Choosing a property manager can be a daunting task. There are so many agencies, big and small, vying for your attention, and it’s often hard to ascertain who’s selling a premium product and who’s overselling it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of questions that you should ask anyone you’re considering as your property manager. By working through them, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of the experience, skill level, commitment and capacity of your prospective property manager, before you make the decision to take them on.
What should I ask a new property manager and why?
1. Who will be managing my property?
This question helps you to ensure that your manager is part of a dedicated property management department. If your property is being managed by a real estate agent, it’s likely you’ll be competing for their attention with sales clients. The problem with this is that real estate sales tend to produce a higher return for the agent than the fees they collect for property management, so they’ll naturally be inclined to focus more on the former.
Working with a dedicated property manager helps you avoid this problem. It’s also a good idea to ask if you can meet or speak with your prospective property manager before committing to an agency. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s not uncommon for agencies to send their business development manager to meet prospective clients, rather than the property manager. Getting to speak to the property manager themselves gives you the peace of mind that they are competent and professional. It also confirms to you that you will have your own dedicated manager, rather than having your property managed by a team who may vary in their understanding of your needs.
How do you make sure that your investment property is in the right hands? Read our blog to find out.
2. How many properties do they oversee?
It’s not uncommon for agencies that promote themselves as a cheaper alternative to cut costs behind the scenes by having each property manager look after 150 or more properties. The savings this creates for clients is usually outweighed by the issues it can lead to, with managers dealing with an overwhelming workload that pushes them to cut corners and neglect processes.
Instead, it’s recommended to choose an agency where managers have a realistic workload. Up to 130 properties per property manager is reasonable, while around 100 is ideal. Though working with this kind of agency may incur slightly higher fees than those charged by low-cost competitors, you’ll be able to sleep better knowing that your manager is not spread too thin, and is able to respond to your needs in an agile manner.
3. How many years of experience do they have? How many years at the agency?
Similar to Question 1, finding out the experience level of your property manager helps you to ascertain whether they are a dedicated professional with a wealth of industry know-how or someone who is still starting out and may not be able to offer many insights that go beyond your own. That’s not to say that new property managers can’t bring anything to the table, but it is important to assess their skill profile so you can decide whether they’re the right fit for you.
Property management is an industry that grapples with high turnover rates, but agencies that create a supportive and stable atmosphere where managers are not overloaded and are given the time to perform their tasks to a high standard are less likely to be impacted by this. That’s why it’s important to find out how long your property manager has worked at the agency – if they’ve already been there for a number of years, it’s much more likely you’ll still be working with them six months from now, rather than a new person who’ll need to learn the ropes all over again.
4. Is the director/owner involved in day-to-day management?
Generally speaking, agencies where the directors or owners take a more passive, back-seat role tend to encounter a higher volume of organisational issues than those with an active and engaged leadership team. Effective leaders need to have a boots-on-the-ground awareness of industry trends and movements to meaningfully engage with them and maintain an outlook that is informed by up-to-date and relevant information.
By the same token, if the agency has multiple departments that span sales and management, ensure that the leadership team is actively involved in providing strategic direction and guidance to the property management department, rather than focusing on sales alone.
Are you considering changing your property manager? Read our blog to see what you can do to make the process simple and easy.
5. What is the system for attracting and screening prospective tenants?
In an ideal scenario, your property manager will market your property to attract desirable applicants, assess the applications received against a number of national tenancy databases and contact their references, screen applicants based on these findings, and then present this information to you so that you can make an educated decision when it comes to choosing your tenant. To ensure that this is the process your prospective manager undertakes, ask them to explain their approach and query any deviations they describe.
You may also want to check their procedures around home opens. It’s best practice to not only offer a set home open time, as well as an option to book a private viewing if interested parties are not able to attend the public viewings. By the same token, a private viewing should not entail the manager simply giving the keys to the prospective tenants to view the rental unsupervised, as this risks the security of the property.
6. What is the process for inspections and reporting?
In WA, rent inspections can be undertaken no more than four times each year. For that reason, it’s common for your property manager to conduct inspections every three months or so, with initial inspections generally occurring six weeks into the lease.
You’ll also want to make sure your manager, or at least someone from their agency, will be the one undertaking the inspection. This may seem obvious, but there are a growing number of agencies that are outsourcing inspections to third parties. If your property manager is doing this, there will inevitably be a disconnect between their understanding of the property’s health, which they’ll only have garnered through words and pictures, versus the reality. At the same time, this situation is unlikely to be conducive to a strong relationship between your tenant and your property manager, which is an important factor in reducing vacancy levels and ensuring long-term tenants.
7. What is their point of difference?
Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting out, you should always aim for an agency that’s making an effort to differentiate themselves. With so many offering property management services, it’s not just a matter of choosing the one that will get the job done – you want to know that your agency is actively striving to provide a superior service.
At Access Property Management, we are, and have always been, a family-run enterprise. This means that our awareness and experience of the Perth property market has deep roots. We are also committed to our focus on property management, rather than real estate sales – in fact, everyone in our team is a qualified property manager, meaning your investment is in safe hands.
The expertise and dedication we cultivate in our team plays a vital role in driving long-term returns and we see it as our responsibility to share this knowledge for the good of the wider Perth real estate market.
If you’ve got an enquiry, or maybe you would like to test us against these questions, do not hesitate to get in contact today.