Australia is filled with real estate agents and property managers, so it’s no wonder landlords can feel a little overwhelmed when they start looking for one to manage their rental property.
If you’re using a property manager, then you need someone experienced and switched-on. They need to care about the property market both generally and in your area, and above all take the time to know your property just as well as you do.
It pays to know what you’re looking for: we’ve put together a list of steps you should take to find the best possible property manager, with some questions you need to ask as well.
Step 1: Find the best
First thing you should do is jump on realestate.com.au, and then check out the agents who have the bigger listings at the top of the results. Those are the property managers who know how to get a property in front of as many people as possible, which shows they’re willing to go the extra mile.
Don’t worry about using any of the search filters. Just search for your suburb, then use the results to contact about five different agents.
Step 2: Talk within 24 hours
Once you’ve contacted them, wait a day. If they haven’t gotten back to you within that time, then don’t consider them anymore. Harsh? Not really – property management is a hurry up and wait game. You want someone who’s on top of their messages, and getting back to you quickly is a good sign.
After you’ve made contact, arrange a time to meet at your property. Do some prep beforehand – ask the property manager to email you through some information before they get there.
Step 3: Get an estimate
Any property manager worth their salt will be able to give you an estimate at the house (unless you have a particularly unique home or some unusual features that might affect the value). Be sure to ask how much you think it’s worth (along with some other questions, which I’ve outlined below).
Step 4: Conduct an experiment
Once you’ve got all your information, give them a call. This time, pretend you’re a tenant and you need some questions answered. How long did it take them to get back to you? Judging by the response rate, would you be happy as a tenant?
A list of questions you should ask your property manager
When your potential property manager drops over, don’t let them do all the talking. You want to get as much information as possible, and the only way you can do that is if you ask some questions. I’ve put some together here, along with a quick explanation of why you should ask them and what you want to hear:
How long have you been a property manager?
Anyone with less than a year in the job is a red flag. You want someone who has actually worked as a property manager for a year, not an assistant or someone in sales. This should be their actual career, not something they view as a step to being a sales agent.
How long have you been a property manager for your company?
If property manager turnover is high it means there are admin problems in the background like leases not getting signed, repairs or inspections not being done, or a host of other problems. These are all signs of bad systems that burnout property managers, which in turn creates bad experiences for landlords and tenants.
You want someone who has been working for the company for more than a year. If less, find out how long the previous property manager was there for.
How many properties are you managing?
Property managers can actually handle quite a few properties, but any more than 150 and you’re in dangerous territory. The agency might handle many times that amount, but for an individual property manager that number is the maximum you want before they get distracted and things start getting missed.
Who manages the property, and who will I speak with?
The person you first talk to may not be the person who will manage your property. You want to meet with the person managing your property before you sign on the dotted line.
Also note: even though a property manager might run the overall management of your property, they may also employ a lot of people to take care of regular inspections, show tenants through, etc.
This means they will need to be even better at reporting because the person responsible for managing your property may forget or not even know what your place looks like.
Do you show tenants through on weekends?
A lot of property managers don’t work during the weekend, but that’s when a lot of the best tenants are looking.
What websites do you advertise on?
If they don’t advertise on realestate.com.au and Domain, then cut the cord.
What type of listing do you use on realestate.com.au?
There are a few different types of listings on REA and most managers use the “standard” listing. Unfortunately that means you miss out on a lot of prospective tenants because they simply don’t see your ad. You want a manager that gets your property near the top of the list. These are typically Premiere or Highlight listings depending on how competitive your suburb is.
Does the owner of your agency have property manager experience?
This is a big one! A lot of real estate agencies only have owners with sales experience, and not property management. If they don’t have experience in that area then they aren’t likely to understand the nuances of what it takes to run a really great property management business.
Case in point: when I was a property manager, my boss didn’t care too much about our department (other than the results). We didn’t get any software to automate our tasks or follow up late rent payers – it took me six months to convince him to get a few basic programs!
Where is the nearest property you leased in the last few months?
If they don’t know off the top of their head, they probably don’t know the area very well.
Why do you like being a property manager?
If they don’t have a passion for the industry, then they aren’t likely to represent your interests – or the interests of your tenants – very well.
Get the free download of all the questions in a printable pdf including 3 bonus questions not included here.
And of course, the ultimate question…
“What do you charge?”
Some managers charge a lower percentage of rent but the hidden fees are a killer – some charge you more for inspections, monthly statements and if you need to take an issue to tribunal.
The last thing you should look for…
Finally, there’s just one thing you need to keep in mind: a property manager should listen to and understand your unique concerns. If you feel at any point they’re not able to provide personalised value to you and your property give them the flick.
Of course, you don’t have to use an agent. Another option is Cubbi