20 questions to ask a pm
- What are your fees? Do you charge a flat fee or a percent of rent?
- Do you have references?
- Get references of both current and former clients, and call them all. Search the internet for reviews. Ask around.
- How many properties are you managing? Do you manage both short-term and long-term rentals?
These days, many property managers are involved with managing short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb and VRBO. Short-term rentals are a different business and can take up a lot of a property manager’s time. Make sure they have the time to focus on your long-term rentals.
- How long have you been in business?
You want to make sure they’ve been in business long enough to have a track record and evidence they plan to stick around.
- How many people work for your company, and what are their roles?
You want to know who is taking care of business behind the scenes. If your contact leaves or goes on holiday, you want to know who to contact. You also want to get a sense of the infrastructure. Are they trying to do everything themselves, or do they have a support staff?
- Do you have electronic and automated systems set up?
These days, property managers should have client portals and electronic payment systems set up for convenience and record keeping. For example, is there an online portal where you can go to generate reports and see property accounts in real time (instead of waiting weeks for a monthly report)?
- How often do you check in on tenants and properties? Do you do an annual walk-through?
A good property manager will check in with the property and tenants even if they haven’t heard from them. Some tenants won’t report needed repairs and damage leaving you and the property manager in the dark. You don’t want to find an unpleasant surprise when the tenant moves out.
- Who keeps the damage deposits?
Don’t let the property manager keep them. While most people are honest and trustworthy, I did have a property manager steal the tenant damage deposits, which ended up costing us a lot of money to replace the deposits!
- What financial institution do you use?
Try to get the management company to work with a bank account at your financial institution instead of letting them put rent receipts in to their own account. This usually only works with larger properties and portfolios though.
- What do you charge for evictions?
Hopefully this never comes up, but it is better to know upfront than to be surprised if an eviction is necessary.
- Will you advertise and show a property while it is occupied, or do you insist on properties being vacant before you will start advertising them for rent?
If the latter is true, this will lead to one to two months of lost rent every time a tenant switch happens.
- How long does it take you to turn a property around in between tenants? Can you do it in 24 hours or does the owner have to lose weeks to a month of rent every time a tenant change occurs?
Credit: Colville, M. Ian. “20 Questions to Ask a Prospective Property Manager.” The BiggerPockets Blog | Real Estate Investing & Personal Finance Advice, 6 Oct. 2019, www.biggerpockets.com/blog/20-questions-to-ask-a-prospective-property-manager.