by Eric Davis
Managing a property is a stressful job at the best of times. At the worst of times, it makes you want to pull your hair out and call it quits. Between juggling tenant demands, keeping the property in good shape, and advertising to future applicants, you’ve got a lot on your plate 24/7.
That’s why learning to create a stress-free (or at least less stressful) property management system is essential. You’ll find that you can better manage your property when you’ve nailed down a system that keeps disasters and complications at a minimum. Not only will your tenants appreciate an ironed-out process, but you’ll also add be able to add more to your portfolio when existing properties are running smoothly.
The path to effective property management begins with these five steps.
Step 1: Find and keep the best tenants
Having terrible tenants makes your job as a property manager exponentially more challenging. That’s why the number one step in smoothing out your system is finding the right tenant to work with on a regular basis. It’s essential that you accept tenants who respect you and will care for your property as you would.
Be smart about who you advertise to when searching for new tenants. For instance, if you’re involved in Seattle property management, consider advertising in places where successful recent grads from the University of Washington students hang out, as they likely need a place quickly and will be uncomplicated tenants. If you’re looking for a family to rent your small house, consider posting in places where responsible families will see the advertisement.
It’s all about targeting the right audience at the right time and place. Do some research in your area to determine how you can find your ideal tenant without bending over backward or sifting through hundreds of applications.
Think that you’ve already done everything you can do to find the best tenants, but most of them are just terrible?
Keep in mind that there are roughly 2,600 new renters every day in America, according to the Rental Protection Agency. Reaching new renters might simply be a matter of reaching a new demographic or appealing to people who are moving in from out-of-town.
Once you’ve got a great tenant, it’s your job to do everything in your power to keep them. After all, property management is a business, which means your number one priority should be pleasing and retaining the customer; it’s much cheaper to keep a good tenant than to find a new one, not to mention the potential for lost income if you can’t find a new one right away.
Step 2: Make sure your documents are well-organized
Nothing makes a work day more stressful than functioning in a disorganized, chaotic environment. As a property manager, you deal with loads of paperwork, including renter applications, insurance forms, contracts, late payment notices, and more. If those documents aren’t organized, you can spend a great deal of time shuffling through things and adding unnecessary stress.
The easiest way to organize documents? Keep it all online!
Applications like Evernote and Scannable make it simple to put all of your paperwork in an organized place in the cloud. That way, you can search for whatever you need and save everything permanently. Forget old-fashioned filing cabinets and lost items—the property management industry is too high-tech for that!
Step 3: Build a clear path of communication
Poor communication in businesses is estimated to cost $37 billion across the globe, according to David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group. Think about how many texts, emails, phone calls, and mail items you receive every day. It’s no wonder things slip between the cracks for many companies, including property management services.
Communication is essential to serving your tenants well and staying on top of a property’s health. If your tenants don’t have a direct way to convey problems and emergencies to their managers, that’s a big red flag that could lead to poor reviews online and serious disasters.
There are several apps and software products on the market geared towards making tenant-landlord communication easier. For instance, TenantCloud is a free service with personal portals for both landlords and their residents. The service Heylandlord allows for instant communication, as well as reminders for important requests.
Make it easy as pie for your tenants to contact you and vice versa. You’ll rest easy knowing that you have one central communication line, and your tenants will appreciate the simplicity of communication.
Step 4: Prioritize your responsibilities
When you have a to-do list that’s as long as your arm, the best way to buckle down and avoid anxiety is to prioritize. You can’t tackle everything at once, so ask yourself: what are the most important things to focus on at this time?
Generally, as a property manager, your first priority should be any outstanding questions, requests, or problems presented by tenants, as well as interested applicants. These are your clients, and seeing to their needs is the best way to improve relationships, and therefore, bring in revenue.
After that, consider tackling your current financial concerns and property maintenance. Both of these things can feel like huge burdens on your shoulders, which is why it’s vital to address them in a timely manner. The longer you let a leaky faucet go untouched or an outstanding debt notice sit in your inbox, the more you’ll pay in the long run to deal with the issue.
Step 5: Learn to delegate
Last but not least, a property manager who isn’t stressed knows when to delegate their responsibilities. If you own more than one property and are struggling to juggle all of the tasks, it’s important that you turn to the help you need. Do you think that landlords with several properties in their portfolios manage it all by themselves? Unlikely.
Most successful property owners eventually invest in property management services to help them with the ins and outs of everyday issues. From maintenance requests to finding new tenants, property management companies can help you with all of the usual stressors you face. Hiring assistance is truly the best way to make the process stress-free, and fortunately, it might be more affordable than you think it is.
You might be relieved to hear that yes; a stress-free property management experience is possible. However, it will take some effective planning on your part to get there.
Focus on finding tenants you can trust and that make the process as easy as possible. Then, work on keeping those tenants by establishing clear lines of communication, staying organized, and prioritizing the most important parts of your job. When you need help, recognize that and reach out to services that will make property management easier.
Eric Davis is the founder of Davis Property Management, which helps property managers and potential tenants looking for property management and maintenance services in Seattle. They have been the front-runners when it comes to provinding best-in-class property management services in the Puget Sound area.