Milwaukee property managers!

12 Replies

Hello all! As I am starting to acquire more investment properties around the Milwaukee area I am starting to become overwhelmed with all the work involved with it. Currently, I am the handyman, general contractor, leasing agent, manager, i.e for all the properties while also working a full time job (40+ hours a week). There are many property managers out there, and for that matter, too many to choose from. It would be great to hear about any experiences, the good and the bad, with property management companies in Southeastern Wisconsin and also any recommendations on who to go with!

@Ben Risley the contractor piece takes probably most of your time, so that's what you want to outsource first. Almost everyone seems to start out this way including myself - probalem is I did mostly jobs that would pay very little money. You can get a painter for $25, who is probably twice as fast and as good as me - so I get to pay myself $12.50 - the advanced stuff I had to hire out anyway, or buy all the tools needed. You get to the point where you realize you are being penny wise and pound foolish. 

Property management is the same thing - how much is your time worth? I would recommend Welcome Home Milwaukee: they have a flat fee model - take a look at their website or talk to @Matt Maurice  - be aware they don't service rough areas.

Remember: cheaper doesn't mean you'll make more money.

You can start by going to www.narpm.org to 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. Regardless of how you find them, try to interview at least three managers

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 addenda. 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, late rent, evictions, turnover, etc. 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.

7. Look at their marketing strategy. Are they doing everything they can to expose properties to the widest possible market? Are their listings detailed with good quality photos? Can they prove how long it takes to rent a vacant property?

This isn't inclusive but should give you a good start. If you have specific questions about property management, I'll be happy to help!

Thanks for the mention @Marcus Auerbach !

@Ben Risley if you check out our website, we actually have pricing for several of the local companies in town of course including our own, that will help get the ball started.  As Marcus mentioned, we won't bring on any house to manage but I'm pretty well versed with the other players in town and can point you in the right direction if we aren't the right fit.  Feel free to send me an email with property locations if you'd like to discuss further.

Originally posted by @Kevin Nickerson :

I called several in Milwaukee and couldn't even get a call back, they seem to be few and far between.

 Here is the problem: most investors want great service from a PM, but are not willing to pay for it. Getting a prompt answer on the phone requires having admin staff on payroll. With paid vacation, sick days and benefits. So that creates overhead for the PM and needs to be factored into the price. 

So what the free market does is listen to what the customers want and then deliver on it - cheap PM. It's a very easy business to start and many will try. But at the end what you pay is what you get.

Same for contractors. If you want to know why the true cost of changing a light bulb is more than you would ever want to pay, watch this video:

https://youtu.be/2NoRaH6fWbk

Originally posted by @Marcus Auerbach :
Originally posted by @Kevin Nickerson:

I called several in Milwaukee and couldn't even get a call back, they seem to be few and far between.

 Here is the problem: most investors want great service from a PM, but are not willing to pay for it. Getting a prompt answer on the phone requires having admin staff on payroll. With paid vacation, sick days and benefits. So that creates overhead for the PM and needs to be factored into the price. 

So what the free market does is listen to what the customers want and then deliver on it - cheap PM. It's a very easy business to start and many will try. But at the end what you pay is what you get.

Same for contractors. If you want to know why the true cost of changing a light bulb is more than you would ever want to pay, watch this video:

https://youtu.be/2NoRaH6fWbk

 I fully understand however property manager generally earn their income by the number of properties they manage (ie rent %). One would think when an investor calls they would simply return the call and try to at least establish a relationship. I should I also mention I am a broker, property manager (The company I work for manages 3500+ units, I personally manage 400+ units and I am a licensed contractor) and someone how I can make the time to call clients, tenants and potential clients back. 

@Ben Risley I just sent you a DM of a PM I have worked with regarding best practices and they do a pretty good job and are always trying to improve as a company.