Becoming a landlord—whether intentionally starting your investment journey or because you’re having difficulty selling a previous property during a crisis—requires a lot of knowledge and responsibilities you wouldn’t expect to encounter in any other business. Turning to a Live Oak property management provider for help is a great solution—but how do you know if the property management team you choose will be reliable?
Many landlords and would-be landlords rely on the rental income from their properties to supplement or completely replace the earnings they would make through their “day job.” This means you can’t afford to experiment with property management: you need the right partner from the start.
At Real Property Management Campanas, we understand that choosing the best team to help manage your new Live Oak rental property can be difficult, so we’ve put together an interview guide with five big questions that every landlord should be asking their potential property manager.
1. How Much Experience Do You Have?
This may seem like an obvious question and something that you can probably find on the company’s “About Us” section on their website. However, some businesses break down their definition of “experience” differently. In some cases, you may see “combined experience” or “over x number of years of experience.”
The former will be encountered when a property management team is new, and they want to highlight the fact that being new doesn’t mean inexperienced. More established Like Oak property management companies will use the latter—but how many years over that number can you count on? You will also want to understand who contributes to that experience, including the owner, the overall team, and the number of years an individually assigned property manager has under their belt.
2. How Long Do Tenants Stay in Properties You Manage?
This question has two parts:
- How long does the average tenant stay in the property?
- How long does the property tend to stay vacant afterward?
Depending on your Live Oak neighborhood, your rental home may exist in an area where turnover is already high. A great example of this is an area that is favored as student housing: as your renters graduate, they’re more likely to leave. It’s worth evaluating the numbers presented by your potential Live Oak property management partner from the right perspective.
Long-lasting leases are always the easiest and most reliable for your income and property upkeep, but if the area is host to students and travelers, you want to look for a track record of short vacancy times between stays. At the same time, a string of short stays in an area that otherwise hosts long-term residents might indicate that your potential pick has issues properly maintaining working relationships with your future renters.
3. What Are the Various Services That You Offer to Your Clients?
The services that are provided to you as a landlord should span the entirety of your rental home’s lifecycle. If the Live Oak property management team you’re interested in doesn’t cover these essential aspects, they might have large gaps in their services. This puts more responsibility back on you than you might want to take on as a beginner or even as a seasoned investor.
Typically, your Live Oak property management team should handle:
- Marketing: This should include website, listings, professional photography, and showings.
- Leasing: Have them provide copies of their leases so you can review and ask questions or provide feedback on important things you want them to target.
- Tenant screening: It is absolutely okay to ask about how they conduct these and their expectations for background checks and income requirements.
- Rent collection: Your property manager should offer several avenues for this, such as an online portal that accepts bank withdrawals, credit and debit cards, and options to drop off or mail payments.
- Communications: This can be conducted through an online portal as well for lesser qualms your tenants may have, but they should have access to someone in case of an emergency that’s not just maintenance-related.
- Maintenance: A lack of timely and skilled maintenance is one of the top reasons tenants don’t renew a lease. Your property manager needs to be an expert in this department or have access to someone who is.
- Eviction management: This is the hardest part of being a landlord, so feel free to get into the details with the property manager. You don’t want to end up handling a legal battle on your own if one becomes necessary.
4. What Is Your Fee Structure?
Property management fees tend to be either a flat rate or a percentage of the rental income. A flat rate may seem advantageous as you can plan for that payment to go out to your property management company regularly without wondering what it will be month to month. However, if your property manager is gaining a guaranteed flat rate from you every month, what motivates them to keep your rental occupied? A percentage of the monthly rent income benefits you as the property owner.
Some property management providers in Live Oak will also offer their services on a scale based on how involved you want to be in the management process. If you’re someone who does want this flexibility to be more hands-on and upgrade or downgrade the level of service provided for your investment, this can be an excellent quality.
- Make sure you understand what services are included in the monthly fees!
- Some property managers will charge a meager rate compared to others, but you’re more likely to run into additional costs when it comes to specific services and maintenance.
5. What’s Your Approach to Communication With Property Owners?
As a landlord, you are partnering with a property management team to manage an extremely valuable asset. This may come with very specific expectations for what you want from your property manager concerning how they communicate with you about your asset.
A property management team isn’t just a group that handles the day-to-day management of your rental unit; they should have a vested interest in your property increasing in value. Knowing how they communicate your investment progress, how they determine goals, and what feedback they need from you as the landlord will help you understand how they value you and what you’re trying to achieve.
You also want to understand what role you want to play: If you’re looking for a more hands-off experience, making this clear from the start and examining how they work to accomplish that for you as the property owner is crucial. Ultimately, the property manager works for you and should be there to guide you and manage all of the aspects of your investment property from start to finish.
Each property management team may have a different approach to how they work with landlords, so it’s important to know what to expect and understand why and how you’re charged; this is your investment, but you want to know that the property manager has your interests at heart.
For more tips on what traits to look for and ideal qualities you may want in such a partnership, download your free copy of our Guide to Finding the Best San Antonio Area Property Manager to get started!
If you are interested in having your property managed by Real Property Management Campanas, have more questions, or just want to speak to one of our team members, then contact us online or call us directly at (210) 314-1039 today!
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