Written By: Laurel Black
The first question to ask yourself is why hire a property manager? The answer is simple, property management services help to grow your investment and increase cash flow.
What a Property Manager Does for a Business
- Monitor cash flow. Tracking cash flow is as much a necessity as it is an art, but it is also a rather time-consuming enterprise. If you are a property owner who is focusing on acquiring real estate and leasing them, the added burden of cash flow tracking frequently falls by the wayside. As a result, budgeting is upside down, accounts receivables and payables are a mess and profits suffer.
- Help you obtain financing. There is more to filling out a loan application from your neighborhood lending institution than meets the eye. The bank wants to know that you have a solid business plan and that your financial house is in order. Do you have the time and know-how to put together a persuasive portfolio of your properties’ current fiscal health – and manage the properties to your fullest capacity at the same time? If you are looking to find an investor, would you know where to ask? Are you even hip to all the different types of cash infusions for which your business might be uniquely qualified? A property manager has this type of information – and more.
- Control maintenance work orders. Once again, there are plenty of apps for that. Even so, maintenance, remodeling, and finding the balance between ascetics and profitability is best accomplished on advice of a professional.
Fringe Benefits of the Business Relationship
Aside from the already stated reasons for getting the professional onboard with your property, there are some fringe benefits that will help you grow as a real estate owner. For example, if your preferred method of record-keeping involves a large shoebox stuffed with receipts, the property management company is sure to quickly train you in a 21st century method of expense tracking.
By working with a professional, you are also quick to catch on how some business decisions effect the venture as a whole, especially the cash flow. Areas of improvement and change become easily apparent, even as the property management team works up cash flow reports for your perusal.
How to Begin Your Search for the Best Property Manager in Bellevue
If you don’t have network of real estate investors to recommend a property manager to you, there are a few options for finding a property manager in Bellevue. There are always your trusty online resources that you can rely on for almost every aspect of life: BBB, Yelp, Google Reviews, Zillow, Customer Lobby, Trulia, Yellow Pages, Online Society, Joeant, Kudzu, UrbnLivn to name a few. This might sound rudimentary but we have found this to be a great resource to begin my search. By interviewing the management firms you will be able to ascertain the best fit for your needs. Just be wary of overly positive reviews which could have been purchased overseas, or overly negative reviews which may have been posted by tenants who were rightfully evicted, management competition, or even angry former spouses! (Hey, it happens!)
If you are skeptical of online reviews, there are ways to meet other real estate investors in Bellevue to get feedback and their experience with different property management companies. You can attend a meeting at the Real Estate Investors Association of Washington, where they frequently have casual networking events in Bellevue. Or I have found many fellow real estate investors at Bellevue Chamber of Commerce meetings, which usually involve a luncheon with a speaker and then networking between Bellevue professionals. You are bound to meet someone who has been in your exact situation searching for a property management professional.
Finding the Right Bellevue Property Manager for You
Once you have found at least three property management companies you could potentially work with, there are a few things to look for.
Find a property management company affiliated with the right professional organizations and recognized by the Better Business Bureau. Washington affiliates to look for include:
- Commercial Brokers Association
- Northwest Multiple Listing Service
- National Association of Residential Property Managers
- Rental Housing Association of Washington
- Dupre + Scott
- Equal Housing Opportunity Recognition
- Washington Landlord Association
Make sure the property management company is an expert in Bellevue real estate market trends. Your manager should know what similar properties are renting for and be able to make appropriate recommendations for raising rents. They should have experience managing properties in this area and be able to provide references for you to contact.
When interviewing potential managers, make sure you can work with the person. A big property management firm that specializes in multi-national corporations is probably not going to be a good fit for a freshly minted property owner. Hire a property manager who specializes in working with entrepreneurs. Matching personalities are of great advantage when entrusting someone else with the business paperwork. For example, the Type A personality entrepreneur wants answers – now. The laid back “surfer dude” property manager will get them to you – later. Not surprisingly, this working relationship is doomed from the beginning.
Select a property management company that focuses on customer service. If they are responsive and communicate well with you, odds are that this is how they will treat the tenants which will lead to fewer turnovers resulting in potentially higher rents and absolutely lower marketing and maintenance costs.
Look for a company using a sophisticated management software system. I recommend AppFolio because it covers all of the bases – accounting, property information, tenant information, maintenance, leasing, reporting, and more. But the company just needs to be using something organized and modern. Preferably a software program that includes an online portal so potential tenants can submit applications and current tenants can request maintenance work orders and create payments. This will allow for a smooth and efficient workflow, reducing property vacancy times and making current tenants happier.
By now it is clear that the money you initially save pales in comparison to the influx of cash that the advice of a good property management company can generate. Do not shortchange yourself but go out and hire a professional and experienced property manager to take over the management of your real estate investments; your competition is doing it, and so should you.