It is extremely important to find a good property manager. Even then you should keep track of everything that is being done with your property. Remember this is a business...your business. If you aren't careful, you'll see your investment become a liability.
Although what a property manager charges is important, even more important is what you get. On average we pay 8% a month on collected rents. You may find someone that will charge you only 5%, saving you money, and in return they may destroy your business. To date, we have not found a good property manager that only charges 5%. Saving money isn't as important as hiring the right property manager that will properly take care of your investment.
Your goal is to:
• Decrease expenses - utilities, repairs, etc.
• Avoid tenant turnover.
• Raise rents to keep up with current market rent rates.
Property managers are not your business partners. They work for you! They can make recommendations but that's it. Consult them as a resource but you must make the final decisions.
It's very important that you explain to them how you want things done. Then you must pay close attention to be sure they are doing what you've asked.
Every time a property manager says you need to repair something you should ask why. We were told once that the kitchen light was broken. Before sending the handyman to repair it, I asked them to first ask the tenant to check the light bulb. Believe it or not, simply changing the light bulb fixed the problem. You want your property managers to only send repair personal when absolutely necessary.
Anytime a repair is made on your property, be sure to get a copy of the invoice from the property manager. Look at the invoice to verify that your properties address is on it. If you have any questions about the repair, the contact information will be on the invoice allowing you to call the repairman. Unfortunately there are dishonest property managers. They will charge you for things don't exist so that they can make some extra money. Keep track of everything and verify it all.
The repair people can be your eyes. Be sure the property manager has them pay attention to how the property looks and report back.
You want tenants, but only good tenants. Be sure the management company is only bringing in qualified tenants that will pay the rent and take care of the property. Always approve the tenant yourself. Don't trust it to someone else. Have the property manager discuss the potential tenant with you. Talk about their credit score, if employment was verified, how much money the tenant makes, the back ground check, etc.
You will get bad tenants, it's part of the business, but you will lower the number of bad tenants that you get by doing proper due diligence on them before allowing them in your property.
Be Sure That Your Property Manager Is Strict! No excuses should be accepted as to why the tenant hasn't paid rent. The bottom line is they should pay rent or move out. Otherwise the property manger must evict them immediately.
We own a 4-plex in Arkansas. One tenant was late one month. Then two tenants were late. I was busy at the time so I let it go. Then three tenants were late. At this point, busy or not, I needed to call my property manager to see what was going on. She said, "well they're all having trouble paying the rent....but they called me to say they'd be late!" I told her I don't care if they call to say they're going to be late. If they are late you must start the eviction process. That sounds harsh but over the years we've learned we have to be. Tenants will take advantage of you if you let them. I told the property manager to send all four units a letter stating that if they were ever late they would be evicted. No excuses. The next month every unit paid on time and they have ever since.
Most tenants understand that the most important thing is to keep a roof over their heads. However, if you let them make another expense the priority, they will. They'll pay that expense first and hopefully pay you when they can if there is money left.
The other thing we've learned over the years is that by allowing the tenant's to pay the rent late each month you are actually hurting them. If you let them get behind and pay late one month, then usually it will be harder for them to pay on time the next month. What happens many times is they'll pay later and later each month and eventually get so far behind that they can't catch up. At that point you have no choice but to evict them, and in my opinion it's your fault because you set them up to fail. The rule of thumb is they must pay the rent on time, or at least by the 3-5 day grace period. If not, then your property manager needs to understand that they must start the eviction process. When tenants see that you are serious, they'll usually pay on time.
Be sure that your property managers understand that they are not ever to give the tenant your name or contact information. Make this very clear!
We like to always add fire extinguishers in each home or unit we own. Just be sure that you know how long the extinguishers should last and replace them as needed. There may be legal ramifications in your state when adding fire extinguishers so be sure to discuss this with an attorney that practices real estate law in the state the property is located. You should also run this buy your insurance carrier.
Most tenants will forget about changing the smoke detector batteries and replacing heating and AC filters so it's a good idea for you and the property manager to keep track and have them regularly changed. Whoever replaces everything should also inspect the property while they are there to verify that the tenants are taking good care of your property.
It can be very helpful for you to use a property manager to manage your properties, however, you must oversee them. Don't make the mistake of not paying attention to what is happening to your investment.
Copyright © 2010 / Michael Gier & MHVProperties.com