Choosing a property manager can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never rented out a property before. We believe you need to ask the right questions to find the right property manager for you. So here are our top 10 essential open-ended questions to ask prospective property managers during the interview process.
(To compare property management offices in your area, click here and view information on local property managers’ expenses, marketing strategies and reviews).
10 questions to ask prospective property managers
1. Are you the property manager that will look after my property? If not, who will be?
Most agencies employ a business development manager or agency manager who will facilitate the initial discussions with you about managing your property. The aim of the game is to secure your business and investment property with their tried and tested sales pitch. When you meet with them, you want to make sure that you know exactly who will be looking after your rental. Then arrange to connect with that person before committing to the agency.
Many agencies with a more extensive sales department don’t put as much energy into renting and property management and often leave the task to underqualified receptionists and assistants. You want to find an agency with a dedicated property management department.
When you meet your prospective property manager, ask them how long they’ve been with the agency. Generally speaking, you should be looking for a senior property manager that has demonstrated longevity in their role, which proves that this is a career for them. Due to the stresses of property management, staff turnover is high. You ideally want to try to ensure that you will be talking to the same person in six months.
Be sure to ask the property manager the following questions:
- How many years have you been working in real estate?
- How many years have you been with your current agency?
- How can you demonstrate your knowledge of the current rental market in my area?
2. How many properties do you personally (as well as the company) manage currently?
Naturally, you will want to go with an agency with a reputation for employing efficient property managers. But you need to ensure that they are not too overloaded to look after your property carefully. The size of a property manager’s portfolio is directly reflected in the quality of service they offer.
As a general rule, you don’t want your property manager to be currently looking after more than about 120 properties. If the agency has 450 properties on its rent roll, it should ideally employ three or four property managers to continue to provide a premium service to landlords.
3. How many tenants on your books are currently in arrears, and what action do you take if a tenant is behind in rent?
The rental agent should outline the company policy to ensure you will be paid what your tenant owes you. Ask them:
- How often will rental payments be made into my account? This was typically a monthly payment, but now it can be weekly, fortnight or monthly, so it’s best to confirm.
- How do you collect the rent from the tenant?
- Do you enforce late fees?
- What are your lease agreement options? (It’s important to be clear on the lease agreement terms, i.e. a fixed agreement of 6 or 12 months or a periodic agreement.)
Your property manager should also provide you with a clear outline of their policy for what happens when a tenant falls into arrears. This should involve either an in-house or outside debt collection procedure. The property manager should also represent the landlord in court if it reaches that stage and the tenant doesn’t cooperate. This procedure should be outlined in your contract.
4. What happens if my property needs urgent maintenance?
Many agencies will have a list of preferred contractors that deal with emergency situations at your property. They’ll organise quotes and coordinate urgent repairs to a pre-arranged financial limit. Some agencies will also offer the service of paying all property bills on your behalf if required. Make sure to discuss this with your agent to ensure that you are comfortable with the process.
Furthermore, it’s important to raise the following in conversation with your property manager:
- Are you able to pay the property bills on my behalf if required?
- When will you contact me if there is a maintenance request?
5. What methods would you use for marketing my rental property and attracting tenants?
This is an essential question to ask. The last thing you want is the agent handing out your keys to prospective tenants and allowing them to view your property independently. Instead, your property manager should be proactive and present at the property whenever a prospective client inspects it.
They should also have a database of quality tenants looking for a home and/or a clear marketing strategy to find the right tenants for you. Ask your agent how many days they are available and planning to show the property to interested applicants and how they intend to advertise your property.
Remember that many prospective tenants work during business hours and need to inspect on the weekend. A good agent will be available for all open house and private inspections on the weekends and after standard workday hours.
Some examples of the marketing you’re looking for include:
- Online listings on websites such as realestate.com.au and domain.com.au is a no-brainer. Did you know only real estate agents and property managers have access to these websites?
- A professional For Lease sign at the front of your property.
- An email blast to their past and current rental database.
- Advertising within their agency.
Here are some important questions you don’t want to forget to ask:
- Do you hand out keys to prospective tenants or attend each property inspection?
- Do you have staff available to show my rental property to prospective tenants six days a week?
6. How does your property management agency screen tenants?
It should go without saying that a property manager will do their best to personally analyse potential tenants. Their screening process needs to include the use of a subscription to a central tenancy database. Being present when the prospective new tenant inspects the property is a great starting point to assess their suitability.
When interviewing your prospective property manager on their screening process, ask them to explain their procedure to you. Ensure it includes checking prospective tenants with regard to credit worthiness, past rental history, reference checks and current employment.
