact they are complaining online might be an indication the property manager dealt with them properly so be sure to ask the manager for their side of the story.

I hope this basic guide helps. If you have specific questions about property management, I'll be happy to help!

 Hi Nathan,

Great advise!  Lots of what you are saying I did as part of my due diligence process.  David Greene's Long distance investing book goes over many of the talking points that you just mentioned.  The NARPM bit I did not know about and as far as I can tell the organization i'm using is not registered.  The hard part is I really liked working with their acquisition agent who helped me buy the property and rehab it.  I was thinking if talks fail with the marketing agent, perhaps leverage my relationship with the acquisition agent to get the marketing agent to up their game; The acquisition agent wont want to lose my repeat business. 

So here is the big question folks; How long from listing this property for rent, in the San Antonio market, do I give these guys to get a tenant in before I get a new PM?

@Conrad Metzenberg that can only be answered by an expert on your market. How long does it take a comparable home to rent in that market during this season?

You can do some research by shopping around. Call a few PM companies and ask about their services and how long they think a home like yours would take to rent. You don't have to tell them you already have a manager.

Originally posted by @Conrad Metzenberg :

So here is the big question folks; How long from listing this property for rent, in the San Antonio market, do I give these guys to get a tenant in before I get a new PM?

 you know some of these markets are flooded with rentals.. and it could be market symptoms.. everyone and their brother has been buying sfr s and turning them to rentals.. you could have a supply demand issue as well.

great pictures are a must though in all marketing.. 

instant communications for a large outfit may be unrealistic..  lets say they have 1000 doors and like most then they are dealing with 25 to 50 turnovers a month.. so there you have that many emails  plus normal e mails coming in.. So depending on the size of the organization and staffing will determine your response time..  However its probably appropriate up front to ask.. how do they handle customer communication and how quickly do they respond per their business systems..  

Good post by @Nathan G. I would start shopping around for another PM option right now even if you're able to get them back on-course after talking. There is a lead-time to choosing another pm as you'll want to do some research and conduct phone "interviews". You should always have another pm option on queue if things start to go sour with your current PM. 

Remember, you are either managing your property or you're managing your property manager. This is no different to me than if you have direct reports in your w-2 day job. The expectations have to be set and performance discussions had periodically either scheduled or unscheduled, good or bad. 

@Dave G. , Sage advice.  I have a few lined up; just need to have my vetting talks with them.  Might as well get those out of the way.

@Conrad Metzenberg . Your expectations aren’t out of line. I usually get a response in 2-3 hours from my PM, sometimes as quick as 20 minutes. If the work is done and the unit has had its rent ready done already then, they should have good photos
Originally posted by @Conrad Metzenberg :

So here is the big question folks; How long from listing this property for rent, in the San Antonio market, do I give these guys to get a tenant in before I get a new PM?

Clearly only speaking from my own experience in SA, my rental normally is rented within 2-3 weeks on a turn (I've had 2 turns with my current PM). Part of that includes the inspection and make-ready, but I feel 2-3 weeks is "quick." On the other hand, the house next to my homestead was on the market for 7 weeks in the middle of summer, which I found to be odd. I tried finding that house online when it first went on the market, but couldn't find it. The houses are in 2-different parts of town--the one that was on the market long is in a nice area, but it is flooded with rental homes.

Based on your story, your PM doesn't sound terrible, but they don't sound like superstars either. I don't think there are many superstar PMs in SA tbh--just my opinion--so I am happy with one that I don't have to constantly call and prompt to do their job. It could also be timing as the summer rush has died down?

Also, my PM replies almost within the hour by email which is fantastic. But my out-of-state PM won't reply unless I call them directly. It really is hit-or-miss.

@Jason S. I txt my PM she responds pretty much on the spot. Yours needs training-right now she is training you and guess what? All the best!

@Conrad Metzenberg I know Swanny posts his own units on Criagslist 3x per day to keep it up top!  It's your money, take that extra step to assure your unit gets leased if that's what it takes.  The PM will only lose out on $100 if it sits for a month, you'll be out hundreds or hundreds.  

@Kenny Dahill you're saying post my pm's adds on craigslist or have them post them on craigslist

@Conrad Metzenberg Craigslist was an example.  I'm saying put up your own Zillow, Truila, Craigslist listing that directly go to your email.  Forward those to your PM or even reply to the applicant and copy/re-direct to the PM.  Then you'll really know if they're doing their job, after all you've teed up the applicants.

It might be passive aggressive, but it will get you the results you desire!  Protect yourself and your asset, a few minutes per day, until it's leased, to direct emails and coordinate with applicants is worth missing a month of rent.

I like the Idea.  I'd do it if they'd give me the photos that i've been asking for for a week.  I'm an OOS investor so I can't walk over and take photos.

Update:  They got a tenant to sign a lease.  Only 20 days on the market.  I'm still not thrilled but i'm going to see how they do. 

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