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.
Download Your FREE Rental Application Form!
It may seem like a small thing, but having a solid rental application is the first step in finding great tenants. Since BiggerPockets is all about helping you succeed in real estate investing, we’ve put together a complimentary Rental Application for you to use. Download it today and go find some great tenants!
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.
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.”
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!