's Property Management Articles Articles of interest to landlords and property managers Thu, 21 Feb 2019 07:44:54 +0000 en hourly 1 Property Management Services - A Complete List Wed, 24 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela The following is a list of the tasks property managers commonly perform for owners. You may only need some of these property management services, and the property management companies you interview may offer more or less than what is listed here.

Evaluate the property and determine an accurate rental rate

  • Perform detailed documentation of the interior and exterior including photos
  • Offer recommendations on repairs and cosmetic improvements that maximize monthly rent while providing good ROI.
  • Gather data on rental rates in the area and work with owners to determine the optimal rental rate. Rent research will vary, but should include looking at the recently rented comparables according to size and type.
  • Discuss with owners the pros and cons of different policies such as accepting pets, allowing smoking etc.
  • Install a lock boxProperty Management Services

Market the property for rent

  • Prepare home for rent
    • Clean home and optimize interior appeal
    • Manicure landscaping to increase curb appeal
  • Create ads tailored to the property and advertising medium. Some of the mediums commonly used are:
    • Paid and free rental listing websites
    • Print publications
    • Signs
    • MLS
    • Fliers
  • Work with other realtors and leasing agents to find a tenant
  • Provide a 24-hour hot-line where prospective tenants can listen to detailed information about the property
  • Field calls from prospects for questions and viewings
  • Meet prospective tenants for showings throughout the week and weekend.
  • Provide prospective tenants with rental applications that are legally compliant with fair housing laws
  • Collection applications with application fee

Tenant Screening and Selection

  • Perform a background check to verify identity, income, credit history, rental history, etc.
  • Grade tenant according to pre-defined tenant criteria
  • Inform tenants who were turned down

Tenant Move In

  • Draw up leasing agreement
  • Confirm move in date with tenant
  • Review lease guidelines with tenant regarding things like rental payment terms and required property maintenance
  • Ensure all agreements have been properly executed
  • Perform detailed move in inspection with tenant and have tenants sign a report verifying the condition of the property prior to move-in.
  • Collect first months rent and security deposit

Rent collection

  • Receiving rent
  • Hunting down late payments
  • Sending out pay or quit notices
  • Enforcing late fees


  • Filing relevant paperwork to initiate and complete an unlawful detainer action
  • Representing owner in court
  • Coordinating with law enforcement to remove tenant and tenants possessions from unit


  • Advise in the event of a legal dispute or litigation
  • Refer owner to a qualified attorney when necessary
  • Understand and abide by the latest local, state and federal legislation that apply to renting and maintaining rental properties.


  • Perform periodic inspections (Inside and outside) on a predefined schedule looking for repair needs, safety hazards, code violations, lease violations, etc.
  • Send owner periodic reports on the condition of the property


  • Provide accounting property management services
  • Make payments on behalf of owner (Mortgage, insurance, HOA dues, etc.)
  • Detailed documentation of expenses via invoices and receipts
  • Maintain all historical records (paid invoices, leases, inspection reports, warranties, etc.)
  • Provide annual reporting, structured for tax purposes as well as required tax documents including a 1099 form
  • Advise owner on relevant tax deductions related to their rental property
  • Provide easy to read monthly cash-flow statements which offer a detailed breakdown of income and itemized expenses

Maintenance, Repairs, and Remodeling

  • Provide and oversee an in-house maintenance crew
  • Establish a preventative maintenance policy to identify and deal with repair needs
  • Provide an network of licensed, bonded and fully insured contractors who have been vetted for good pricing and good work that is up to code.
  • Assign jobs to different parties (in-house employees, handyman and professional contractors) based on who will do the best job for the best price.
  • Maintain outdoor areas
    • Leaf and snow removal
    • Landscaping
    • Removing trash and debris
  • Maintain and monitor a 24 hour emergency repair hot-line
  • Larger renovation or rehab projects
    • Provide recommendations on how the project can maximize rental income.
    • Prepare preliminary cost estimates
    • Get multiple independent bids for the work
    • Act as general contractor overseeing the work

