A Good Property Manager

Property Management is a service that almost anyone can do.  There are no trade secrets that prevent people from getting into the business.  There are very few legal issues preventing someone from starting a management company (even less for someone to manage their own properties).  For the most part, you can learn everything you need to know just from a google search (Go ahead, you'll be an "expert" in about 1 hour :) ).

However, the difference between KNOWING and DOING is significant.  While I do believe anyone can become a property manager, I am not sure that many people will become Good Property Managers.

So... The question is this: "What does a Good Property Manager look like?"

A Good Property Manager must be someone you can TRUST!

This is true in most any business transaction.  If you can't trust the company/manager, you can't count on them doing the right things.  
Look at their contracts:  Does it feel like they are trying to get away with something?  Is everything spelled out and clear?  Do they make you sign a long term commitment with no guarantees?  Consider their rates:  Are their rates high?  Do they seem to get paid for doing nothing?  Will the manager take all your profits?  Meet with them:  Are they engaged?  Do they seem stressed or overworked?  What does your gut tell you?  
Talk with people using their services:  Are the other property owners excited about the manager?  

A Good Property Manager will be transparent and easy to communicate with

If you cannot trust the manager, you do NOT want to give them control of your assets.  But even if you do trust the manager, you still need to be able to see (in numbers and in person if you want) the status of your assets.  Communication Avenues:  Is there more than one way to reach your manager?  Do they respond to email, text, calls?  How will you reach them in an emergency?  Check Response Times: Call your manager out of the blue.  Can you access them anytime?  Do they respond to tenants quickly?  Pretend to be a tenant... Do you like the experience?  Review Reporting Capabilities: You need to have access to your incomes and expenses.  Do you get reports every month?  Can you easily see where you are financially?  Define your Budgets: Does your manager know your budget?  Do they care?  What are their incentives to make money?  Establish Meaningful Goals: What are your goals for the property?  How can the manager help you achieve them?  Does the manager care what your goals are?

A Good Property Manager will be experienced and be willing to share that experience

A property manager may have all the knowledge and know all the right people, but if they have never managed a property before, there is still a lot of learning to be done.  We have managed properties for many years now and are still tweaking our systems.  However, when we first started, we had some huge learning curves.  It cost us lots of money to get the processes in place that make us successful today.  A good property manager has to have done it for a while to have turned that knowledge into practical application.

A Good Property Manager will care about their tenants as much as their owners

A property manager that cares about their tenants will make them happier.  Happier tenants pay more rent and are willing to pay rent more consistently.  However, the balance of tenant cares and owner cares must be maintained by the manager.  The manager must be for both the tenants and the owners.  

This is possibly the most difficult role a property manager plays.  A Good Property Manager will be able to tell tenants No when needed and be able to help the owner make the best decisions possible.

A Good Property Manager will treat you as well or better than themselves
Most of this comes back to Trust.  Do you trust your property manager will treat you as good or better than they treat themselves?  Once you find a manager like that, you are set.

A Good Property Manager will make you more money than you could yourself

A Good Property Manager will know the tricks of the trade, understand the markets and know how to make the most out of each property.  While this is possible fore you to work through and eventually learn yourself, a Good Property manager brings all these with them as soon as they start managing your properties.

A Good Property Manager should also bring some economies of scale to the equation and should be able to save you money on repairs, maintenance, evictions, etc.  After all is said and done, a Good Property Manager should make up their management fees in savings and increased rent to you as a property owner.

Additional Reading