How to Choose a Property Management Company
It can be a difficult task to choose a property management company. After all, the basic tasks involved are pretty similar from company to company. Many people focus on price, size of company or how long a company has been in business. These are not necessarily unimportant things. However, let’s take the following things into consideration:
- Who will be the one actually taking care of your property and what kind of experience do they have? It is very common that the person you are meeting with to discuss property management services is not the one who will be handling the day in day out tasks. The individual handling your property is the one who has to use discernment to make many decisions such as when to send a technician, who is responsible for repairs, and how to handle the security deposit upon the tenant vacating. The property manager needs to be detail oriented and be able to track all communication, maintenance, inspections, and accounting for your property.
- Price is important but in no way should be the deciding factor when choosing a property manager. Usually when you pick the cheapest person for the job, any job, you pay twice. Therefore, it is costing you more. It all starts with the first point above. Who is it that is actually managing your property and what skill set and experience do they have? Say you pick someone who allows a tenant to get behind on rent continually and they never take official action. That costs you real dollars. If you eventually get to the point of firing the property manager and needing to evict someone, not only have you lost rental income, but you have to pay attorney fees, maintenance and the cost to get it rented out again. In this case, cheaper isn’t always better.
- What kind of references does the company have? Do they have clients who are willing to speak with you about their satisfaction? Of course they would not put you in touch with any dissatisfied people! Just keep that in the back of your mind. However, do they have others who can validate their work and ethics such as a team of other business associates in the community? Does the property management company seek out opportunities to be accountable outside their own business walls?
- Who do they use to do work in the homes they manage? Are those people licensed and insured? You, the home owner, can be liable for mishaps or accidents which occur in your home while occupied by a tenant. You do not want to expose yourself to unnecessary risks. Even if the service providers are more expensive that “Joe Handyman”, it isn’t worth the risk in this litigious world!
- This one kind of goes back to the personal experience point above. Since most people who need property management services are going to be long distance landlords, you may just want to ask if anyone in the company knows what that is like. Many, many people never leave where they grew up. That can be a wonderful thing; yet, having that perspective of leaving your personal home in the care of someone else can be disconcerting! It is a difficult and stressful process. In Northern Virginia, most landlords are leaving the country when they rent out their homes. If that is you, it can provide another level of comfort and trust using a property manager who knows firsthand what that is like.
- Finally, how easy is it for you to get in touch with the property manager? If it is difficult now, think of how frustrated you could be trying to get information from the other side of the planet!
Hopefully you have found this information useful. We want to be sure you and your home are protected and well taken care of by the most qualified property management company. Please give us a call if you have further questions or need our help in any way.