Property Management Best Practices

Effective property management is key for a variety of stakeholders, increasing profitability for property owners while maintaining tenant satisfaction and retention. Understanding how to put your expertise to work as a property manager—and how to serve your clients—can help you create an additional income stream while building a base of both investors and renters that you can tap into as a buyer or listing agent.

Who needs a property manager?

Property managers serve a variety of clients, including:

  • Large-scale real estate investors who are looking for a hands-off management experience so that they can put their money to work without living the landlord lifestyle.
  • Small-scale real estate investors with one or two properties who are not confident in their ability to manage or who live too far away to effectively manage their properties.
  • Short-term rental property owners who need someone to facilitate the preparation, maintenance, and turnover of their properties between guests.
  • Second-home owners who don’t have the time or proximity to keep an eye on their resort or vacation property and want to make sure it is adequately maintained year-round.

In addition, although tenants are not technically clients of the property manager, they are an important part of the equation. Effective tenant screening and onboarding, as well as good communication and responsive service, can help ensure that properties are filled with well-qualified renters and that they are kept happy, minimizing turnover.

7 Steps to Effective Property Management

In order to ensure that you are offering top-notch service, it is important to conduct your property management in accordance with industry best practices. That will allow you to ensure that you are not only improving the value of your client’s investment but burnishing your professional reputation as well.

1. Pursue advanced education and training

In all but six states, property managers are required to hold a real estate broker’s license or a property management license. In order to excel, however, advanced training and education are essential. Once you have some practical experience under your belt, consider advanced coursework to become a Certified Property Manager (CPM) in order to increase your expertise and marketability and to make yourself a leader in your field.

2. Adopt a service-oriented approach

As a property manager, you must be concerned with more than the nuts and bolts of the property itself. Just as with any aspect of real estate practice, a value-added, service-oriented approach will help you grow your business and provide optimal results. Understand your market, your tenants, and the goals and needs of your property owners and find ways to align your services with all of the stakeholders involved.

3. Communicate consistently and effectively

For tenants, there is nothing worse than the helpless feeling of an unresponsive and uncooperative property manager when the property they’re renting is in disrepair. For owners, there is nothing worse than an unexpected expense that could have been avoided. In order to keep everyone happy and keep the properties you manage filled with happy tenants, it’s important for you to provide needed information and to communicate in a timely manner.

Communication isn’t just important when something goes wrong. Reaching out on a regular basis can help you stay abreast of small problems before they become big, expensive ones.

4. Maximize profitability for the owner

Ensuring that an investment property is profitable requires close attention to a number of factors, including:

  • Vacancies: Minimizing the time between renters and improving tenant retention helps limit the number of vacant days and reduces carrying costs for the owner.
  • Repairs: Good record-keeping and regular maintenance, along with an efficient turnover process between rental periods, helps to prevent unexpected and expensive system failures and repairs.
  • Expenses: Keeping good records, maximizing tech resources for tenant screening and rent payments, and minimizing waste helps to reduce expenses and increase profits month after month.

5. Provide information and insight

Put your real estate market knowledge to work for the owners of the property you manage. Keep them informed with regular updates on property valuation, rent rate trends, occupancy rates, and market changes that could affect the value of their investment. Offer information about value-added updates and services that may make their property more marketable and desirable.

6. Maintain a robust professional network

You will need to have consistent access to reliable contractors, repair professionals, real estate attorneys, and other service providers in order to ensure that you’re managing the properties under your purview as efficiently as possible. Regularly compare prices and services and stay in contact so that you always know who to call for a last-minute repair or major property update. When you take on a new property to manage, spend some time getting to know the current service providers so that you can determine what insight they can provide and whether they should remain in place as an addition to your team moving forward.

7. Provide consistent maintenance and upkeep

One of the most important things you can do as a property manager is put together a consistent and ongoing maintenance and upkeep schedule for every property you manage. Have a plan for inspections and regular interior and exterior upkeep so that you can maximize the life of the property and its systems.

Make good use of the time between tenants to properly clean and repair the property as needed. Provide thorough onboarding and clear instructions to tenants as to the maintenance items that are their responsibility, including filter changes or carpet cleanings. Talk to the property owner about providing pool maintenance, pest prevention, or lawn care in order to ensure that these are maintained consistently and effectively.

Written by Christy Murdock Edgar

Christy Murdock Edgar is a seasoned real estate writer and frequent columnist for Inman. Her expertise in the realm of real estate has helped agents all over the world improve their content marketing strategies.