How to Choose a Property Management Company

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Having a property management company in your back pocket is one of the biggest blessings you can have as a landlord. It makes everything else more manageable. But with so many different property managers to choose from, where do you even begin to choose the right one?

If the answer to this question were black and white, every real estate investor and landlord would have a perfect relationship with their property manager – getting maximum benefits and avoiding all of the downside risks. But, alas, it’s not that easy. There’s some subjectivity to it all, which makes selecting a property manager a bit of a skillset.

With all of that being said, there are some important differentiating factors, skills, and qualities to look for when hiring. The more adept you become at identifying these, the better.

Experience and Reputation: Hallmarks of Reliability

Just like a seasoned captain is trusted to navigate a ship through whatever elements arise, an experienced property management company can handle the ups and downs of managing a rental property on your behalf. And if you’re going to trust someone to manage one of your most valuable assets, shouldn’t they have some experience and reputation backing them up?

Look for a company with several years in the business and a portfolio of properties similar to yours. Check their online reviews on sites like Yelp or Google, and don’t hesitate to ask for case studies or examples of their work.

It’s also smart to work with local companies that have carved out a reputation in the community. For example, if you’re in the DFW area, you probably want to hire a Dallas property management company (rather than some national chain that might not have a thorough understanding of the nuances of the market).

This is not a decision that you can afford to take lightly. Any company that offers pushback on your exploratory research isn’t a company you want to work with. A reputable company should be transparent about its successes and how it has handled challenging situations. You can also ask for references from current clients to get real-world insights. These may be a little harder to come by, but some companies will put you in touch with their top clients.

Thorough Tenant Screening Capabilities

Your property’s success hinges on the quality of your tenants. And good tenant screening reduces the risk of rent defaults and property damage. As you explore different options for property managers, ask about how they approach this aspect of the equation.

A thorough screening process should include credit checks, criminal background checks, employment verification, and past rental history. Everyone knows this – but the question becomes, how do they go about gathering this info? You want to work with a company that has a proven and streamlined process in place, which speeds up the tenant acquisition phase and limits your property’s vacancy rate over the long run.

Clear and Effective Communication

Your property manager is going to be the ‘point person’ for your property. They will act as the liaison between you and your tenants. Thus, you need someone who acts in your best interests and is clear and effective with their communication. (For better or worse, they represent you.)

Your property management company should be easily reachable by phone or email and responsive to your inquiries. They should also proactively update you about your property, including maintenance needs and financial reports.

During your initial consultations, note how quickly they respond to your messages or calls. This often reflects their general communication style. If a property manager can’t respond quickly to someone they’re trying to earn as a client, can you trust that they’ll be quick to respond when you’re already on board?

Attention to Detail With Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is one of the most important factors in maintaining the integrity and value of your property. It also plays a key role in keeping tenants happy and engaged. Thus, it’s imperative that your property manager pays attention when it comes to maintenance.

Ask your property manager about their after-hours policy. How do they handle calls that come in overnight or on the weekend? Do they have contractors and maintenance professionals on call 24/7? How are emergencies prioritized? What sort of preventive maintenance do they do? Details matter, so be thorough in your analysis.

Putting it All Together

Say it out loud together: Not all property managers are created equal. If you want to find the best property management company for your business, you need to take the time to do your due diligence and look for the right factors. This will almost always net you a better result than the average landlord who makes their choice based on price and convenience alone.