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Does Professional Property Management Matter?

What are Your Responsibilities as a Landlord?

As Sarasota property managers, we are responsible for providing tenants with a home to live in, and for managing and maintaining a very valuable asset on behalf of owners.  Professionalism in property management matters, whether you’re a ‘do-it-yourselfer,’ or an industry insider.

A true professional must:

Establish Clear Expectations and Foster Good Relations

Property management involves far more than managing bricks and mortar.  In fact, “people management” is as big a part of the process as is physically managing rentals.  Most people respond in kind when treated fairly and honestly, but the true professional is able to maintain a sense of control and civility even when the other party may be acting/reacting otherwise.

A key component of managing people and fostering good relationships involves setting expectations upfront.  A great way to do this is through written (we also have videos) procedures manuals that fully explain who is responsible for what, and the procedures for communicating issues and formulating resolutions.  The desired outcome should always be as much of a “win-win” as possible given the particular circumstances.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Maintenance issues are actually very simple to address, provide the following principles are adhered to in advance:

  • Set aside adequate financial reserves to deal with both recurring, and emergency maintenance issues.  As a rule of thumb, we advise a minimum of $500.00 per rental unit to be immediately accessible to address maintenance issues.
  • With adequate reserves, there is never an excuse for deferring needed maintenance and repairs.  The best policy is to perform all preventative maintenance (A/C servicing, quarterly/semi-annual inspections, etc.) on a schedule, and to repair damaged/broken items immediately.
  • Pre-screen vendors (plumbers, electricians, pool-care, lawn-care, etc.) before you need them so that you have reliable and honest tradesmen at the ready when you do need them.

Managing a Vacancy

Treat tenants in such a way as to encourage good tenants to renew (see above).  Draft leases in such a way as to require a 60-day notice of a tenant’s intention not to renew, and that always allows for access, showings, advertising, and signage during the 60-day period prior to vacancy.  Once vacant, make sure the property is clean and in good repair.

Set Realistic Rents

We’ve seen far too many owners, “cut their noses off to spite their faces,” by mispricing their rentals and ignoring market signals.  Assuming the property is in rent-ready condition (i.e.: clean and in good repair) I promise you that if you have had 25 showings and still no lease, then the asking rent is too high.  For the sake of argument, does it really make sense to keep a property on the market for an extra three months just to hold out for another $100.00 per month?

The math is really quite simple:

At a hypothetical $1,000.00/month asking rent, a property that sits on the market an extra three months costs the owner $3,000.00 in lost revenue — you would have to find someone willing to pay an extra $250.00/month for a year just to make up the loss (HINT: It isn’t going to happen).  It rarely makes sense to hold out for an extra few dollars a month when the cost of doing such is so high.  This is even more true when there have been many showings with no takers, which clearly indicates that the market considers the asking rent to be too high.  It’s almost always better to take, say $950.00/month, and get it rented out in just a few weeks.

Hire a Professional Property Manager

Realistically, most ‘do-it-yourselfer’ simply aren’t equipped to professionally manage residential rental properties on their own.  They don’t have the maintenance, management, accounting, legal, administrative, and people skills required to profitably and efficiently manage properties over the long term.  In almost all cases (there are exceptions) hiring a professional property management company is the best, most cost-effective residential property management solution.

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