Choosing whether or not to use property management companies is a hard decision for many real estate investors. Some wouldn’t dream of investing in real estate without a property management firm in place before closing on a respective deal. Others, however, struggle to break free of the “do-it-yourself” mindset that prevents them from accomplishing more. As it turns out, only one thing is certain: using a property management company isn’t as obvious as I would have liked to assume. You may ask yourself questions like “What does a property management company do?” or “Are property management companies worth it?” If for nothing else, I am convinced the benefits of using a property management company far outweigh the negatives.
It is fair to say the argument stems from the cost one must absorb to work with a property manager, but I digress. The cost isn’t so much a negative, but rather an investment. While it does, in fact, cost money to hire a third-party manager, I can assure you it’s well worth the price. What’s more, their involvement could very easily increase the chances of growing your bottom line.
What Is Property Management?
Property management is the practice by which a third party is responsible for maintaining a residence’s status quo and appeasing its occupants. Therefore, property managers are traditionally hired by rental property owners to oversee the daily operations of their real estate assets and deal with any questions or concerns the tenants may have. If the property is vacant, it’s the property manager’s job to see to it the house is rented. As its name suggests, property management takes care of every aspect of a rental home, from marketing vacant space and signing leases to collecting rent and calling for repairs. Few strategies, for that matter, are more beneficial for a rental portfolio than hiring a third-party property manager, which begs a simple question: How do property management companies work?
Do I Need A Property Management Firm?
There are plenty of investors who fully support the use of a property management company. However, there is no rule stating that anyone needs a property manager. While property management companies have several advantages, they are so costly. Therefore, plan on hiring a property manager if:
- You plan on acquiring multiple rental properties. The more rental properties one has in a portfolio, the more necessary property management firms become.
- You are not within proximity of your asset. If the rental property is far from where you live, it’s a good idea to hire a manager who can keep better tabs on it.
- You don’t want to actively manage the property. If you view the property as a source of passive income, you’ll need a property manager to take care of routine maintenance and daily operations.
- You don’t want to be an employer. Hiring employees like a resident manager comes with several responsibilities such as payroll and legal requirements. A property management company is not your employee; they are independent contractors. Using one will save you the burden of becoming an employer.
- You can afford the added cost. Property managers will charge a percentage of the rental fee, which is well worth it. The same fee can rid landlords of a lot of headaches and free up a lot of their time to invest in other places.
- You have limited time. Even if you don’t mind managing your own property, you may not be able to actively work on the property every day. If you plan on focusing more on running your business, hiring a property management company may be your best course of action.
- You can afford it. When choosing a property management company, you can expect quotes ranging from 5% to 10% of your rental revenue. The exception to this would be in the case of a down market. In this case, it is wise to continue managing the property yourself or with the help of a resident manager.
- You have a property in the affordable housing program. Usually, in programs like these, owners may receive grants, tax credits, or loans with low interest rates in return for renting to those with low-income levels. With these benefits also come more complicated rules you must adhere to. Having a property management company that knows the ins and outs of these rules can help exponentially in the long run.
What Does A Property Manager Do?
The cost of property management is a valid argument, especially when you consider detracting from your bottom line, but I can assure you it’s doing anything but. Yes, a property management company will indeed cost additional money to hire, but I like to think of it as an investment, as opposed to a cost. You see, a good property manager can very easily return more than their own initial cost. After all, the average property management company will typically award investors with the following:
- Property managers will collect rent from tenants
- Property managers will listen to maintenance requests and address the problem
- Property managers can deal with defaulting tenants that are months behind in rent
- Property managers will market a subject property to limit vacancies
- Property managers will keep detailed records of everything happening at the property
Collecting rent is one of the most obvious tasks of a property manager. However, if that’s all property managers did, it would certainly be harder to justify hiring one – especially with online payment capabilities. Of course, that doesn’t mean collecting rent is easy by any means. If all of your tenants are paying their leases upfront in full and you don’t mind paying a great law firm when things don’t go right, you might wait to evaluate all of the services. Yet, most real estate investors are not in that situation. Some operate in markets where it is a battle to reel in the rent every month.
