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15 Questions to ask your Property Manager

Are you looking for a Property Management Company? Here’s what you should ask them before you sign the dotted line.

By Faraaz Hashmi

If you are looking for a professional property management company to manage your rental property, you have thousands of property management companies to choose from. Here’s a super helpful guide to help you choose the right property management company.

As we have helped hundreds of homeowners save more time and more money by managing their properties on behalf of them, we definitely know a good deal about choosing the right property manager.

Great questions lead to great answers. Given our experience in the industry, we could comfortably write an article titled ’50 questions to ask your property manager’.

But we understand the value of your time and hence we are going to stick with just 15 questions that will help you decide on the property management company.

Let’s go. We have also weighed in our thoughts on what answer can fit the bill for every question.

Questions to ask a Property Manager

1. How long have you been in business?

If a company is at least 5 years into the property management business, it is a great sign. They would be managing hundreds of homes and you will be able to check a decent number of online reviews on Google or Yelp if they have been in business for this time.

This also means that they will get discounted rates from their strong network of service providers for repairs and maintenance saving you more money. 

Keeping your property green and eco-friendly is good for you and for the environment. It also makes your tenants happy.

2. How many homes do you manage?

A great restaurant has many customers. A great product has many buyers. A great property manager manages a good number of properties. 

Depending on the size of their team, the number of properties they manage can be a clear indicator of how good they are in what they do.

3. What property management services do you offer?

Most of the property management companies will have an extensive list of services mentioned on their website. As a homeowner, it is important to understand the complete list of tasks that will be handled by the property manager.

Going with a property management company that handles A to Z is the best idea as the whole point of going for a property manager instead of self managing your property is to set it and forget it.

Are you still on the fence on choosing self managing vs property management? – this article will help you evaluate your costs and benefits.

4. Do you manage any rental properties in my area?

     It is important to hire property managers who have a thorough understanding of your area or neighborhood.

Their knowledge about your area can be a differentiator when it comes to finding quality tenants quickly by focusing on marketing the positives of your neighborhood

5. What types of properties do you manage predominantly?

Every property management company has its own strength when it comes to property types. They might dominate one or few categories as most of the properties they manage will fall into those categories.

It is essential to understand their strengths and check if your property falls into those categories as each type of property comes with its own set of property management challenges.

6. How much do you charge per month for Property Management?

Pricing is always a critical factor when it comes to signing the dotted line. The pricing charged by the property management company is inversely proportional to your return of investment from your rental property.

It is essential to understand their strengths and check if your property falls into those categories as each type of property comes with its own set of property management challenges.

Lower the property management fees, higher the savings.

Most of the property management companies will reveal their pricing when you get on a call with them. In this day and age, we feel it has to be transparent and outright displayed on the website.

It can either be a flat fee pricing per month or a percentage of your monthly rental income every month or the greater of the two.

(At Skybridge, we have added a welcome twist to the same. You can calculate your pricing on your own here)

7. Are there hidden charges apart from my monthly costs?

The devil is in the details

In terms of pricing, the little * next to the number holds the key to your surprise bills. Check with the property management company on what are the other standard charges that you can expect from them.

Leasing fee, Tenant Replacement Fee, Inspection Fee, Credit check fee.

Some companies can say they handle everything at a fixed monthly cost, but they might come back in a few months to overcharge on specific services that will eventually increase your costs.

8. How will you find good tenants for my property?

Their answer should educate you on their marketing strategies for filling up a vacant rental unit as well as their action plan on how they find and vet a tenant.

It will definitely include background checks, employment check, credit check as well as previous landlord references.

9. How quickly can they find a tenant?

This question is really important from your perspective as the more time your property remains unrented, the more money you are missing out on.

Especially in the LA and Orange county area where there are a lot of qualified tenants looking for a home to move into, an unrented property is a big no-no.

Many property management companies offer guarantees on how quickly they can find a tenant.

10. Can I cancel my contract if I am unhappy?

Contracts can be a great idea to lay out everything officially but make sure you are not locked with no quick way out into a contract with a property management company.

There should definitely be a way to exit the contract easily if you are unhappy with their services. You should be able to switch to a different property management company instantly.

If their answer is no for this question, RUN

11. How do you handle service requests?

One of the best benefits of hiring a property management company is that you need not worry about handling the service or maintenance requests of your tenants.

Property managers will handle everything on your behalf. You will need to understand the complete process.

Will you be making the final call when it comes to repairs and maintenance? Do you need an authorization if it’s above a certain number?

Professional property managers will be able to take you through their tried and tested plan when it comes to service or maintenance requests.

12. What is the percentage of vacant units in the properties you manage?

If this percentage is below the market standards for the area, they are a good fit. If it’s higher, it means that they are not the best in the business.

13. Does your team include specialists or generalists?

If they have an in-house legal team, you can stop worrying about all the legal aspects of renting out your property in case things go south.

If they have a marketing expert in their team, it helps in getting the word out effectively about your vacant property and getting a qualified tenant faster.

If they have an in-house accounting team, you can forget about the numbers and taxes as it will be all done for you.

One of the main reasons of going for a property management company is that they will take care of everything professionally instead of you figuring out everything.

So, it is important to work with a team that has experts on board than having a generalist who does everything.

14. Will you help me grow my investment portfolio in Real Estate?

This is a good-to-have as the property managers with a investor mindset will be able to offer practical advice to increase your real estate portfolio as well as bring in vetted opportunities for you to consider.

Great property management companies have their own sources for finding great rental properties in your area that is not yet on the MLS sites.

15. Can you explain Fair Housing Laws?

Seasoned property managers know fair housing laws like the back of their hand. They should be able to answer any questions you might have in the housing laws.

Of course, it is hard for the property manager or the property management company to score 15/15 in this test.

From a homeowner’s perspective, you can decide on what factors are must-haves or good-to-haves and you can make a wise choice accordingly.

May the force be with you.

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