As an out of state investor I am dependent on my property manager to update me on status of property. We talk regularly, but that doesn't mean I am always fully aware of any potential deferred maintenance or tenant treatment of the place. I had one property in Texas (I live outside Boston) that the PM never checked in 2 years. Rents were collected, all was well. Until tenants moved out and we found they had been smoking and did expensive damage to ventilation units, as well as other damage.
In general, how do other out of state investors keep on top of routine maintenance? Gutter cleaning. HVAC maintenance. Furnace servicing, etc.? Or even multi-year tenant treatment of the units? Do you have a schedule that you keep? Do you have PM go into property with any regularity?
I've had 3rd party property management on out of state properties for years and it really depends on the manager and your property's turnover. Units that have not been turned over in years will most likley have more deferred maintenance. The handyman your PM is using should be reviewing the property when there is an issue and they need to enter. You can also have your PM do a quarterly check and have all of the tenants aware of this; check the mechanicals, under the sinks and any other plumbing. Takes less than 60 seconds per unit and you will most likely find running toilets etc that are costing you money along with pets that they "forgot" to tell you about.
I also do unannounced visits and usually will go to them on say a Wednesday, quickly review the exterior and the common areas and then call my PM and ask for a quick face-to-face meeting later that week. If the exterior and the common areas are clean and in good shape, someone has been there. Lastly, you can find someone in the area and have them walk the exterior of the properties every couple months and send time stamped photos. If there is a bunch of deferred maintenance on the exterior, then you can bet it is on the interior also. You want to see neat yards, no visible issues and trash that is in barrels and the barrels are where they are supposed to be etc.
WE do periodic inspections with pictures and comment, they are all uploaded to the owners portal so they can always see what the property looks like and they can read our suggestions for maintenance etc. We do this monthly on multi family because we need to monitor the landscape and we do it quarterly on SF where the tenants are responsible for the landscape. We also do interior safety inspections periodically just so we can get a good look at what's going on inside the property.
Most of my clients are out of state and they rarely come to visit or look. They are certainly welcome to but I try to give them what they need from the comfort of there own home.
I didn't mean for that to sound like a sales pitch, I'm just saying how we counteract the problem you are having.
@Charles Carillo - What you suggest is ideal - I am just saying that with the current PM I am using, the impetus is on me to remind them/ask for it. Which I should I suppose - it is my investment.
However, @Dick Rosen has the much more customer-service/value added approach. That is a great offering - you have to be among the elite few PM who is that proactive!
I think ultimately I need to be the one to take the lead and demand my PM provide regular feedback on units. It is annoying that they charge me an extra $150 to go out to the property but everyone;s goal is to make money, so I am not surprised.
Thanks to you both for your feedback and insight!
@Bryan Satter we do Annual Interior Inspections with video, whenever possible. A few tenants won't let us in or won't allow us to video or take pics due to their personal possessions being in the home.
@Charles Carillo I can't see how anyone can do anything but a quick glance in 60 seconds. And it's not as easy as you make it sound. So, I wouldn't feel comfortable representing this to our clients.
Typically takes several phone calls to set appointment with tenant, a reminder call as they usually forget, 20% of appointments get rescheduled at this point or tenant misses (forcing reschedule) - which both take more time. Inspection at the home takes 30 minutes minimum and then about another 30-60 minutes to process and do writeup to send to owner.
Owners rarely understand how much time property management takes!
Your manager should be doing an annual inspection of the unit. Mine does it when the lease is renewed. Any repairs that are done, you should be notified. I get monthly statement and they list any repairs that were done (for larger ones they need my permission).
for ones that I manage myself, I do an annual inspection, but also rely on the tenants to let me know if there are any problems. The current group is pretty good.
@Bryan Satter in regard to routine maintenance. While the best answer is to find a PM company in your area that will recommend these services as needed, ideally after regular routine inspections. You can consider the approach of making a list of common routine maintenance services and telling your PM that you want them addressed at specific times.
For example, you would say,
Dear PM, regarding my property on ABC Street.
I would like you to ensure that the following is done as follows:
Every March & Sept yard spring clean (trim hedges, weed, mulch 1x year).
Every March, clean gutters, termite inspection, HVAC service.
Every other March power wash exterior of the home.
Tailor this list to your home/location, if you have well and septic then include those services also for example.
As a residential PM I recommend these services to my clients after the home inspections I perform 2-3 times a year. Less these days unfortunately with COVID-19. However, I have some owners that either don't respond or don't approve these services and others that go above and beyond requesting fireplace cleanings and regular dryer vent cleanings. I mention this because the more you communicate with your PM and let him know the level of care and investment you want to take in your home the better they can serve you.
Thank you for the kind words@Bryan Satter , I've always treated my clients and their properties as if they were my own. I did have 33 at one time, tried to hire a PM and after firing 3 of them I decided I'd start my own PM Company. I'm only doing what I think is right.