What should a landlord look for when evaluating a prospective property manager to care for their investment property? While every property manager will tell you all the reasons why you should trust your property with them, there are a number items to be considered before making this important decision. You can use this checklist to evaluate your potential property manager from the first moment you make contact with them. If they start failing on all the basics right away, it may pay you to shop around.
With some 30 years experience in property management, I’ve seen all the reasons why landlords leave their property manager. To make sure we deliver the service our landlords deserve, the Investors Direct Property Management team always focus on the basics of managing investment property as well as the ‘not so basic’ items.
The No. 1 reason why landlords will leave an agency is because of a property manager’s poor communication or a complete lack of communication. This is an absolute fact, as many landlords will agree. But sadly it continues to happen and it simply shouldn’t. It’s not hard to make sure all emails, calls and messages have been dealt with before leaving for the day.
In our office, we have strict office policies on how communications are handled which ensures the day to day messages are responded to quickly and regular reports sent out as soon as they are completed or finalised. With the right systems in place, good communication should happen automatically. Happy landlords are those who receive quality communication and are kept informed.
The way a property manager presents themselves, their office and their staff, is critical.
From the vacancy list at the front of their office through to the Cleaning Guide provided to tenants when they vacate – every document; report; email; letter etc., must look professional and without spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
Perception does become reality, so if the first impression you have of a property manager is not good, because of poor office/staff presentation or unprofessional documents, you may want to reconsider giving them your investment property to manage. If they don’t care enough about themselves how will they care enough about your property?
3. Attention to Detail:
Good Property Managers are pedantic and paranoid!! They know what can happen if the ‘i’s’ aren’t dotted and the ‘t’s’ aren’t crossed. It may take a few more minutes to make sure everything is included in that Entry Condition Report, but it will make life so much easier at the end of the tenancy. The same applies to every property management task, attention to detail must be second nature so that everything that happens with every property under management, is attended to as it should be.
Landlords know if a property manager isn’t providing enough detail – you see it as not caring enough about the property to take the extra time to do the job properly. It’s also important for the protection of the landlord’s property – the devil is always in the detail!
4. Social Media:
The world of property management has changed incredibly over the past five years and there is no doubt whatsoever that it will continue to change even more. If your property manager hasn’t accepted that social media is now part of how they manage property, you need to consider what they should be doing to meet the needs of both today’s landlords and tenants – it’s absolutely vital that your property manager has embraced social media and is using it for your benefit.
How we adapt now to social media, is just the same as how we adapted to the technology that completely changed the way we managed property only a few short years ago!
Social media is just another change that will make our industry more professional and more efficient.
5. Systems; Systems; Systems:
The ideal time systems should be put in place is right at the beginning. So ask yourself is your potential property manager introducing you to their systems right from the start? While it’s never too late for a manager to introduce or implement systems into the way they manage your properties, it is preferable to have them set up at the start.
Property Managers are always happier when they have systems to follow, as these make the job much easier and everyone is generally much happier, as increased efficiency normally creates better outcomes. Landlords will be happier because tasks are being attended to more efficiently. Tenants will be happier because their requests or needs are being handled more quickly and again, more efficiently.
6. Customer Service and Follow up:
Everyone talks about the need to provide good customer service but sadly not everyone does anything about it. The same applies to ‘follow up’, this is just as important as providing quality customer service. If there’s no follow up system in place, things can very quickly get out of hand and it doesn’t matter how good a property manager’s service has been the landlord will be unhappy if the task hasn’t been completed.
I absolutely believe that customer service should happen as a matter of course – all these things, if done properly, will help provide quality customer service, without even thinking about it.
7. Employ the Right People:
Property management is a people business, so if your managing agency doesn’t have the right people in the right job, you will soon know it. You will know if the property manager doesn’t understand the legislation; doesn’t attend to maintenance; doesn’t follow up with rental arrears; or doesn’t communicate well. If you know they aren’t attending to the basics or looking after the property the way they should then you may not have the right property manager.
Property managers usually have very specific skills – I could say we’re very special people – because we are!! Not everyone is suited to the job but good property managers do have what is needed to get the job done.
If your managing agency has the right mix of people with good admin skills through to great customer service attitudes, then all areas of the business will hold up well and you’ll find everything runs very smoothly. As soon you start having problems though, don’t be afraid to report it.
8. Honesty and Integrity:
In my humble opinion, these are the two most important words to live by, not only in property management, but real estate generally, and also in life itself.
The very worst thing any property manager can do is not tell the truth. If yours is honest with you, even if its bad news, you will respect them. If they’ve made a mistake, are honest about it and don’t put off telling you, then this is great. Your property manager may need to give you bad news sometimes, this can happen unfortunately, but they must be honest and inform you of anything that affects your investment.
Landlords need to trust that their property manager will care for their valuable investment; tenants need to trust that their interests will be looked after as well. Property Managers who deal with people honestly and act with integrity will always have referrals from their landlords as well as tenants.
9. Total Focus at all times:
To run a successful property management business there has to be a total focus from everyone within the business on making sure that what needs to happen, happens!
This means everyone – from front office reception through to the tradespeople we engage –are all part of the one team. It’s important as a dedicated property management division to have systems in place to ensure landlords and tenants are well looked after by everyone in the business from the top down. Everyone must have the same ‘focus’ on making sure this happens, it can’t be any other way. This is the only way to run the division efficiently and keep everyone happy.
10. A well-run business:
At the end of the day, if a property manager isn’t operating a well run business, it may very well stagnate or go backwards. And that won’t do anything for the landlords and the tenants.
I’ve found over the years that if a property management business is run with the above 9 points in place, then the 10th point will simply be there, because all the above points add up to a well run property management business.
If you do business with a well-run business then you will win and they will win. No business has ever achieved the success it wants unless it has a logical and well structured plan in place.
We’ve all heard ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’, and it’s absolutely true.
These “Top Ten Tips” can help you with a quick evaluation of a prospective property manager. I’ve written them a little bit from an “inside out” point of view. I hope this helps you understand what needs to be considered when meeting with any potential property manager.
“People don’t care how much you know – until they know how much you care!”
If you have any questions on any aspect of property management, please don’t hesitate to call or send me an email.
Jan Malmstrom 0424 310 280 or jan.malmstrom(at)investorsdirect.com.au