If and when you decide to be a landlord but don’t wish to deal with the day to day monitoring of your properties, then do your due diligence when it comes to finding your ideal property manager who will treat your properties the way you do.
For starters, a few things come to mind on this when we do our line of questioning the next potential property manager. Our first question is, “Do you work weekends and holidays?” or “Do you know and understand what 24/7 on call status means?” The point we are making here, after our first mistake at hiring our very first property manager was that she did not work any weekends, nor holidays, nor any time after 5pm or before 9am Mondays thru Fridays. Therein, lies the main problem when it comes to real estate.
Granted, real estate can set you “financially free” but not necessarily “family time free.” We are not so cruel as to expect the property manager not to have any time off, but real estate does require you to be “on call 24/7.” Most property management is done from within their homes/offices and mostly fielding phone calls from tenants, problem solving, or making the right calls to the right people to fix the issues, and calls from prospective tenants and showings during vacancies.
Our first and last property manager only worked from 10am to 5pm Mondays thru Fridays and this created some interesting issues with just the one duplex. Thankfully, we never handed over the other 14 properties to them or we would have been put out of business in less than a year! For starters, there was only one vacancy in this duplex. It remained open for over 6 months, and this is even with a $150 drop in rental price halfway through! The issue was this property manager was never available at the times when a prospective tenant would normally have off to see a place. about 90% or more of folks work first shift hours similar to this property manager’s schedule. Almost 99% of those who are looking at homes/apartments to rent are going to be looking after work or in the early mornings before their second shift, and nearly all of them usually wish to see a place on the weekends when other several homes will be doing “open home” showings!
Our generation and younger DO NOT PLAN very far in advance! If at all! This generation is the NOW generation. So, if your property manager is not one to be flexible in their personal schedules, then you need to drop them and run from them. Your property manager should be eager to show and fill your property. Many of these managers will still even charge you a $20-40 monthly fee even if your unit is empty! Thus, providing the manager no incentive to fill your vacant property, especially if your property only rents at or below the $400 a month level and they are only taking 10-15% off your monthly rent ($40-$60 to the property manager)! Get the math? To understand the point we are making here?
Secondly, be sure that your property manager is up with current tenant/landlord laws in addition to their sales and on-line marketing skills! This same manager only believed in advertising in the local paper with no other additional signage other than in the yard of that property. Not Craig’s List, not Hot Pads, and not on Zillow! This generation now only does their search via the internet or via drive-bys! These few places on line can lead to several phone calls and inquiries on your properties (with photos of property included).
After 6 months and still no “interested tenants,” my husband and I did a quick test. We placed an ad on Craig’s List for the full rental price we wanted (not the discounted $150 off rent that the property manager suggested). Then, added two additional rental signage at either ends of the street that the property was located on and that connected to the two major streets.
Within that one week, we had 82 phone calls. We narrowed it down to 10 qualified showings, and within 2 weeks our place was rented for the full asking amount! And to think the property manager had the gall to ask for her share of the deposit and rent after we made and showed her our point that she hadn’t bothered to try and rent our place!
Thankfully, our contract trial period with that manager was over and was never to be referred to our other property investors and students as a good candidate for property management.