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Tips on finding a property manager

by Jessie Cochran and Jennifer Mackay

So, you have purchased an investment property or have a property that you need to lease or rent.  What's next? How do you find a property management company that you will feel comfortable with and will assist you with maximizing your investments growth potential?

I recieved a call the other day from owners of a single family home who were selling their home. They had been trying to sell for awhile, but were getting no offers. In about a month a mortgage payment was due and making two mortgage payments plus dealing with the vacant house was becoming difficult.

They decided to rent the property for a few years and then try to sell again. This situation occurs over and over again all over the city, county, state, and nation.

If you need to rent one or more of your properties, how do you go about obtaining professional advice and services? What should you consider as important?

As a service to you, I offer these few tips in locating a property manager.

Tip #1: Find a manager reasonably close to your property. If the manager has to drive a long way to get to your rental they will be less likely to rent it quickly or to inspect it.  A good rule of thumb is 20 minutes travel time unless the manager lives close to your property (they can show it on their way to or from work).

Tip #2: Find a manager that markets themselves reasonably well. Marketing a property is what it's all about.  Good marketing will get the exposure needed to  lease/rent your property to a qualified renter in a reasonable amount of time (market conditions acceptable of course).

Tip #3: Find a manager that answers the phone during working hours or at least returns phone calls in a reasonable amount of time.

Tip #4: Find a manager who has emergency phone response after working hours. Risk management in many areas is critical to protecting your investment.

Tip #5: Find a manager who knows how to screen and qualify prospective renters. Depending on your area and situation, this may include: Credit Checks, Background checks, Employment verification etc.

Tip #6: Find a manager that is not too busy. The industry rule of thumb is 75 houses managed per employee. Don't be afraid of smaller or start up management companies.  Often these companies work very hard to build their business and it's a good opportunity for both the customer and the company to build a lasting property management relationship.

Tip #7: Find a manager who has references with properties like yours. A short conversation with them will reveal things such as when they get their monthly proceeds, are calls returned promptly, how are the properties maintained and how are property maintenance and expense issues handled.

Tip #8: Find a manager who knows maintenance. Do they have a contractor on staff or other knowledgeable maintenance staff on call?  Do they maintain a list of vendors that is used over and over?

Tip #9: Avoid over emphasizing the management fee. At least compare apples to apples. Make sure you discuss all costs. Management fee, rental fee, advertising costs (if free, exactly what is free and what is not), inspection costs, fees for serving notices, who keeps any late fees collected, extra charges for handling maintenance, and returned check fees. These are all fees that you could be charged for as a part of your agreement with the property management company.

Tip #10: Ask for references and speak with other owners of properties they manage.  Hearing the good and the not so good from a current customer may give you added insight to make an informed decision about your property management needs.

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Jennifer Mackay REALTOR®
Keller Williams Success Realty
2110 W. 23rd Street, Suite A. Panama City Fl 32405
Direct: (850) 774-6582
Office: (850) 392-1700
Fax: (850) 522-3697
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