Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. As the real estate market has declined, more and more real estate licensees and unlicensed individuals have declared themselves "Property Managers."
Sadly, that's like you declaring yourself a "Brain Surgeon." It works great until there is a problem.
In GA, it is illegal to manage the property of another for a fee under most situations without a real estate Broker's license. So the #1 requirement is that they are licensed.
Property Management and Real Estate Sales require the same license and are regulated by the same body. Beyond that they are nearly opposite in the skills and systems required to perform them well. The #2 requirement for your property manager should be that they are a Property Manager - full time - that's what they do.
#3 (and I could go on and on) is their record in court. If something goes wrong, that is where you are going to end up. Ask your potential Property Manager what their record in court is. Poke around a little. Try to see if you can hear the stories. Hopefully you can judge from that whether they are familiar with the law and the court system. (Just FYI, I try anything to keep you out of court - it is a no win situation. In the times I have had to go, I have an undefeated record - call for stories.)
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. I wish consumers understood just how complicated the Property Management business is and especially how many laws regulate the business. State Landlord Tenant law covers a lot of issues, but certainly not all. Federal Fair Housing can wreck you. The EPA regulates houses built prior to 1978 and their record keeping and disclosure requirements are brutal. The Federal Credit Reporting Act should be on every Manager's desk. And the list goes on.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. Ask what services are included in the standard monthly management fee. Ask what the tenant procurement fee covers. Ask how many homes the manager is managing and what percentage pay late. Ask what percentage of the tenants have defaulted in the last 12 months. Ask who the manager would recommend for routine maintenance in the home (the answer should be quick and easy). Ask how long the Manager has been licensed. Ask if the Manager takes any classes on a regular basis.
If they start getting defensive, you have found a big red flag. If you feel comfortable with the answers and the tone of the conversation, you may have found a good fit.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. You need to be sure that renting your home is the right answer for you. You need to know exactly how much money you will need to realize in order to support your rental home. Most "involuntary landlords" bring in less than their house payment from their rental property and have to subsidize it. A competent, experienced property manager will be able to tell you how much rent you can realistically expect to get from your home and what the net to you will be. If this isn't enough, you need to have a backup plan.