What to Look for When Choosing an Atlanta Property Manager

Choosing a property manager in Atlanta is a big decision, whether you’re just starting out as a landlord or you’re an experienced investor. A property manager is responsible for placing tenants, overseeing the day-to-day operations of your investment property, and ensuring your asset earns you more than it costs.

Before you sign a management contract with an Atlanta property management company, please consider these things.

Property Management Atlanta: Experience and Education

A professional property manager with a lot of experience managing rental properties in your market is an asset to any property owner.

Experience is important, but ask about the type of experience your property manager has. This makes a difference.

You need a property manager with the experience to manage whatever type of investment property that you own. When your portfolio is full of multi-family homes, a management company that specializes in commercial properties or single family residences probably won’t be as beneficial as a manager who understands duplexes and small apartment buildings. Look for areas of expertise that match your property and your needs.

It’s also important to find a manager with experience solving problems. When you’re struggling to find a long term tenant, look for a management company with a record of tenant retention. When you need help deciding how much rent you should charge for a particular property, talk to a property manager who can do a comparable rental analysis of your market, and even your neighborhood.

A company that says it has 50 years of experience is great – just make sure they have the type of experience that you need.

Education is also critical. The property management and real estate industries are constantly changing. Your property manager should stay up to date on every law, regulation, and best practice that’s involved in this business, including:

  • Landlord and tenant laws.
  • Local, state, and federal fair housing regulations.
  • Best practices when it comes to managing rental properties.
  • Local market rates, tenant needs, and property trends.

Look for leadership. The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) is an organization that provides resources, conferences, and continuing education to professional property managers. They also provide designations and certifications that property managers can achieve. Before you hire an Atlanta management company, ask if they belong to NARPM, and how they stay current in their profession.

Local Atlanta Knowledge and Industry Resources

A management company with local knowledge of the Atlanta market and surrounding areas is essential, but you also need a company that’s involved in the larger industry. NARPM is a good start. Then, look for property managers who network with other professionals from all over the country – even the world. You want a team with the tools and resources to expertly manage your home, and to keep your property safe and profitable.

Ask if your potential property manager is involved in any local, state, or national associations. Managers who network professionally have access to a lot of information. This contributes to the better management of your Atlanta rental property. It can help you attract good tenants, develop relationships with expert vendors and contractors, and keep your costs down.

When you meet with potential property managers, discuss the trends in the local Atlanta rental and real estate markets. The conversation should demonstrate what they know (or don’t know) about the tenant pool, the investment opportunities that are available, and current market rents. You want to feel comfortable that your property managers knows what your home can earn in the current market, and how long it will take to rent your property out to qualified tenants.

Property Management Atlanta: Reputation and Community Involvement

Do a little research online.

A property management company’s online reputation is a good way to understand how they work and what they do for their clients.

There are several review sites you can use, and the most popular ones are Google + and Yelp. Read what the company’s current and former clients and tenants have to say about their experiences. Remember that you’re looking for a property manager who is responsive to your needs and protective of your investment. Don’t be put off by a negative tenant review. If you see a review from a tenant complaining about eviction when they hadn’t paid rent for three months, you know that the property management company is doing its job.

You can also visit a company’s website and social media sites to understand how and where they work. Use all of the online resources available to you, and if the company you’re considering doesn’t have much of an online presence – think twice about hiring them. Technology is a big part of effectively managing properties in Atlanta, and if a property manager isn’t using the internet to advertise, screen, and share information, you might not get the best service.

It’s also important to work with a company that’s active in your local community. Many good property managers see themselves as providing a valuable service to you as an owner and to the greater community as well.

Atlanta Property Management: Established Systems and Processes

Talk to prospective property managers about the systems they have in place to manage tenants on a day-to-day basis, as well as the emergencies and conflicts that occasionally come up. A good property manager will have a proven, consistent procedure for these things, and more:

  • Marketing rental properties
  • Showing properties to tenants
  • Screening potential tenants
  • Move-in and move-out inspections
  • Rent and security deposit collection
  • Inspections and evaluations
  • Emergency and routine maintenance repairs
  • Accurate owner statements
  • Managing vendor relationships
  • Accounting and financial bookkeeping
  • Evictions and legal compliance

When something unexpected happens at your property, such as a tenant not paying rent or a tree falling through the roof, you need a property manager who is prepared and knows exactly what to do. It’s why you hire a professional – they have the plans in the place so you don’t have to worry.

Accounting and Transparency in Atlanta Property Management

You’re trusting a property manager with one of your most valuable investments. You’re also trusting them with your financial information and the financial information of your tenants. That’s a huge responsibility, and they must protect your privacy and your financial security.

A good property manager will send you monthly financial statements that detail how much your rental property earned and how much was spent on its maintenance and care. Modern management companies will provide these statements electronically, usually through email or their online portals. You will likely be paid electronically as well, unless you prefer a paper check.

At tax time, you’ll want a 1099 that covers all of the financial activity associated with your rental property. Your property manager needs to be a financial partner who can make the accounting part of rental property ownership easy and efficient.

Talk about whether there’s a full time bookkeeper or accounting professional on your property manager’s staff. With smaller companies, a property manager or administrative team member may be responsible for managing your finances. That’s fine if there’s a good system in place. Just make sure you know how your money is being managed, and who is responsible for the oversight.

Property Management Atlanta: Business Model and Pricing

All property owners want to know how much professional management is going to cost. It’s a good question. Just remember a few things:

  1. You get what you pay for.
  2. The lowest price doesn’t always mean the best service.
  3. It’s important to compare prices and services when shopping for professional Atlanta property management.

Professional management is not a product you buy once and forget. It’s a valuable service that helps you earn more on your rental real estate. Make sure you’re getting value. That doesn’t always mean the lowest monthly management fee. It means you’re getting reliable, professional services in exchange for a competitive rate. Be willing to invest in professional management. It’s the only way to earn more on your property.

When you’re thinking about working with an Atlanta rental management company, ask to see a copy of the management contract. You want to know how much you’ll be paying, whether there are any additional fees on top of what’s been explained to you, and how to get out of the contract if you find yourself unhappy with the management services you’re receiving.

Every property management company in Atlanta has its own business model. Some will take a commission from the monthly rent that’s collected and others will charge you a flat fee. Some companies will have different service tiers and others will charge a separate fee for every single thing that’s done for you. You don’t need to focus on fees when you’re seeking the best management, but you do need to understand what you’re getting in exchange for the money you’re paying.

Personality is an important part of the formula, too. Spend some time with your potential property managers and make sure they’re a good fit. These are people you’re relying on to know things you don’t know. You’re counting on them to keep your expenses low and your ROI high. You need to understand how they work and what they value.

If you’re struggling to understand what an Atlanta property manager does, or you need help finding the right property management company, contact us at Specialized Property Management. We can help you understand what you need and how to find it.

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