When I was growing up my favorite television show was Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
I loved all of the characters from Admiral Nelson to Captain Crane, but the top one on my list was Exec Chip Morton; so aptly played by actor Robert Dowdell, who is celebrating his 75th birthday today.
Both the Admiral and the Captain knew they could leave the magnificent submarine, Seaview, in the Exec’s hands, which they often did. So while they went out on their adventures the Seaview didn’t receive as much as a scratch.
And the one time the Seaview actually did sink was when the Exec was not aboard. (They raised it for the next episode, of course, after Morton had rescued them).
Which brings up a very important question about [tag-tec]property management companies[/tag-tec].
How will you know you’ve got a Chip Morton taking good care of your properties?
1. Research property management company carefully
Not only do you need to check with your local real estate clubs as well as other landlords, but do some shoe leather hits sidewalk investigations of your own.
This mean going out and looking at properties they are already managing.
Try to talk to some of the [tag-ice]tenants[/tag-ice]. What are those tenants like? What does the parking lot look like? Do you come away with a good impression of the property? If not, start checking out the next company on your list.
2. Try them out first
Be careful what you sign. Never sign a contract that hems you in. Make sure you have a way of escape if you don’t like them. A trial period is an absolute must.
Do they take care of the tenants’ calls?
Do they return your calls?
Are they reasonably patient with you, or do you get the feeling you’re not supposed to ask too many questions. If that’s the case, breaking up should not be hard to do. Get out of there fast.
3. Keep close tabs on the money
Most importantly, you want to make sure you’re not having to pay for unreasonable expenses such as repairs and empty unit downtimes.
If the manager’s relatives are doing the plumbing, painting, cleaning, etc., a warning should go off.
Sometimes a brother-in-law or a special friend of the manager can charge much more than is acceptable. If bills suddenly rise there may be a simple explanation. Find out what it is.
Also is the manager renting empty units quickly? If not, find out why. And make sure he knows what your definition of “quickly” is. Have a schedule worked out ahead of time that everyone knows is reasonable.
It’s your money and your properties. A little due diligence will go a long way toward a successful partnership with your management which will work well for you and your [tag-self]tenants[/tag-self].