Do You Need Help?
Unless you have the time and feel comfortable making repairs yourself, you will probably need one or more people you can depend on to step in when problems arise. You might even decide to hire a property management firm to handle the daily operations of your rental business. The choices you make affect the character of your rentals
All but the handiest of us need occasional help with maintenance issues, especially those that involve plumbing and electrical repairs. You may already know someone you can turn to for help. If you don't, talk to some of your local real-estate agents — particularly agents who handle rentals. Most agents are willing to share their sources.
The number of rentals you manage will dictate how you work with repairpersons. Do you want them to be on call, or will you need them only during regular business hours? You know which will be more affordable, but sometimes emergencies happen. Finding someone who you know can come quickly if necessary is a plus.
What types of repairs can you foresee? Plumbers, electricians, roofers, heating and air-conditioning repairpersons, locksmiths — brainstorm the what-ifs, and try to line up people who can step in to help with problems.
Outside property management might be a necessity if you have a job that demands a great deal of your time, or if the property you are renting is not located near your home. Don't hire an individual or management firm without interviewing several potential candidates. Pay attention to the following:
What are the fees and the services you can expect to receive for those fees?
How much does the firm want up front for a repair fund?
What type of training have management personnel had? How many years of property management experience do they have?
Can they supply references from other clients?
What is the opinion of tenants who live in properties managed by the firm?
How are funds held, and when you can expect payments for monthly rents?
How is the company's credit rating? Make sure the management company has no unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
Get evidence that the company's brokerage license is active. (You can get this information from your state real-estate commission.)
Using a property management firm isn't the best choice for everyone, but sometimes it is necessary. Make the best choice you can, and avoid signing lengthy contracts so that you can move on if the relationship does not work out.
You will give your tenants and your properties more care than anyone else will. It's your venture — you care about it. This isn't just a job, it's the thing you