Finding a competent Property Manager is a matter of knowing the right questions to ask. Being in a ‘small town’ like Newcastle, you are bound to have friends recommend agencies but it helps to do your homework as well.
You’re on the lookout for a good partner who will look after your needs, attend to the small details and generally have your best interests at heart. What you don’t want is indifference, unreturned calls and problems swept under the carpet.
So how do you find that special person – a good Property Manager?
Landlords should interview at least three property managers before making a choice – and fees shouldn’t be the main criteria, ‘pay peanuts get monkeys’ as they say.
You want the best one, not the cheapest one. Make your selection based on who you think is going to give the best service.
If you don’t have a good impression after speaking with them, don’t go with them just because they’re cheaper. For an investment, usually of at least half a million dollars, you should be picking the best person who you feel is the most professional agent to manage the property.
It is recommended that you ask some key questions first.
A property manager can’t, in our opinion, competently manage more than 100 properties. If an agency has for example, 800 properties, they need eight property managers. If they have four or five it’s not going to work for you.
If people are managing more than 150 you’ll find that they don’t have enough time in the day to service their clients. You want your property to be important to the Agency, not just be ‘another number’.
Another question that should be high on a landlord’s list is how long your prospective manager has been doing this type of work. Too many property managers are 17 or 18 years old and just out of high school having done a certificate course online. Being a property manager can be a high stress job, if you get tenants who complain and landlords who won’t fix things. This stress can be spread on to other clients properties & the management can begin to lack.
No one usually ever rings you to say ‘you’re doing a fantastic job’, usually to just complain. So your property manager must be friendly but with experience in the role. Look for managers with 5 to 10 years or more experience. They’re generally 30 to 50 year old women and men who actually enjoy the job. They have their heads screwed on and the can sniff a bad tenant at ten paces. – Which brings me to another question, ask them if they enjoy their job? If they don’t enjoy it, it can show in the work they provide and it may not be the kind of service you want, unhappy Agents can turn into unhappy tenants and in turn unhappy landlords.
Other questions to ask prospective property managers include: how are tenants selected and screened; and how often are inspection reports done? Ask management agencies if they have a tenant database. If they do, how many tenants are on it and how will the agency use that database to find the best tenants for your property. Property owners should ask to see the manager’s check list for screening tenants and the tenant application forms used.
Once the tenants are selected & signed up, the industry standard is that inspections of premises are usually carried out after 3 months, and then at 6 monthly intervals but some managers extend this to 12 months. 12 months is too long. During this time some necessary maintenance, such as clearing leaves from gutters can be neglected. Asking managers how they deal with repairs and if they have a good relationship with tradespeople and also how long have they had that relationship with their tradies – good tradies are a dime a dozen and your agent should have a great rapport with their tradesman as you want good tradesman looking after your investment.
Many agencies see Property Management as a poor “sister” to the more glamorous sales department and some even leave the management of client’s assets to the front desk staff and receptionist. You want to ensure the agency you select have a dedicated Property Management team, by asking these questions previously mentioned you should get a good idea if they are focused on managing your investment professionally.
NOT HAPPY WITH YOUR CURRENT AGENT?
Like all relationships, the one between a landlord and manager doesn’t always run smoothly – and sometimes the landlord wants “out”
Many landlords are under the false impression that when they sign a 12 month tenancy agreement with a tenant that they have also signed an Exclusive Management Agreement. As a result many landlords wait until the end of the 12 months to change managers when in fact they can change as soon and the Exclusive Management Agreement has expired. The standard agreement is a 30, 60 or 90 day authority but 30 days is probably the most common. Once this Exclusive Management Agreement designed to cover the letting period has expired – the process of changing managers is simple.
All you have to do is sign an authority with a new agent who will inform the previous agent that they have taken over management. The new agent will send over a standard fax to the previous agent advising that they have taken over the management. On behalf of the landlord and to have the file ready for collection within 48 hours. This notice in writing voids the previous authority. This procedure avoids awkward conversations between The Landlord and former Property Manager.