Property managers have a lot to juggle, but establishing good communication with owners is one area where you should never drop the ball. Here are some key points that will help you build stronger business relationships.
The base of any good relationship is strong communication. For owners who are trusting you with their investment properties, there’s nothing worse than feeling out of the loop or like they have no idea what’s going on. Being proactive and offering information before owners ask for it can go a long way toward establishing trust.
Part of being proactive means scheduling regular times to check in with the owner and update them on all that’s been happening with their property since your last update. Each owner will have a different preference for how frequently they will want you to do this. Some may want to hear from you every month; others may only want updates once a quarter. Whatever you decide, stick with your schedule and make time to give the owner a call, meet in person, or send a detailed email.
In your communication, you’ll want to give the owner updated reports, detail any maintenance issues that occurred, and give them a general impression of how things are going with their tenants and their property. If you have any concerns, this is a good time to bring them up. Bringing up concerns preemptively helps the owner avoid unpleasant surprises when your concerns turn into a major problem.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your performance. While it may be intimidating, knowing what you can do better can help improve your relationship with the owner. You don’t want to let little annoyances build up if there are simple changes you can make to help the owner feel more at ease.
Finally, it goes without saying that you should make yourself available to talk to the owner whenever they need you. Even if this means taking calls in the off-hours or stopping what you’re doing to respond to an email right away, owners will appreciate your attentiveness.
Remember, poor communication and a lack of transparency are common pain points with owners. Knowing this ahead of time, you can eliminate these problems by being proactive, keeping them in the loop, and communicating regularly. Owners will feel much more comfortable with you at the wheel if they know you’re going to stay in touch.
Your contract is the foundation to your partnership with the owner. As such, it’s important to get it right. You want to clearly outline expectations for both sides—what the owner can expect from you and what you can expect from the owner. Here are some things to include in the contract:
How long will this contract be in effect? Can the owner cancel the contract if they deem necessary? If so, what obligations would they have?
You will want to outline how much you plan on charging the owner each month, as well as any additional fees that come up. Most property managers charge a fee for finding a new tenant. Other services (like overseeing landscaping) may incur an extra fee. Be sure to list out what is included in your rates.
What services are you offering as a property manager? At the most basic level, services include collecting rent and handling maintenance. Most property managers are also responsible for advertising vacancies, finding and screening tenants, drafting lease agreements, tracking expenses, creating financial reports, paying utility bills, and handling evictions if necessary. In your contract, spell out what you will be responsible for so that the owner knows exactly what they’re getting.
Contracts work both ways, and the owner is accountable for certain areas as well. Usually, this means keeping a reserve fund for repairs and emergencies, maintaining property insurance, and complying with all state and federal laws (including Fair Housing laws). Most contracts also prevent owners from finding their own tenants; this way, property manager won’t have to deal with tenants that may not have passed their screening requirements.
Having all these expectations in writing can help avoid misunderstandings in the future.
Good communication and a solid contract are a great start, but what really counts is getting everything done. You will establish a strong basis for trust if the owner knows you are the type of person who will do what you say you will. This means successfully managing your responsibilities:
- Setting rent rates (if applicable)
- Marketing and showing the property
- Screening and selecting tenants
- Drafting and signing a lease
- Collecting, storing, itemizing, and returning the security deposit
- Collecting rent and any applicable late fees
- Handling maintenance and repairs
- Getting quotes and finding contractors
- Creating financial reports
- Keeping and organizing invoices and receipts
- Conducting move-out inspections
- Handling evictions (if necessary)
Owners will be impressed if you can be proactive and stay on the ball. This means giving owners their money before they ask for it, updating them immediately on any major repairs, and handling any issues with tenants.
The owner has put a lot of capital into this investment property, and letting you manage it is a sign of trust. Obviously, you want to do everything you can to maintain that trust. A good way to start is making sure your operations are as transparent as possible.
While some managers might not enjoy having owners inspect their work in this way, making everything visible to the owners has several advantages for property managers:
- Owners will be able to see your hard work and know you are handling things well.
- Owners will trust you more if they can see how you are managing their properties.
- Being open and transparent about your operations establishes you as a competent professional that owners will want to recommend to others.
While communication is key to maintaining transparency, property managers can take advantage of online tools to make it even easier to keep owners in the loop.
Using a platform like Tellus can help by giving owners instant access to financial reports, the status of rent payments and maintenance, and all communication with tenants. Letting them see this information on their own account can actually cut down on unnecessary communication. They won’t have to ask if your chronically late tenant paid rent this month because the information is already in the app. All financial reports are updated automatically with each new added expense or income, making it easy for owners to see their cash flow. If owners choose to read chat messages, it allows them to monitor repairs or any problems with tenants without you having to write up a report.
Simply put, taking advantage of an online system can help save you time, give the owners peace of mind, and make everyone’s job easier.
Having a good business relationship with owners comes down to several factors:
- Communication: Be proactive and don’t wait to communicate.
- Contract: Outline your responsibilities and expectations.
- Execution: Perform all your tasks seamlessly.
- Transparency: Give owners visibility into the state of their properties by leveraging online tools.
The business relationship you forge with owners has the potential to benefit everyone. If owners know you are someone who will get things done and keep them in the loop, then they are more likely to recommend your services to others. These recommendations can help you grow your business.