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 are the different types of foundation repair methods?
There are several methods of foundation repair, based on the problem.
- Sealants and masonry patches can be used for minor foundation cracks and imperfections.
- Slab jacking is a process used for sunken foundations that raises the sinking foundation back to normal by pumping a fill material below the foundation to regain its original position. This method, as laborious as it sounds, can actually be done quickly and efficiently.
- The most severe form of foundation repair is piering, or piling, in which steel or cement piers or pilings are driven through the foundation into the ground to correct and re-stabilize the foundation. In steel-pressed piling technique, steel rods or beams are driven into the ground via a hydraulic ram to the foundation back to its normal position. In concrete-pressed piling, holes are drilled deep and filled with reinforcement materials. This is a cheaper solution, but only a short-term one.
How can foundation problems be prevented?
There are a few ways that can help decrease chances for foundation problems, and they are all water-related.
- Install quality gutters around your roof with downspouts that take the water at least 3-5 feet away from the foundation. This can prevent water from pooling around your foundation.
- Address the soil grade in your yard. Your soil type and the slope of the land are major factors in water retention and pooling. Be aware of trees and plants that affect moisture levels in the soil adjacent to the foundation. In drought conditions, consider a soaker hose around the perimeter to prevent the soil, particularly clay soil, from drying, shrinking and cracking.
- Check all plumbing and drainage properties regularly for leaks. Consider a French drain, which is an underground trench system where excess water is collected and removed.
How can you tell if a foundation has problems?
There are several signs you may have foundation problems. If your foundation is visible (you have a basement or crawlspace foundation) there will be visible evidence of cracking or crumbling. If your walls are warped, or the floor slopes, those are major indicators you foundation is sinking. If doors are hard to open or close, or get stuck, this may be a foundation problem (but could also just be a door frame issue, so don’t freak out yet). Cracks on the walls or on floor tiles are a sign. Water in the basement or crawlspace can be a definite danger sign. Warped walls or gaps between the walls and ceiling should be cause for concern. Having any of these symptoms (outside of the blatant visual evidence of a cracked or crumbling foundation) might be a warning sign, but is not necessarily proof of foundation problems. However, if you do have symptoms, you would be wise to have an inspection done. Problems like that only get worse.
What are the causes of foundation damage?
Water is the No. 1 source of foundation damage. Too much water can saturate the soil beneath your foundation, causing the soil to expand. Conversely, too little water can cause the soil to shrink. Both situations affect the soil level of your foundation. As soil shrinks, foundations can sink, causing stress on them, which can lead to damage. Plumbing leaks are another primary source of problems. That leaking water changes the soil under you house, a problem you may not discover even exists until it’s too late. Poor drainage construction is another culprit. Water that pools up for long periods wreaks havoc on the soil levels. Poor soil preparation prior to pouring the foundation can be problematic. Different soil types require different preparation. A poorly constructed foundation is another potential hazard. Far and away, water is what caused the most problems--too much or too little.
Do foundation contractors offer warranties?
Not all foundations contractors offer warranties, but the one you hire should. Foundation repair is a critical element in the health and stability of your home, and can be very expensive--so why would you not get a warranty? If for some reason the contractor doesn’t warranty their work, move on immediately.