Hiring a property management company is a great idea if you have even a small apartment building. Having someone taking care of all the small details of a rental property means you'll have more time to find the next good investment. Also, trying to do it all yourself is the surest way to make your real estate investment experience a bitter one. To find a good property manager, ask the following questions.
1. Other properties they manage? It's best if they have rental properties that are similar to yours. You can also drive by their other properties to see how they are maintained.
2. The fee? They vary around the country from as low as 4% of gross rents for larger buildings, to as high as 12% for single family homes. Be sure the fee is clearly stated and understood.
3. Extra costs? Are showings extra? Do evictions cost extra (beyond the legal fees)? Any other extras?
4. Who actually handles your property? It's best if one person handles your building all the time, and has some experience. Get their name.
5. How and when is the fee collected? Will you be billed, or will it be deducted from your account directly? Monthly? Quarterly?
6. Type of advertising? Exactly how will they advertise the units and what will it typically cost you?
7. Time and cost to prepare units? What's the typical cleaning fee on a vacancy, and how long will it normally be before it's rented out again?
8. Type of accounting? Which types of reports do they send, and how often? How are accounts set up?
9. Their hours of operation? What are their business hours, and who takes weekend calls?
10. What needs owner approval? What dollar amount needs your authorization, and is this negotiable?
You should ask other questions, based on your particular needs and the particular property. Be sure to ask everything up front, and you'll have fewer misunderstandings, and a good manager. Real estate investing and being a landlord is a lot less stressful with a good property management company.
Steve Gillman has invested in real estate for years.