So—you’ve invested in a rental property. Whether you’re new to owning property or you’ve been in the business for a while, a good property manager is key to operating your rental property from a distance. In fact, hiring a property manager might be the most crucial decision you make after choosing the property itself.

Your property manager can lighten the load for you—or, if they don’t do their job properly, they make things more difficult. Your property manager also represents you to your tenants—you always want to be sure you’re making a good impression. Hiring a property manager is an important move: here’s how to do it well.

Hiring A Property Manager: 5 Tips for Success

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1. Ask for Referrals

As with any professional, a great place to start looking for a good property manager is asking for referrals among people you know and trust. Just because a relative or colleague recommends someone doesn’t mean you should jump, though. Be sure to ask why they’re recommending this person. If the referring party isn’t still working with them, why not?

2. Vet Your Early Candidates Online

Before you even meet with candidates in person, do some online research. Look for reviews of individuals and management companies on sites like Facebook or Yelp. The Better Business Bureau can also give you an idea of what the community thinks about a local party property management company. If you’re hiring an individual, you might consider running a background check on anyone you’re seriously considering.

3. Look for the Right Character Traits

Great property managers have certain traits in common. By considering what you need and asking yourself a few questions, you can tell whether a candidate for the position will be a good fit for you or not. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are They Trustworthy?

This is a person who will be in your tenants’ homes and who will have access to keys. Would you trust this person to stay in your house? Would you trust them to rent from you?

  • Are They Knowledgeable?

Different types of properties require different skills to manage well. Of course, residential properties can be quite different from commercial properties, but even among residential properties, managing a full apartment block could be quite a jump for someone who’s only ever managed smaller multifamily properties.

  • Are They Skilled?

Consider putting yourself in a potential tenant’s shoes and asking a property manager candidate to schedule a showing and talk to you as if you might rent. If you don’t feel comfortable with the process, neither will potential tenants.

  • Are They Good at Interpersonal Communication?

This person is going to be representing you to everyone. Are they going to do a good job? Talk to the candidate in person and also ask them to tell you some things in writing, as well. This will give you an idea of whether they’re up to the task of personal communication.

  • Are They Reliable?

You hire a property manager precisely so that you won’t be woken up in the middle of the night because there’s a leak in a pipe somewhere. Your property manager needs to have a system in place to handle tenant concerns, questions, and problems at any time of the day or night. That doesn’t mean your property manager has to be personally available every second, but they need to get back to people quickly and be able to respond to a true emergency.

4. Visit Properties

If you’re dealing with a property management company, go to some of the properties they already manage and take a look around. Are there a lot of things that obviously need to be fixed? Is there trash everywhere? Is the landscaping in good shape? You might even talk to the tenants if the opportunity presents itself. You want to know if they feel that the property manager hears and respects their concerns and how long it takes for maintenance issues to get fixed.

5. Check Out Education and Licenses

We put this last because too many property owners put it first. It’s possible for someone to take all the classes in the world and pass all the tests and still be a terrible property manager. Even if a person has passed very rigorous standards, that’s no guarantee they’re actually practicing the things they’ve learned.

However, if you have a property manager who’s gone to the trouble to get a certification from one of the bigger credentialing groups, like the National Apartment Association or the National Association of Residential Property Managers, that’s a good sign that they’re committed to their job. Weigh this commitment with all the other things you’ve noticed in your interview process as you make your choice.

Make the Most of Your Property

In the end, a good property manager allows you to make the most of your property. You can enjoy the passive income while someone handles evictions, vacancies, repairs, and any of the other headaches that come with managing your property. At last—with the right property manager, you can now focus on the big picture of growing and expanding your business. To learn more, pick up and read a good book such as The Book on Rental Property Investing by BiggerPockets or visit my helpful resources page for other great books to read.

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