We all know that moving is stressful. One of the biggest stresses is deciding what to do with your home once you’re on to the next adventure. Once you have made the hard decision to rent, picking a manager can be another daunting hurdle.
Below are some simple steps to make this task easier. The important thing is to remember that *YOU* are hiring this company to act in your stead. Keep looking until you are 100% comfortable with their size, policies, mission, fees, etc.
Ask your friends and Facebook groups, and research online all the different property management companies. I recommend making a list and keeping it somewhere convenient as you begin to research options.
Once you have made a list, compare the different management groups. Below are some suggestions of things to review.
- References – Ask the companies you are interested in to provide references, preferably other military service members who are also “managing from afar.”
- Better Business Bureau rating/ online reviews – It is very important that you read up on the company. While everything on the internet (good and bad) should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s good to know what is being said.
- Fees – Below are some common fees charged by property management companies. This will vary considerably so it is essential to ask each company for their current fee policy.
- Monthly Fee – Usually 6-12% of the monthly rent
- Renewal – 25-100% of one months rent if the tenant decides to stay on
- Maintenance – a percentage of the maintenance bill
- Large Maintenance – Extra fee for larger (defined differently by every company) maintenance projects.
- Eviction – Prices for eviction vary widely
- Tenant Fees – Ask the company who, the landlord or management company, profits off these “extra fees”? Although the landlord owns the house, I have seen some companies keep Pet and Late Fees.
- Pet Fees – Some Managers keep all pet fees” so one should definitely ask the policy
- Late Fees – Usually management or landlord keep
Pick your top 3 management agencies and contact them. Remember you are interviewing them to take care of your house. Make sure you are thorough and don’t be afraid to ask for policies in writing.
- Market Analysis
- Rent List Price Comps and Recommendation – It is very important that the potential management agency actually provides comps. While Rentometer, Zillow estimate, etc are useful they are usually NOT accurate for rent prices.
- Time on Market – In the renting world every day that the house is empty the landlord is losing money. Therefore it is important not only to see what price the manager is proposing but also how long it will sit on the market.
- Length of Lease – How long does the average tenant sign? This is a very important question to ask. Some areas you see 6 month lease other areas can support a 3 year lease.
- Marketing policies –
- Who takes the pictures, posts and puts the marketing material together?
- Once the contract is signed, how long does it take for listings to be posted?
- Where are listings posted?
- How often are the listings renewed or updated?
- How quickly does the company respond to listings?
- Review contract length, requirements, fees even if it is listed on their website
- General Policies
- Who pays for background/credit check?
- Potential Lease Requirements (credit score, background check, salary requirements, etc)
- Rent Collection Methods and date/method rent is forwarded to landlords
- Review the lease contract/fees and make sure you know who is profiting. Many companies will keep pet fees, late fees, etc. So make sure you know exactly what the contract says
- Make sure the management company is licensed to operate.
Choose your company. Get everything in writing and check that the agreement matches what you have discussed. This protects both the management company and the homeowner by clearly defining expectations. More than anything, trust your “gut”- if you have a negative feeling about a company, trust it!
Note that every area is very different on offerings, policies and laws/requirements. It is very important to research the rules in yours to help prevent issues down the line.
We want to know!
What is the deciding factor for you when choosing a property manager for your home?