How to Choose the Best Property Management Company - 10 Questions You Need to Ask Today
Finding the best property management company for your community can be a heavy lift. Some real estate markets have multiple residential management companies to choose from, and at first glance, they might seem very similar.
So how do you find the best property management company to fit your community’s needs? Follow the tips below when consulting with property or homeowner association (HOA) management companies to make the best decision.
1. Ask how long they’ve been managing properties.Property management companies come and go, which can leave your board in a bind. Finding a property management company with some longevity means that they will stick around and come to the table with a vast amount of experience. Partnering with a professional property management company with decades of expertise is essential because most communities have legal, accounting, emergency response, and maintenance issues. Finding a company that has permanence is important because there is nothing they haven’t seen before, so they can expertly handle any problems that should arise in your community.
2. Find out how many properties they manage.There are no right or wrong answers here, but a manager with a smaller portfolio of properties means that their time is less compromised, so they have more availability to serve your community. Sometimes, people assume that smaller companies provide a better level of assistance because they can provide more personalized service. But smaller companies often face issues that affect their ability to provide good help. Small, family-run businesses may be stretched thin, have one manager overseeing many properties, and often lack the staff to serve as backup support should that manager become ill or need to take time off. Typically, larger companies have more staff, experience and resources, which allow them to deliver better service to your community.
3. Ask about the availability of the management team.The most crucial part of service is availability. Working with a management company that is easy to get in touch with is vital. You should partner with a company that can handle problems quickly and makes informed decisions based on experience. The best property management company for your community will have various contact methods, letting you reach them by email, phone, and a community portal. They should have property management software that allows for direct communication with the management team and is quicker and more efficient.
4. Ask for references.The best property management company for your community can provide customer references, reviews and testimonials that reflect their level of service. You should pay attention to reviews about the services that are essential to your community. It would help if you also looked for references from properties similar in size and operation to yours.
5. Review the terms of the contract.A full-service property management contract is usually one or two years long and may include penalties or fees for ending your contract early. It is essential to review the terms of your property management contract to know what penalties you could incur and the benefits of renewing a contract year after year.
6. Find out what services are included in your contract.The term “full-service residential management company” means very different things within the industry. Does full service indicate that the company helps strategic planning, arranging preventative maintenance and fund collection? It is crucial to obtain a list of the services included in your contract before you sign it. You should also ask if your quoted price is all-inclusive or if full service requires additional fees. Understanding what you are expected to pay upfront and monthly is essential when deciding that affects your community. Finally, ask about other resources available to support your manager, including legal, human resources, training and engineering.
7. Ask about how property managers are selected.All HOAs - condos, high-rise or large communities - are different. Property management companies should have a detailed process to find the right manager to fit the community's needs to provide the best service. For example, suppose many of your community’s residents speak a foreign language. In that case, the right property management company will be able to staff your community with a manager who is fluent in that language and can communicate with and understand the needs of your residents.
8. Get a list of the property manager’s qualificationsWhen it comes to the day-to-day business of managing your community, the manager who will be working with your residential property needs the proper training and qualifications to deal with the situations that inevitably arise. Look for companies that offer experienced management teams and provide associate education programs and board member training. Because laws and regulations are constantly changing, make sure that your property manager has professional memberships and up-to-date training to ensure your community is compliant.
9. Ask how they handle maintenance.An excellent residential management company will have procedures in place that clearly define how they'll respond to maintenance and emergency issues. When we least expect them, emergencies happen, so ask if a property management company has a maintenance crew and if they work with preferred vendors to resolve issues. Do they get multiple quotes and negotiate the best prices for your community? Do they pay bills on your behalf? The right property management company for you will be invested in saving your community money and providing you with cost-effective maintenance solutions.
10. Do they communicate regularly?Look for a company that sets up a regular communication schedule that includes monthly reports and statements. Ask if they attend routine board meetings and stay informed to provide the best service and manage the property well. Additionally, the best property management company should be accessible 24/7 and answer routine questions quickly. Look for HOA management companies with a 24-hour customer care center that can answer residents’ questions while freeing up the manager to manage the property.
If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of a professional property management company and what it can do for your HOA, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading property management company, by filling out this form today.