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What to Know Before Choosing a Property Management Company for the First Time - Article Banner

If you’ve never worked with a professional property manager before, you might be wondering what to expect. Maybe you don’t even know what to look for when you’re deciding where to find a management partner. 

Whether you’re investing in rental property for the first time or you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with the duties and responsibilities that fall on you as a landlord, we’re here to help. We’ve been managing properties in and around San Francisco for years, and we’ve grown to understand the expectations of owners and investors, no matter where they happen to be on their real estate journey. 

If you’re choosing a property management company for the first time and you don’t know where to start, we can help.

Choosing a San Francisco property management company is an important part of your investment experience. Whether you own one rental property or an entire portfolio of assets, you need a professional team that’s experienced, capable, and responsive. 

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re making your choice, and we’re bringing some of the most important requirements to your attention in this blog.  

Pay Attention to Property Management Reputation 

Reputation is important, especially in the property management industry. This is a relationship-based business, and you want to work with a company that has good reviews and good results from current and former customers.

It’s easier than ever to conduct thorough online research before you even reach out to a property management company. Take a look at their website, their social media pages, and their reviews. Find out what other owners have to say about their experience with the management company you’re considering. 

Reputation is important among customers, but you also want to work with a company that has a good reputation in the industry. We recommend that you focus on property managers who have a strong community presence and a commitment to improving the way rental homes are leased, managed, and maintained. 

Look for association memberships. There are several good organizations in California and even locally that can make referrals when you’re not sure where to start. You can also talk to other landlords or investors. 

Check out the member organizations that belong to the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM). This is a professional organization that holds its members to high ethical and educational standards. 

When a local management company is Involvement in organizations and professional groups, you can immediately assume a couple of things: 

  • First, you know that the company cares about the community. 
  • You can also expect that they know how to network and build relationships. 

Gather as many referrals and recommendations as you can. Spend some time researching a prospective property management company. You’ll find everything you need to know about their services, their reputation, and their willingness to provide exceptional customer service just by doing an online search. 

Local Property Management Experience is Essential

San Francisco is a unique rental market. You don’t want to work with a property manager who is not local to San Francisco and attuned to the nuances of this particular rental landscape. 

Experience is always important when you’re looking for professional property management. Make sure it’s local experience. This will help you when it’s time to:

  • Choose an investment property. 
  • Price your investment property. 
  • Consider upgrades and updates that may make it more attractive on the market. 
  • Market your home. 
  • Screen your tenants. 

A detailed and hyper-local understanding of the rental market, the competing properties, and the tenants will help you have a more successful and profitable rental experience. The local presence will be invaluable when there’s an emergency at the property or you need to make sure you’re complying with all local laws and codes. 

Experience in property management is also going to be important. You want to work with a company that has successfully rented homes, effectively collected rent, and frequently handled maintenance issues. You also want a company that has experience in your particular type of property. A commercial property expert won’t be much help if you’ve got five single-family residential homes to rent out. 

Before you hire a property manager, talk about experience, and ask for examples of rental properties they’re currently managing. Decide whether they understand your unique property, whether it’s a single-family home in the suburbs or a multi-family unit in a large, association-run building. You need to get an idea of what types of properties they’re most comfortable managing.

Evaluate Property Management Systems 

Technology. Communication. Accounting. All of these are important when it comes to choosing a property manager for the first time. 

An investment in property management technology is always a good sign. It means they understand the importance of technology in efficiently leasing and managing your home. Ask about the systems they have in place for: 

  • Marketing your rental property
  • Screening tenants
  • Collecting rent
  • Enforcing the lease
  • Responding to maintenance issues
  • Handling lease renewals

With the right property management software, a lot of this can be automated and it also keeps everything more transparent for you. 

Communication also needs to be a priority. You want to know that your property manager is willing to communicate with you, be responsive, and remain available when you need them. If you’re an out-of-state owner, online communication will be especially critical. If you’re someone who likes in-person meetings, make sure your property manager is equipped for that. In our experience, communication only fails when expectations aren’t shared. 

Check on a property management company’s accounting systems, too. Are there online portals that allow for online rental payments? There should be, and you should receive your rent within days if it’s deposited electronically. Talk about statements and financial reports. What can you expect? Following your income and expenses is not only important at tax time but also in evaluating whether your property is performing the way you expect. 

You’re looking for solid property management systems that have delivered good results. You need to know that your property manager is prepared to collect rent, enforce the lease agreement, and respond to maintenance emergencies. 

Ask for specifics. How soon will the lease renewal notices go out? What do they do to avoid eviction if rent is late? 

You Need to Protect Your Investment Property

You hire a professional property management company so that you don’t have to worry about collecting rent on time, finding a good tenant, negotiating lease terms, hiring vendors, and answering emergency maintenance calls in the middle of the night. 

A good property management company will do more than those day-to-day tasks. A good property management partner will also ensure your rental home is protected from damage, bad tenants, and deterioration. You want to work with a team who has a plan for every possible situation. 

Ask a potential property manager what they do if a tenant breaks the lease early. Find out how they serve notices if rent isn’t paid. Ask about their screening process and take a look at their move-in inspection forms. 

Can the property manager you want to hire protect your property? This is fundamental. You need to have a thorough understanding of how they will protect your asset.  

Remember that Value is More Important than Cost

Property Management FeesNo one likes to pay high property management fees. You’re looking for competitive prices that match the scope of work a company provides. For every consumer of goods and services, cost will always be a factor. You have a budget, and you likely want to stick to it. 

Remember, however, that good property management is not a commodity. It’s a service that should deliver value, and you’re likely to get what you pay for. Choosing the cheapest company is one way to conduct business. But, what are you getting (or not getting) in exchange for that cut-rate management fee? 

When you’re measuring management companies against each other, don’t compare costs. Compare values. 

When you’re choosing a property management company for your San Francisco investments, make sure you’re getting the best expertise, resources, and tools that you can afford. You don’t want to have to manage your manager. If you own real estate assets, you don’t want to be bogged down with day to day decisions and hassles. You simply want to be able to log onto your portal and see what’s going on with your property. 

Don’t go cheap when you’re choosing a property manager. You’ll end up spending more than you might have imagined. You don’t want to be frustrated and you don’t want to be the person who has to come up with systems because your property manager hasn’t. 

You’re not investing in real estate to take on a second job. You’re not hiring a property manager to be a micromanager. Find a company you can trust, and be willing to pay for their services when those services are outstanding. 

We’d be more than happy to continue this discussion. Talk to us about your unique needs, and tell us why you’re looking for a property manager for the first time. We’ll provide some ideas and tips that are based on your own requirements. 

Contact our team at Sharevest Property Management.