This is a four part series where we have outlined important questions to ask a property management company before hiring them.
Series 1 Company's credentials
Series 2 Property management services
Series 3 Property management fees
Series 4 Tenant screening process
Property management companies come in all sizes, capabilities and expertise. Just because one works for one investor doesn't necessarily mean they will work for you. Below we have outlined some important questions to ask a company during your initial interview process. Their answers to these questions will provide insight into their business capabilities, credentials and areas of expertise,and can provide you with an understanding of the type of services they offer which are important to you.
Series 1 - Credentials
Years in the business - Years in the business can equate to experience and stability within a company. Of course things such as changes in key personnel or senior management can jeopardize this. But generally this is a good indicator of a company with a solid foundation. Chances are they have solid processes and procedures in place to streamline the management of possibly hundreds of properties all at the same time. Make sure these "years in the business" are related to property management and not sales only. Just because they have 30 years running a real estate sale department does not make them an expert in property management or tenant relations.
Done business under another name - You should do your due diligence and contact the Better Business Bureau or other reliable service such as Dun & Bradstreet to see if the company your interested in has a good track record or any consumer complaints filed against them. The Better Business Bureau assigns grades from A to F with pluses and minuses. A+ is the highest grade and F is the lowest. The grade represents BBB's degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns. If the company your interested in has done business under another name you will want to check the track record of this business entity also.
Property Management Only or Sales also - Some investors will only hire companies that deal strictly in property management when it comes time to managing their rentals. These companies are focused on every aspect of property management since this is all they do, and they will not be influenced in trying to get you to sell and making a sales commission.
Other investors may find security in knowing they have a management company that is well verse in sales. A company that offers both sales and property management can be very useful if you plan on buying multiple properties and want to work exclusively with one company for buying and managing all these properties. These companies typically will have a good grasp of the overall market condition whether buying, selling for owner occupied or investment.
Real Estate or Brokers License - In order to practice business as a property manager some states require they process a Real estate or Broker's license. To receive a license requires extensive education as well as passing the state's licensing exam. In order to keep their license current they must also participate in ongoing courses. These courses and license designations cost money and show they have a commitment to their trade. Other states may only require a certificate, which consists of basic classes and passing a class exam.
Staff personnel - Some management company may employ hundreds of employees, while others may be run by a sole proprietor. What you want to find out here is the ratio between their portfolio of rental properties and managers they employ. In other words, if they manage several hundred properties yet only have two staff managers, they may be overworked and unable to give you the service you expect.
Type of properties you manage - Some property management companies manage all types of properties while others specialize in one type, such as residential. If you have a single-family house that needs managing, a company with 90% of its properties being commercial property may not be a good fit. Typically commercial and community association management is the most profitable for a property management company. And some residential property management company may prefer to manage only multi-unit apartment buildings of a certain size and not manage single family houses at all.