Let’s imagine you’ve already made the decision to hire an Alexandria property management company. By now, you’ve done your research, and you’ve narrowed the options down to a select few. What is the next step?
Interviewing a full-service property management company is a sure way to make sure that you are hiring the right company. From the few you have selected as options, what you want to end up with is a partner who will communicate well, market, manage, and maintain your Alexandria rental homes.
This means you need to know the kind of targeted questions to ask during the interview in order to protect your interests and make the right choice. Here are some questions you can pose during the interview that will help you really laser in on the right property management services provider for your needs.
1. Are You a Licensed Property Management Company?
Although some states do not require a license for property managers to operate, you should expect your property management company in the Northern Virginia area to have one. An Alexandria property management company that acquires and maintains a license to operate projects confidence and reliability. Plus, it will allow you to have a partner who can professionally manage your properties across the DMV area.
2. What Are Your Affiliations?
Besides a license to engage in real estate services, the right full-service property management company can and should have certified affiliations with local agencies and industry groups. This provides them with training resources and industry news, keeping them up-to-date with changes to laws and regulations governing the market.
3. What Is Your Cancellation Policy?
Most companies have policies regarding terminating their management contract. Knowing the details of this policy will help you to decide what responsibilities you would fall on you as the investor if it becomes necessary to terminate the relationship. It is important to know your exit strategy in case the partnership doesn’t work out or meet the needs of your Alexandria rental property.
4. What Services Do You Offer?
For a reasonable fee or percentage, an Alexandria property management company can handle daily operations and customer service, relieving the owner of significant stress and freeing up time in both their personal and business schedules. However, the right partner will offer additional property management services as well, such as:
- Marketing and advertising your property
- Tenant screening services for protection
- Dealing with complaints and delinquency
- Managing rental pricing and rent collection
- Managing subcontractors and other vendors
- Carrying out routine maintenance and repairs
- Enforcing compliance with current laws and regulations.
Ensure that the managing company provides these services themselves. Some companies only provide a couple of the principal services and sub-contract out the rest, in which case the owner/investor may not know or approve of the entities performing the actual service. Try to establish transparency regarding the details of services offered from as early as the first interview.
5. May I See Your Portfolio?
The size and quality of a portfolio may attest to the reliability of their property management services and their reputation. Of course, too many properties can be a downfall for successful management without enough employees. On the other hand, a company with a small portfolio may be very qualified. Regardless, a glimpse at their portfolio may reveal insights into their ability, reputation, and the kind of properties they have experience managing.
6. How Do You Screen Potential Renters?
Find out what checks they run and how they determine a suitable renter. Do they:
- Meet the potential renter in person?
- Do a background and credit check?
- Verify their income?
- Ask for references?
- Provide a warranty for their services?
7. May I See Some Sample Documents?
Ask to see samples of their:
- Management contracts
- Rental applications
- Lease contracts
- Eviction notices.
Pay attention to how they’re written and who is primarily protected. A property manager should adequately care for the interests of their client (the investor). That said, their treatment of your current and future renters also matters.
8. How Do You Handle Routine Maintenance and Inspections?
Determine who pays for what, what fees may be charged, and who the primary contact is. Find out how they hire and pay inspectors, contractors, suppliers, and other vendors. It's also worth investigating if they thoroughly screen their vendors or not before allowing them into any rental home.
9. How Do You Handle Vacancies and Evictions?
- How do they market your property to fill vacancies?
- How do they handle evictions?
- What liability might be deferred upon you as the owner?
- Do they offer some kind of protection?
All of these are important questions to have an answer to in the event of a worst-case scenario. Eviction should always be a last resort, so it's also important to ask about their eviction rate in general—and the proactive strategies they take to keep this number low.
10. Can You Provide Me With References?
- They should have references or testimonials to show you.
- The references don't have to be only from clients; they could come from real estate agents, contractors, or attorneys.
You may have noticed that this list does not include a question about management fees. By all means, feel free to ask it as part of your interview—in fact, you should. The important thing to focus on with fees is whether they list everything up front or have surprise costs to you tucked away in contract legalese. It would be good to ask them for a copy of their contract to review as well.
There will be some overlap in available property management services across companies. However, the quality of the service and the details may differ greatly. As many experienced investors know, cheaper is not always better.
The aforementioned questions should promote an open discussion rather than an interrogation, and the result should be that you can find a suitable Alexandria property management partner to care for the success of your investments in the DMV area.
Once you've found the right partner, avoid pitfalls in your growth process as an investor! Get started by downloading our free guide to real estate investing in Northern Virginia.