Questions to ask:
How long have they been managing for?
What is their current vacancy rate?
Expect their current vacancy rate to be what you can expect in the future. It is helpful to compare this number from several firms.
Do they have their own maintenance crew?
This is a plus as long as the fees are reasonable.
What kind of property do they manage?
It is better to manage fewer properties because it allows for specialization. You want them to specialize in the type of property that you own.
Do they manage property exclusively or do they also provide brokerage services?
Specialization is also important in this aspect. There are a lot of realtors who take on property management as a side endeavor without fully committing the time and resources to mastering it. You don’t want this.
How often do they send out checks and reports?
This should happen at least once a month. Anything less is unacceptable.
How often do they have to evict tenants?
This indicates how well they screen tenants because good property managers should have a low rate of tenant turnover.
What are their fees?
There are more fees than just the management fee.
How does their management contract address contract termination?
Thoroughly review their management contracts.
Are the licensed?
They should 100% be licensed.
What certifications do they have?
For each type of real estate there is a trade organization that provides training and certifications for professionals in that industry. Look for certifications from organizations like CAI, NARPM, IREM, NAA and BOMI. These are not required but they are a good sign that the company takes its profession seriously and is committed to ongoing education in their field.
Bad signals to look out for:
Unpleasant and unprofessional demeanor
Property managers are expected to be on call for emergencies 24/7/365. Also, firms should not be closed on weekends because it will cost you lost rent from not showing your vacant units on the weekends.
Lack of responsiveness
Property managers should be easy to contact and get a hold of. This is important not only for doing business but because you do not want a tenant to get the answering machine when they have a serious emergency that requires immediate attention.
Unwilling to provide reference
They should be willing to let you talk to past clients.