Previously we talked about specific aspects of how you conduct business that you can share in order to help sell yourself better. A good part of knowing how to sell to your prospective clients is to understand the mindset and questions that they are likely to ask you. Today I want to go over a few things that property owners are likely to ask you when they are looking for a property manager. You will find some overlap with the previous article, but consider this a checklist of information to have readily at hand.
- How much experience do you have? If they have a right mind about them, they should be inquiring as to how much experience you have in property management – this is where you can provide references.
- What is your monthly cost? Your prospective client will have researched a reasonable monthly fee. If you are outside of the range they are expecting to hear (which is likely 5%-10%), then you will need to have a good explanation to back that up.
- What are your vacancy and leasing fees? As most managers charge a fee to fill a vacant property, they will be expecting to hear about this. You can specify how it offsets your costs for advertising, showing the property and other time spent with relation to filling the vacancy.
- What is your Contact Information? We spoke about being flexible and communicative in the “10 Things…” article. Having good contact information is part of this, including multiple ways to contact you such as email, cell phone and office phone. It’s perfectly reasonable to request non-emergencies go via one source such as email – just so long as your client is able to get a hold of you when they need to.
- Tell me about your Accounting system. State laws require certain procedures regarding how you send checks to the owner and how security deposits are handled. You should be licensed and compliant with state laws. If your customer is smart they will ask for a commitment in writing with regards to a mailing schedule of rent checks and monthly expense statements.
- How do you handle repairs and maintenance? Do you have an in house team that does this? Do you subcontract? It is good to have the specifics of which services you contract out and which you do in house. Naturally the billing rate for this sort of work will be required.
- Do you request a cash reserve? Some managers will charge the owner for a cash reserve fund which is refunded if not used. This is basically an emergency fund for problems that require immediate attention
- What is your termination policy? Sometimes relationships don’t work out. Sometimes things happen and people need to move on. No one (on either side) should be entering into a contract without a clause for leave the contract. This can involve a fee for leaving early – or whatever you think of – just be sure the details are clear. Do you have a lawyer make up your contracts (something I would recommend)?
- How effective are you at marketing and filling vacancies? What processes do you use? What is the quality of the photography that you display? If you contract out a professional photographer, this will need to be an expense you list.
- What do you do to qualify tenants? What kind of background checks do you do? Share your processes. As a note, one background check recommendation is to check the previous two landlords, instead of just the most recent – if you do this be sure to note it.
- How do you handle late or no rent payments? Smart building owners are going to be looking for your opinion on this – if you are ‘flexible’ with tenants then they may be wary. Being courteous and fair are good virtues, but the owner is going to want a manager who is firm with the set tenant contract.
- What is your eviction process? We have previously discussed evictions on the blog here. The specific legal process is dependent on the state. A smart property owner will ensure that you know that you follow the correct legal procedures for these situations.
In your adventures as a property manager your experience with prospective client property owners will probably differ – people who know what they are doing are going to be prepared with loads of questions like these, if you are not then you will lose a client. If you have a property owner coming to you not asking these questions, then you can take the opportunity to educate them, or you may want to consider that they are not someone you want to work with as well.