Nine Costly Mistakes Property Managers Can Avoid Making

Real Estate

From communicating with tenants to staying on top of repairs, property management requires commitment and patience. When done right, it can be a wise and rewarding investment. However, as in every industry, mistakes happen—and they can end up seriously costing you.

To find out more, we asked a panel of Forbes Real Estate Council members to share some common mistakes property managers can make, and what can be done to avoid them. Here are some things to watch out for:

Members discuss a few property management mistakes to watch for.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Scaling Without Systems In Place

I see a lot of property managers that fail once they hit a certain scale because they don’t have systems in place. They get to a certain point, such as 200 doors, where they need to have solid systems and processes. If not, they fail in serving their clients. Owners start losing money and the entire business goes downhill quickly. Vet your PM and understand how they are going to deal with growth. – Noel ChristopherRenters Warehouse

2. Going With The First Tenant

You need to find the right tenant, not the first tenant. To find the right tenant, you need to attract them. Don’t keep putting off repairs and maintenance. By showing them you take pride in maintaining the property, they will treat it with respect and it will cost you less in the long run. – Sam GroomsWhiteHaven Capital

3. Not Being Aware Of The Property’s Physical Condition And Components 

This lack of awareness can result in system failures and high capital expenditures where small improvements or regular maintenance could have diverted more significant costs. Two strategies to prevent costly, preventable repairs are hiring a third-party inspector for an annual property visit and report, and to develop a system for reviewing work orders by category to see if there are any trends. – Lee KiserKiser Group

4. Being Reactive Versus Proactive With Maintenance

Property managers have a tough job. They are paid to field the phone calls and the 1 a.m. maintenance requests that we, as owners, pay them to handle. The common mistake that property managers make is simply being too reactive versus proactive. Often, a small repair issue becomes a capital expenditure when it goes unresolved for months (or years). Simply said, the most common mistake is neglect. – Spencer HilligossMadison Investing

5. Not Checking the Contractor’s References

A big mistake many of us make is hiring a contractor who looks great on paper. Always call a minimum of two references. The wasted time, money and inconvenience of hiring a general contractor who cannot handle the project effectively and efficiently results in frustration all around. Also, walking on the site of a previous project helps you align your styles and expectations. – Susan Leger FerraroPeace, Love, Happiness Real Estate

6. Imprecise Accounting Practices

It is essential for investors to be able to rely on accurate records from the property manager. Precise accounting is of the utmost importance. Reputable property managers use software to manage your accounting and will send monthly statements. – Beatrice de JongOpen Listings (YC W15)

7. Failing To Properly Prepare A Vacant Unit

Poor property managers fail to adequately prepare your vacant unit for turnover to a new tenant. Everything should be clean, even the windows. Walls should have a uniform texture, with holes removed. If you attract a tenant that accepts an unkempt unit, then that tenant will keep it the same way. A clean unit also reduces vacancy. To attract a respectable tenant, show a respectable property. – Keith WeinholdGet Rich Education

8. Poor Service

The rental space is a lucrative business, but poor property management can hurt you. Property managers should be mindful of falling into situations that can become costly or ruin reputations. If the tenant informs the property manager about a problem, ignoring the situation can lead to costly repairs or disgruntled renters who may leave, causing high turnover and potential vacancies. – Bobby MontagneWalnut Street Finance

9. Installing Smart Home Tech

All too often, overeager property managers will jump at the chance to install the latest connected home devices in new apartment buildings. Hardware can get outdated quickly, and buildings rarely have the expertise in-house to solve the inevitable bugs and technical failures. Most connected devices are better suited for a savvy homeowner than an institutional multifamily developer. – Brad HargreavesCommon

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