There are dozens of different residential property managers in the Portland-metro area that all promise the same services. They’ll all claim to make investment property ownership easier by handling the time-consuming and challenging details. Each of these companies will say they offer fantastic customer service. Every property manager will profess to place the needs of their clients first. So, in the absence of a referral or first-hand experience, it could be tough to tell which residential property managers will be the right partners, and which ones won’t.
Recently, our owner, Darla Andrew, posted a helpful video guide on our YouTube page for selecting residential property managers. In the video, Darla highlights six questions property owners should ask before choosing a property management partner. You can watch the video here.
Darla believes there are clear differentiators consumers can use when interviewing potential residential property managers. So, use this guide while conducting your due diligence and choose your new partner accordingly.
Question #1: How Do You Handle Communication?
Whether it’s one house or 10, an investment property portfolio represents a significant investment for its owner. So, when you’re entrusting the management of that portfolio to another company, you’ll want to stay informed. Unfortunately, not all residential property managers prioritize client communication. In some ways, this is understandable. After all, managing tenants, accounting, and repairs is a significant undertaking. However, imagine the frustration you would feel when an important question comes up about your substantial investment, and you can’t get a prompt response from the company managing it.
That’s why it’s important to address communication from the outset. Ask potential residential property managers how they prefer to talk with their clients. Is it through email or phone calls? Then, ask how quickly they typically respond. Depending on your personal communication preferences, this will give you a great data point for comparison.
Questions #2: Do They Prioritize Interior Inspections?
Rental homes can take a beating from even the most well-intentioned tenant. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to conduct interior inspections — especially when the house is occupied. However, if residential property managers don’t keep tabs on a home’s interior conditions, the damage — and associated repair costs — can begin to add up for owners. When interviewing potential residential property managers, it’s critical to ask about their interior inspection process. Ideally, they’ll conduct these walk-throughs at least one every year. The inspections should also include photographs and a detailed narrative of the home’s condition. Not only will this help you justify repair changes when a lease ends, but it will also help you keep your home in good repair over the long term.
Questions #3: Do They Conduct Annual Reviews?
The relationship between an investment owner and their property manager shouldn’t be set it and forget it. Instead, the two parties should work together to prioritize the property owner’s needs and goals. Every year, residential property managers should meet with their clients to review their goals about rents in the future. Even small annual increases will keep your property competitive in the local market and help it bring in as much revenue as possible. Great property managers will also ask if their performance has met their client’s needs. They can also offer assistance and insight into helping clients grow their rental portfolio. Under ideal circumstances, this should be a long-term relationship, and annual reviews help solidify that.
Question #4: How Will They Market Your Property?
The approach to marketing and advertising is what sets many residential property managers apart. An empty property is a liability for investment owners, so they need a management partner who will aggressively move to fill vacancies. Great management companies will have software that tells them exactly how marketing on any of their homes is faring. They should also shoot videos for each available property in their inventory and pay for extended marketing on home sites like Zillow. Property managers who rely on Craigslist postings alone, or conduct half-hearted marketing efforts, will likely have higher vacancy rates. This means their clients aren’t making as much money from, what could be, their most important investment.
Question #5: What Are Their Management Rates and Fees?
Portland residential property managers all compete for the same clients. So, their management rates and fees should all be within the same range. Most companies charge somewhere between seven and 10 percent each month for their services. They’ll also typically charge half of one month’s rent when placing a new tenant. When a property manager charges more or less than the local average, it’s essential to understand why. If they’re charging more, you should receive additional benefits other companies don’t offer. If they’re charging less, they’re likely not offering a full-service experience.
Question #6: Do They Have a Construction Division or In-House Repair Team?
Great residential property managers understand how challenging repair requests can be. That’s why they prioritize the repair process with an in-house repair team or construction division. This approach should include detailed logs tracking repair requests and work orders, so owners can easily monitor their costs. Full-service property managers should also maintain close relationships with third-party vendors who can complete repairs within at least 48 hours.
Darla Would Love to Answer Your Questions
Hopefully, this guide will help you pick the best option among Portland’s residential property managers. If you have other questions about the local market or Portland’s unique rental environment, Darla would be more than happy to help. She can be reached anytime at (503) 515-3170 or through the contact page on our website. Owning a rental property is a great way to build passive income and create real financial security. Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew would be honored to help you get there.