Finding the Right Property Management Company
I am a landlord. Like many who have gone before me, I thought I could handle property management all by myself – what’s a few phone calls from tenants if something breaks down, right? How much time could it take to screen potential tenants and run credit/background checks, right? Not so much! If I owned only one property, perhaps I could do this and still have a life, but now that I own several? Not so much! By the time I had received my third middle-of-the-evening phone call, as I was hosting a dinner party, the realization hit that I needed someone else to manage these properties – a company that could successfully “field” the myriad aspects of actual property management and allow me to regain my life and my sanity.
Finding a property management company was easy – there were hundreds in my area. Finding the right one, however, was quite another matter, and I “burned” through several before I finally found a responsive, professional company that met my needs. If you are looking for such a firm, you can benefit from my experiences.
Make a list of those tasks you want a management company to assume. Any company you consider should be flexible enough to take responsibility for only those tasks you identify. There are some tasks you may want to keep, such as screening tenants. Do you want the company to establish an escrow account for taxes and insurance, or do you want to take care of that? There are many aspects of property management, and you need to identify which you want the company to assume.
Interview the company as you would an employee you might hire. What experience does the company have with your type(s) of property – commercial, residential, Section 8, apartment complexes, etc.? You want a company that has lots of background in your property type(s).
Ask for references, and follow through on checking those references.
Do some comparison shopping. Get pricing quotes in writing, so that you can accurately compare them.
Does the firm have legal counsel on retainer? This is critically important, because you do not want the task of locating a real estate attorney on your own when the need arises.
Your goal is to have as stress-free a landlord position as possible. And only you can determine those responsibilities that you can handle successfully, without undue burden, and those which you want to delegate to a management company. And, if you find a full-service property management company, you will have the flexibility to alter responsibilities as you see fit.
I have found the right property management company for my needs, and I sleep much better at night! I can now go about the other aspects of my life, secure in the knowledge that the tasks assigned to my company are handled effectively and to my satisfaction. The fee involved is well worth the peace of mind I now have!