Posts Tagged Property Managment Fees

RENTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT – EARLY TENANT MOVE IN

Few of us would ever allow our Tenants to move in before their lease begins but . . . many of us do unwittingly!

Would you ever knowingly allow your Tenant to move into your property early?  Perhaps unwittingly.

Think about this scenario for a minute:  You have rented your property and the lease begins on the 1st of the month which is a Sunday.  For our convenience, many times, we may be inclined to give the Tenants the keys on a Friday or Saturday, so that we don’t have to do it early Sunday morning.  What happens so many times is that the Tenant is excited about their new place and now that they have the keys they go by just for a look . . . just to “breathe it in”.  When they get there, they remember those two boxes in the back of the car . . . “Gee, if I get those out, then I can start with an empty car on moving day.” Once those boxes go from their car to the house or condo, technically, they have “moved in”!

Now, let me ask you, what is the effective for their renter’s insurance?  Chances are, it doesn’t take effect until the 1st.  why would it start sooner?  Without that date (the now NEW move in date) being covered in their lease or their renter’s insurance being in effect . . . you, the Landlord, are liable for any damage, or injuries they may occur during that time between when they moved the boxes in until the lease start date on the lease!

To solve this issue, we always wrote the lease to begin on the day we gave them the keys and, required the Tenant to have their renter’s insurance effective on that date also.  You don’t necessarily need to charge them for the extra days rent . . . just cover yourself legally and from a liability perspective.

In summary, think through the date relating to move in dates and “possible” move in dates.  You might just save yourself some heartache.

To view a video on this same subject click on this link:  Early Move In

If you have any questions about this subject, fell free to contact us via our free service; ManagementLink.  Simply click on the link and type in your question or issue.  We will get back to you within 24 hours with an answer.

Thank you for reading!

Pat & Kris Larkin

We have founded and developed “Manage To Make Money” which is a resource for anyone, novice or professional who manages rental properties.  We provide Books, Documents and Forms, Live Seminars, E-Books, Free Webinars, Tips and Private Consulting.  Check it out!

Manage To Make Money – Cottonwood Falls, Kansas 949-689-4344, Info@ManageToMakeMoney.com

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TENANTS – ALWAYS GET A CREDIT REPORT

Screening prospective Tenants can be difficult but here are a couple of tips that will help you to minimize your risk of getting a bad Tenant.

One of the main elements in screening your Tenants is to get a credit report. There are many other ways to check out your tenants but a credit report will do the best job of surfacing potential issues in their ability to pay rent and in general will help you to sort through your applicants. You can get a credit report in a couple of different ways; First, is to have your prospective Tenants run their own credit report. But be careful, free credit reports are available but rarely have a credit score. A credit score is key. Without the credit score you are subjected to reading through reams of credit information… some good and some not so good and having to figure out if this applicant is a good risk or not. The credit score will do all of that for you. Secondly, you can find many companies on the web that you can sign up with to run credit reports for your applicants. These companies will of course check you out first to be sure that you are trustworthy enough to be dealing with such sensitive information and that you will get the proper authorizations from your applicants.

As to what credit scores are good and bad; that depends on your market but I can give you some very rough ideas: a stellar credit score is 800+ and a score in the 500 range is going to be due to a lot of late payments, possibly judgments or even a bankruptcy.

In summary, a credit report will “tell the tale” about your Tenants. Be careful though not to be too restrictive; these are tough economic times we live in and you need to hear everyone’s “story”.

To view a short video on this subject go to: http://bit.ly/eCprVn

Thank you for Reading!

PAT & KRIS

Visit our website at: www.ManageToMakeMoney.com to see the full array of rental property management resources as well as our latest current live seminar schedule.

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RENTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT – SYSTEMS FOR THE PROS

SYSTEMS FOR THE PROFESSIONAL PROPERTY MANAGER

 Any business, in order to operate and deliver its products or services, must have systems and processes.  In this chapter, I will be sharing with you many of the systems and processes we implemented to manage the 320+ properties we were responsible for.  The process is like any other . . . it is never finished.  There is always something that, while it works better since you changed it, is still not working as smoothly as you would like.  What I am sharing with you is basically a snapshot of where we are in this ongoing process.

