Whether you’re new to the business or a long-time rental property owner, hiring a property manager can be a worthwhile investment, as long as you hire the right property manager. And finding that property manager follows a similar process to hiring a new employee; you’ll need to spend time deciding what parts of the property management role you want them to take on and then you’ll need to interview multiple candidates. While there’s some work you have to do upfront, finding the right long-term partner will save you significant effort and money and alleviate many headaches along the way. Let’s walk through the process.
#1: Decide What Your Needs Are
A property manager’s job responsibilities depend on your, the property owner’s needs. The best property management companies are capable of taking care of all property-related tasks, including rent collection, completing maintenance requests, advertising your property, finding tenants, and handling any accounting related to your property.
Before finding your future property management company, you need to decide the level of involvement you want your future manager to have in the running of your property. Some property owners want their managers to simply take on the day to day tasks related to running a property. Others want their property managers to oversee major renovations and capital improvements. The choice is yours, but you need to know this information before you jump into this process.
#2: Get Referrals
One of the best ways to find a good property manager is to get referrals. If you’ve recently purchased your rental property, asking your real estate agent if they know local property managers is always an option. If your friends are also real estate investors, maybe they’ve got a few pointers for you, too.
#3: Choose Between a Big Shop and a Small Operation
There are advantages and disadvantages to both large property management companies and more boutique operations. It’s up to you to decide what kind of experience you want. Larger companies frequently have in-house maintenance staff that can respond to your tenants quickly and efficiently. Larger companies may also have more streamlined leasing processes in place that help get your property in front of your ideal tenants quickly.
On the flip side, a smaller shop may make you feel more catered to, simply because their list of properties is smaller. Smaller shops may also charge lower rates for their services. We recommend interviewing both kinds of companies in order to decide which kind of property manager is best for you.
#4: Interview Candidates
Once you’ve compiled a list of four to five property management companies that seem promising, you can schedule interviews. You should treat this step the same way you’d treat the interview process for a potential employee. After all, your property manager works for you. Set up a phone or virtual call with your property management candidates. In this interview, you should get the answers to questions such as:
- What is your process for setting expectations and aligning with my investment goals?
- What do you charge for your services?
- How many properties does your company manage?
- What kind of properties do you manage?
- What services do you offer? How about to tenants?
- Who will be my dedicated property manager, and what level of experience do they have?
- Do you have your own, designated 24-hour emergency number that tenants can call?
- What property management software do you use, if any?
- Do you have your own staff of maintenance workers? If not, do you have a dedicated list of maintenance workers you can rely on?
- What’s your average response time to emergency calls?
- How do you advertise properties?
- What’s your occupancy rate?
- What’s your preferred mode of communication? Phone or email?
- What kind of reporting do you offer on a monthly and annual basis to understand how my investments are doing?
- How can your services help my property be profitable?
- What success stories and testimonials do you have that speak to my needs?
From this list of questions, you should be able to figure out if you’ve found a strong fit or not.
After your first interview, narrow your list down even more. You should have two or three who really stand out. You should be looking for candidates who communicate well, who are driven to help grow your business, and who offer the exact services you’re looking for. At this point, you can either set up a second meeting or make a “pros vs. cons” list. Either way, this is a step in the property manager hiring process that can’t be rushed through.
#5: Find Out How They Use Technology
During the interview process, you’ll find out whether your potential property manager uses property management software. Though everyone has their own preference for how they run their business, we encourage you to strongly consider hiring a property manager who does use property management software over one who does things more manually. This software streamlines the process of running a rental property. Tenants can pay their rent easily, make non-emergency maintenance requests, and access their lease digitally using a tenant portal or resident site.
On the property management side, the software can keep all leases, tenant background checks, and accounting data in one place. This keeps things organized and easily found. Plus, property management software provides a streamlined platform on which you can communicate easily with your property manager directly.
#6: Check Out Their Online Presence
You can learn a lot about a company based on their online presence. If you plan on relying on your property manager for marketing services, the ways in which they use social media can be a good indication of how successful they’ll be. You may also want to be able to compare multiple property managers to each other at the same time. Using an online database to find the best property management companies, you’ll be able to see which companies have embraced the digital marketplace.
Additionally, since you’ll be depending on your property manager to handle tenant interactions of all kinds, take some time to read your prospective company’s reviews. Based on their interactions with both negative and positive feedback, you’ll learn how well they’ll respond to your tenants.
#7: Negotiate Your Contract
Once you’ve decided which company you want to go with, be sure to carefully negotiate the terms of your contract. Your contract should make it clear who your main point of contact is, how much they charge for their services, how maintenance and repairs will be handled (and what their response times will be), and how many days notice they’ll require for you to terminate your working relationship (and vice versa).
Your contract will also highlight what your own responsibilities in the relationship will be. They should also make it clear how you can expect to receive your tenants’ rent checks every month, whether they’ll be responsible for collecting tenant security deposits, and how your manager will deal with delinquent rent checks and any legal disputes that may arise as a result. Being diligent and detail-oriented in the contract stage will give you peace of mind and help you feel well supported.
Once you’ve made the decision to hire a property manager, it’s so important to hire the right one. If you follow these steps, you’ll be headed in the right direction!