How to find and choose the best property management company
It is a big challenge to own an investment property, with a wide range of things you need to take care of, especially if you live abroad and/or don’t speak the local language and know the laws/customs. Nevertheless, the main issue is the distance, which makes it impossible to deal with the property’s management and spend the required time on searching for a tenant, dealing with maintenance, bills and so on. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the best property management company to look after your property. The question is, how to find one and what factors to pay attention to when searching for one?
There are huge differences in the quality and competence of property management companies on the market and its very hard for a property owner to know if a certain company will do their utmost to manage every aspect of their property. This applies to both before you hand over your property to a property management company and also thereafter – how do you know if your property is really being taken care of in your best interests and that issues aren’t being hidden (which they easily can be)?
To start with, these days the main and easiest way of searching for a company would be via the internet. But before you start an internet search ask for recommendations and opinions from others. Maybe you know other property investors, are member of property forums and/or groups in social media ? Word of mouth from trustworthy people could be very helpful here and point you in the right direction.
If you are looking in your home country or country you speak the local language then the whole process is simpler and you’d have more options to choose from. If you don’t speak local language it is crucial to find a company that speaks your language and have experience in dealing with foreign investors, a good indicator of this would be a website in English.
Have a good look at the company’s website, you may find a lot information about the company itself, type of services, prices, testimonials and finally how to get in touch.
Once you’ve found some companies you may want to contact, you should also make a list what management services you want the company to provide and what your expectations are. Are you only interested in finding tenant for your property? Or maybe your property is abroad and you need full, hands-off management? Write it all down.
Below you’ll find a list of key questions to ask your future property management company:
- What is your history?
- What is your experience?
- How long have your staff worked for you?
- What property management software do you use?
- What reports do I receive, how often and are they online?
- How many properties do you manage? (this is not always a good indicator as some small companies can provide great service and large companies bad service, and vice versa)
- Do you offer full management/ can you only find a tenant/ pay bills on my behalf? (whatever is applicable). What is the cost?
- Can you handle my taxes/accountancy too?
- What other property services do you offer should I need them?
- How do you check and verify tenants?
- How often do you check the incoming rent payments and is this automated? (it should be at least once per day)
- What do you do if tenant doesn’t pay on time? What procedures do you have in place? Is there any automation in the process?
- What things do you do to protect my interests?
- How do you organise maintenance – do you have a base of trusted contractors at reasonable prices? What checking and inspections of the property do you do and how often?
- Will you manage properties in multiple locations for me? (it would be extremely helpful to deal with just one property management company for whole portfolio)
- How do you communicate with owners? (if company’s using management software you can log in to see all the date it is a big advantage saving time)
- Will you store all property documents and keys for me? Will I have access to any documents online?
- What documents I have to sign to work with you? Can I see templates of them?
- Will you do a free assessment of the property, eg check the rent level, maintenance issues etc?
- What is not included?
- Why do you think I should choose you?
Property management is all about the details. The best companies these days are using the latest software available to help to automate their processes and cut out mistakes, all backed up by experienced staff who know what to do and solve any complicated situations should they arise.
If you can’t get all the necessary information from the website then just ask until you’re satisfied. The response from the management company will be a good indicator of the quality of services, their knowledge about the market and experience.
Pay attention to fact how and how fast they reply, what their level of English is if you don’t speak local language – this will all give you an idea how the communication in the future will go. And you need to know what’s happening with your property, right!
All of this above is necessary to make an informed decision, at the end of the day you giving someone a valuable asset to look after and you have to remember that good management will increase its value, but a bad one could make it worth less. Create a spreadsheet where you can cross reference with companies, services, prices, etc. to help you choose.
Pay attention not only to cost of the service, which is very important, but the other factors listed above in questions are also of great importance. Compare what you’ll be getting for the money you’ll pay – cheap very rarely means good in terms of services.
Good luck! And let us know if we can of any help with the management of your property.