Filing

 Every organization has to do filing.  It is simply a way to put important documents and information away in such a manner as to be able to find it again with you need it . . . and that is the acid test!  You may have an awesome filing system that you have implemented but if you can’t find what you need when you need it, you have to ask yourself: is this really working for me?

The starting place for us in dealing with our properties was to assign a property number to each property.  This number is used in paying invoices; in setting up our property management software and . . . you guessed it . . . in setting up our filing system.    We start out arranging all of the properties in alphabetical order, by their street name and then begin assigning property numbers to them.  Under this convention all of your properties on numbered streets would come before your named streets in the order of your streets: 6th street, 10th street and 27th street, then Apple Street, Boston Street then Orange Street.  If you have more than one property on the same street; the ones with the lowest house number would come before those with the higher ones.  As you are designing your property numbering system, one thing to think about is to allow enough unassigned property numbers between the assigned ones to allow for some growth.  We only re-assigned property numbers once in the five years that we owned the company.  This was mainly due to the fact that we more than doubled our number of properties during that time.  As you can imagine, because we had outgrown our numbering system, we had a lot of property numbers with decimal numbers so that we could fit them between two consecutive whole numbers:  #110, #110.2, #110.5 & #111.

Here is an example of a numbering convention which works:

Property #               Property Address

1

623 E. 6th Street

2

Unassigned

3

Unassigned

4

842 So. 18th Ave

5

622 West 120th E. Ave

6

Unassigned

7

Unassigned

8

123 Apple Street

9

129 Apple Street

10

Unassigned

11

Unassigned

12

855 So. Boston Street

13

Unassigned

14

Unassigned

15

27 Highland Ave.

OK, now that we have figured out how to number our properties we are ready to set our filing system.  We recommend that you use a three folder system for each property.  One is a colored folder; red, blue, green or even electric colors are available at your local office supply store.  The other folder is a plain-Jane manila folder.  The two folders rest in the third folder, which is a hanging folder.  All three folders have the property number and address on it.

The Colored Folder – The colored folder is for all of the legal documents relating to the property, or you could also think of it as housing all of the long-term documents.  On the left side as you open the folder, we keep all of the documents relating to managing the property; Management Agreement; property set-up sheets; Owner information, and copies of any letters to or from the Owner of the property, etc.  On the right side of the folder, keep all of the information relating to the current Lease.  On this side you will keep the Lease itself, the rental application, any Change of Terms, any Three Day Notices or written correspondence with the Tenant or notes of communication with the Tenant.

The Manila Folder – This folder is for all of the day-to-day stuff that goes on with the property.  On the left side, you will keep all of the HOA documentation; newsletters, notices, etc.  On the right side is where you will keep all of the paid invoices for anything on the property: mortgage statements; HOA statements; and paid contractor statements, as well as the work orders for that work.

Another thing that we put in the manila folder is the Lease.  I know, I just said that you will keep that in the colored folder . . . whassup with that.  If you re-lease the property during the year, we put the new Lease in the colored file and move the outdated Lease into the manila folder.  This way, you will still have access to this information without having to go to your archives.

As I have mentioned before, I tend to be an efficiency-driven sort of person.  When I first saw this filing setup, I pushed hard for going to the multi-tabbed, all in one folders.  The reason that doesn’t work as well for this system is that at the end of the year you will want to purge your files and essentially the entire manila folder will go into to your non-active file storage.  This becomes a very efficient process when all you have to do is remove the manila file, mark it with a colored tab with the year it was for and make a new manila folder to replace it.  Also, if you don’t purge your files each year, they would become so fat and cumbersome that you literally would have to rent a larger space to house all of your files!

Archiving – If you are going to keep physical copies of your old files, you will need to maintain a storage facility where you keep all of your file archives.  Typically this is for files on properties that you no longer manage, or for files on properties that you do manage, but the files are so old that the likelihood of needing to access them is minimal.  A good rule of thumb is that you maintain records for 10 years and then have them shredded.

