Choosing a property manager is not always a simple or easy task. I once picked a property manager based on Yelp reviews and had a horrible experience, so this is a topic I don’t take lightly! Your property manager is the front line of defense in protecting your property, maintaining your property, and ensuring you get paid by tenants. If you are thinking of hiring a property manager or replacing a terrible one like I had, follow this guide to know what to look out for.
Choosing a Property Manager: Check online reviews
Your first stop when finding a property manager should be Google, or your favorite search engine, in search of property manager reviews. Some sites to get started include Yelp, Zillow, and Google Maps. Just typing property managers into Google will give you results and high-level reviews for local property managers. As a last stop, take a look at your local Better Business Bureau website for any negative reviews or complaints about local property managers that may have made it onto your list.
Online reviews are not a conclusive method to pick a property manager, but they are a great option to get started. Most people only do a review when they have an noteworthy good experience or a terrible one. The bulk of people fall somewhere in the middle and don’t leave online reviews. But looking at the best of and worst of stories and ratings can help you find a list of potential good managers for your specific needs.
Choosing a Property Manager: Interview multiple managers
The next step in choosing a property manager is calling and interviewing them. You may find it more efficient to reach out by email to ask some initial questions about their experience and what types of properties they support. Once you establish that the manager is a potential fit, that is the time to setup a longer phone interview or meet in person.
In my bad property manager experience, I had a condo and was moving out of town in a hurry. I just had to pick someone and go, and skipped out on interviewing multiple managers. This is what led me to move to a new property manager after a series of hassles and bad communications from the first manager. Speaking to multiple property managers, even if you think you already found the perfect fit, helps you understand the shortcomings and strengths of different property management companies.
Choosing a Property Manager: Get a few references
When you do your interviews, ask each property manager for references. If a property manager is experienced and does a good job, they should have no problem offering at least two or three past clients to call or message to ensure the property manager lives up to their end of the bargain.
You don’t have to call every reference for every manager, but do take the time to follow up and check references for the manager you plan to hire. If you call and get bad reviews, you can move down to the next manager on the list. There is no better judge of the quality of a manager than past clients.
Choosing a Property Manager: Ask about hours and responsiveness
Next you want to make sure the property manager will be there when you, or your tenants, need them. Pipes can blow up during regular business hours, nights, or weekends. I once lived in a condo as a tenant and we had a leak in one of the pipes for the air conditioner in the middle of a hot Portland summer. Every time we turned on the air, water would start leaking out of the kitchen ceiling!
We called the property manager immediately, but they didn’t have someone out for a few DAYS. When water is coming out of the ceiling, maintenance should be there in minutes, not days. When the owner found out, they quickly fired the management company and found a new one. A lack of responsiveness could have caused much more serious damage to paint, flooring, insulation, and more.
Choosing a Property Manager: Go with your gut
Ultimately there is no black and white answer to which property manager is best. In most cities, you have more than a few options to choose from. If you start with reviews online, eliminate the worst property managers, interview top prospects, ensure they meet your needs, and follow your instincts, choosing a property manager doesn’t have to be a stressful or troublesome experience. Once that is figured out, you can start the hunt for your next investment property to keep putting dollars in your pocket.