Finding that special property management expert can feel like you’re trying to find a needle in a hay stack, with sometimes not even knowing what qualities you should be looking for, never mind actual property managers to consider.
Whether you want them to take over all your property management, or you’re looking to change your current property managers, or you just need a good property management consultant to help and advice on a few specific issues, then you need to consider similar factors.
Defaulting to any old option or even continuing on your own won’t particularly pay off longer term, even though it may appear the easiest option at first. The time and energy spent now in researching and selecting the right property management expert may not pay off for years to come, but it’s well worth it.
Their skill and ability to effectively manage your property interest may show dividends until you see greater returns, reduced costs, and simply less hassle and compliance queries – don’t be tempted to brush things under the carpet and simply bumble along in the meantime.
7 Property Management Expert Factors
Therefore here are 7 factors to bear in mind as you seek help and advice, to help you make the right choice:
1. Word of Mouth Advertising is Best
This is the case with any business really - hearing on the grape vine from real life instances of who is actually the best, and not going on what any advertising suggests.
This is particularly the case with property management, where the true value of the service is often unseen at first and you therefore need to hear good reports of effectively dealing with both reactive problem solving and proactive preparation.
Therefore ask contacts within the industry, typically letting or sales agents, or other professionals like surveyors and solicitors. Contractors can also help identify properties they may be involved with where they see great property management service at a grass-roots level.
If contacts are restricted and you need to look at cold opportunities like adverts and internet searches, then always ask for real-life examples and references as soon as possible to help see the true picture.
2. Suss Out What Services You Need
Property management covers a huge skill set, from accounts and rent collection, to property repairs and services, to more lettings and almost agency.
If you want just one element of this, maybe just a property management expert to help set up a new property or deal with arrears or service charge issues, then make sure this is the area that they have experience in and if needs be qualifications in as well.
For the whole property management service, in in the majority of situations this can only be accomplished by a team of different people working well together, therefore make sure any contact you have provided you with the wider picture.
So as an example, you may have a property manager more on the lettings side who can talk the talk and make service charges sound easy, whereas the accounts team in the background are struggling to keep the annual reconciliations up to date.
3. A One-Minute Wonder or Long-Standing Commitment
Clarify if your property management expert consultant is coming in as a one-off exercise to advise and problem solve, as opposed to a long term commitment of managing the property year after year.
If the former, then you need someone with good rounded experience as it is their judgement you’re relying upon to pick up on all kinds of different issues relating to property management.
If the latter, then you need good systems and procedures on top of any good personalities, for like in the previous point, it is a true team-effort to pull off a good property management service.
4. Alternative Sources of Expertise
Property management is actually a difficult subject to gain experience and knowledge in, with it ranging across different disciplines.
You can often find a good solicitor to renew a lease, or accountant to do your property accounts, or a contractor to repair your roof, but property managers have the skill of bringing this all together.
As a result, you may need to jump around a bit and find different aspects here and there to make sense of it all. Some of this might be online research and training, whilst others more discussions with different advisors.
One way this can all come together is to practically make sure all your advisors discuss issues with each other, and maybe attend a meeting all together.
5. Dig Down to What Property & People Skills Are Needed
So if you’re managing a hands-on residential let, as opposed to a large commercial property with a corporate tenant, then these are two different kettles of fish so to speak.
The property management expertise you need will therefore differ according to the type of property, the size of property and monies involved, and then the nature of people involved with it.
Accordingly make sure any property management consultant has this exact experience under their belt.
6. The Total Cost
This can add up more than what you think, so make sure everything is accounted for.
A lot of these costs will be genuine, as good service will mean a lot of hidden work, and you’d be better of paying for what you get.
However, there are of course scenarios where that isn’t the case. It might start off with a benchmark rate-per-hour of advice, or a percentage of the rent collected every month, but clarify any extras both now and with future trigger points like lease renewals
7. The Feel Good Factor
This sounds a little vague I know, but is does deserve merit.
A property management service may appear great on paper, and tick a lot of boxes, but if you just have that niggly feeling that it won’t go to plan then look carefully into it.
You really need a central point of contact, which as above can then utilise a whole team behind them, and you need to feel comfortable with them as a person and be in regular dialogue with them.
The Right Property Management Expert & Consultant
In short, you need to first understand what you’re trying to achieve and what the expectations of any property management service are. Start looking into any real life recommendations, and check out any opportunities that you do come across.
When you are ready to bring them on board and effectively manage properties, then drill-down into the detail of what they’re doing, their basis and fees, and having that feel-good factor that you’re in a safe pair of hands.