This article was posted on Saturday, Feb 02, 2013

No property manager can execute perfectly, but the “right” property manager knows how to keep properties functioning and making money 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What Sets These Property Managers Apart?

The most important thing the “right” property manager can do for you is to keep your property rented.

  • In order to do this, they need to manage the tenant mix. The wrong tenant mix can destroy a property. Tenants with felony records, a history of evictions and poor credit do not help in building a strong, positive cash flowing property. At the same time, the manager has to comply with all federal credit and fair housing practices including the requirements for accepting medical assistance (companion) animals.
  • It helps if the property is located in a great location, but even if a property is located in a “C” location surrounded by crime, the right tenant selection can save it. Of course, a property that is surrounded by barbed wire to keep the “bad element out” can be a bit intimidating. Property managers are not miracle makers, but they are tasked with helping owners and tenants to make a property as safe as possible. Renting to drug dealers, pederasts or tenants without a visible way of making an income does not assist in making a property safe. Tenant’s number one requirement is to feel safe in their rental home/apartment and the property manager’s job is to do their best to achieve that.

Property Managers Need to Make it Easy for a Potential Tenant to Rent

  • Clear and easy web access is critical
  • Online applications make it easy to apply
  • Ease of access to a rental unit and meeting with an on-site manager who wants you as a tenant and welcomes you to the property
  • Signage at the property that makes it easy to find the onsite manager
  • Onsite flyer boxes with current rental information

Does the Property Look Good?

Tenants and owners both judge a book by its cover. The potential tenant will drive on by if:

  • The property does not look clean and picked up
  • The property looks worn out and needs touch up paint
  • The asphalt looks old and the parking lot is not seal coated
  • The landscaping is tired, overgrown or packed with litter
  • The decks are cluttered
  • The rental units are not cleaned, smell great and are not rent ready
  • The manager is not available

Great property managers recognize this and encourage their owners to spend money to keep a property looking as new as possible so that it attracts a better grade of tenant.

Behind the Scenes

Like a movie director, a property manager has to direct many pieces of the puzzle to get a property to operate properly. 

  • First of all, clients want a monthly check; next, they want clear reporting/accounting systems:
  1. Rent Roll
  2. Balance sheet
  3. Profit and loss reporting
  4. Aged receivable reporting
  5. Clear monthly property summaries

This helps them track the progress of their property.

  • Property owners want their property manager and vendors to be honest. This week a client told me a story of a competitor who spent $30,000 on repairs to properties. They even supplied the bills. But when the owner inspected the property unit by unit, the repairs were not completed. Dishwashers were billed for but not installed, appliances billed for… not installed, floor repairs billed for… not installed.

Property Managers Should: 

  • Have excellent, reliable vendors who are licensed and bonded
  • Make sure invoices are clearly marked by unit
  • Spot check property inspections to prove that the work has been completed as invoiced
  • Vendor policies in place that protect clients, properties and the property manager
  • Make sure vendors get paid on time. Vendors that are not paid on time don’t have the financial resources to do the job right the next time.

Excellent Property Managers Train Their Staff Continuously in the Following Areas:

  1. Customer service
  2. Landlord-Tenant laws
  3. Federal laws
  4. Maintenance terminology
  5. Emergency response
  6. Use of computer

 The “Right” Property Manager Focuses On: 

  • Preventative maintenance
  • Staff availability 24 hours a day – 365 days a year
  • Planning ahead by:
  1. Using an annual management plan
  2. Developing an annual budget and managing to that budget
  3. Using experience to help set a property into the marketplace so it can compete for new tenants, increase value through careful expenditures, thoughtful and well-planned property upgrades and rental increases.

All of these items build the basis for consistency and thoughtfulness of the property management process. But all this cannot be done by one person. It takes the right property management company, with the right infrastructure, vision and the right team.

Coordinating these items, with the client’s priorities in mind is what makes for an exemplary property manager and property management company. As property owners search through the market place to establish which property manager they want to hire, they can use this summary as a checklist to establish a short list of companies that meet their needs. Good research should lead to good results.

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Does that mean you will be hiring the least expensive property manager in the market place? Probably not.

To maintain all of the above policies and procedures takes time, staff, experience and money. A low-cost provider will have a hard time delivering these items on a consistent basis. Rest assured though that the market place will deliver competitively priced property managers to you, who do a consistently excellent job. It is these property managers who will be consistently focused on increasing the value of your property.

Clifford A. Hockley is President of Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services, greater Portland’s full service real estate brokerage and property management company. He is a Certified Property Manager and has achieved his Certified Commercial Investment Member designation (CCIM). Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO) by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).



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