Tenant Move Out

  • Inspect unit and fill out a report on the property's condition when the client moves out
  • Provide tenant with a copy as well as estimated damages
  • Return the balance of the security deposit to the tenant
  • Forward any portion of the owner’s portion of the tenant deposit to the owner or hold in owner reserves for repairs.
  • Clean unit and perform and needed repairs or upgrades
  • Re-key the locks
  • Put the property back on the market for rent

This isn't intended to be a comprehensive list of property management services, but it should give you a fair idea of the scope of a property management company's activities

At this point you may be thinking, "Ok, so that's what what they can do, but how does all of this benefit me and relate to the big picture of my real estate investment strategy?". Keep reading to find out.

Next: What Are The Benefits of Using a Property Management Company?

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide

Basics of Property Management Fri, 20 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela A Three Part Guide Answering Basic Questions About Property Management Companies

An apple on top of a book next to a chalk board

These articles are from our guide to hiring a property management company and are designed for new real estate investors or those just now considering a weather or not to hire a property management company. We will be answering some of the most common initial questions about what property management companies do and the pros and cons of working with one.

The property management basics series is broken out into the following articles:

  1. 11 Questions for Determining if You Need a Property Management Firm
  2. Property Management Services - A Complete List
  3. What Are The Benefits of Using a Property Management Company?

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide

Natural Resources Management for Kids Tue, 20 Sep 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Natural resources are sources of life, materials, or energy that we are able to get naturally from the earth such as fossil fuels, wind energy, rocks, trees, or a source of power like solar energy. There are two main types of natural resources: renewable and non-renewable. Renewable resources can be used endlessly and do not have a reserve of supply, such as air, wind, or sunlight. Non-renewable energy resources will eventually run out of supply, such as gasoline or even batteries used to power cars.

Humans use up a lot of energy to power things like lights, appliances, vehicles, computers, and other every day necessities. We can work hard to preserve these energy resources by coming up with ways to better conserve our energy, recycle it, or just develop new sources of energy such as solar that will never run out. Total U.S. energy consumption of coal and oil has almost doubled since the 1970s (even higher in certain cities like Phoenix) and it is expected to be in higher demand by the year 2030, reaching a record high level to 50 percent more than humans use today. By doing small things like turning the water off when brushing your teeth or recycling, we can help preserve the environment and keep the resources we have for generations to come.


  • Air Quality Index for Kids – Learn more about how to measure and observe air quality.
  • All About Air – Find out why we need air, why it gets dirty, and what we can do to help keep it clean.
  • Air Pollution – Discover what air pollution is and how kids and adults can help prevent it from happening.
  • The Clean Air Promise – This organization is dedicated to making sure children have clean air to use and breathe.
  • Indoor Air Pollution Solutions – An informative lesson plan that explains indoor air pollution and what can be done to prevent it.

Fossil Fuels

  • Fossil Fuels Eco-Stat – An interactive site to help kids learn about coal, fuel, oil, and natural gas.
  • Energy Kids: Coal – Learn more about coal, one of earth’s most valuable fossil fuel resources.
  • Electricity and Fossil Fuels – Kids can discover more about energy, and how fossil fuels help with providing electricity. It also discusses some of the environmental problems with fossil fuels.
  • Fossil Power – Here, kids will learn more about fossil fuels and how they power our world.
  • Carbon Kids – What are fossil fuels and where do they come from? Check it out at this helpful site.



  • Mineralogy 4 Kids – An entire site dedicated to rocks and minerals and geared towards kids.
  • Rocks for Kids – Pictures of different rocks and minerals as well as a wealth of educational material all about rocks and minerals for kids is here.
  • Minerals by Name – This comprehensive online dictionary lists minerals by their scientific name, and links them to pictures and more information.
  • Mineral Matters – Find out how to grow your own crystals and more at Mineral Matters.
  • Minerals in the United States – Use this map to learn more about where different minerals are found in the US.


