Tips & Advice
What are the benefits of hiring a property management company?
Some of the key benefits of hiring a property management company include:
- Better tenants: The best property management companies are skilled at tenant screening. This can help you attract a higher caliber of tenants to your building. Effective tenant screening can bring in tenants who are more likely to pay their rent in a timely fashion, and who are more likely to remain long-term residents of the building. Screening can also provide you with tenants who are less likely to damage the rental property.
- Shorter vacancy cycles: If a tenant moves out, it can take awhile to find a qualified replacement. It's in your best interest to keep this vacancy cycle as short as possible, since you won't be earning any money from an empty unit. Skilled property managers can handle the process of finding a replacement tenant quickly and effectively. This results in shorter vacancy cycles.
- Freedom from the day-to-day responsibilities associated with property management: If you manage a property yourself, you'll have to deal with things like rent collection, tenant complaints, and maintenance and repair issues. These responsibilities can be bothersome and time-consuming. Hiring a property management company will help you avoid having to deal with these tasks on a daily basis.
- Reduced tenant turnover. Tenant turnover can impact the profitability of a rental unit. The best property management companies know how to keep their tenants happy, and happy tenants are a lot less likely to move out of the building and a lot more likely to take reasonable rent increases in stride.
How to find a property manager?
Use the following steps to find and hire a property manager:
- Get referrals, or conduct an online search: Start by getting referrals from sources you trust. Be sure to get referrals from multiple sources to avoid bias. You can also conduct an online search to find property management companies that are based in your area.
- Check for ratings, reviews, and complaints: Once you're built a list of candidates, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been lodged against any of the companies. It's also wise to visit third-party review sites to see what types of ratings and reviews each company has received.
- Look at each company's current work. After weeding out those companies with credible complaints and poor reviews, look at the current work of the companies that remain on your list. Evaluate the ads posted by these companies; you'll want to work with a company whose ads project professionalism. Visit buildings managed by these companies, and speak with the tenants. The best property management companies have tenants who are happy with the services they provide.
- Conduct interviews with the top candidates: Next, conduct interviews with the property managers who remain on your list. Look for a company with staff members who are responsive to your questions and open to hearing about your priorities and concerns.
- Check licensing: At this point, you should have a favorite or two. Before signing on the dotted line, verify that the company is licensed to manage property in your state. In most states, a real estate broker license is required, while a few states require a property management license.
- Carefully review the agreement: Once you've been presented with a property management agreement from the company you've chosen, check to make sure it explicitly includes all the duties and responsibilities you'd like the property management company to handle.
Does property management require a license?
In most states, property management requires a real estate broker license. To obtain this license, you need to have a high school diploma or its equivalent, along with at least two or three years of real estate experience. Classes in real estate education are required, as well as passing a real estate broker's exam.
In a handful of states, a specific property management license is required before someone can legally manage property. This license is required in Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, and South Dakota.
How much do property management companies charge?
The rates charged by property management companies vary depending on the services provided, and location may also impact the fees charged. Most property management companies charge a rate that totals 8 percent to 12 percent of the property's rental value. Others might charge a flat fee that has nothing to do with rental value, and instead relates to the range of services provided. Property management companies might charge an extra fee for services such as tenant placement and eviction.
What is the job of a property manager?
A property manager is a professional hired by a property owner to handle the day-to-day management of a rental property. A property manager sets rental rates and collects rent from tenants, and is also responsible for finding and screening tenants. Property managers handle property-related maintenance and repair issues, and they can tackle responsibilities related to tenant move-outs, evictions, complaints, and emergencies.
What is a reverse mortgage loan?
A reverse mortgage is a type of mortgage loan that's open to homeowners who are 62 or older. These loans allow these homeowners to convert a portion of their home equity into cash. With a reverse mortgage, the borrower doesn't make monthly payments to the lender. Instead, the loan is repaid to the lender via proceeds raised from the sale of the property after the borrower moves out of the home or dies.
How to get a home mortgage
- Take a look at your credit. Strong credit can help you get a mortgage loan at attractive interest rates. Before applying for a loan, take a look at your credit score. A FICO credit score of 670 to 739 is considered good, while a score of 740 to 850 is considered very good or exceptional. If your score is weak, consider taking steps to improve your credit before seeking a loan. You can improve your credit by paying off balances and limiting credit card usage to 20 percent of available credit.
- Know what size loan you can afford. Many experts say your mortgage loan shouldn't exceed 2.5 times your annual salary. Your monthly payment will be dictated by the size of your loan and the amount of your down-payment. You can reduce the size of your monthly payment by increasing the size of your down-payment.
- Get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. Before beginning your home search, it's a good idea to get your loan pre-approved by a mortgage lender. This will let you know how large of a loan you can expect to get. You can use this information to narrow your home search to properties that are priced to fall within the limits of your loan amount.
- Choose a mortgage type. Your choices include a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable-rate mortgage, and you can choose a mortgage insured by the government or one that is not.
- Find a home. Once you've found a property you'd like to purchase, the lender will have the property appraised to make sure its value is commensurate with the amount of your mortgage loan. Once the mortgage has been approved, you'll need to do things like order a title search and purchase homeowner's insurance. If you have a government-backed loan, there might be other types of insurance you need to purchase.
- Fixed-rate mortgage. This is a mortgage that has a fixed interest rate over the entire life of the loan. The benefit is that it offers predictable payment terms and the fixed interest rate allows the size of your monthly payment to stay the same year after year.
- Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). With this type of mortgage, interest rates change from time to time to reflect current market conditions. In many cases, the rate remains fixed for an initial period, and then it is adjusted on a yearly basis. For example, with a 3/1 ARM loan, the 3 in the name indicates that the loan has a fixed interest rate for the first three years. Afterward, the rate is adjusted on a yearly basis, as indicated by the 1.
- Conventional mortgage. This is a mortgage loan that is issued with no government backing. A conventional mortgage might come with a fixed rate or an adjustable rate.
- Government-insured mortgage. This is a mortgage that is backed by the government, such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A government-backed loan might come with a fixed rate or an adjustable rate, and typically requires a smaller downpayment than a non-government issues loan.
- Conforming mortgage. A conforming mortgage is one that falls within loan limits set by the FHA. These limits vary by real estate market. Expensive real estate markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco have higher loan limits.
- Jumbo mortgage. A jumbo mortgage is one that exceeds loan limits set by the FHA. In most markets, a jumbo loan is one that exceeds roughly $400,000. However, in expensive markets like New York City and San Francisco, the limits are higher; in these markets, a jumbo loan is one that exceeds roughly $600,000. Jumbo loans usually require higher down-payments and excellent credit.
How to find the owner of a vacant property
- Research the property's tax and mortgage records. These records are usually available online. Tax and mortgage records should be able to provide you with the name and address of the property's owner, and they might also provide you with a phone number.
- Ask the neighbors. In some cases, neighboring residents will be able to provide you with the name of the person who owns a vacant property, and maybe even a forwarding address and phone number. When communicating with neighbors, make it clear that you're someone who's interested in purchasing the property. Otherwise, neighbors may think you're a debt collector, and this could make them reluctant to provide information.
- Hire a skip tracer. A competent skip tracer can help you find the owner of a vacant property. These private investigators are skilled at locating people, and they are often able to generate results within 24 hours. It can cost as little as $20 per search.
What is a mortgage payment?
A mortgage payment is made by a borrower to a lender that has provided a loan used to finance a real estate purchase. This payment typically includes both principal and interest, and it's made until the original loan has been fully repaid. Mortgage payments are typically made on a monthly basis, and these loans usually come with 15- or 30-year terms.