How do I find a Trustworthy Property Manager?

You need to do your research before hiring a property manager. Your mission is to find someone who is organized, trustworthy and experienced. Here’s how to find the best fit for your property.

Talk to real estate agents and other property owners in your area:  Ask what property managers or property management companies they use/have used.  What have they been happy with? Have they had any problems? Always keep in mind that referrals can be biased.  The referrer can just be trying to give their neighbor’s brother’s son a job.

Do an Online Search:  You can also do an online search for property management companies.  Websites like T-Rex Global and All Property Management allow you to plug in the size of your property and your location and they will generate a list of property management companies in your area.  Before wasting time interviewing a property manager, you should check out the company’s reviews on sites like Yelp or even Facebook.  It’s not a bad idea to check with the Better Business Bureau as well to see what kind of rating the company has and if any complaints have been filed against them.

Check Out Their Current Work:  Look at some of the property manager’s current rental ads.  Are they professional, compelling and free of discriminatory statements?  Do they advertise in a variety of places, or are their ads limited to free sources like Craigslist or community bulletin boards?

Check out the actual properties they manage:  Are the properties clean and well cared for?  You can gather some great information by speaking to the tenants they currently manage.  Because property management is about keeping you and your tenants happy, it is important to get their opinion as well.  Are their complaints addressed?  Are requests for repairs answered in a timely manner?  Is the building clean?  Is the building quiet?  Do they plan on signing a new lease?  Why or why not?  This will help you gauge if the current tenants are satisfied with management’s performance.  You should also ask the management company for an example of the monthly report you would receive.

Interview Several Candidates:  Just as you will interview and screen several tenants before you rent out your property, you will want to interview several property managers/management companies so you can find the one you are most comfortable entrusting your property to.  Interviewing several prospect managers will allow you to separate the good from the bad.  You will be able to tell those with real knowledge and a proven plan, from those without.  A property manager who has placed ten tenants in the last two months and is currently evicting five of them, either has the worst luck in the world, or, more likely, does not know how to properly screen tenants.  Is the candidate receptive to your questions or are they dismissive?  If they aren’t putting their best foot forward during the interview, things will most likely magnify if you allow them to manage your property.  You should ask questions about their education and experience, services provided, fees charged and if they have an understanding of landlord tenant law.

Check Their License and Certification:  Most states require that a property manager/management company have a real estate broker’s license or a property management license in order to show vacant apartments and single family rentals.  You should check with your state’s Real Estate Commission to see if their brokerage license is active.  You will also want to know if the company or manager has been certified a trade organization such as the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), National Apartment Association (NAA), National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and the Community Associations Institute (CAI).  These organizations offer certification after completion of a rigorous training program.  If the property manager is willing to spend the time and money to go through continuing education courses, it can tell you that they are committed to their job.  Of course, you should also trust your instincts.   Just because a property manager has paid money to take a class doesn’t mean they are putting into practice what they were taught.  A property manager who doesn’t have the money for expensive certification classes may have more passion for managing your property.  Therefore, you will need to look at the whole picture before selecting a property manager.

Examine Their Management Agreement:  The management agreement should clearly define the responsibilities of the property manager and that of the property owner.  Are the same terms you discussed during the interview included in the contract?  Pay close attention to the sections on services provided, extra fees charged, responsibilities of the owner, compliance with fair housing laws, hold harmless clause and reasons for cancellation.

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