Dealing with tenant maintenance calls is perhaps the biggest driver for real estate investors to enlist the help of a property manager. It isn’t just about the maintenance, however. Dealing with the tenants can often be the biggest challenge. Sometimes their needs aren’t big or expensive, but the timing and urgency are. It may be blocked and back-flowing pipes on the weekend or locked out in the middle of the night. Many of these calls can be irritating to a landlord, but if they are always treated that way, bigger issues with renters and rental property performance are sure to arise. Rapid and responsive customer service is needed to optimize income properties.
Property managers will deal with these requests, alleviating you from the burden. If it is small, the requests may be handled internally. Larger and more complex issues may be delegated to outside specialists. Sophisticated property investors normally have a property management agreement that authorizes the company to handle up to a certain dollar amount of repairs without needing express permission first. This streamlines the process and ensures issues don’t get worse if you can’t be reached.
Property management companies can call for regular inspections and routine maintenance such as:
- Lawn Care
- Pressure Washing
- Preventative Maintenance
- Plumbing Issues
- Fixing Appliances
- Drywall Patching
- Anything Else A Tenant Might Need
The property management company will essentially act as the “middle-man” and connect tenants with the necessary services.
Dealing with Defaulters
This goes beyond slow payers to those seriously in breach of their leases. They could be more than a month past due or be risking the condition of your asset, or the police could be involved in a criminal issue. Sometimes these things can be worked out directly with renters. In other cases, it may require lawyers or even going to court. A property management firm can handle this for you and save you a ton of time and stress in these situations. Having a professional third party in between can often speed up better solutions compared to a DIY landlord that may appear an easier target for malicious tenants.
This is a lot more work than some understand at first. A good management company is taking on the cost of marketing for tenants, showing units, and screening prospective renters. There is a lot of expertise brought to the table here. It may be the most valuable thing property management companies offer. Then there is supervising move-in and move-out activity.
Bookkeeping is probably the least fun part of real estate for most investors. Simultaneously, great bookkeeping and invoice handling are critical for minimizing taxes, keeping the best vendors, and generally keeping the cash flowing. If your property manager throws this service in for free, you had better take advantage of it. If not, there’s no reason you can’t hire someone to manage your books. Rental properties are best left as a passive investment, after all. Conduct the appropriate research to uncover a good bookkeeper in your area, and determine whether their services will bring value to your own business.
5 Benefits of Having A Property Management Company
The single greatest benefit investors are made privy to by working with property management companies is time. By enlisting the services of a good property management company, investors won’t be forced to manage the property themselves; they’ll be free to take on other responsibilities. For most investors, the added time will help them find and acquire more rental properties to add to their portfolio. For others, not having to manage a property rids their lives of unnecessary stress. It is worth noting, however, that time isn’t the only reason someone may want to hire a property management company. There are actually several benefits to hiring a manager, not the least of which include:
- Mitigate Liability: One of the little-understood perks of having a third-party property management firm is the buffer from liability a good property manager adds to an inexperienced investor’s portfolio. It can be easy for opportunistic tenants to make false accusations about rent collection tactics, illegal eviction practices, and negligent maintenance. A third-party manager can deflect many of the false claims levied in an investor’s direction.
- Quality Tenants: Property management companies manage properties for a living; it’s what they are good at. As a result, the best of them have grown to know what to look for in a good tenant. It is, therefore, safe to assume hiring a property manager will result in better tenants for a property, which is great news for landlords. The better the tenant, the better the experience will be for owners.
- Shorter Vacancies: Not only will a property management company advertise to fill vacancies, but it will also do so with a sense of urgency and efficiency. Again, since this is their job, real estate management companies are most likely better at filling vacancies than traditional landlords, which drastically shortens the length of vacancies. Meanwhile, landlords can increase profits throughout the year by keeping the asset in service.
- Lower Maintenance Costs: Working with good property management firms will give investors access to their network of professional contractors. The contacts the property manager already has in place will work in your favor and save on maintenance costs. Not only that, but the contractors will also come with a recommendation, which is invaluable.
- Better Reviews: Tenants tend to prefer working with property managers, as the process is almost always objectively smoother. As a result, the experience is typically better than dealing directly with landlords. Subsequently, renters are more likely to leave a good review when they vacate the premises. Those same reviews will serve to drive more traffic to the home when the time comes to find another tenant.
(Source >> https://bit.ly/3aEOqFM)