Depending on how long we have been managing a particular property, we would generally keep all of the past year’s files for that property in storage in our office.  Now, if you have been managing a property for 15 years, that doesn’t make sense; information that is 3 – 5 years old is only going to need to be accessed once at the most, during a given year, so it really doesn’t make sense to use your valuable file/office space for that and it goes to storage.  At any rate, this three folder system is working well for us.

Physical Hard Copy Filing vs. Electronic

With all of your current year files and three–five year archives, your filing will require a lot of space.  That is valuable and expensive office space.  If you can eliminate several file cabinets then you could add more work stations and not have to rent larger space in order to hire new people as you grow!

I recommend that you start out scanning all of your documents that you would normally file . . . as they occur!  This will start to build your filing system and when it is time to purge your physical files and move them to another cabinet you can skip that step and move them to archive.  You will have the electronic files on your computers (don’t forget to have an off-site backup!)

 

We hope this posting has been helpful for you.

Thank you for reading!

Pat and Kris

 

For a virtual goldmine of  resources for time and money saving systems and secrets of the pros, visit our website at www.ManageToMakeMoney.com

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PROPERTY MANAGEMENT – PAYMENTS – SECURITY DEPOSITS – SOFTWARE

Payments From Owners

 There are many instances when you will have to have your Owners infuse their account with funds.  This situation occurs for a number of reasons: the property has a monthly negative cash flow; you have just had to do some major repair (replacing the furnace or air conditioner); a major remodel after a long-term Tenant vacated, or something as simple but expensive as paying property taxes.

Buffer amounts

First of all, let me say that we strongly recommend that you maintain a buffer amount (minimum $500.00) in each of your Owners’ accounts.  This will give you the flexibility to take care of small repairs without having to have your Owner send you a check, and depending how much of a positive cash flow the property may have, you can replenish the buffer fairly easily for that.

Infusions

Holding on to the idea that Owners (as is the case with all of us) do not like surprises about money . . . unless we have won the lottery!  Now, emergencies happen and usually, they are difficult if not impossible to anticipate.  But I am speaking here about the expenses that the Owner is going to have on his property that we can anticipate: long-term Tenant moving out, real estate taxes (they’re always due on the same date – year after year) or a special assessment from the HOA.  When we can anticipate these expenses we need to be proactive in estimating how much they will be and when our Owners will need to send funds.  This will accomplish a couple of things:

1.) It gives your Owner a warm fuzzy feeling to know that you are watching his back and keeping him from having unpleasant surprises and 2.) It gives you the funds from which to pay the expenses.  Otherwise you could find yourself in the unenviable position of having done $10,000 worth of work on an Owner’s property and when you call him to get the funds you learn he is in Zimbabwe for 2 months . . . or worse yet, he thought that the expenses were going to be less and he doesn’t want to pay the $10,000 and now wants to negotiate the amount with you . . . YIKES!

Dunning Letters and E-Mails to Owners for Funds

 We have had very good luck with sending e-mails out (to our Owners that do e-mail) when we need funds.  You may think this is very elementary but before you tell your Owner that you need more funds, be sure to do your homework.  What do I mean by that?  You don’t want to send your Owner an e-mail telling him that you need $1,500.00 to pay for the new water heater if his property is running $100.00 negative cash flow each month and he has no reserve buffer left.  If you don’t say something about the negative cash flow and the status of his account, you will just be asking for more money again next month.  This makes the Owner feel like you are not on top of your game (which you aren’t) and causes both of you more work in the long run.

Again, be proactive with your Owners and anticipate what their cash position looks like.  Act like it is your money and how you would want to be treated.  If I had the above scenario, I would tell the Owner that I needed $1,500.00 for the water heater (as we discussed previously) and the negative cash flow on the property has run through his reserves.  We would like an additional $500.00 to replenish his reserve account and $600.00 to cover the next six months of negative cash flow at $100.00 per month.