  • All About Soil – What is soil, soil related games, and much more can be found here.
  • Soil Science Education – Just about everything you need to know about soil is available at this educational website.
  • Ask the Answer Worm – The Answer Worm is here to help kids learn more about our soil.
  • Rock Sediments & Soil Facts – Check out how dinosaurs made an impact on our rocks and soil.
  • Dirt or Soil? – What are the different classifications and types of dirt and soil? Discover more at this site.


  • Let’s Learn about Water – Discover how you and your family can conserve water at home.
  • Water Pollution Guide – Explore what water pollution is, how it is treated, and how to prevent it.
  • Water, Water Everywhere – Look at how water affects us and what the different water cycles are.
  • Earth’s Water – Several topics about the earth’s water, water cycles, flooding, and much more.
  • The Water Cycle – Learn all about the cycle that water takes from the oceans to the clouds and back down again.


Renewable Energy

  • Kids Saving Energy – Here is some information about how kids can help to conserve energy.
  • Renewable Energy – The basics for kids about renewable energy and what it means to everyone.
  • Renewable & Non-Renewable Energy – Check out what kids needs to know about valuable energy sources.
  • Solar Power – Lesson plans for kids all about solar power and energy.
  • Wind Energy – Check out wind energy and its history, how it is used, and what it can do to help the environment.

Additional Resources

  • Can We Use Natural Resources Forever? – Will natural resources be around forever? Find out here.
  • Just For Kids – Dedicated to educating children about energy and energy conservation.
  • Brain Pop – Amazing games, interactive pages, and educational resources all about recycling, being green, global warming, and more.
  • Types of Natural Resources – Learn more about the different types of natural resources we share.
  • The Green Squad – Discover how kids can help contribute to having greener schools.
  • EEK – Learn more about what you can do at Environmental Education for Kids.
  • Kids and the Environment – Find out what kids can do as well as their schools and parents to help preserve our environment.
  • Zoom – Activities and information for kids to help them be better stewards for the environment.
  • NIEHS Kids’ Pages – Stories, coloring pages, and much more for kids and the earth.
  • Kids for Saving Earth – Whether it’s land, air, water, or creatures, kids can help to save our world from pollution.
How to interview a property management company Wed, 09 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Thoroughly interviewing a property management company before making a hiring decision is absolutely critical and will radically increase your odds of choosing the right property manager.

The goal is to make contact with enough companies that you are able to conduct at least three interviews with property managers in your area. This is a critical and yet sometimes overlooked step that allows you to compare and contrast what each property management company tells you.

It is always best to interview the property managers you talk to in person as this will give you additional insights that may not come out over the phone. Things such as if they dress and carry themselves in a professional manner. It may sound quaint, but you can tell a lot about a property manager based on how important they think it is to dress in a professional manner both to meet you as well as represent you when interacting with your tenants. Even more important than how they dress is how they act. Do they have a positive attitude and are they attentive and able to answer your questions or do they blow off certain concerns of yours?

Remember that the interview process is the honeymoon stage where prospective property managers are putting their best foot forward so don't cut them any slack as things are not likely to get better over time.

Before you even get into discussing how they perform the core tasks involved in property management, find out about their companies background and qualifications.

Ask the prospective property manager interview questions on the following:

  • # of years in business
  • # of years managing your type of real estate
  • Are they licensed?
  • Certifications they posses
  • # of properties they manage
  • Size of the area in which they manage properties
  • Length of average client relationship
  • Address of some of their properties (Ask for a walk through if possible)
  • Distance between their office and your property
  • Size of staff
  • Staff turnover rate
  • Office hours (are they closed on weekends?)

During the interview you should plan on asking about how they handle the major tasks such as tenant screening, tenant marketing, rent collection, maintenance etc.

Lastly, you will want to talk with them about their property management fees and review their management contract.

Remember that while the management fee may be the largest, it is almost certainly not the only fee that you will pay. Even after you verbally talk this through, it is critical that you read through the management contract in its entirety so that you have a full grasp of the various circumstances in which you find yourself being charged a fee.

Other things to look our for in the agreement would include the list of services the management company will provide,  what obligations you are placed under (section is usually titled "Owner responsibilities or duties"), how long contract will last for, and what happens in the event either party would like to terminate the contract prematurely.

