10 Questions to Ask Your Property Manager

A Checklist for Selecting a Property Manager

If you treat your property investment as a serious business, and want to maximise your returns over the long term, you realise the importance of effective property management.

You have the choice of managing your investment properties yourself or delegating the day-to-day management to managing agents, we believe engaging a Property Manager is the preferred option for investors in today's more complex property market.

Choose your Property Manager wisely as this can make a great difference to the real return you achieve from your property and a poor choice can change a great investment into a troublesome asset.

A good Property Manager should minimise the vacancy of your investment and find you tenants who pay the market rental, who don't damage your property, keep you well informed at all times while shielding you from the hassles of maintenance and dealing with tenants.

10 Key Questions to ask your Prospective Agent

1. Does the agency have a dedicated Property Management Department and how many staff will be looking after your property?

Many agencies see property management as a "poor sister" to the more glamorous sales department.  Some even leave the management of client's assets to the front desk staff and receptionists. Ensure that your agent has a dedicated property management department.

At First National Westwood  our department is staffed by a number of highly experienced agents so there is continuity of management if one Property Manager becomes ill or is on leave.  Our dedicated department manager has an active involvement of the property management department so you can feel reassured that your investment is managed to the highest possible standard.

2. How many years has the Property Manager looking after your property been working in real estate?

This means the Property Manager not the agency.  Some individuals chose property management as a career - this is the type of person that should be looking after your property and they should preferably have had at least 3 or 4 years industry experience.

At First National Westwood all of our Property Managers have been in the industry in excess of 5 years making them all highly experienced.

3. How many properties does each Property Manager looks after?

A Property Manager who looks after too many properties may not have time to devote the attention to your property. Some busy agencies have up to 230 properties per Property Manager. In general this is far too many to give your property individual attention. At other agencies managing similar numbers of properties the staff ratio may be 1 to 100 properties. While these agencies may charge a little more for their property management services landlords find this extra expense translates to a trouble free investment that produces a higher long term return.

Each Property Manager at First National Westwood is capped at 180 properties. This is to ensure each and every landlord is given the highest possible service.

4. How many years has the Property Manager been with the agency?

You should look for stability in your Property Manager. You want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to that person today, and in 6 months’ time you want to be able to talk to that same person.

At First National Westwood each one of our Property Managers have been with the company in excess of 3 years showing not only an environment where people like to work but also just how dedicated our staff are.

5. Does the Property Manager hand out keys or do they attend property inspections with prospective tenants?

If your property managers just hand out keys and let the tenant inspect the property on their own, move on to another agency immediately. Not only can things can go wrong with this approach and your liability and the security of your property are compromised, but the prospective tenants are not properly qualified.

At First National Westwood we have Leasing consultant who is dedicated to leasing your property doing whatever it takes to find you the best possible tenants in the shortest amount of time.

6. How often will the manager inspect the property?

Inspections should occur every 6 months PLUS an ingoing and outgoing inspection. Property Managers who look after too many properties may not have sufficient available time to maintain this inspection regime. They either cut it back to once a year or sub-contract the inspections and writing up the reports.

Our Property Managers at First National Westwood conduct the first routine inspection after 3 months of a tenant moving into your property. We then inspect your property every 6 months without fail when the inspection is due. At the routine inspection a full report is completed along with photos whether you are present or not.

7. Do you have a system that checks rental arrears daily and takes the appropriate action immediately?

A good property manager who uses electronic funds transfer methods for rent collections and up to date computer systems should be able to monitor rental arrears daily and minimise late rental payments by regular phone, letter, email and SMS communication with tenants.

First National Westwood use all the latest technology and systems to ensure we know exactly where a tenant is paid up to. Unlike other agencies who have an allowance period for money transfers, we contact tenants as soon as they are 1 day in arrears. Our Property Manager will also keep you up to date whenever a tenant is late.

8. Do you have staff available to show my property to prospective tenants 6 days a week?

Some agents will only show prospective tenants through properties on a Saturday at a time suitable for them. If a prospective tenant can’t make the time allocated normally they will move on to another property which limits the number of prospective tenants who view your property.

At First National Westwood our dedicated team will get as many tenants through your property as possible. We hold opens twice a week plus private appointments for anyone who can’t make the two times allocated for inspections. This ensures everyone who wishes to view your property can do so maximizing the chance to find suitable tenants for your property in the shortest amount of time.

9. Do you check prospective tenants for credit worthiness, past rental history and their current employment?

Checking an application is paramount to finding a tenant who will take care of your property. Property Managers who manage too many properties or get commission for leasing don’t always check what they are supposed to putting the tenant selection in jeopardy.
 
At First National Westwood we screen all of our potential tenants carefully and are extremely picky and precise when it comes to checking an application. We as for ask for a copy of the tenancy ledger from their previous agent, copy of their latest bank statements, pay slips and any other documents we think we will need to make an informed decision to whether the tenant in question can afford to rent your property. We also subscribe to a couple of major tenancy databases which is our last check done before securing a tenant.

10. Will you go to VCAT for me if the need arises and what is your success rate for previous appearances?

It is an unfortunate fact, that there may be a time when a Property Manager is required to appear on your behalf at VCAT. So you are protected as much as possible as a Landlord, it is imperative to have experienced property manager to represent you as tenancy laws have become complex.
 
At First National Westwood we take great pride in advising our Landlords that we attend VCAT very rarely. All of our experienced Property Managers are highly skilled negotiators and problem solvers which eliminates a lot of issues allowing us to bypass the VCAT process. However from time to time even we need to attend a hearing. You can rest assured the Property Managers at First National Westwood are up to date with most current legislation giving us the best chance of having a favorable hearing.