Eight tips to finding the best property manager

You have found an investment apartment and now you need a property manager to make life easier. The role includes more than finding tenants and collecting rent; it comes with its own set of responsibilities and duties. Here are eight tips to finding a good property manager.

1. Ensure the Company has a good industry reputation

When you are looking for a property manager word of mouth and referrals are worth their weight in gold. Carry out solid research surrounding your candidate’s background, skill-set and hands-on experience.  The property manager should have a good profile on the Internet revealing a commitment to the industry and will show you other projects they are working on.

2. Make sure they specialise in Property Management

Make sure you go to an agency which specialises in property management.  Anyone can and most will say they offer property management services, but you need to find an agency that has staff dedicated 100% to property management.

3. Know the person ultimately responsible for your property

A large property manager may have 20+ staff, but who will take ultimate responsibility for your property? You must know who is ultimately responsible for you property and you need to get to know and trust this person. If things go wrong, this is who you will have to lean on to get things done so this relationship is essential.

4. Agree on the fees

Property management can be a tough job. That’s one of the reason’s why you get someone else to do it, but you need to know what you are going to be paying.

Most property managers charge between seven and 10 per cent of the rents for managing your properties.  You will also be expected to pay a letting fee for each new tenancy agreement and perhaps an administration fee.

5. They must know your building 

We can not emphasis this one enough. A property manager who knows a building will consistently find new tenants faster for you, ensure that you are maximising your rental returns by charging the right amount, and will know how to get things done with the Body Corporate and others within the building.

They don’t have to be onsite managers, but they do need to know your building really well.

6. Make sure the property manager has a manageable portfolio

When you shop around make sure the property manager has the time to manage your apartment effectively. We know of cases where a single individual has been responsible for managing over 300 apartments. Some amazing individuals can do this effectively, but most can not. The industry standard is approximately 100 per property manager, give or take 25-30%.

If your property is going to require more time to manage (e.g you are doing rolling short term rentals, it needs lots of maintenance etc) it may be worth paying higher fees to a boutique agency to get the level of service you need. Extra care usually yields greater financial rewards and prevents vacancy, damage or other problems.

Also, many professionals in today’s busy world don’t have the time to visit properties during the work week. If an agent is able to show properties on weekends or during extended hours, this will help cater to tenants’ needs, so again a manageable portfolio is important.

7. Find out how the property manager will address maintenance issues

Make sure you know how maintenance is handled. Many companies will charge automatically (without informing the owner) for repairs up to $250. Some companies will require you pay before they do any work, while others will deduct it from the incoming rent.

We recommend that your require your property manager to get multiple quotes for any expenses over $300. If you think that something sounds expensive. get your property manager to get you more quotes. You’d be surprised how prices vary between one company to another.

The point is, be comfortable that the property manager has a defined maintenance escalation process, and that you understand this and are comfortable with this.

8. Make sure you understand the terms for ending your agreement

If things do not work out with the property manager you need to be aware of the terms and conditions surrounding your contract in case you are unhappy with the services. Find out if there is a charge or penalties for breaking an agreement.

Written: 31 August 2016

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