Picking the right property management company will make your life much easier. A competent firm will help get the best return from your rental property, maintain its value, attract high quality tenants and save you worry.
You definitely want to know that your investment is in the best hands possible. But how do you choose? Here are seven tips used by experienced landlords to help you choose the best property management team.
#1. Ask for recommendations.
Ask for references from prospective firms. And then call their landlord clients yourself. Ask if they would choose them again, if they were satisfied with the way the property was cared for, and if good tenants renewed their leases.
Get your own recommendations too. A good place to start when shopping for a property management team is in your network of other landlords. An excellent reference from one of them is valuable.
It’s possible that a new company can do the job. It could be tempting to choose them if they offer lower rates. But long-term investors advise choosing experienced property managers. Let someone else break the new firm in.
#2. Check out how their professional systems.
A reputable firm will have a tenant screening process in place, a method of collecting rent and a system set up for regular maintenance. Look these over in depth. Ask questions if you don’t understand or see specific steps.
These systems indicate the firm has a streamlined method of dealing with the basic components of property management. If the company doesn’t have systems for them, they are probably improvising. In that case, necessary steps can easily get overlooked. This can affect finances, maintenance and the type of tenants you end up with.
Choosing a company with well thought out systems shows it sets its standards high. You can assume they handle their properties in a way that attracts the highest quality tenants, which is the goal for every landlord.
#3. Take a good look at how they handle customers.
Treat your first contact with a prospective property management company as an interview. How they treat you is a good indicator how they will treat tenants, maintenance staff and other people that are part of the property environment.
Did the firm get back to you right away? Did they wait several days? If you had to wait, it probably means tenants wait for answers too. That’s not a good sign.
#4. Find out how long they have been in business.
If the company you are considering has a long track record in Santa Barbara, that is an excellent sign. Sadly, property management companies come and go with frustrating regularity. This can put you and your property in a bad situation.
The longer a firm has been in business, the more experience it has with meeting local legal and zoning requirements, handling emergency response and finding the best maintenance help. Over the years, its staff has accumulated local expertise in a wide range of areas.
#5. Ask about the number of properties they currently manage.
As a rule, the smaller the number of properties handled by each manager, the more time he can devote to them. He will have more time to answer your questions and provide a high level of service to you as the landlord and to your tenants.
A mid- to large-size property management company often has greater resources and depth of experience to bring to any situation.
#6. Be clear about what services are included and the cost.
Do you need just tenant screening and rent collection? Do you also expect preventive and emergency maintenance? Figure out what you want them to do, then make sure this is included in the contract for the fee you are quoted.
Take the time to understand what is included and what will result in an additional fee. Be aware that some fees are paid upfront and others are a recurring expense. Ask questions and get a lawyer to look over the contract before you sign it.
#7. Find out what resources the company has available.
Find out how your manager will handle maintenance. Does he have staff on the payroll? How does he choose help for plumbing, roofing, gardening and other maintenance? It can be to your benefit if the company gets multiple bids for these jobs, in order to get the best price.
Find out what special resources he can draw on in unusual circumstances, including legal help, engineering or building expertise, and assistance in dealing with tenant problems.
Choosing the best property management company in Santa Barbara takes research, time and energy. The effort you invest is worth it. Asking the right questions can help you maximize your investment and protect your peace of mind.