Once you have made the decision to search for professional help in managing your rental property, what next? Luck is primarily made up of a circumstance of preparation coinciding with opportunity. Unless you are a dead-on instant judge of character, how are you going to realize when you are looking at a really good property manager?
How to Choose a Property Management Service
Here are some tips and suggestions to give you a good start in selecting the property manager who is right for you.
1. Find the available property management agencies in your area. This essentially answers the part of the equation of luck by identifying the opportunities. Use online searches and also talk with others you know who have rental properties and experience with specific agencies. Word-of-mouth reports are extremely valuable.
2. Pre-screen the agencies on your list. This is the primary step for preparation that will greatly influence your luck. List those who appear to be most convenient and available, according to the parameters you set for your own needs. Be sure to check out their reputations and credentials, and verify that they are licensed and certified professionals. Reputation checks can often be done by viewing Better Business Bureau reports.
Each state regulates its businesses and has its own agencies for that purpose. Check with the appropriate agency in your state and see if they share complaints in the public records. Nowadays, the online reputation can be found by checking for the business’s listing in Google +, Google Places, Yelp, Facebook, and other social media and business referral sites. There are facilities in all of these for creating reviews or at least like/dislike buttons. Reviews are often automatically screened by computer software to help prevent ballot stuffing by businesses or irrational complainers.
3. Screen again in person. Once you have pre-screened, choose the few who seem to be most viable. Follow up by an additional screening, some of which can be done by phone. If possible, a face-to-face meeting is helpful to get a feel for people and help establish a rapport for future communication, especially if it will be long distance. Make a list of questions to ask and make sure you receive a satisfactory response to all of them. How comfortable do you feel with them and their communication style? After all, you will have to deal with this agency in important financial matters, and a positive connection will go far.
4. Strike the deal. If you have reached this point then your luck has held and you are nearly done. However, there is always this last and often make-or-break consideration: cost. Be willing to hire professionals with the courtesy of paying fairly for the value of their time, effort and expertise. Price alone is not the most salient definition of a good deal. It can be the case that a real pro will save you money in ways you may never really know about.
A good property management service is competent and professional, can do the job completely with honesty and integrity, and can profitably stay within a reasonably-stated price despite unforeseen contingencies without resorting to unusual financial solutions or cutting corners.
5. No matter what, the contract is what dictates the agreement terms. Make sure everything you have been promised is stated clearly in any contract you sign. If you don’t know or understand what is being said, have a trained person, preferably a lawyer, review and verify it for you. Remember that part of the purpose of a contract, beyond a legally binding way of enforcement, is to ensure that its terms are always available for future reference to outline for either party exactly what was agreed to.
The truth is, “You make your own luck.” The preparation part is obviously up to you. But remember that you also create opportunities by being willing to look and making yourself open to them.
Jennifer Fehr is the co-owner of Suncoast4Rent with her husband Tom Fehr. Jennifer is a Florida State Real Estate Sales person and works through Stonebridge Real Estate Co Inc in Clearwater, Fl (Pinellas County) to bring the personal touch to all your Real Estate needs, be it professional residential property management, consultation or sales.
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