A property manager is a business professional who serves as a liaison between a property owner and a tenant who is renting the property. They have various responsibilities and work to serve the interests of the owner while providing service to the tenants, as well. The nature of the work involves the collection of money, the negotiation of leases, the listing of available properties and much more. Depending on the state law, a property manager may or may not be required to hold a real estate license. Below are some job specifications that an effective property manager should be expected to have.
1. Business and Marketing Skills
A property manager is expected to locate potential tenants to rent out available residential or commercial properties. Thus, the property manager should have an aggressive marketing plan in place to find potential clients. The property manager may have contacts with various relocation specialists within the community such as human resource departments within large companies, or with military housing offices. He or she should have an accurate understanding of what the current rental market is like. Thus, the property manager will be able to provide an accurate evaluation of the amount of rent to charge.
The property manager must be skilled with advertising (on-line or print advertising), to list the homes or businesses that are available for rent. He or she must be savvy in the various outlets to list a property for rent and be able to utilize sources beyond the Sunday classified ads in the newspaper. There are multiple sources available to list rentals on the internet. The property manager should be well-versed in listing rentals on multiple websites in order to reach a large target of potential renters.
2. Communication and Verification Skills
Potential tenants are drawn from the various sources, and are then shown the property. Thus, a property manager must be someone who is able to communicate well with all types of people. A degree of “sales-ability” is needed, especially when there are many rental units available within a particular market. Due to the real estate decline, many homes (formerly for sale), are now available for rent.
Once a prospective tenant is found, the property manager must be able to discuss the terms of the lease, and communicate any other expectations that the owner may have. If a tenant is truly interested in the property, a screening process takes place that may include:
Evaluation of the rental application
Confirmation of employment information provided by the potential tenant
Contact prior landlords to determine reliability of potential tenant to pay rent
3. Strong Problem Solving Skills
When a tenant is secured and a property is rented out, the work is just beginning to start. A good property manager will be proactive and responsive when problems arise. This could include initiating legal proceedings if rent payment is late, or responding to an emergency such as an air-conditioner failure in the peak of summertime.
Tenants and owners will require a property manager that is “on the ball” and this requires a responsive individual with empathy and strong problem-solving skills. In the case of emergencies or repair, the property manager will be able to call an appropriate tradesman to come and complete the repair work to provide peace of mind to the tenant and owner. In some cases, this may involve employing an answering service or setting up a 24 hour hot-line to take emergency calls after business hours. The property manager will need to communicate any repair needs or maintenance issues to the owner in a prompt manner. The property manager needs to be sensitive about the costs incurred by the owner. In some cases, pre-approval will be needed from the owner before any work can be started.
4. Financial Skills
The property manager is in charge of the collection of rental money and the disbursement of checks to the owner. He is also in charge of paying vendors for repair or maintenance issues, and keeping all records up-to-date. Usually a monthly statement is issued to the owner which includes a balance sheet of rental income earned and repairs or maintenance fees paid out. In some cases, the property manager handles the payment of any home owner’s association fees, or other regularly scheduled services such as pool care, lawn care or pest control.
Once rent is collected, it is usually deposited into a trust account, with a transfer of funds (or check) provided to the property owner. The transfer should be promptly rendered each month. A monthly statement is then issued to the owner to explain all monthly activity associated with the property.
The charges for services provided by a property manager are usually based on a percentage of the monthly rent. For example, if a particular property is renting for $1500 per month, and the property management fee is 10%, the company is earning $150 each month to manage the property. This fee is deducted from rental income earned, and reflected on the owner’s statement each month.
When deciding on a property manager, it is useful to consider the following characteristics:
How long have they been in the business of managing properties?
How do they communicate with the owner?
What is the property management fee and what can one expect from the services provided?
Can the property manager provide references from other owners of properties they’ve managed?
How do they advertise and screen for tenants? Exactly what does the selection process entail?
How often do they check on the properties (every 3 months, annually)?
What are the credentials of the property manager?
As these specifications show, a skilled property manager is a professional that has the ability to wear many hats. He must be responsive, proactive, communicative and skilled in many different business aspects. The job specifications are varied, but the ultimate goal of a successful property manager is to provide accountability and peace of mind to both property owners and tenants alike.