18 Questions to Ask a Prospective Property Manager in Houston

March 11, 2019 by Jorge Lopez

Businessman Shaking Hands At Interview
You should take great pride in your rental investment. You’ve spent a lot of time, money, and research to find a good Houston property, so hiring a well-qualified property manager to take care of it will set you up for either success or failure.

At Green Residential, we’d like you to hire us as your property managers, but we also want you to be totally satisfied with your decision. Thus, as you interview various candidates and compare your options, ask the following questions first, so you’ll know you’re making the right choice.

1. How long have you been servicing properties in the Houston area?

The prospect should tell you about their years of experience in the area, their time working in real estate, and other factors that support their expertise in this region. We’ve been serving landlords and real estate investors for the last 30 years. We’re one of the oldest and most respected firms in the area, so you know you’ll be taken care of.

2. How many rentals do you currently manage?

The number will give you a sense of the size of their firm. Too few units will suggest inexperience or lost clients, while too many means you may not enjoy high-quality service. Between 200 and 600 clients is a good range for the Houston area.

3. Are any of the properties you manage in the neighborhood of my rental?

Make sure the property management firm you’re talking to has experience with rentals in your specific neighborhood or at least nearby. Their experience in a particular market will increase your chances of success.

4. What makes you an expert in the Houston real estate market?

It’s best to work with managers who also do real estate in the area. This means they’re pretty familiar with the market and can help you set rental rates and attract high-quality tenants.

Make sure you ask how they determine market rent value as well and compare it to your own estimates. Do a little research to ensure their answers satisfy you.

5. What are the best rental markets in the Houston metropolis?

To test the firm’s knowledge of the Houston area, make sure their assessment of good rental markets roughly matches your own. You want to ensure you have similar concepts and will work together in harmony on rent pricing and service levels.

6. Could you provide some references for me to call?

You can learn a great deal from folks who have been in your shoes. Call a few references to see how their experience with a company has been. You can ask additional questions and get an honest answer. You can also glean a lot from online reviews and testimonials as well.

7. Which services do you currently offer?

A solid property management firm will list these on its website, of course, but the managers shouldn’t mind walking you through each activity and answering questions about it. If they don’t offer a certain service out of the gate, ask for it. Sometimes, a firm will be willing to adjust its services in response to your needs.

8. What types of insurance do you carry?

Insurance protects both you and the company. At the very least, they should have general liability and errors and omissions coverage.

9. What are your fees and contract terms?

There’s no point in hiring a property management company if it can’t help you save money. As financial expert Eric Bowie points out, “A landlord’s ability to efficiently strategize around the mitigation of maintenance issues by lowering the costs of maintenance and repairs can have a tremendous impact on profits.”

The more conscientious you are about your overhead, the higher the profits you’ll enjoy. It’s hard to make ends meet when you’re starting out, and you don’t want to pay exorbitant fees for this service.

Ask specifically about hidden fees to make sure you’re quoted the total cost up front. At Green Residential, we don’t believe in making our clients overpay, which is why we offer a flat-fee service that makes it all easy for you.

10. What happens if I’m not satisfied with your service?

We don’t believe in making you pay for things you’re not happy with, and neither should any other property manager. From the very beginning, make sure there’s a money-back guarantee or an “out” for your contract, in case you don’t get the value that you were promised.

We’re pretty sure you’ll be happy with us, but it’s nice to know your investment is protected anyway!

11. How quickly do you process service requests?

Time is money for landlords. If you don’t believe it, imagine how much greater the damage will be for every minute an overflowing toilet runs without being fixed. You need a property management company that will respond almost immediately to service requests.

12. Describe to me how you would handle a common problem, such as a tenant who refuses to pay rent or an eviction

A good property manager will confidently lay out the plan for handling serious tenant problems. Part of the reason you’re hiring them is to handle the difficult stuff, such as evictions. If the candidate presents an efficient plan that involves little kicking and screaming, you’ll know you’ll be in good hands.

13. What is your preferred method of communication and how long does it usually take to respond?

When problems arise, you need a property management team that responds quickly and without hesitation. Make sure they have a plan for handling emergencies.

In addition, make sure their communication style works for you. Some property management companies offer only email communication, but if you’re the kind of person who wants to call or text, that might not be enough for you. A communication match makes things easier.

14. Where will my building funds be held?

If you’re working with a property management firm, they may collect and store some of your funds — such as security deposits and maintenance money — on your behalf. If they do, ask where that money will be held, who will have access to it, and whether you can withdraw it at any time. You should have complete control over your money, even if your property management company will be handling part of it.

15. What is the percentage for lease renewals with your clients?

A low percentage will alert you that this company may not be as professional or respected as they claim. Property management services are in high demand, so if the business is successful, it should have a good record of client lease renewals.

16. What does the tenant screening process look like?

Tenant screening may be one of the most vital functions of a property manager. “Tenant screening can save you from thousands of dollars in lost revenue, court costs, and fees,” points out Sarnen Steinbarth of the Forbes Council.

Steinbarth explains that the right team can help you avoid the wrong fit, tenants who try to scam you, and serious later problems and damage with your tenants. So it should be done right.

Listen to the operation’s tenant screening process and make sure it includes all the checks and information you need to approve a tenant’s application.

17. Do you perform inspections?

Preventive maintenance and property inspections can save you a lot of time and money. Try to find a property management company that will perform such inspections or direct you to someone in the Houston metro region who can.

18. How do you process payments from us and our tenants?

“These days, property managers should have client portals and electronic payment systems set up for convenience and record keeping,” says BiggerPockets. Don’t work with a property management company that’s still in the dark ages in terms of payment management.

Ask Green Residential Today!

You can ask us any of these questions and more, and we’re pretty sure you’ll like what you hear. Whether you’re considering property managers for the first time or you’re ready to change from your current company, let Green Residential cover your needs. Contact us today!

Jorge Lopez

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