Maintaining Security Deposit Liability Integrity:

 When a Tenant pays you a security deposit on a property, that is a liability that you will maintain in the Owner’s account.  The purpose of the security deposit is so that you have funds (security) in the event the Tenant fails to pay the rent or leaves the property damaged when he or she moves out.

When there is a cash need for repairs or whatever else on an Owner’s property, there is the temptation of the Owner to see that cash in their account and want to use it to pay those expenses.  If you allow them to use it, this is a very, very slippery slope to allow yourself to step onto.  For a couple of reasons: 1.) unless you document it well and in writing, after a few years, our memories fail us and our Owners are no different, they will typically not remember using that security deposit to pay operating expenses from and 2.) as property managers we are required by law to notify the Tenants that we are no longer holding their security deposit; that the Owner is, and give them the Owner’s contact information.

Now we, as property managers, are the Owner’s agent and the security deposit does belong to the Owner, we are just holding it for them.  If the Owner insists on using this money, we recommend that you go about this in the following way:

  1.  Write a check to the Owner for the full amount of the security deposit and mail it to him with a letter explaining the transaction and a copy of the letter you are sending the Tenant.
  2. At the same time send a letter to your Tenants advising them who is now holding their security deposit.

It is important that you not go back and forth with this transaction; giving the deposit to the Owner, putting it back in the account, back to the Owner, etc.  First of all, this will breed a lot of insecurity and concern on the part of your Tenant and secondly, it is a lot of work and liability for you!  If you are going to do this, we advise that you tell your Owner (put it in your management agreement if you want) that you will make one transfer of the security deposit and that is it.  Something to think about, given enough time and aggravation it won’t be long before your State’s Department of Real Estate will be conducting an audit of your trust account.  That could be right up there on the fun scale along with root canals and IRS audits!

Software

 There are a lot of very good fully integrated property management software programs on the market today.  When I say fully integrated, I use the term loosely as these various programs are integrated to varying degrees.  In general terms, there are programs on the market now that will take care of the accounting for your Owners; interface with your word processor so you can write letters to Owners or Tenants and it will file them with the property; and will keep a rent log for single or multiple properties.

This is the teaser. We will be discussing software programs and their pros and cons in the next chapter.

 

I hope you enjoyed our various topics today.  Next we will start some discussion on “systems” used by property managers . . . don’t miss out!

If this information has been helpful to you, visit our website for more resources to help you profitably manage your rental properties!

Thanks for reading!

Pat & Kris Larkin

 

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MANAGING PROPERTY FOR OTHERS – DELIVERING STATEMENTS AND PAYMENTS TO OWNERS

Delivery of Statements – Mail Hard Copy vs. e-mail

 When our company started all of these processes and procedures . . . it seems bizzare to say it but . . . there was no internet or e-mail.  All of the monthly statements along with all of the backup copies of invoices were packaged, posted and mailed out to each of our Owners.  With the advent of e-mail and good quality scanners, we were able to move toward e-mailing our monthly statements to our Owners.  The only thing that held us back was our Owners; many of whom were a bit technologically challenged and “didn’t do e-mail”.

As we moved forward though, we pushed to make the change.  I am a big believer in processes and the more processes you have for the same outcome, the less efficient you are.  I know that the time is quickly approaching when this will no longer be an issue and electronic delivery will be the standard for all property owners.

If you are just starting a property management firm, this is an awesome opportunity for you.  You can start from the beginning sending your statements out electronically . . . and not be faced with converting to the new technology that will undoubtedly be here all too soon!

 

Payments to Owners

 Assuming that our Owners’ property had a positive cash flow, we paid a disbursement out to each of our Owners at the time we issued the statements.  Our software had a default setting that basically told it to send the Owner any remaining cash in the account after all expenses have been paid.  This is not always a good thing; if you have a system like this, you want to be diligent to keep an eye on future anticipated expenses.  Let me tell you it is not fun to have sent an Owner a bundle of money one month, then the next month you are trying to pay his real estate taxes and you don’t have enough money in the account.  You then have the opportunity to ask the Owner to send the money back to you.  This is not good for your credibility!  We could also go into our system and set a cash minimum that we wanted to maintain in all of our accounts and it would automatically send the Owner anything in excess of that amount.  It is all a matter of how you want to set it up.

