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15 Questions to Ask Your Property Manager

page-asset-and-property-managementby Krista Polvi, CPM

When shopping for a commercial property manager, it is important to ask the right questions so that you know what you are paying for and the type of service you will receive.  There is a lot that goes into managing a property and it is good to have a clear understanding of what type of services are offered.

Here are 15 Questions that should help when interviewing a Property Management firm:

  1. How many people are in your property management department and how large is your entire company?

This is helpful to know so that you have an understanding of how much attention your property will get and if there is appropriate coverage when people go on vacation.  This also gives you a sense of the depth of experience and the stability of the company.

  1. How many years of property management and/or asset management do your property managers have? What sort of certifications and accreditations are held?

This also will give you a sense of the depth of the team and give you an understanding of their expertise and experience.  By asking about certifications and accreditations you will know what sort of industry education that has been taken and that they are abiding by the top industry standards.

  1. Do you have a full-time accounting staff?

A full-time accounting staff can be very beneficial to ensure top notch accounting for your property to assure accuracy and attention to detail.  This will ensure that your financials are completed correctly and that they have the staff to complete things timely and professionally.

  1. What financial reports do you provide each month and when can I expect my monthly reports?

This helps you know what to count on each month.  You will also need these reports for your year-end tax preparation and many times your lender will require review of the financials.  Finally, this will help you to review the specifics of what goes on each month with your property financially.

  1. How is the productivity of each of your Property Managers? What area do they manage, how many properties to does each Property Manager handle, what are the size and types of properties?

Answers to this type of inquiry will provide a general sense of the kind of workload each property manager is responsible for and how much time they will have to devote to your property.  Also, by knowing locations of their current properties you will get a sense as to how often they are near your property and can check in.

  1. Do you prepare an annual operating budget each year? If yes, when is this typically completed?

The annual budget acts like a road map for your property.  By putting the budget together, you and the property manager will know what to expect for the year and how to budget appropriately.  This is also important for establishing the CAM rate for the property.

  1. How often do your property managers visit each property on average?

By physically visiting the property, the managers can catch things that need attention and see potential problems before they become an issue.  This also helps in the tenant relations if the property manager frequently checks in with tenants to see how things are going.

  1. Do you have staff on hand for after hours and weekend emergencies?

This is very important as many times issues come up after hours and on weekends.  It is important to know that there will be somebody available “on call” to address issues that arise and get back to tenants who need assistance.  This will also give you the peace of mind that emergencies can be addressed at all times and you as the owner will not have to worry.

  1. Do you review and analyze vendor contracts to ensure quality and competitive pricing? What sort of relationship do you have with your vendors and do you get preferred pricing and service?

Property managers should bid vendor contracts on a regular basis to ensure competitive pricing and top notch services. Having a good long standing relationship with vendors translates to priority service to both you and your tenants. That means greater tenant satisfaction and retention. Additionally, by economies of scale and giving so much work to certain vendors, they likely offer priority pricing in exchange for the good business.

  1. Do you offer electronic rent payment options for tenants as well as ACH direct deposits for owner distributions? Do you have tenant and owner online portals?

This is a great feature for tenants as it makes their life easier.  They can log-in and pay their rent online via ACH and even sometimes use a credit card.  Rent payments are timelier as they can be automated, eliminating the time it takes for a check to be mailed.  Electronic owner distribution pays property owners electronically and eliminates their trips to the bank.  Overall, this just improves efficiencies of operations.   Online portals  allow tenants and owners to access information on their own.  Tenants can put in work order requests, check their balance due, and other pertinent lease information.  Owners can then pull up reports and have all the information they need at their fingertips.

  1. What other services do you provide, such as tenant improvement oversight, lease renewals, asset management, property tax disputes, etc.?

Having a clear understanding of other services a property manager provides can help you find solutions often through the same firm.  Many times you may need help with these other items and it is helpful to know the cost and if your PM can be of service or offer brokerage or construction improvement services.

  1. Do you provide a detailed property profile showing all pertinent information for the property along with a management plan?

A detailed property profile is very important as it shows a clear map of where all the pertinent pieces of the property are located.  For example, the water shut off locations for the building can be vital to know when there is a water line break and the ground is covered in snow.  This is very helpful in emergency situations and enables any property manager to find the information that is needed to resolve any issues.  Management plans also provide a good road map for the property to make sure the owner’s goals are properly accounted for.

  1. How do you charge for your services? Is it based on a percentage of gross rents or a minimum fee?

This is important to understand up front so you know how much you will be paying for management and how it can vary based on occupancy. This is also helpful in comparing management companies in understanding what you are getting for your money.

  1. Where are the majority of the properties you manage? Just in Bend or do you expand into Redmond, Prineville, and Madras?

This will give you a good sense of the range of properties that are managed and how far your PM has to travel.  If your property is in close proximity to other managed properties, you will know it may get more frequent visits.

  1. How would you rate your level of customer services to your tenant, vendors, and owners?

Customer service is extremely important, not only for tenant retention but also for vendor relations.  By ensuring that your tenants are heard and issues are addressed timely, you are more likely to have happy tenants that will want to renew their leases.  Vendor relations are also important here in order to ensure top notch service for your property. It is also good to get feedback from other owners to make sure that they are happy and satisfied with the service they have been getting.

Krista Polvi, CPM®  is a Partner, Regional Property Manager and Broker with Compass Commercial Real Estate Services. Read more about our Asset & Property Management services here.