We’ve all heard about property managers but what do they do exactly? In simple terms a property manager is someone you hire to handle the day to day business of your real estate investment. Professional property managers can manage all kinds of properties, from large apartment buildings to family homes to granny flats. Managing your own property can be a lot of work, especially if you have work and family commitments of your own. Hiring a property manager could be a sound investment if you’re looking for the ideal work/life balance that we’re all striving for these days! But what should you look for in a great property manager?
First Things First
Hiring a property manager is a very personal decision and it might not be the right move for everyone with investment properties. Before you consider hiring a property manager, the best thing for you to do is to determine whether or not you need one! Consider the following:
Look at your Location
The greater the distance between you and your investment property, the more difficult it will be to manage. For example, if your primary residence is in Akaroa and your rental property is in Christchurch, it will be harder for you to:
- find tenants
- handle tenant complaints
- quickly respond to emergencies
- take care of maintenance issues
- ensure rent is paid on time
Not only that but the time it takes for you to travel to and fro your investment property will be substantial and costly. In this scenario, hiring a good property manager can make sense and save you money.
Look at your Property Portfolio
If you have more than one rental property, you’ve got more responsibilities than you can handle! With more properties come more tenants, which lead to more maintenance troubles, complaints, vacancies and more. And if your units are spread across multiple properties, the time you’ll need to manage each individual property as well as physically commute from place to place will be considerable. A good property manager can help save you time.
Look at your Finances
While the best things in life are free, property managers come with a price tag! Property managers charge a fee between 7.5% and 10% of the gross income for the properties they manage.
Look at the Time!
You have a full time job, a family and various other commitments – how do give your property the attention it needs? The success of your investment could depend on one thing: hiring a good property manager. Time is money, and time is precious – how much of it do you have to spend on managing your own property?! The daily obligations of property management will eat into the time that you could be using to make more money at your job or spend more time with your family and friends. If you’re short on time, hiring an outside manager may be the right move for you.
Look at your Track Record
How good have you been at attracting the right tenants into your property in the past? Good property managers have strict vetting processes to make sure they can screen tenants quickly. They also have a reliable network of repairmen to handle any emergencies. Have you had issues with your tenants in the past? Most professional property managers know the landlord-tenant law inside and out, thereby reducing any risks of a lawsuit. How do you handle the stress of dealing with evictions, complaints and maintenance emergencies? Property managers can serve as a buffer for problems, taking the stress and anxiety out of dealing with tenants.
Now that you know you absolutely want a property manager, let’s have a look at what it is they do exactly! Property managers give you great peace of mind in the following ways:
Rent is one of the biggest hassles when it comes to property management. Good property managers are responsible for:
- Setting Rent: Property managers know how to set the right rental price to attract tenants to your property and help you pay that mortgage. They have an excellent understanding of the market where your property is located and have done their research looking at comparable properties in the area to make sure your property is well placed.
- Collecting Rent: Property managers play the role of the gentle giant or the enforcer. They ensure that rent is paid on time by setting a date to collect rent each week and strictly enforcing late fees. They deal with all the headaches that come with chasing late rent – even legally.
- Adjusting Rent: Property managers can increase the rent to keep it within market level. They can also decrease the rent if they can’t find the right tenants for your property. Regardless of the adjustment, they always consult with you before taking any action.
One of the main responsibilities a good property manager is the management of tenants. They are involved in the following ways:
- Finding Tenants: Property managers are responsible for marketing your property properly to fill vacancies with the right people. They know exactly where to advertise your property and what to include in the ads to attract the most people. They understand what attracts law-abiding, considerate tenants, so they can also suggest making slight cosmetic improvements to help makeover your property, thus increasing your chances of getting good tenants who will stay for a long time.
- Screening Tenants: Property managers are responsible for sorting through tenant applications to find tenants that are fit for your property. They often have a strict screening process that includes running credit checks and Ministry of Justice checks, and they always follow up on references. Experienced property managers have seen thousands of tenants, so they have great intuition that helps them select the right tenants – the ones who pay their rent on time, commit to a longer tenancy and in general, create fewer problems!
- Move Outs and evictions: When a tenant decides to move out, your property manager is responsible for inspecting the unit, checking for damages and determining what portion of the bond, if any, will be returned to the tenant. They’re also responsible for making sure your property is clean and repairing any damages before finding new tenants. In the unfortunate case of eviction, your property manager knows the legal ways to get tenants in breach of contract out of your property safely.
Maintenance and Repairs
Property managers are responsible for the regular maintenance of your property, including any emergency repairs. They even perform preventative property maintenance to keep the property functioning in top condition. This hands-on approach to maintenance is designed to keep your tenants happy and attract new tenants when your property is vacant. Whenever there’s a problem, your property manager attends to it themselves or must hire someone to attend to it, no matter when and no matter what the problem is. They often have a large network of reliable plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other contractors that work at reasonable rates so that you don’t waste your hard-earned money. They manage the budget for your property and maintain all records so you know exactly what’s happening with your property at any given time. Their records include all income and expenses, a list of all inspections, signed leases, maintenance requests, any formal complaints, records of repairs, costs of repairs, maintenance costs, record of rent collection and insurance costs. It’s a big job but someone’s got to do it – and it doesn’t have to be you!
Take the stress out of owning a rental property by putting it into the hands of a Christchurch based company that you can trust. Give us a call today to find out how we can help you manage your Christchurch property.
Janice Cowdy is director of the Property Management Division of Cowdy.
Having worked in the role since 1989, with a reputation for offering an unrivalled property management service, she ensures landlords receive the best return for their investment.
A property investor herself, her philosophy is to treat every client’s property as they would. Always ensuring landlords receive a good return on investment, and enjoying open lines of communication.
She has extensive experience in all aspects of business, understanding relevant tenancy legislation, and is committed to providing the best property management service available.
A strategic thinker, she focuses on quality control, problem solving and forward planning.