Like mailing out hard copies of statements and technology marching on, making payments to our Owners has also undergone some changes.  In the early days, we sent out live checks each month to our Owners.  Now, with the advent of ACH or; Automated Clearing House, we can electronically transfer funds from our trust account to our Owners’ bank accounts, minimizing live checks, mail problems, etc.  Again, we still had those Owners (probably the same ones that “don’t do e-mail”) “who don’t do electronic deposits”.  We continued to work with them knowing that “someday . . . this too shall pass!”

 

Our hope and prayer is that this information has been helpful and sparked some thought processes for you.  To discover more resources for managing rental properties for yourself or others, visit our website and check out our Books, Documents, Forms, Checklists, Videos  . . .  available in hard or immediately downloadable versions.

Thank you for reading!

Pat and Kris Larkin

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MANAGING RENTAL PROPERTIES – Owners and What Type of Properties to Manage

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

For more information and resources for profitably managing your rental property visit our Website

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Property Managment Fees – Know What to Expect

Managing rental properties is not for everyone.  When you make the decision to hire a property management company to manage yours, the information can be overwhelming and confusing.  This article will help to “untangle” the sometimes convoluted fee structures property managers use.

When you bought your rental property, more than likely, you did your homework to try and figure out whether or not it was the right deal for you.  Similarly, when we bought our property management company, we did a lot of due diligence also and learned that there are two basic types of property management fee structures out there: 1.) Low Base Fee and 2.) The All-Inclusive Fee.  Which one you choose has a lot to do with what services you may need.

The Low Base Fee is just as the name implies . . . it is a low fee for minimal services.  This fee structure provides for collecting rents, screening Tenants, writing leases and paying you, the owner, any funds left over at the end of the month.  The range of rates charged for this type of a property manager is between 4% and 6% of the monthly rent.  For a property Renting for $2,000 per month, assuming a rate of 5%, the fee adds up to $1,200 annually  ($2,000 per month X 12 months X .05).

The thing to watch out for with Low Base fee structure is the “Lease Up Fee” or “Leasing Commission” as many refer to it.  Most Low Base Fee property managers do NOT include this cost in their fees and they can double your property management fees right off!  If you figure a 5% leasing commission (which is common), that is another $1,200 per year just for the lease up fee!  Another thing to watch out for is that some of the Low Base Fee property managers may also charge a fee for any payments they make on your behalf; mortgage, property taxes, HOA dues, so do your homework!

The all-inclusive fee structure on the other hand, pretty much includes all of these fees in it’s single fee.  Now, don’t misunderstand me, at 8% to 12%, the all-inclusive fee structure usually will be higher than the low-base fees structure at first glance.  But when you add up all of the extras and compare them most times the all inclusive fee structure will work out to be less money.

One other thing to consider when assessing property management companies and their fee structures: the all-inclusive property manager typically pays the lease commission out of their pocket… up front.  So, they have a vested interest in finding you a good renter who will stay in your property for more than a year.

On the other hand, the property manager who charges extra for a lease-up fee or leasing commission each time they rent your property, has a vested interest in the other direction… to have you pay them the commission every year.  This could translate into more of a cavalier attitude about finding you a long-term renter.

In summary: If you will be performing some of the property manager functions like leasing your own property, paying your mortgage, insurance and property taxes then, the low-base fee structure may be best for you.  Conversely, if you don’t plan on having anything to do with managing your property, for instance if you will be living out of the area for a while; the all inclusive fee structure may be better suited for your needs.

If you found this article interesting, you can view a short video at: http://bit.ly/eWcFid

After selling their property management business in 2009, Pat and his wife founded and developed “Manage To Make Money” which is a resource for property managers providing Books, Documents and Forms, Live Seminars, E-Books, Free Webinars, Tips and Private Consulting.  The website is: http://www.ManageToMakeMoney.com

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