Brighter Landlording

Shopping property managers? 10 must-ask questions.

by Justin Watt, CEO 5 April 2016

Deciding who’ll manage your investment property is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, after buying it.

Regardless of who you choose, these are the top 10 questions I recommend asking when you’re shopping property managers:

1. How many properties do you (as well as the company) manage? As a general rule, more than 120 properties per manager and you might not be hearing from them too often.

2. How many tenants on your books are currently in arrears? What do you do if they get behind in rent? This will give you insight into how smoothly the property management division is run. For us, we’re not matchmakers, but we do have an eagle eye for a good tenant.  That’s why we have the lowest arrears around. We’ll even share our rental ledger.

3. What happens if my property needs some urgent maintenance?

4. How do you screen tenants? What checks do you do?

5. How many inspections will you do per year? Will I get a report? When else will you get in touch? How about: Monthly statements? Email updates? Maintenance issues? Rent reviews? Lease renewals? Heads up when tenants are vacating?

6. What are your fees? When it comes to the business end, cheapest isn’t always best. Corn chip fees don’t get you caviar service. Look for a competitive and transparent fee structure. Ask about the ongoing fees. The three basic upfront fees you’ll incur are:

  • A management fee (a commission percentage of the weekly rental figure) – ask what it includes (advertising, inspections, reports, organisation of maintenance etc..)
  • A letting fee (often one or two weeks’ rent)
  • An admin (usually a monthly fee for admin)

7. How do you manage follow up? Test them! Call after hours and see how long it takes to get a call back (we encourage our property mangers to turn off their phones at family time but it’s vital to get back to people quickly). Send a tenant inquiry through and see how long it takes to get a response.

8. Property mangers are busy bee’s. Who’s supporting them when they’re out of the office? Will applicants have to wait to speak to your property manager for basic enquiry? Call into the office and see how you’re assisted when your property manager isn’t there.  Everyone in our office is equipped to answer basic enquiry. Well-serviced tenants put in applications faster. They give your home more TLC and they stay longer. They also understand when the rent goes up.

9. How often do you review the rent?

10. What marketing strategy do you suggest? Why?  What’s the cost?

And lastly… interview your property manager.  Meet them face to face.  Get a gut feel or a sense of their capabilities.  You’re going to have an ongoing relationship with them… maybe for years!

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