When you’re looking for a new property management company or getting to know the managers you’ve hired, communication is one of the most important things to focus on. You want to develop an open, transparent, and responsive relationship with your property manager. You should feel comfortable asking them any questions you may have about your investment and how they’re going to care for it.
We’ve identified the five most important questions you should ask any Birmingham property manager before you sign a contract and hand over the leasing, management, and maintenance of your investment property.
1. How well do you know the Birmingham rental market?
Understanding the Birmingham rental market is important. You want a local property manager who knows the properties, understands the needs and desires of tenants, and follows all of the competition. A local property management expert will help you price your property correctly, market it strategically, and protect you against potential legal mistakes.
Talk about the market’s current challenges and ask about the latest trends in the local market and the wider property management industry. This will give you a good idea about how experienced your management company is, and whether they take the time to stay informed about what’s happening in Birmingham and the industry.
2. How does the leasing process work?
You’ll need to know how your property management company plans to market your home, show it to potential renters, and screen the applications that are submitted. Ask about the online advertising sites they use, the quality of the photographs they take for those advertisements, and the criteria they use to determine whether a resident qualifies to rent your property.
You’ll want your management company to check tenancy databases for terminated lease agreements and money owed to former landlords. You also want to be sure that your residents can afford the rent, so make sure your property manager verifies employment and income. Criminal backgrounds should also be checked. The tenant screening process is an important part of the leasing process because the type of tenant in your home will have a huge impact on the success of your rental property.
3. Do you leverage technology?
There’s a lot of outstanding technology available in Birmingham property management today. There’s no reason that your property management company shouldn’t be digital and technologically savvy. Ask about how they use the internet to market properties and whether there’s an online portal for owners and for tenants.
You should ask whether rent payments are made online and if you can expect to receive your deposits electronically or if you’ll still be stuck waiting for a paper check. Discuss how maintenance is reported, and whether tenants have access to an online reporting system. You should know if accounting statements will be provided and whether the property manager invests in self-showing technology and digital lease signing.
4. How will you protect the value and condition of my rental property?
A good property manager will protect the condition of your asset and ensure your investment is well-positioned to grow in value and potential. Find out how the property management company will respond to routine maintenance issues as well as emergencies that may occur after hours. Ask about the vendors and contractors they use so you know what kind of relationships they have in place with the people who may do work on your property.
It’s also important that your management company conduct routine inspections, especially at the start of a tenancy and at the end of the tenancy. You should have a well-documented record of the property’s condition, especially when it comes to deciding whether you will return the tenant’s security deposit.
5. Do you keep up with federal, state, and local laws?
Alabama is a fairly landlord-friendly state. There aren’t a lot of laws that restrict what landlords can and cannot do when it comes to raising rent, evicting tenants for nonpayment, and screening applicants. However, there are still federal fair housing laws that are extremely important. You also have to know the security deposit laws in this state and how to determine the difference between a pet and a service animal. Make sure you’re working with property managers who know the laws and stay up to date on all their changes. This is the best protection against an expensive mistake.
These are just five questions you need to ask, and there are many other issues you’ll want to explore when you’re considering Birmingham property managers. If you’d like to know our thoughts on these and other questions, please contact us at Decas Group.