[Author’s Note: I wrote this before COVID-19 had changed the landscape of ownership, but the contents of this piece remain true regardless. I’ll have another article ready soon that deals specifically with managing property in the current climate.]
In property management, we’re almost always talking about the present. When describing the benefits offered to property owners through management services, property management companies explain how licensed and insured maintenance, leasing and tenant communications can improve profits fast. And, of course, those solutions are sustainable, so they compound in the long-term and multiply as the years pass.
But it’s not often that we talk about how property management in the present can translate to significantly higher profits for owners in the future. I believe it’s important to also focus on the ways that excellent property management can substantially increase your property’s eventual sale value.
As I’ve written previously, professional property management done right will always include preventative maintenance measures. These are adjustments the management company makes now that will prevent future problems that cost a great deal more than the adjustments themselves. Ensuring your property manager is prioritizing preventative maintenance keeps properties from deteriorating and depreciating in value over time. We always tell owners to think of maintenance from a medical perspective. You wouldn’t want your cardiologist to say, “We’ll wait until you have a heart attack, and then we’ll tackle your heart problem.” You’d prefer for them to prevent the problem altogether.
Looking at it through the lens of overall property sale value, you can think of preventative maintenance this way: Pay a little to prevent now or a lot to repair later. Your property’s resale value suffers in the long term without licensed and insured professionals administering all the necessary preventative maintenance measures.
This brings me to the second way a professional property management company can boost the value of a property when it’s time to sell: through detailed and organized financial recordkeeping. A savvy real estate buyer will know to hire inspectors who look into the building’s history of maintenance and find any termite damage, dry rot or roof leaks. If you put the right professional property management company on the job, they’ll have accurate, up-to-date documentation of all the maintenance they’ve undertaken on the property over the years. This allows you to justify a higher asking price than if the property hasn’t had such work done, or if there aren’t proper records on file to verify it.
Getting Market Rents
Excellent management also includes making sure all units in all buildings bring in the highest possible market rents as soon as those rents are obtainable. Rental properties are sold primarily based on cash flow, and if your property management company isn’t working on this on your behalf, you’re likely not fetching the rents your property is capable of earning. Settling for unnecessarily low rents doesn’t just hurt your profit margin in the present; it hurts your building’s sale value in the future.
We all know that the decisions we make on any given day have the potential to impact the rest of our lives. So if we apply that idea to the ownership of rental property, we know that the care and service your property receives on a daily basis — the maintenance it undergoes, the records kept on it, the rents it brings in — can have an enduring effect on its overall sale value. Choosing wisely who you allow to maintain your property will add significantly to your long-term return and improve your experience as an owner.
David Crown is the C.E.O. of Los Angeles Property Management Group, and has over twenty-five years of experience managing all types of income properties. A hands-on leader who has managed properties in 16 states, Mr. Crown has been asked to serve as an expert witness in property management matters, and currently serves on the Forbes Real Estate Council. He can be reached directly at (323)-433-5254.