Picking the right Orlando rental property management team can make or break your real estate investment. Just as you would not trust your next-door neighbor with your stock portfolio, unless he was an actual portfolio manager, you must find experts in property management. Finding a property management company is easy, but finding the right one requires more work. With so many options available, it can be difficult to compare and contrast. Each one promises the same or similar things. So how do you decide on which one is the best and the right one for you? It comes down to asking the right questions. Below you will find a list of questions that investors should ask when interviewing property managers.
Licensing and Certifications
The State of Florida Property Management Association states that in order to be a property manager, one must have a broker’s license. This is the case if an Orlando rental property management company is paid by commission or is handling rentals for others. However, if a property owner employs someone to manage their property and pays them a salary, they do not need a broker’s license. In order to obtain a broker’s license, the following is required:
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Must have a high school diploma
- Must have held a current real estate sales associate license for at least 24 months before becoming a broker
- Successfully completed a Florida Real Estate Commission pre-licensing course
- Pass the Florida Real Estate Broker Exam with at least a grade of 75 and pay the fees and broker license application
Investors can and should ask to see proof of licensing. If a property manager denies the request, do not hire them. It is also wise to ask if they have additional training or certifications.
It happens every month and a property management company that has a streamlined and automated rent collection process can be invaluable. Inquire as to how they determine rent rates and how rent is collected. Many Orlando rental property management companies are now allowing for direct debits from tenants, which means fewer paper checks need to be processed. This saves time and money and allows clients to be paid faster than ever. Ask about how they deal with bounced checks, delinquent payments, grace periods, late fees, and evictions.
Maintenance and Repairs
A large part of property management is making oneself available and accessible for tenants when they have questions, concerns, or maintenance requests. Ask how tenants can report a maintenance request and how the property manager tracks these work orders. Inquire as to the turn-around time that it takes before a request is acknowledged and how the property manager gains access to the property. Maintenance emergencies must be handled quickly, so ask how tenants can reach the property manager in the event of a maintenance emergency. Determine if the Orlando rental property management company has its own maintenance technicians or if they have trusted vendors.
Property managers are your eyes and ears into your property. After all, it is what you pay them to do. A quality property manager has your best interest in mind and keeps tabs on the property by performing routine property inspections. Rental property owners who assume everything is fine just because the tenants have not reported a maintenance request, quickly find that if they had been proactive about inspections, it could have saved a lot of money and headaches. It is also an easy way to ensure lease compliance. Ask property management companies how often they inspect properties, what the inspections entail, and how they communicate their findings with clients. Property managers who are conducting inspections should be able to provide potential clients with a sample copy of inspection reports.
Marketing, Leasing, and Vacancies
Perhaps the most valuable service provided by property managers is their ability to fill vacancies quickly with highly qualified tenants that stay long term. Having a property occupied is the way investors make money, so Orlando rental property managers must be able to turn over a vacant property quickly and efficiently. When it comes to advertising, the more exposure, the better. Listings should be expansively listed across numerous paid and free websites. Front yard property signage can also be effective for drive-by onlookers or neighbors to spread the word that the property is vacant. Seek out rental listings of residential property management Orlando companies to see if they are compelling and informative. Look at the pictures and 3-D tours to see that they are clear and high-resolution images that draw attention to the positive aspects of the property. Ask about vacancy rates and how long it takes them to fill a vacancy on average. If it takes longer than one month, keep searching, but keep in mind that there is no guarantee. Inquire as to the process that follows when someone expresses interest in the vacant property and how they conduct showings.
The tenant screening process can vary widely from company to company. It is important that Orlando rental property management companies have strict and unwavering guidelines when screening applicants. Ask property management companies for a sample of an application and what their guidelines are. What is the minimum requirement that is acceptable when it comes to credit scores? Do they check rental history and verify employment? How long will they hold a property prior to a move-in date, and what is the security deposit? Make certain that property managers verify identity by checking photo ID cards.
Quality long term tenants can make real estate investments incredibly profitable. The less tenant turnover a property has, the more money it brings in. That’s why treating tenants with The Golden Rule is so important. Ask property management companies what kind of tenant retention program they have in place. Make sure that when they answer, it does not seem like an afterthought. Property management companies should reward long term tenants who have paid rent on time and carefully maintained the property. At Specialized Property Management, we have a rewards program that allows tenants who pay rent on time to access coupons for items that they buy regularly. We also give ample notice regarding rent increases, allowing tenants to plan ahead.
Client Funds Handling
Finding an honest and trustworthy Orlando rental property management company is worth its weight in gold. They are the ones collecting your rent, writing checks on your behalf, and reserving funds. Transparency when it comes to financial records is vital. Ask property managers how you can view financial information online, what day of the month they pay clients, if they will provide you with tax information, accounting, and security deposits. Ensure that you understand the approach and company policies regarding the handling of funds so that there is no confusion.
Referrals, Reviews, and Experience
Just as you would ask your friends for recommendations about restaurants, you should ask fellow property investors for referrals on property management companies. Google search companies, read Yelp reviews, and tenant and client reviews from the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind that some reviews may have to be taken with a grain of salt, as you may see some from an ex-tenant with an axe to grind, but does not reflect the quality of the work performed by the management company. Look on the Better Business Bureau’s website for a company’s rating. At Specialized Property Management, we are proud to report that we have an A+ rating. Hire an Orlando rental property manager who has ample years of experience. This makes sure that they have likely dealt with every situation possible, have the knowledge needed to manage a property, and have a proven track record.
Property Management Fees
No one likes hidden fees. You know the kind of charges on your cell phone bill each month that no one has any idea what they mean, and even the cell phone companies are vague about what they mean? Make sure your residential property management Orlando company does not have hidden fees. When comparing management companies, make sure you are comparing the same scope of services and the quality of the services. Fees are usually a percentage of the monthly rent. Some companies may charge a flat rate, and others use a blend of both. Ask the property manager if fees are billed or deducted from owner accounts. Inquire as to additional fees when a property is vacant or in the leasing phase.
Orlando Rental Property Management Contracts
Read through the property management contract so that there is no confusion of how the relationship will function. The contract will outline any and all services that a client will receive and for what price. Pay close attention to the fine print and ask questions about anything that is not clear. Learn how you can terminate the contract if you are unsatisfied with the services. Remember that contracts can be negotiated before signing. Get everything in writing and do not let verbal communication take the place of a written contract.
Why You Need Specialized Property Management
At Specialized Property Management, we feel confident that you will be pleased with our answers to each of the above topics. Contact us today.