When you decide to hire a property management company to oversee your residential properties, you’re putting the well-being and respect of your tenants in their hands. It’s a decision you can’t take lightly.
You need to do your research to find the best residential property company in the Seattle, Washington area.
These days, there are dozens of companies at your fingertips that claim to offer the best management services in the city. Sifting through the selection to find the company you can truly trust takes time. Whether you’re hiring a large regional company or a small, independent contractor, you need to do thorough research.
To feel confident that you’re picking the best company to run your property in Seattle, there are certain steps you should take. Here’s how we recommend screening potential companies and making your final decision.
Table of Contents:
Step 1: Ask Around for References
You could just conduct a Google search to find the top-rated residential property companies near you, but that might turn up hundreds of results that take hours to sift through. Instead, we recommend starting the process by talking to friends and colleagues in your area. After all, a personal recommendation can provide you with far more detail and explanations than a simple 5-star review on Google My Business.
Real estate agents, other property owners, and even residents might have an idea of the top Seattle companies you can interview. Compile a list and begin the hunt based on strong personal recommendations. You can trust those more than any random results on a search engine, and your connections might help you find companies that you’ve never heard of before.
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Step 2: Visit One of the Company’s Properties in Person
Although you can read a million good reviews and hear a company’s praise from others, you never really know how to feel about a management service until you see one of their properties for yourself.
- a) Are they clean and well maintained?
- b) Do the tenants seem happy?
- c) Are there obvious issues on the property?
A first impression can tell you quite a bit about a property management company. However, it’s not just the property that matters, but the people who maintain it. That’s why we also recommend meeting candidates in person. Analyze how they present themselves.
Keep in mind, your tenants will be interacting with them, so they need to appear and act professionally.
Additionally, you may want to look into how the company recruits tenants for their properties. It’s their job to keep a low turnover rate, but how are they doing that? Make sure they are recruiting people professionally and conducting proper screening procedures to pick good tenants. Ask to see some of their past recruitment efforts and advertisements to get a taste of their technique.
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Step 3: Ask for Licenses and Certifications
Here in Washington, all property management companies must have a real estate broker’s license if they are going to perform services such as marketing, leasing, and renting. Every state has its own requirements, so look into the regulations where you live. Then, ask the companies you’re evaluating for proof of their brokerage license.
Remember: just because someone took a class in property management doesn’t mean they’re truly certified to handle the job. Ask for real licenses and beware of any companies that don’t want to provide them. That’s a huge red flag.
To learn more about the requirements for property managers in Seattle and throughout Washington, contact the Washington Real Estate Commission.
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Step 4: Inquire About the Company’s Methods of Dealing with Tenants
You’re not just entrusting the safety of the residential property to the managers. You’re also turning over the well-being and comfort of your tenants. Therefore, you need to understand how the property management company will address tenants, handle applications, and generally interact with those paying the rent. You need a company you can trust to be respectful, professional, and courteous.
Here are a few questions we’d suggest asking so you can learn more about the property management company:
- a) How will you handle late rents, and is that process clearly documented?
- b) What are your consequences for tenants who break leases?
- c) Is there someone tenants can always call if they have questions or issues?
- d) How long does it usually take you to find a new tenant if a current one leaves?
- e) What responsibilities do you usually require of the tenants?
The last thing you want to do is hire a property management company that mistreats or overcharges your residents. That’s a quick way to scare away future tenants, as well as your current and future rental property income.
Take the time to learn about how the management company handles everything from questions to emergencies. You may even want to speak with some of their previous tenants to see what they have to say about the company’s policies and behavior.
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Step 5: Negotiate Your Own Terms in the Contract
Never, EVER sign a document provided by the company before you’ve looked it over and made any necessary changes. You need to understand every part of the contract entirely, even the fine print. There are dozens of things to consider when signing a document with a property management company, including:
- a) How you will communicate with the property managers.
- b) The exact amount they charge for all of their services.
- c) How maintenance requests and repairs will be handled.
- d) The method in which you’ll receive tenants’ payments.
- e) The amount of time needed to notify of contract termination.
- f) How you will deal with late payments and delinquent renters.
Remember: you are more than able to negotiate your own terms.
Read through the Owner/Property Manager agreement statement to determine how comfortable you are with all the details. You may also want to have a lawyer look over the document to make sure everything is safe and compliant. A legal expert may have suggestions on things to change or specify.
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To Sum It All Up
Beginning the hunt for the perfect residential property manager can be a tedious process, especially in a big, growing city like Seattle. There are many candidates to evaluate, and even more specifications and questions to consider. However, being thorough in your research process is undoubtedly necessary if you want to properly care for your property and tenants.
Ask for references, do your research, and don’t be afraid to inquire into every little detail. Real, professional property management companies will be more than happy to provide you with plenty of information, as well as their licenses and credentials. Those that cannot provide this don’t deserve your time and energy, so move on.