If you own a commercial or residential investment property in the South Sound area near Seattle, you may find that managing that property is a little more involved than you’d like. The reality is that while anyone who owns a rental property is technically a landlord, there is a whole lot more involved in being a landlord than mere ownership of the property. And being a great landlord takes a special set of skills, knowledge, and experience—not to mention the time it takes to oversee rentals and complete all the day-to-day tasks that effectively managing a property entails.
If you’re thinking it might be time to hire a property management company to take over the myriad details that managing and renting property out requires, you probably have several questions, including
- “Just what does a property manager do exactly?”
- “Is hiring a property manager worth the cost?”
- “Will it really be less stressful?”
Or perhaps you’re concerned about how to find a property manager that’s right for you—and once you do hire one, how to know if your property management company is doing a good job?
You’re right to be asking these questions. After all, you’re probably already aware of some of the common problems landlords face, and that with so many important responsibilities to juggle, even great landlords can struggle to stay on top of them all. The problem is that some property managers fall short of their responsibilities, which can lead to dire financial, legal, or other problems for you, the investment property owner.
So, “What does a (good) property manager do?”
What Property Management Companies Do:
Of course, the answer depends a lot on the specific property manager/company. Some companies offer more services than others. Your needs, of course, will determine which company is the best fit for you. But here are some of the common services you may want to look for and assess in a property management company.
Common Property Management Services
1. Preparing Your Property for Rent
If you are looking to lease a property that hasn’t been occupied for a stretch of time, you may have some cleaning and minor repairs to do before the house/building is ready for move-in. And especially if the property has been occupied, deep cleaning and even new paint on the walls may be required to freshen up the place. Many property managers will have a vetted cleaning company who they contract to put in some elbow grease on your behalf.
2. Marketing and Advertising
There is more to finding occupants than simply listing the property as available. Property managers will perform market analysis to determine the best rents to list your property at. The listing must then be circulated among common rental platforms like Zillow, Trulia, and the like. You’ll want a marketing and advertising plan to get your property in front of the right people. Further, property management companies can you craft the right message that will appeal to quality tenants. The most notable benefit you will gain by delegating this responsibility is that you will no longer need to hover over your phone, expecting potential interest calls.
3. Showing and Qualifying Prospective Residents/Tenants
Beyond fielding the leads who see your property listing, management companies will also coordinate with prospects to view the property. Prospective tenants and residents will want to look at the property when it’s convenient for them—and they will want to talk to someone who knows the property well - both of which can be accomplished with a good property manager.
4. Lease Preparation and Signature With Inspection Prior to Occupancy
It’s important that your lease agreement is thorough and accurate and that it protects you and your property. Property managers have gone through the proper legal channels to ensure the terms and agreements they use will prevent possible legal trouble and safeguard against hypothetical situations that may arise. You can leverage the investment they have already put in for the benefit of your properties and your sanity.
5. Lease Renewals and Rent Increases
You’ll want to be proactive when it’s time to renew a lease. Or better yet, you’ll want your property manager to be proactive. Part of that process may include communicating about rent increases in a manner that is tactful and appropriate for the reasons that rent is increasing. Generate goodwill from tenants on your behalf is important so that you have increased tenant longevity and fewer move outs.
6. Maintenance and Repairs 7 Days a Week, 24 Hours a Day
Whether you are leasing a single-family home or a commercial structure, maintenance is a constant demand. Hiring a property manager to tend to regular maintenance can prevent costly future repairs. In addition, the need for repairs doesn’t typically come at convenient times so a management company needs to be available 24/7/365. This is one of the most common reasons property owners hire property managers.
7. Semi-Annual Property Inspections
As mentioned above, one of the best ways to avoid costly repairs is through regular maintenance and that requires consistent property inspections by professionals who know what to look for. When performing a routine property inspections, good property managers will perform:
- Legal checks to ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working, HVAC and water heating appliances are in order, escape routes are accessible, electric ports are functioning properly.
- Checks for tenant agreement breaches and illegal activity like farming illegal substances, unauthorized subletting, signs of unauthorized pets, smoking, etc.
- Overall health and safety checks to resolve potential leaks, uncleanliness, blocked drains, mold issues, and other related issues.
- Overall property condition in terms of doors, windows, pavement, yard, walls, appliances, etc.
8. Monthly Financial Services
It's great to have a property that provides a passive stream of income, but someone still needs to collect the rent. Property management companies collect rents, and also pay bills associated with maintenance. They will then distribute the remaining funds to you, the owner.
9. Exit Inspections and Preparation of Property for New Residents
What happens when a renter or tenant leaves? Someone needs to inspect the property and get it ready for the new occupants. Your property manager will perform similar property inspection checks as they have been semi-annually, plus additional inspections as needed. They can then begin the process of analyzing the properties new market value and promoting the space on the proper platforms.
Of course, not every company will offer all of these services, but good property managers will put your property first and provide you value. And just because a company lists these services doesn’t mean they all deliver the same quality of service. You want a management service that reflects your values, represents you well to your clients, and takes care of your investment so that it continues to hold and build equity.
How to Choose a Property Management Company?
Selecting the right property management company is critical to ensure that your property is maintained and that your investment stays just that You can be sure to hire a good property manager by asking the right questions.
About Powell Property Management
Powell Property Management is a professional, full-service property management company. We manage properties for owners the way they would like their properties managed, with integrity and with experience. We focus on delivering excellent service in a timely manner to our residents, commercial tenants and to our owners.