You can find a more comprehensive list of interview questions for property managers in our "Guide to Hiring a Property Management Company".

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.

Hiring a Property Management Company Fri, 20 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Property Management Hiring GuideA good property management firm can easily become one of your greatest assets, second only to the properties that they steward on your behalf. That said, your property manager will make critical decisions on your behalf making it extremely important that you do your homework during the hiring process.

This guide is designed to empower property owners with the knowledge and tools necessary to confidently evaluate all of the property management companies they interview, and hire a property manager that can competently meet their needs.

This hiring guide is broken into three sections:

Basics of Property Management

  1. 11 Questions for Determining if You Need a Property Management Firm
  2. Property Management Services - A Complete List
  3. What Are The Benefits of Using a Property Management Company?

What to Look for in a Property Management Company

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Still want to self-manage? We recommend using property management software like Rentec Direct.

11 Questions for Determining if You Need a Property Management Firm Wed, 24 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela While every investors situation is different, there are certain scenarios and factors that typically pre-dispose owners one way or the other. The following questions are designed to help you determine if you should consider hiring a property manager.

Man contemplating hiring a question

1. How far do you live from your rental property and how frequently can you visit the property on a regular basis?

If you are close you may be able to make the regular visits required for maintenance, inspections, collections, etc., otherwise the further you live the higher your travel time and expenses will be. The larger the distance the more temptation there is to not keep a close eye on things, and that can be a recipe for disaster. You should plan making monthly scheduled visits and there is always the potential for a middle of the night emergency call that requires your immediate attention. In the long run, is this feasible for you?

2. How do you deal with stress? Do you consider yourself to be a tolerant person?

This is a tough one. We all like to think of ourselves as level-headed and even-keeled, but at the end of the day it takes a special kind of person to deal with the ups and downs of property management. Behind the seemingly simple task of collecting rent every month lie a number of unpredictable problems can push people to their limits. Ask yourself how you would react in the unfortunate event that tenants:

  • Get in fights with other tenants or neighbors
  • Have domestic disputes
  • Conduct illegal business in the dwelling
  • Carry on all night parties and revelry
  • Try to sneak extra people or animals into the home
  • Decide to sue you
  • Trash the property
  • Incite the wrath of the HOA because of repeated deed restriction violations
  • Refuse to pay rent because they are a "professional tenant" and know how to work the legal system for the maximum amount of free housing at the owners expense?

3. Are you currently overwhelmed with your property(s)?

Managing rental properties can become quickly overwhelming, even for experienced investors. There is always something going on that requires attention and it takes very little time for things to get out of hand. Hiring a property manager can provide an opportunity to regain control and restore stability to both your properties and possibly life in general.

4. How many rental properties or units do you have?

As your portfolio grows so do the management challenges, and it becomes easier for things to fall through the cracks. Investors with large portfolios stand to reap significant benefit by leveraging the efficiencies a property manager can provide. Size can also constrain investors' ability to consider purchasing new properties if they're already maxed out managing their current holdings.

5. How much experience do you have with maintenance and repairs?

If you can't do it yourself, do you know who to call? Finding reliable handymen and contractors can take a while and in the mean time you may unknowingly hire people that are unethical, uninsured, do poor quality work, over charge etc. Maintenance and repairs are a significant component of land lording and if you question your ability to ensure the work is done well and in a timely manner, you might want to consider hiring a property management company.

6. How quickly are you able to get your unit rented?

Advertising, fielding calls, and showing the unit can take a considerable amount of time, but are critical tasks as vacancies will quickly eat into your profit margins. If you question whether you have the skills or the time to make this happen, OR if you have historically had an unacceptably high vacancy rate, you may want to consider hiring a property management company.

7. Are you capable of handling the accounting and record keeping for your property?

From profit and loss statements to tax deductions, this area needs special attention and becomes an increasingly larger burden for larger portfolios. Some owners (especially those with a back ground in finance) will do just fine, others may opt to hire an accountant to help with the book keeping. If you feel like this might be a weak point you might want to consider hiring a property management company.

