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The Landlord's Guide to Hiring Property Managers

The Landlord's Guide to Hiring Property Managers

Whether you’re a first-time Lehigh Valley property investor or a veteran investor with years under your belt, you’ll face a point where operations, investment strategy, and management become a bit overwhelming. And you’ve heard about other investors who’ve had success with hiring a property manager. But you’ve also heard some horror stories that have you concerned about your ability to find and hire the best-fit partner. 

If you’ve been casually toying around with the idea of hiring a property manager to help with your investment, this is the ultimate guide you need to confirm you're ready to get serious about a partnership. And if you've been actively searching for a property manager without success, these insights will help refine your search to find the best.

The Role of a Reliable Property Manager

Before you start vetting potential property management partners, it’s best to first understand what role you’ll need this professional to play. Not all property management services are the same. In fact, they’re just as unique as your investment strategy. Consider creating a list of tasks and responsibilities you’d prefer to delegate to a manager. Then you can actively look for the best fit professional who can successfully complement those operational and management needs.

Here is a shortlist guide outlining just a few of the responsibilities a property manager can take on for you. 

  • Vetting resident candidates and executing lease agreements

  • Managing contractors and property maintenance schedules

  • Resident calls for repairs or inquiries

  • Collecting rent payment

  • Resident communication efforts for increasing rent, scheduled improvements, etc.

  • Property marketing efforts, including listings, images, and walk-through videos

  • Property investment strategy consulting

  • Advice for buying rental property

  • Advice for selling rental property

  • Identifying property value improvements

Reasons to Consider a Property Manager

There are plenty of reasons to bring in professional help, especially when your financial investment is involved. However, if you’ve attempted the self-management approach and are considering bringing on a property management partner, here are a few of those key advantages to solidify your decision.

Not Enough Hours in the Day

If you find you’re bogged down with managing your investment property alone, it’s time to consider working with a professional. Repair and lost key calls late at night, late rent payments, and posting vacancy ads can all lead to investor burnout. When there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to effectively manage your Lehigh Valley property, you’re ready to consider a property manager partnership.

You Don’t Live Nearby

With all the digital connections available today, landlords don’t have to live near their investment properties to achieve financial success. But being remote will present certain challenges. And if you’re interested in having a more hands-on approach with your property, a property manager is a great solution. 

You’re Struggling to Find Quality Residents

There will be ebbs and flows with resident applications coming in with interest in your vacancy. But when you start experiencing longer stints between candidates and even longer vacancy periods, it could indicate you need a better marketing strategy and pre-screening process. A property manager can take a proactive approach to marketing, pre-screening, and vacancies on your behalf. 

You’re Considering Another Investment Property

For some investors, the self-management approach is entirely doable. But when you’re thinking about growing your portfolio to include additional properties, all those property management tasks double. Add in any multi-family units, and you’re talking about more than a full-time job. If portfolio growth is on your radar, a property management partner is absolutely necessary.

Key Property Manager Attributes 

When you start interviewing potential property managers, you’ll, of course, look at credentials, licensing, and expertise. But there are soft skill attributes to look for, too. And proof of these skills demonstrates you’re working with a professional who’s easy to work with and can be flexible to adapt to your investment objectives and preferences.

  • Communication

  • Organizational Skills

  • Proven Strategies and Processes

  • Marketing Savvy

  • Contractor Connections

  • Personable and Friendly

  • Honest and Transparent

  • Passionate About Real Estate

  • Professional

Questions to Include in Your Vetting Process

When hiring a Lehigh Valley property manager, you’ll want to take the same vetting approach that you would with any other third-party contractor or service provider. Create a detailed list of deal-breaker must-have experiences and credentials. And consider asking these probative questions to your process. Meet with these professionals in person, too. You'll want to make a note of verbal and non-verbal responses to these questions to help you make the right partnership decision.

How many investment properties do you currently manage?

This question will help you uncover two things. One, is the property manager experienced enough for your investment? Two, is the property manager too busy to take on your portfolio and manage it successfully?

What services do you provide investors like me?

This question will allow a property manager to describe their core services. Anything they list first will likely be their strengths. Anything they fail to mention or add in secondarily might represent services they don’t quite have the experience you’re looking for in a partner.

Can you describe your various resident-facing processes?

Here, you’ll look to identify what existing strategies a property has in place for key operations, like resident pre-screening, rent collection, and marketing vacancies. If they cannot describe processes they currently use, it could be an indication they don’t have them.

What is your experience in generating and improving NOI?

This inquiry will help you separate the task managers from the investment advisors. Ideally, you’ll look to find a property manager who can excel at both managing operations and providing sound portfolio investment advice.

Can you share your fee structures, cancellation policies, and invoicing procedures?

Most property managers will be able to offer transparent pricing and flexible options. However, be mindful of hidden cancellation fees or other charges that are not included in the original agreement or in general management fees.

What is the current average vacancy timeframe with your other properties?

In general, no property should remain vacant for more than one month unless extenuating circumstances are in play. And any property management professional who can’t share vacancy rate details indicates they’re not tracking vacancy rates, which is a red flag. 

How often will you be providing updates about my investments?

This question will lead to the communication discussion. Reporting, data analytics, and updates should be routine and frequent. And you’ll want to find a real estate expert who can be available for your questions and inquiries along the way, outside of these scheduled updates.

What property management software solutions do you use?

From digital payment channels and resident-facing dashboard solutions to mass-marketing posting software and investment tracking, any property management partner you work with should have innovative and digital solutions. 

What is your process for managing vendors and contractors?

Here, you’ll look for proven methods for building relationships with contractors, like property inspectors, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and roofing professionals. You’ll want a partner who understands the importance of developing long-term relationships with these contractors.

When you’re ready to explore working with a property manager, consider these insights as your guide. And before making an official partnership decision, contact Axel Property Management! Our team of professional investment experts will answer all your questions and help you achieve your rental property portfolio goals.