What makes a great property manager?

A property manager is an integral part of building and managing a successful property portfolio. The role of a property manager is to look after a rental property by being the middleman between a landlord and tenant. These individuals take on the responsibility of managing the maintenance, expenses, and rental income of a property. Like any industry, the quality of service provided can be dictated by the company engaged by a landlord. With a range of management agencies, an investor usually isn’t limited to who they can choose from. A great property manager will make their clients feel like you are their only client. But how do you differentiate between agencies and what makes for a great property manager?

Proactive

A great property manager is always proactive. When choosing your property manager you want to ensure they are willing to think ahead and take the initiative when issues arise. A good investment property usually doesn’t require constant attention. So it is hard to differentiate between managers when everything is going well.  Identifying a great manager is done when issues do arise and how they resolve them. For example, when dealing with maintenance issues you want to know your manager has multiple solutions. If they complete an inspection, they should highlight what areas may become maintenance issues in the future. You don’t want a manager that just ticks the boxes. A great manager can identify how long until the bathroom or kitchen may need to be replaced. Additionally, they can propose solutions that work best for the landlord and their circumstances.

Communication

A great property manager is able to successfully communicate with their clients. When working with a property manager you want to be able to communicate openly and easily. In doing so, the landlord and property manager are always on the same page and can easily work through any concerns or issues with a property. Effective communication between both parties creates transparency and builds trust. This allows the landlord to feel assured their property is being managed by someone who genuinely has their best interest at heart.

A lack of communication should be a warning sign for an investor. An example of this would be if the manager fails to inform you about any issues pertaining to your property. If there is an issue with your property you want to know exactly what is happening. If you only hear about this a week later when an invoice hits your email you know the manager hasn’t taken the time or given you the courtesy to keep you informed. Communication is a vital skill needed to succeed in property management and a lack of this skill would be quite concerning.

Knowledge

An exceptional manager knows the ins and outs of the markets in which they manage. Determining the quality of a manager can be identified by their knowledge and understanding of a particular area. Understanding an area means the agent knows what is happening on the ground.  A good indicator for this is during lease renewals. If you find there is a large discrepancy between the manager’s proposal and what is happening in the market this can be a red flag. When rental prices are rising you want to know your agent has identified this and proposes an increased rent accordingly. Likewise, the agent should know what types of properties rent well and what you can do as an investor to maximise your return on investment. A knowledgeable individual will likely make for a more successful manager.

Fees

One common misconception is that the fees and cost of a management company dictate the quality of its service. When looking for a good manager many people associate expensive with quality. This can at times be true but shouldn’t be the focus of an investor. Likewise, looking for the cheapest manager isn’t always the best option either. In fact, fees and management costs should probably be further down the pecking order when choosing who to manage your property. At the forefront of your decision should be, who is the best manager for me? This can be revealed by doing research or speaking with people on the ground (assuming they don’t have a hidden agenda). An investor should focus on finding the best property manager for their property and someone with who they can communicate well.

Size of the agency

The size of a company is not necessarily reflective of the quality of its service. Large companies can be built on sales and marketing, not on the quality of service. Many larger management companies can also be franchises that have a recognisable but may not provide the same consistent service. Moreover, these companies tend to be a jack of all trades offering a range of property services from buying, selling, and managing. Therefore, they don’t ever become specialists which tend to have more knowledge and understanding of the rental market. Look for a company that provides the best service not the company with the most popular name.

Reviews

Use the reviews of a company to determine its quality. The best way to evaluate a management company prior to engaging its services is to look at its reviews. Usually, their performance will speak volumes across other landlords. If the company has numerous positive reviews, then it is likely they will provide a great service. By doing a small amount of research an investor can sift through multiple companies to find one that has great credibility. Likewise, speaking with the company themselves and asking them for reviews on their service should highlight their quality. If they are reluctant to give you any information, I would be cautious. While if they offer up this information willingly they may be confident in their ability to provide exceptional service to their current and future clients.

The verdict

A great property manager is a necessity when wanting to sustain a successful portfolio. There is a range of variables that make for a great property manager so it is important to be able to distinguish between managers and their qualify of service. An investor takes into consideration a manager’s proactive nature, communication, and knowledge of a market. While the credibility of an agency is determined by its consistent quality of service, not the size or fees of the agency. Many times, it can take time and experience to determine if an agency or manager is worth the cost. Therefore, recognise what separates a great property manager from a mediocre one and be willing to shop around if they don’t meet your expectation.