A landlord should be provided with all of this information and the application form to pick the right tenants to rent their investment property.
7. How many property inspections do you carry out per year, and what is the cost?
How often your agent can carry out routine inspections depends on the legislation for your state. But you want to ensure that they are complying with the maximum allowed. Ask what sort of report you will receive, whether there is an additional cost, or if it is built into your property management payment.
If you have any special requests for your renters, either inside or outside of the house, you need to make sure to include these in the tenancy agreement.
Start by asking these questions:
- How often does current legislation dictate that you can carry out inspections?
- Will you provide me with reports following the routine inspections?
- Do you outsource these services (as well as entry and exit inspections) to a third party? This is a new trend that’s a detriment to the landlord and their investment property.
- What other forms of communication can I expect from you? Will I receive monthly statements? Email updates? General market information? Maintenance issues? Rent reviews? Lease renewals? A warning regarding vacating tenants?
This is also a great time to ask them whether landlords gain access to an online portal or if they do things the old-fashioned way with mailed financial statements. Speaking of communication, it’s fair for landlords to expect their property manager to return their call or email within the same day. If they don’t confirm this basic level of service in their interview, it may be time to look elsewhere.
8. What is the full cost of management?
Unlike the fees associated with selling a property, there are many ongoing fees that are presented when appointing a property manager. The three basic upfront fees you will pay are:
- A management fee (a commission percentage of the weekly rental figure).
- A letting fee (often one or two weeks’ rent).
- An administration fee (usually a monthly expense).
Ask the agency what the management payment encompasses, as it will often include advertising your property to find a tenant, inspections, reports and the organisation of maintenance quotes. Remember to confirm whether all costs include GST. Finally, it’s worthwhile to note that these payments are often negotiable.
Ideally, you want to find the perfect match between price and added value. Landlords might be enticed by an affordable property manager, but you will probably get the substandard service that you paid for, with poor renters and extended vacancy periods. A quality property manager will tick all the boxes listed in these interview questions.
9. What is your estimate of the weekly rental potential of the property?
When your property manager answers this question, you should follow it up with: “What are you basing this on?” The agent will need to demonstrate a good understanding of similar properties in your area and the rents they are achieving from both their agency and others.
Be sure to ask:
- On what are you basing your estimated figure?
- What are the current rental payments for tenants in similar buildings or homes?
10. How can you ensure the best returns from my property? What else can you offer compared to your competition?
Property management is not just about collecting the rent. It is a comprehensive management service that a trained property manager should provide. A quality property manager’s main goal should be to maximise your rental yield.
So during the interview process, make sure you find out what differentiates this property manager from their competition and discover what their strengths are. Most agencies have a unique selling point to entice landlords to employ their services.
Ready to start looking for a quality property manager?
Now you know the essential questions to ask, find the right real estate agent for property management with LocalAgentFinder.
Important Questions to Ask Rental Agent FAQs
How to choose a property manager?
Even to an experienced landlord, finding the best-suited property manager can be an overwhelming task. During your meetings, asking the right questions is essential.
Will the real estate agent I meet be the one looking after my property?
Ensuring that you are meeting with the actual property manager rather than a facilitator is important – if it is not the individual sitting before you, be sure to make a follow-up appointment where you can meet the person who will be managing your property. Similarly, discover how long the manager has been with the agency and whether they are committed to their job and career – you want to have confidence that you won’t have to find a new manager in six months’ time.
Where do you find online reviews?
Many people suggest reading online reviews before committing to a property manager. However, it’s hard to trust some reviews as they can be faked to boost sales. Google Business Profile reviews are generally the most reliable and genuine. You can also read property owner testimonials when you compare agents with LocalAgentFinder.
Can I ask to speak to the current landlords they work with?
Landlords are definitely allowed to ask whether they can speak to their prospective manager’s current clients. If they have nothing to hide, they should have a list of references and be happy to put you in contact with a satisfied customer that proves they’re the quality property manager you’re looking for.
What qualities should I look for in a property manager?
The ideal qualities you’re looking for in a prospective manager, which you should keep in the back of your mind during the interview process, are:
- A positive attitude.
- Great communication skills.
- Passion for their job and real estate in general.
- Efficient organisation skills.
What kind of contract do I look out for?
The vast majority of agents will offer you a management contract that can be cancelled. If you’re instead offered an inescapable contract, it’s time to look elsewhere. All landlords should also get an attorney to check their contract before signing it.