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Don’t Get Burned: What to Look for in a Decent Property Management Company

Whether you’ve chosen to invest in real estate for profit or you’ve become an unintentional landlord, using a professional property management company can help you maximize your ROI and minimize your hassle. You do have to choose the best property management team for the job, though, to truly get all of the benefits associated with using a professional manager.

Characteristics of a Good Property Management Company

A Comprehensive Tenant Screening Process

You’ll be relying on tenants to not only pay their rent, but to not damage your property or cause liability for you. The prospective management company should be able to tell you exactly what they do to screen tenants for creditworthiness and how they determine if a tenant can actually afford the rent. They should also have a plan for detecting those with criminal backgrounds and policies in place for dealing with evictions, defaults and troublesome tenant behavior. According to legal experts at NOLO.com, if a tenant engages in illegal behavior on your Utah, Nevada or Washington property, you could be held liable for the tenant’s actions. This covers not only drug and related crimes, but even personal injury caused by a tenant’s pets. It is important to understand how your prospective manager screens tenants and what they will do if something goes wrong once a tenant is in place. Above Average Communication Skills A prospective manager trying to woo you and win your business is likely on her best behavior, so if she is already showing signs of not listening well or simply not communicating well, she is not likely to improve with time. Communication is crucial both for you and for your eventual tenants; a property manager who is abrasive or who simply doesn’t work well with others could drive the best tenants away. A tenant with good income and credit can afford to shop around and won’t likely settle for a Las Vegas home that comes with an abrasive or rude property manager attached. According to Chron.com, “A friendly, positive attitude, coupled with above-average customer service skills, are necessary to build relationships with existing clients and tenants, as well as potential new ones.”

Other Managed Units Are Well Cared For

Ask to see some of the properties your prospective manager cares for; if you have been given references, ask those clients for the address of a property. People can be subjective, so one person’s idea of a “great” management company may be very different from what you might actually be looking for. If you can view some properties managed by the team you are considering, evaluate them based on their appearance and upkeep – because that is probably the same level of service your own property will receive once you sign a contract. Are yards free of trash and debris and neatly maintained? Are cars parked on the grass or multiple dogs roaming the property? Is the home clean and free of mold and dirt? Would you be willing to live in the home in the condition it is in? If you do not like the overall look of the property (not the color or architecture, but the actual condition of the home) and the way the tenant is being allowed to use it, then you will not be happy with the way this particular manager runs his business. If you see a clean, well-cared-for property with a maintained lawn and no issues, then, at the very least, the manager requires tenants to care for the exterior of the property. It is good to bear in mind that even the best property managers are still subject to the willingness of the owner to invest in maintaining the condition of their property.

Units Are Inspected Regularly

While full-on roof-to-floor inspections on a regular basis are likely off-putting for tenants, a good property manager will make regular efforts to physically visit the property. Simple wellness checks should be conducted regularly; even driving by the home or building can help the manager spot the early signs of tenant trouble. A tenant in financial trouble may start by neglecting the exterior of the home, which can be spotted in a simple drive-by, while the addition of multiple cats and dogs may also be visible from the street. Simply confirming that the unit is still occupied and you see no external signs of trouble is an added layer of protection for landlords and provides much-needed peace of mind. Property managers that routinely visit to handle small maintenance tasks accomplish two things: They give the tenant confidence that the unit is in good repair, and the manager gets a quick look inside, which also gives him the opportunity to notice any red flags or troubling signs. One investor shares his unique perspective on property inspections with BiggerPockets.com: “As part of your discussions with prospective managers, you want to get a commitment from them how often they will conduct formal inspections of your properties. In some cases, managers will be very accommodating. In most, however, they will balk at this requirement or use it as a way to increase the fee they will be charging. I am not too impressed with property managers who believe that conducting routine property inspections is an extra – not part of their normal package of services.”

Has a Clear and Understandable Fee Structure

You should fully understand what the property manager is offering, how much you are paying, and how fees will be tabulated or charged. A contract should outline the terms of your agreement, and the manager should be able to tell you in advance how maintenance costs and other fees are handled. If the manager can’t or won’t provide a detailed list of fees, you could be in trouble later. From the right communication skills to the ability to find and screen the best possible tenants, the best specialized property management team will be able to relieve the stress of coping with a rental property – and allow you to reap the rewards of your investment. Our management experts offer superlative communication skills, extensive tenant screening, and selection experience, and make caring for your property a priority. If you are tired of constantly worrying about your rental unit and coping with the day-to-day needs of your tenants, we can help. Contact us today for a consultation and to learn what our skilled property management team can do for you.

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