Find the best property manager for you.
Appointing (or changing) property managers or letting agents can feel daunting but in reality it is straight forward.
There are 6 areas to evaluate your new property manager
- Experience and Advice
- Type or style of buisness
- Boutique or large network agency
- Property Managment fees
- Systems and processes.
Once you have found the right property manager for you, you can compete all the paperwork and get everything set up online in about 30 minutes so don’t think it is a mountain of work.
How do you find the right managing agent for you? How to you know if they will be proactive, problems solvers and manage the human and legal issues. What is their experience, capability, skills, and cost?
Let’s find out.
1. Experience and Advice
This is often the most undervalued but most important serivce offered by good property managers. Getting the right advice can save you thousands and it is provided free (as part of the service).
Good advice is most important at the begining to set everything up properly. It also means the agent needs to take time to understanding your situation and find the best solution for you.
Navigating all the rules and regulations of property managment can be a nightmare. Having a great property manager to manage both the human side of owners and renters while complying with the rules is invaluable. Especially when dealing with tricky situations.
Find a property managment company you connect with and understands you.
2. Apartment vs Houses.
There are a number of tips or pointers to consider here.
- Do you own and apartment or house? Find an agent that specilises in what you have. If you have a one bedroom apartment a flashy house agent wont give you much attention.
- Apartment agents have apartment renters and understand how to service them.
- Some boutique agencies specialise in sectors. Wood Property are apartment experts and focus on this sector. Some small agencies may specialise in furnished or short stay or a local area.
- Will your property require a lot of maintenance or is it recently renovated or new? A property manager with expensive trades could create big bills for you if you have an older property.
3. Boutique or large network agency
This can be a bit of personal preference but the message is the size does not mean much at all. However some huge property management companies are stuck with old or problem systems that are too hard to change. Technology in the property management world has sky rocketed in the last 5 years and it is easier for boutique company to update modify their systems.
On balance a good quality boutique agency is best for property managment to give you personalised service and real people you can talk to.
- Don’t be wooed by the glitz of a flashy sales agency. Big real estate agents are often best known for sales. Their property management and leasing capability may also great but they may be very different.
- Look for a combination of a great team and great systems. Ultimately it is the property manager that looks after you. However, over time people change jobs, get sick and go on annual leave. The property management team and systems is critical to ensure you, your property and your renter, are well serviced over many years.
- Asking how many properties a manager looks after use to be helpful, but not any more. What you really want to know is how stretched they are and how much time they have for you and your apartment. It now depends on what other support they have, as well as the type and age of properties managed. Many agencies have dedicated leasing teams, field support and offshore admin teams. Also, some property managers operate in a “pod” system where three or four property managers work in a team managing 500-700 properties.
- You want your property management team to look after you obviously. But you also want to make sure they look after your renter. You want your renter super happy and continuing to pay rent on time with regular increases. Ask your potential property manager about their tenant services like how they report maintenance, discuss unpaid rent and what is their 24-hour emergency maintenance process.
- The leasing process is one of the most important. If your property manager can find and keep a great renter then you can enjoy years of trouble free investment. This makes the entire leasing process from presenting your apartment, marketing it, inspections, application review and renter induction critical. You can read a full article on best practice leasing here
4. Property Managment fees
A lot of people start their property managment search on fee. This tells me they feel all agents are the same. Fortunately this is not the case.
Price is not a great guide for quality when it comes to property management. High fee does not mean high service but low fee almost always means poor service.
Technology has made Property Management and Leasing much more efficient. At the same time, increasing regulation and expectations of service standards has added processes and additional skills, making it more time consuming. Consequently, fees have remained relatively stable for many years.
For a more detail of property management and leasing fees see this full article which details each service fee and explains what they are for.
In Melbourne the following service fees are considered market rates.
- Property Management – 5% to 7% (+gst) of the monthly rent.
- Leasing Fee – equivalent to 1 to 2 weeks rent (+gst)
- For Lease advertising – $150 – $500 (+gst)
- Other service fees often apply for account management (bill paying), re-leasing, ingoing condition reports and tribunal representation.
- Property managers can also manage the safety compliance inspections and landlord insurance but these are external providers.
Where the agents office is located is more important for sales than property managment and leasing. So much of the process is on line now and while the agent needs to inspect the property a few times a year the office doesn’t need to be in the same suburb as your apartment.
The location was more relevant for lettting when tenants use to go to a local real estate office to see what they have for lease. Now all properties are advertised on real estate portals and the tenants really don’t know or care where the agent is located. So long as they get good service.
Obviously you don’t want your property manager to be the complete other side of town but don’t be too concerned about exactly where they are.
6. Property managers systems and processes?
Get a feel for how the business runs and so ask questions like…
- What happens to queries when a Property Manager is on leave?
- How does the leasing and rental application review process work?
- Is there an owner portal to check in on any details 24/7?
- Do they have an offshore support team?
- What is their process for dealing with maintenance?
So how do you find a great property manager / letting agent in the first place?
If you own an apartment in Melbourne then look no furhter. Contact Wood Property to discuss how we can help.
Otherwise here are some tips to finding the right agent for you.
- Ask others for a property manager recommendation.
A direct recommendation from someone is the best way, but unless that recommendation is glowing you should not stop at that. Even ask renters or check their reviews on who the agent is for their apartment and if they would recommend them.
- Google it
Look to see who is local or specialises in apartments (like Wood Property) and dig around on their websites and check their reviews.
- realestate.com.au and domain.com.au
Look on the major real estate web sites like realestate.com.au or domain.com.au to see who is leasing apartments in your building.
- Book a leasing inspections.
If you really want to see the agent in action book your self in to one of their leasing inspections and see how they operate when they don’t know who you are and are not trying to sell you.
- Comparison sites
You can try comparison sites such as local agent finder but get ready to be bombarded by lots of agents. Remember they are not free. The agent has to pay them for your business which they may pass on to you by way of higher fees.
- Meet and interview them.
Unless you have happened to find someone amazing (like Wood Property 😊), meet and interview 2 or 3 property managers. Any more than that can become overwhelming. The process of meeting and getting a property management proposal from an agency is a great way to get a feel for their services and culture. They will also be very helpful with lots of ideas and tips for you.