If you own several investment properties and you’re holding down a full time career at the same time, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about hiring a property manager to look after your investments. Hiring a Fort Lauderdale property management company costs money, but a good property management company can save you money by enhancing the efficiency of your rental property operation. In some cases, the money you save might even exceed the cost of hiring a management company.
The question is, how do you select the right property management company? The best way to approach it is to interview multiple companies, ask various qualifying questions, and compare the answers. Of course, if one company gives you all the right answers but your gut tells you stay away, then you should probably go with your gut.
Here are a few questions to consider asking your Fort Lauderdale property management company:
1. How many years of experience do you have, and how many members do you have on your team? While experience is important, the difference between zero and five years is a lot more significant than the difference between five and 10 years. Of course, if the company has fewer years of experience, you should look for good growth and plenty of positive reviews during its early years. In terms of the number of team members, more is not always better. If the company has ten team members but only five properties under management, you’re probably going to overpay for the service, because you can be sure five properties isn’t enough to support a staff of ten people. Rather, you should look for a team that is in line with the number of properties under management. Two to three people for every 100 units is a good rule of thumb.
2. How many units are you currently managing? While more units indicates a certain level of experience, you might not want to choose the company that has 2,000 units over the company that has 300 units. Chances are, you won’t get very personalized attention if your property manager has thousands of other units to attend to.
3. How do you manage maintenance requests, both during and after normal business hours? With today’s technology, there’s no reason your property management company shouldn’t have a highly streamlined system for receiving and responding to maintenance requests. Tenants should be able to submit requests online and by telephone, and your property management company should have a good system in place to efficiently prioritize, track, and respond to requests. Related, your property management company should have a good system for managing work orders with vendors. No matter how easily your tenants can submit maintenance requests, they’re never going to get fixed if your property management company doesn’t have the right team in place to do the work.
4. Do you have a routine inspection schedule, and how do you handle issues that are uncovered during an inspection? Your property management company should conduct monthly inspections of the outside of all buildings under management. The inspections should note things such as unauthorized vehicles parked at the property, trash and debris in the yard or common areas, unattended personal property that needs to be removed, and branches or trees that need to be trimmed. There should be documented procedures in place to respond to any items that come up during the inspection.
5. How do you screen tenants and manage late payers? Tenant selection can make or break the performance of your investment property. Your property manager should have a rigorous tenant screening process in place, and he should be able to explain step-by-step what he does to qualify prospective tenants. Ask about historic vacancy rates and the on time payment rate, as these can be good indicators of the quality of tenants in properties currently under management. When it comes to managing late payers, your property manager should have strict policies and be familiar with eviction laws and procedures in your jurisdiction.
6. Do you specialize in a particular class of properties? If you’re looking for a company to manage a retail center, but the manager you’re talking to only has single family homes in his portfolio, then you should probably keep looking. Keep in mind there are important nuances across different types of residential properties (condos, single family homes, etc.). In other words, just because the property manager has 50 single family homes under management, he might not be the best person to manage a condo.
7. What kind of reports will I receive, and when will I receive them? Your property manager should have staff and systems in place to track activity and prepare regular reports related to each of your properties. This might include rent rolls, accounts receivables, and so forth. Ideally, they will also provide you with an online account to view your properties at any given time.
There are any number of questions you could ask a property management company when you’re trying to determine which one is right for you, but the questions we’ve provided here are a good starting point.
If you’d like further guidance, or if you’d like to put us through the wringer, we’d love to hear from you. We are confident we can deliver the best for your Fort Lauderdale property management needs.