5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Prince George’s County Property Management Company - Article Banner

The most successful investors understand the importance of working with a great property management company. Trying to manage the leasing, marketing, screening, rent collection, and maintenance will only take a lot of time and resources away from you. The expertise of a local, professional management company is invaluable. You’ll find that you earn more and spend less. You have better peace of mind. You know your investments are performing the way you expect them to.

But, you have to work with the right property manager. 

A terrible or ill-equipped management company can do just as much damage as not working with a property manager at all. 

Finding the right Prince George’s County property management company requires quite a bit of research and an understanding of your own investment goals. Take the time to visit a company’s website and social media pages before you decide to interview them. Find out what current and former customers have to say about them. Get to know their areas of expertise. For example, if you invest in multi-family units and apartment buildings, a management company specializing in single-family homes won’t be much help to you.

There are a lot of options for property management in Prince George’s County and the surrounding areas. Ask for referrals and be intentional about what you’re looking for. This will be an important relationship for you and your investments.

Once you’ve narrowed down some good possibilities, interview at least a handful of management companies. These businesses should be willing to spend some time with you. Take note of how easy it is to schedule with them. Are they eager to talk with you or does it take a week for them to return your call? 

You’ll also want to evaluate their dialogue with you. Do they dive right into a sales pitch or do they take the time to ask you about your properties and your investment goals?

When you meet with potential property managers, make sure you’re prepared to ask the right questions. 

Here are five good questions to start with. 

  • Do You Have Experience with Project Management?

Effective property managers are excellent project managers. If you’re looking for someone who simply collects rent and calls for help when there’s a maintenance need, just about any management company will be a good fit. But, if you want a management company that can help you improve your investments, increase what you earn, and reduce what you spend, you’re going to need an effective project manager.

Talk about property management experience. Get to know how a potential management partner handles conflicts and setbacks. Ask about challenges and learning experiences in addition to success stories. You’ll get a good idea of how they do business and what they can provide to your property. 

Then, ask about those project management skills. Find out how they’d approach a renovation at your building or an emergency maintenance issue in a unit that could potentially impact other units. 

Project management includes budgeting and systems. You need a property manager who can see your investment property as something that needs day-to-day attention as well as long term planning. When you’re asking about this type of experience, don’t be afraid to dive deep. Ask for examples of projects they’ve managed and how this skill set has helped them lease, manage, and maintain residential and commercial properties more effectively.

  • How Do You Manage the Leasing Process?

You’ll need to know how a property manager leases your home to high-quality tenants in Prince George’s County. Ideally, your property manager will keep vacancy times low and rental prices high. You’ll want to discuss how your property is going to be marketed and what kind of data they use to set the right rental price. 

When you ask about the leasing process, find out:

    • How they arrive at a rental value for your property. 
    • What they’ll do to market your property. Online advertising is usually the most obvious answer, but in a saturated internet space, you’ll also want to rely on networking and other methods of marketing. 
    • How they find and screen tenants. 
    • What they know about fair housing and how they stay up to date with laws that protect tenants against discrimination.
    • Where they get their lease agreements and what’s included in those leases. 
    • How they document the condition of your property with a move-in inspection.

A good property manager should be able to estimate how long it will take to rent your property given the current market and the local competition. Well-managed leasing systems are important for establishing expectations, generating immediate rental income, and ensuring a reliable tenant is put in place. 

  • How Will the Day-to-Day Management Look?

You’re going to pay a monthly management fee for the expertise and services your property manager provides. Ask about what that will look like for your property or your portfolio. Once a qualified tenant is placed in your property, you’ll want to know how a property management company takes care of the day-to-day business. 

Topics you’ll want to address with this question include:

    • Rent collection. You should have a good understanding of how rent is collected and what the penalties are if it’s paid late. You’ll also want to know when you can expect to receive that rent, and whether it will be direct deposited or if you’ll have to wait for a check.
    • Maintenance process. You’ll want to know how routine maintenance is handled and what the plan is should an emergency occur at your property. Find out if there are preventative maintenance plans in place and always ask about the vendors and contractors a property manager uses. You’ll want them to be licensed and insured. 
    • Lease enforcement. Ask about inspections and how relationships are developed and maintained with tenants. 
    • Communication. You’ll need to know what to expect in terms of communication with your Prince George’s County property manager. Maybe you’ll hear from them every week or every month or only when something is wrong. Set your expectations early so no one is disappointed about how often they receive an update.  

When you ask about ongoing management processes and systems, you’re looking for assurances that your manager will be responsive and available to you and your tenants. A good property manager will protect your investment and effectively manage the relationship with your tenant. 

  • Do You Understand the Local, State, and Federal Rental Laws?

There are a lot of laws and regulations associated with renting out a property. You need to ask your property manager how they keep up with these requirements. Find out what they know about the fair housing laws and how they maintain compliance. Discuss security deposit requirements and eviction experience. It’s always a good idea to work with a company that is constantly improving and willing to invest in ongoing professional education.  

It’s easier than ever to make a legal mistake during the leasing and management process. Even the wrong wording in your marketing materials can land you in the middle of a fair housing complaint. You hire a property manager to ensure those mistakes aren’t made. It’s critical that you work with someone who understands legal requirements. 

You also need a lot of nuance when it comes to this area of expertise. The requirements in Prince George’s County are different from those in metro Washington, D.C. or even Baltimore. So the federal laws are important, especially when it comes to things like service animals and accommodations, but you’ll also need a property manager who can keep you protected from mistakes at the state and local level. 

  • Do You Invest in Property Management Technology?

Technology helps keep costs down and also protects you and your investments by providing outstanding documentation. You and your tenants should have portals so you can keep up on the things going on with your home. Accounting statements should be readily available and accurate. Transparency is critical, and you want to know you’ll always be able to see the income and expenses associated with your investment. 

Talk about the importance of technology and automation with any potential property manager. Ask to see a sample management agreement but more importantly, ask to see what their online portal looks like. Discuss what their platform can do to market your home better, fill vacancies faster, and complete tenant screening with more objectivity. 

technologyWe strongly urge you to work with a manager who understands technology and is willing to continue learning more about it. This is an ever-evolving field, and a lot of the software and platforms that are available to property managers now will lead to a better and more profitable investment experience for you.

There are many more questions that you could ask a property manager, and hopefully these sample questions will lead to a greater discussion of how your Prince George’s rental property will be managed. If you’d like to hear more, please contact us at Stripe Management. We work with owners, investors, and properties in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, Washington, D.C., Capitol Heights, District Heights, Baltimore, and anywhere in the DC metro area.