Passive real estate investments are great, but it is really important for real estate investors to properly manage their property managers!
This forward vision is like looking forward through the windshield of your automobile. You will note however that every windshield (dashboard) has a rear view mirror. This mirror is small in comparison to the windshield, but offers an opportunity for you to look in the mirror from time to time so you can do periodic 360 view of where you are going and identify any unforeseen challenges.
Passive investments gone bad
Passive investments are of course those with which you have very little to do but sit back and collect checks, while your property management companies run your business for you. So what happens when your property management company changes staff?
I was having a conversation with an investor who had a property and all was well, She was collecting checks like clockwork. For almost 5 years everything was going great.
However about 3 years ago the property management company changed ownership and things silently changed. To the investor everything appeared the same and checks continued to come in.
Behind the scenes and unknown to the investor, the new property management company was less than attentive to details. They did not pay the annual property taxes for the managed property. You all know what happens when you do not pay taxes.
In the case of property taxes they put a tax lien on your house and if it goes unpaid they can actually sell your house out from under you. This house was owned in full by the investor and unknown to her the taxes had not been paid and she was first informed of this with a legal notice and now she has to try to redeem her house.
7 Tips to manage your property managers
- Talk with them regularly. Even if checks are coming in, you still want to touch base and make sure the team members you hired are still managing your property and all is good.
- Create a checklist of things you want to do throughout the year. Perhaps enter these tasks in your calendar so they get done.
- Confirm property taxes are being paid. You should see this expense on an owner’s report, however as this is typically an annual expense and you are not accustomed to seeing this expense it is easy to not recognize a missing expense. So log this most important expense in your to do list. You can also check the local tax record to ensure it is always paid up.
- Review all leases. Know when your units are expected to turn over.
- Track your vendors. Like any business, it is turnover of employees or vendors where changes occur. If your property manager switches vendors you want to know why and check on the new ones to avoid unexpected surprises. If your property management company switches ownership you want to vet them as you did when you first hired them. Here is a handy property management questionnaire that I developed over the years that will assist you to hire a great property management company.
- Spot check market rents. It is easy to become complacent, but markets are always changing. As an owner you want to know if you are getting fair market rents or has the market shifted? If you can raise rents, you want to. On the other hand, if you are charging more than market rents you may risk losing tenants. If you have several units that are overcharging you may find yourself in a sudden escalated vacancy position.
- Get pictures of property at least once a year (more if possible). Investors love when you do not have repair expenses, but should also be concerned if the property is being properly maintained if you are not getting some periodic repairs. Keeping a log of pictures as the years progress will allow you to see firsthand the condition of the property.
You can see that there is very little time commitment to help insure that your property is being properly managed and maintained.
As a passive investor you want to let someone take care of the day to day details. You however still want to manage your property managers.