1. Are you a licensed Property Manager? How many licensed property managers does your company have?
Most states require a state-issued license to manage property. Usually this is a real estate broker’s license. Some states have a specific property manager license. Make sure they are appropriately licensed.
2. What experience do you have?
Having an experienced property manager is a must. There is a metric called “unit-years” (e.g., If you manage 20 units for 5 years you have 100 unit-years experience). I would recommend you get someone with at least 100 unit-years experience. Also make sure the experience is in the same type of property you have.
3. Does a property manager show the rental to prospective tenants?
Some management companies just hand a prospective tenant a key (check it out) and let them view the property on their own. Not only is this method ripe for potential problems, but by personally showing every prospective tenant, property managers are better able to evaluate the applicant, sell the unit by pointing out its highlights and features and ultimately get the vacancy filled quicker with a high-quality tenant.
4. When will I receive my owner rent payments (draws) and accounting statements?
Some property managers delay payments to owners up to 45 days. Figure out the policy of the property management company for owner payouts.
5. If I am out-of-town or traveling will I still be able to receive my payments and statements?
Top management companies should be able to direct-deposit payments, provide online statements and allow you to be worry free from wherever you are.
6. What screening methods do you use for the tenant applications?
Online rental applications and screening to check applicants’ credit and criminal history is a must. If the management company does not do credit and criminal checks I would be very skeptical. If you want to do this on your own as a landlord check out www.turbotenant.com.
7. Can a prospective tenant apply for a rental online?
Making the application process easier for tenants will result in more applicants and less vacancy – management companies should be able to take applications online.
8. What methods do you use to advertise the property? What is included for free and what do I have to pay for?
A property manager should advertise vacancies on their website, as well as rental listing websites like Craigslist, Zillow & Hotpads. The more exposure the faster vacancies will get filled. You will want to know if they charge an advertising fee as well. www.turbotenant.com has free and easy rental marketing and syndication to give rental units to most possible exposure.
9. Can you handle the repairs and cleaning? Do you charge extra on top of 3rd party bills (like plumbers)?
Does the management company have in-house maintenance staff or is everthing contracted out? What are the rates? Do the “up-charge” 3rd party bills?
10. What are your management fees? What are your leasing fees?
Usually the first question for many owners. I think some of the other questions above may be more important though. If you are comfortable with how they will manage your property, your final negotiation should be at what price.
Could I manage it better myself? Don’t want to use a property manager?
Check out www.turbotenant.com it gives individual owners free tools to market rental properties, collect online rental applications, screen tenants (both credit and criminal) and collect online rent payments – all 100% free to landlords.
Founder / CEO
Sarnen has authored and contributed to a variety of real estate and property management publications throughout the state. He has experience managing all types of real estate, including: single-family homes, multi-family complexes, storage units, commercial, and condominium/home owners associations. He is a member of the Real Estate Educators Association (REEA), and has received the Certified Distance Education Instructor™ certification from the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials® (ARELLO).