Trusting someone to take the reins on your real estate investment is a hard thing to do. How do you know the company will treat your property as you would, and not just as another file in their portfolio? Will your tenants be treated with respect or will they dread making any calls to the company responsible for handling maintenance? Are you going to mesh well with the company?
Finding a company that will suit your needs can be difficult. Finding one that seems qualified can also be complicated as looks (and first impressions) can often be deceiving. There are swarms of companies across the industry—some legitimately experienced and others a little more unreliable. You have to wade through the waters of listings to find one that matches your requirements.
So how do you go about finding the right company for you?
Before you can begin to make your decision on which company you want to work with, you must create a list of potential property management companies. This means you first have to look for rental property management companies. But, where do you start?
There are many places in which you can start looking for property management companies. The most obvious is to ask for referrals from friends, families, co-workers, et cetera. These word of mouth referrals often mean the person has had experience with the company and know the ins and outs of their operations first hand.
Another option for finding great additions to your compiled list is to visit your local real estate investment association. These associations often hold meetings which are open to the public and give you the opportunity to ask other investors who they utilize to manage their properties. Other associations may provide good insight into property management companies include realtor associations and property owner associations.
There are other options such as Google search, the yellow pages, or advertisements you’ve seen.
When you create your list of potential companies, the next step is to narrow it down. A great way to do this is to actually do some research on each potential company. Check out their reviews online. See if there is a pattern to any negative or less than satisfactory reviews. If multiple people seem to have similar complaints, there might be some stock in it. However, if you only see one mention of an issue, it’s possible that it’s just a one-off remark from a disgruntled client or tenant.
Other factors to research are the company’s licenses, insurances, and affiliations. Are the contractors they use for repairs and renovations licensed and insured and come with high ratings? Do they have features in magazines or other real estate publications? How much does their insurance cover?
Check their portfolio. If a company checks out everywhere else but only manages commercial properties, they’re not going to be a good fit for you. Likewise, if you have a single-family home in an upper-class neighborhood, a company that only manages lower income properties is not likely to be able to meet the needs of your property.
Once you’ve created your list and narrowed it down to three or four companies that seem to match your profile, set up face to face interviews (or consultations) with each of them. Compare their numbers, their portfolios, and their services. How do they respond to you? Are there any red flags or questions they dodged? Most importantly, how do you feel around them? This company is going to be handling your investment—a large amount of money, no matter how you look at it, so make sure you feel comfortable with the people you will be working with in this endeavor.