What is a Property Manager? A Property Manager is a trusted professional. An asset. A middleman. A lifesaver. Maybe most important of all: A BUFFER. A buffer from what? Things you never even thought of.
It’s not as easy as we make it look
If you have ever had a home that you rented and managed yourself, you may have an inkling of what we go through. Our office manages 225 homes right now – WHEW!
Dealing with the complexities of maintenance concerns alone can be a nightmare for owners if you are not familiar with maintaining a home or troubleshooting repairs.
Taking calls at all times of day and night can affect your personal life or even your employment. Showing the house to endless “lookers”. Accepting renters based on your gut or compassion, rather than credit reports, debt-to-income ratios and solid landlord references.
All that adds up to big headaches and lots of potential for relational breakdowns and sometimes damage to your investment property. The best part of hiring a property manager may very well be the mental health benefits.
Property managers take the stress away from homeowners. They handle marketing, showings, applications, leases, repairs, inspections, move-outs, deposit charges & refunds, but most importantly the bulk of any problems, including cranky ones!
When the going gets tough
One factor that you may not have considered and one unknown factor that can NEVER be predicted – not even by a professional. You can select only the highest-rated applicants with the finest rental references, who have been on their job for 20 years with an impeccable debt-to-income ratio and still miss this important factor that will impact everything to do with every aspect of renting.
This unknown factor will affect every single landlord/tenant relationship and could be apparent VERY quickly once the tenant has moved in. This factor is known as the “Jerk Factor”. Don’t google it, because I made it up.
It can be hidden for days, weeks or months, or it may pop up before the ink is dry on an iron-clad lease. No verbiage in the lease will prevent it and nothing can be done to alleviate the sting of it once you are the target. The demanding, mean, persnickety, cruel, insulting, devious, unkind, heartless, loathsome tenant is the hardest part of our job.
This factor is similarly found on the owner side of the property management equation, but that is a tale for another blog.
In 2015, we had the world’s meanest tenants ever-to-walk-the-earth move out of one of our rentals. We had housed them for two years and the staff was so excited to see the end of their reign of terror. We talked about it for weeks leading up to the blessed day.
Nothing sacred to these people!
You could almost feel the sun was shining brighter, the grass was greener and the earth was going to be a better place. We nearly threw a party on move-out day. Had they requested, we may have personally helped them pack.
These tenants had verbally abused us weekly for two years. They texted our private phones often – insulting us personally, professionally, and they even the mocked the company owner’s spirituality. Nothing sacred to these people! There was no bar too low for them to crawl under. They yelled at the staff, and even threatened us with lawsuits at every opportunity.
We had to lay down some ground rules
Finally, they had to be instructed that all contact be in writing. We could no longer take their abuse. They nitpicked their rental home and were cruel even to the kindest vendors sent to the home to perform work they REQUESTED! Yes, they would even refuse entry to vendors for repairs that they asked for!! We added verbiage to our lease because of these tenants!
The owner’s had no clue
The magnificence of the whole scenario (if there was one) was that the owner that housed these miserable humans (to this day) has no clue that they were remotely problematic! And THAT my friends is the BEAUTY of having a property manager. We are the sponge that soaks up all the suckiest parts of the business of owning investment property.
Our office kept this problem tenant and all their abuses away from the owners the whole time! They were and still are clueless that their tenants did anything but pay the rent like clockwork and leave the home immaculate as our fabulous 20-page lease requires. Remember, they were well-qualified to rent the home on the front-end and they even received an excellent reference from us, as they complied fully with all terms of their contract, despite being horrible to deal with.
When a management fee isn’t worth the hassle
Owners hire property managers to avoid the day-to-day stresses of managing their home, and a good property manager will take that job very seriously. They work hard to make sure owners are only bothered with the necessities of managing their home.
Ask any property manager, we all have a few cranky tenants & even the occasional owner (ahem). In most cases we can turn it into a positive experience for all.
Sometimes owners get frustrated with the costs and wonder if a property manager is worth that monthly fee. If you EVER met the folks above, (world’s meanest tenants ever-to-walk-the-earth) you would know that there was no monthly management fee that was worth what we went through with those tenants. If the owners were dealing with them directly, they would probably have paid far more than 10% (average rate) to offload them onto some other poor soul. But it’s what we do and the cost is the same for the good experiences and the bad.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Good property managers work hard to keep you stress-free. It’s not only the things that you see, but the things that they do for you that you will never even know about that make this tax deductible expense well worth the cost.
Services can vary amongst professionals. Be cautious about picking a management company by the lowest bidder. Find out what you are getting for your costs. Some (like us) provide far more services for the same cost as most others in our area.
Certain “big box” property management companies have great marketing materials, but often reel owners in with promises of a too-good-to-be-true fee and then burn them with add-on service costs. You may find that you spend far more on those property management “deals”. And not to toot our own horn, but we are kind of over-the-top awesome at Stephanie Clark Property Management.
Every year we take over properties that have been mismanaged by the “competition” and we are honored to have the opportunity to show these clients that all property managers are not created equally.
Maybe one day soon I will disclose to our client that they were the landlord of the world’s meanest tenants ever-to-walk-the-earth in the story – or maybe I won’t.
Mary – PROperty Manager for Stephanie Clark Property Management