What to Look For in a Property Manager?

December 9, 2021

Property investments can merit huge rewards, but they can require a fair amount of work as well—especially when you’re dealing with rentals. Juggling day-to-day responsibilities can keep you busy as-is, diverting attention away from managing your property. 

That’s where property managers come in. They’re responsible for managing everything concerning property, from advertising to finding the right tenants, handling the property budget, facilitating maintenance checks, delivering evictions, and more. Because a property manager handles the ins and outs of your rental, it’s important to choose one wisely. Above all, you should hire a skilled professional you can trust. Here are some of the things you should look for in a property manager.

What Does a Property Manager Do?

It’s important to know the scope of a property manager’s job to help you decide if you require their services. In a nutshell, they handle the day-to-day operations of multiple properties. Their scope of work includes:

  • Determining a fair rental price. 
  • Finding tenants, which may include advertising your property for lease. 
  • Screening tenants to ensure that they are responsible renters. 
  • Collecting rent from tenants and issuing the appropriate notices and fees if payments don’t come or are received late. 
  • Representing you when communicating with tenants—the level of communication depends on your agreement. 
  • Ensuring that the property is maintained and approving repairs or renovations requested by the tenant. 
  • Managing complaints, such as noisy neighbors. 
  • Evicting delinquent tenants. 

While they handle almost everything concerning property, there are also things that are out of their field of management. For example, a property manager typically can’t represent you in the home selling process. They also can’t sign contracts for you or agree to unusual requests from the tenant outside of the scope of your agreement.

Factors to Look For in a Property Manager

Various property managers specialize in different fields of expertise. For example, some might be more acquainted with a certain state’s laws. Others might have better tenant-facing experience but can’t manage accounting duties. But there are a few non-negotiable traits to watch out for to help you pick the right manager to do the job.

Look For Experience With Your Property Type

Property managers typically specialize in handling one of many different types of homes. Therefore, it’s important to choose one with experience working with your property type, as there are different laws and regulations associated with each.

Apart from varying laws and regulations, the living situation in each property category is also different. For example, noise complaints are more common in multifamily units as opposed to commercial property. As such, multifamily property managers are typically more experienced in resolving such issues.

Look For Budget Consciousness

Maintaining a property costs a lot of money, but there are always ways to reduce costs. For example, if your vacation rental comes with a high-maintenance garden, you need to make the tough choice between hiring a one-time gardener or a full-time employee. The property manager should be able to make these decisions based on cost-efficiency.

Likewise, property managers should be able to say yes or no to repairs and renovations requested by the tenant, using the budget as one of the primary factors in their decision-making. But on the other hand, you also don’t want a property manager who’s a bit too stingy—a behavior that could result in unhappy tenants or a poorly-maintained home.

Look For Experience in Your Area

Real estate laws differ from state to state, which means that a property manager from Arizona is not likely to be familiar with California state laws, and vice versa. As a result, filter your search for the perfect property manager; find one knowledgeable in your particular state’s quirks. In some cases, this could extend to area-specific knowledge. For example, someone could understand how the New York suburbs work—but not the city.

Look For Trustworthiness

Even the most knowledgeable and experienced property managers could end up stealing a huge chunk of money from right under your nose. There’s no point in working with a property manager you can’t trust, as you may end up losing investment returns when transactions are done dishonestly. Remember: the property will be left in the hands of the manager, so it’s important that you trust them through and through. 

One way to ensure trustworthiness is by searching for a property manager from references. Or work with a property management company, which may have more ironed-out processes compared to an independent contractor. Implementing administrative measures, such as ensuring that all billable expenses are property documented, should also help build accountability.

Look For a Responsive Property Manager

Most property managers won’t handle your property exclusively unless you can shell out a huge sum for their full attention. Instead, one manager can handle up to 50 properties on their own, which can sometimes mean dealing with 50 different clients. One property manager can only respond to so many messages in a day, which means that your concerns can be left at the back of the line for a long time—which isn’t helpful in emergencies. 

When screening property managers, make it a point to check their availability and be upfront about your need for responsiveness within a reasonable amount of time. Putting this factor into the contract can make the terms clear, saving yourself the trouble of following up—and your property from falling into the hands of someone with no time for it.

Look For Time-Management Skills

In the same line as responsiveness, you want to work with a property manager who can manage their time. Someone who only handles five homes shouldn’t take two days to get back to you with a response. That would reflect badly on their ability to handle tenant concerns as well. After all, there’s nothing worse than a landlord who takes months to repair a bathroom leak.

Look For Technical Knowledge

Property management is an old industry, and some old souls haven’t moved on from manual processes. These can be incredibly inefficient, especially when there are a ton of homes to manage and tenant requests to fulfill. Find someone with a good grasp of technology and available management software—enough to manage the tenant and property’s needs. They should also be able to search for information to aid your property, such as leveraging data to determine pricing and more.

Look For On-Field Accessibility

Property management is not always a job that can be done remotely. For example, when repairs or regular upkeep is required in a home, someone has to watch over the process—lest the repair workers make a huge, irreversible mistake. As such, find a property manager based near the area of the home. This allows them to resolve any issues and handle emergencies in person within a few minutes.

Look For Communication Skills

Some tenants can be rude, but you don’t want a property manager yelling at tenants all the same. So choose a property manager with ample communication skills to handle stressful situations professionally. In addition, they can help build positive relationships with tenants, opening the possibility of acquiring long-term clients. Happy tenants are also more likely to put in a good word for you so that new tenants can find your property with little to no online advertising.

Look For Accounting Skills

Property managers take on plenty of financial responsibilities, such as collecting rent and security deposits, imposing fees, collecting fees, and managing the budget for any property-related expenses. As such, they need to be able to read and create financial records, file taxes, and more—all of which will require bookkeeping skills. 

If they don’t have these capabilities, they can be responsible for hiring someone to handle the accounting work. But of course, the property manager still needs to have a reasonable level of financial literacy.

Look For Marketing Skills

Property managers don’t need to be full-on marketers. But they need to be able to do a decent level of marketing, especially if your property requires a tenant. Prospective property managers can be screened for their ability to use basic marketing tools to create ads and put your home up for rent on platforms such as Airbnb.

Look For Long-Term Property Managers

Some property managers don’t have the appropriate skills to prevent tenants from leaving. This could be annoying and expensive on your end, as you’ll have to constantly renovate and brave through months with no income. A high turnover rate doesn’t look good to prospective renters either—they may believe there’s an issue with the home or landlord. So while calculating costs, consider turnover rate and hire a property manager that can make tenants stay. 

Finding the right property manager is tough. However, keeping these things in mind as you search should help you find the right one for you. If you’re looking for a company to take the guesswork out of hiring a property manager, My Hostly is here to help. Check out our services or get in touch today!

Check out our Property Management articles.

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