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How to Select a Property Management Company

April 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are looking to work with a property management company – Breese and Carla give you tips on selecting a property manager. They help you with tenant applications, pricing, dealing with difficult situations, and much more. Remember experience and knowledge is key!

Breese: We’re here today to talk a little bit about how to choose a property manager. My name is Breese Glennon. I’m the broker at Centurion Management Services. This is Carla Kurtz, our property manager.
What really matters when you’re talking about how to choose your property manager? Well, I think experience in the business locally is a really big point. This is a specialty field and it requires not only a special permit, but also a real estate license and it also requires a really good working knowledge of the processes in the local courts. You also need to talk to somebody about whether or not they have adequate staffing.
There are so many things that go on behind the scenes at a property management company—HOA violations, for example. How are they processed? The accounting systems, do they have enough people to do that? Is it done accurately? Is it done timely? How about people to answer the phone and answer your questions?
Those are really important things. What do you think, Carla?

Carla: Well, at Centurion Management, we have a live front desk person who answers the phone and directs everybody to the right people. One of the things that is very important to ask is how long the brokers have been in business and how long the property managers have had their license and been in business. Centurion has been in business for about 30 years.

Breese: Since 1985.

Carla: I’ve been a property manager in real estate for almost 20 years. It’s really important to have the experience. That counts for a lot here because a lot of companies are just startup companies and they can’t really have the full effect for you.

Breese: It is kind of challenging, and of course, everybody wants to go and compare fees and charges. You should do that always, but don’t forget to ask about what is not included in the management agreement. Some companies, for example, will retain late fees that are collected and some companies will only take a management fee from the late fees and the balance of those funds will go to the property owner. Those questions are worth answering.
Some companies will have additional fees and charges for copies or phone or adding fees on top of vendor invoices, so you should ask about that. Spend some time going through the contract. Read it and ask the questions. How are inspections handled and who handles them? Do they get copies of the inspection? Are there photos? What happens if there is something wrong in the inspection? All of those questions are good to answer.

Carla: Another key question for you as an investor or owner is when do I get my money? Do I have any backup and what’s going to happen at the end of the year? Am I going to have anything to give my accountant?
Knowing when you’re going to have your deposit, either check or ACH, and knowing the maximum time that the management company has to get it to you is information you need to know up front. There are some companies that don’t give the owners their funds until the next month so you’re always a month behind. Some of them don’t give the funds until the 20th of the month. Those are important questions to ask.

Breese: You may also want to place a lot of value on the people that you talk to at the company when you’re interviewing them. One of the things we strive for is to try to set up a good business relationship with the owner.
We try to give them as much information as they need so that they can make decisions they’re comfortable with starting with pricing the property. It’s important to know what the real rental values are and not what you would like the rental values to be. It only causes a problem when you’re in the marketplace overpriced and you thought maybe you were going to be receiving rents at this amount, when in reality, you end up receiving rents at this amount.
Be sure you can establish a good business relationship with the property management folks. Get all the information that you need.
When it comes to tenant applications, it’s also good to inquire about how tenant applications are handled. What kind of information is collected? How does the owner make a decision? How does the company make a decision? Is there a rating system? How are fair housing guidelines resolved and adhered to in that company? These are all good questions.

Carla: I think at the very least, you should find out about the tenant deposits and how that’s going to be handled and if the brokerage firm knows what the Nevada statute says and requires. In our company, we have a deposit for the tenants, which is separate from the operating funds for the owner.
We make sure that we have a dedicated individual who does the move out inspections, makes a list of repairs and comes back and talks to the owner about what repairs the tenant is going to be responsible for and what repairs the owner should be responsible for regarding painting or carpeting or whatever the case may be.
It’s important that the company that you hire have enough staff and enough qualified people to handle the whole realm of your property management.

Breese: And, one final discussion about marketing and advertising because that is important. Ask in the interview how the property will be marketed. What kinds of signs? What kinds of lockboxes? Where is the database? Who are the licensees that are going to be showing the properties? How do they show them? What kinds of commissions are going to be paid?
All of this is important, including what kind of advertising is going on and if that is going to cost you anything. Be sure to ask all of those questions. Anything else?

Carla: I don’t think so, except you can call Centurion Management at (702) 435-7368. We’re happy to help you.

Breese: Thanks.