While you will have your ways of doing business and many regulations that you cannot stray from, to be successful managing properties for others, you will need to know how to adapt and work with their personalities. That is not to say that you be totally co-dependent on your Owners, but learn how they like to do business and make your best efforts to conform your practices to their idiosyncrasies.
Our philosophy is that the Owner has hired us so that they don’t have to deal with the day-to day-issues of managing properties. We try to spare them the gory details of the everyday stuff, but then involve them in the bigger decisions. At what level your Owner wants to be involved in the details, you will have to just learn and figure that out. We suggest when you are having your initial conversations with your Owners that you ask them some qualifying questions on this subject before you enter into a management agreement.
Qualifying questions for potential Owners
1) While we will always attempt to contact you whenever we have to spend money for service, we normally will respond to a service request under $100.00 without having to speak directly to you. We may leave a voice mail or an e-mail to let you know what is going on. Does that work OK for you?
2) Do you have e-mail? Are you willing for us to use e-mail as our primary method of communication?
Their response will give you a better idea as to whether or not you should do business together. If they aren’t going to be happy with you, you certainly are not going to be happy with them!
Types of Owners
The Involved Owner: Some Owners are very detail oriented and want to be involved in many aspects of the management of their property. Others want to be involved to a fault and may attempt to micro-manage or second-guess your actions. You may find yourself asking the question “Why does this person want a property manager?” There are a couple of issues at play here;
1.) Some people are simply very involved until you have proven that you are trustworthy and they are convinced that you indeed have their best interests at heart.
2.) Others are simply control freaks and no matter what you do, will be in your business all the time. With this second type of Owner, you will have to do some soul searching as to whether or not this is a positive situation for you. If it works OK, then great. If not, then there may be another property manager out there who it works fine for. That may be the best solution for both of you; to end the relationship sooner rather than later.
The Uninvolved Owner: On the other end of the spectrum, we have Owners who don’t want to hear about their property. They just want a monthly statement and a deposit in their bank account. The less they hear from you the better. While this type of Owner has a lot of positive attributes, this is the Owner that you also want to be very proactive with. You don’t want to pester them with details . . . remember, they hired you so they wouldn’t have to deal with all that stuff. However, be proactive with your communication with them, and this is true for all of your Owners. Document your actions in writing either by sending them an e-mail or by leaving them a voice mail and documenting it in a communication log. How technologically savvy they are will determine which method of communication you use. The uninvolved Owner can be a bit disarming at times. Don’t think their seeming lack of involvement means a lack of interest. The truth is they are very interested in the outcome of your management of their property. Continue to keep good records and keep them informed, even if they appear uninterested.
Be Dialed In to the Type of Properties you are Willing to Manage:
While this is a personal decision, we want to share some pros and cons we have observed in this area. We are not making a character judgment about any of the groups listed below. These are simply our observations as a result of our experiences in working with all of the groups.
White Collar Properties:
Also defined as high-end properties, these can attract very good renters. These renters have typically owned expensive homes and as a rule will take very good care of your property. On the other hand, our experience is that the high-end renter can have a very entitled mentality and can be difficult to work with. Things like requesting and scheduling maintenance, seemingly pretty simple things can become very challenging with these tenants. Another aspect of the high-end tenant is that if you don’t meet their expectations, they do have the resources to come after you legally. White collar renters will typically have more financial resources and are executives or self employed. You will find them to be fairly well insulated from an economic downturn.
Gray Collar Properties:
These are properties in the middle of the economic spectrum rented by the gray collar worker. What is a gray collar worker? I’m glad you asked! It is typically a middle management person; the manager of the local electronics, or grocery store. This renter is generally conscientious and will take care of your property. They are typically regular people and most all adults in the home are working full time. They are generally easier to work with than the white-collar renter when it comes to requesting or scheduling maintenance work. They possess moderate financial resources and will be somewhat insulated from an economic downturn.
Blue Collar Properties:
This renter is at the lower end of the economic spectrum. They usually work in the trades, i.e., construction worker, car mechanic or truck driver. Generally, all adults living in the property work full time. They are also just regular people and are generally easier to work with than the white-collar renter when it comes to requesting or scheduling maintenance work. They possess more limited financial resources and will be the first tier to be affected from an economic downturn.
Don’t Let Fear Deter You: If at anytime during your due-diligence/interviews with an owner you get that gut feeling that this guy just ain’t going to work out . . . heed the warning! This could be anything from not having a good connection with your communication or that he wants you to manage a type of property that you are not set up for. We are all different and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that. There are people that I am just too different from and will have difficulty doing business with in a way that will make them happy. Conversely, there are people out there that are just different enough from me that they would have a tough time keeping me happy either. Embrace your differences and rather than being fearful that you will lose face or be embarrassed, nip it in the bud! Do both of you a favor and save a lot of heartache and hard feelings; decline to do business with them. Perhaps you could refer them to another property management firm.
So, how do you do that? I learned a great technique from my pastor, of all people. I simply tell the prospective owner that based on our conversations, it is apparent to me that we may not be a great fit for one another. There are a lot of great property management companies out there and I am sure that one of them would be a better fit for their needs than I can be. I wish you the best of luck. And . . . don’t let them talk you into it . . . you know what your gut just told you! HEED THE WARNING!!
Thank you for reading!!
Pat and Kris Larkin
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