8. Are you willing to be on call 24/7/365?

Its important to answer this question honestly, because when an emergency happens at your property you can't ignore it. Your special event, important meeting, vacation, or personal crisis doesn't relieve you of your obligation to your tenant. These emergencies don’t happen all the time, but when they do you have to be willing to handle them immediately. Can you handle being called at 2 in the morning to fix someone's overflowing toilet?

9. Are you willing to confront tenants about late payments and if need be evict them from the property?

Many new owners dislike feeling like the bad guy and try to be understanding by making exceptions. The problem is that this only invites additional abuses and excuses by tenants. Late payments must be dealt with immediately, and while sometimes a friendly reminder is all that’s needed, other times, it can be a very confrontational process ending in eviction. Unlike running a charity, running a successful rental business means enforcing the rules even it means evicting a single mother who lost her job and won’t be able to pay rent anytime soon.

10. How well do you understand the laws governing land lording?

Ensuring the property is run in accordance with the law is critical in both preventing lawsuits and shielding yourself from liability if you are sued. Familiarity with contracts is also very important as your rental agreement is the only binding agreement between you and the tenant.

11. From a financial standpoint, is managing your property the best use of your time?

Ultimately, your decision to hire or not hire a management company should hinge on whether or not it is a good fit with your lifestyle and makes sense financially.  Individual investors will have to assess the opportunity cost of both options based on their unique circumstances.

Next, lets cover what exactly a management company can do for you and your property(s).

Next: Property Management Services - A Complete List

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide

Photo Credit, Marco Bellucci

What Are The Benefits of Using a Property Management Company? Wed, 24 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela A competent property manager can add significant value to your investment, which is why many seasoned real estate investors will tell you that a good management company is worth their weight in gold.  Here are a few ways that a good property manager earns their keep:

Property manager holding a house

Higher Quality Tenants

Think of tenant screening as the moat and draw bridge around your castle. It is certainly possible to get a bad tenant out of your home once they are in, but it’s a real hassle and you are so much better off never accepting them in the first place. A thorough screening process results in reliable tenants that:

  • Pay on time
  • Rent longer
  • Put less wear and tear on the unit
  • Generally cause less problems

An experienced property management company has seen thousands of applications and knows how to quickly dig for the real facts about candidates and analyze that information for warning signs. By allowing a management company to handle the screening, you will also be shielding yourself from rental scams directed at owners, and discrimination lawsuits resulting from an inconsistent screening process. This kind of experience takes time, and insomuch as it means avoiding bad tenants, scams and lawsuits it is arguably one of the most significant benefits a property management company will provide.

Fewer costly and time consuming legal problems

Veteran landlords know it only takes one troublesome tenant to cause significant legal and financial headaches. A good property manager is armed with the knowledge of the latest landlord-tenant laws and will ensure that you are not leaving yourself vulnerable to a potential law suit. Each state and municipality have their own laws, these plus federal law cover a number of areas including but not limited to:

  • Tenant screening
  • Safety and property conditions of the property
  • Evictions
  • Inspections
  • Lease addendums
  • Terminating leases
  • Handling security deposits
  • Rent collection

Avoiding a single law suit can more than pay for the property management fees, and spare you time and anguish.

Shorter vacancy cycles

A property manager will help you perform three critical tasks that affect how long it takes to fill your vacancies:

  • Improve and prepare the property for rent - A property manager will suggest and oversee cosmetic improvements that maximize revenue.
  • Determine the best rent rate - Too high and you are stuck waiting, to low and you’re losing money every month the tenant is in the unit. Determining the optimal price requires knowledge of the local market, data on recently sold comparables, and access to rental rate tools.
  • Effectively market your property - An experienced property management company has written hundreds of ads and understands what to say and where advertise in order to get a larger pool of candidates in a shorter period of time. Additionally because of their volume they can usually negotiate cheaper advertising rates both online and offline. Lastly, they are familiar with sales and know how to close when they field calls from prospects and take them on showings.

Better tenant retention

While its easy to see the effects of lost rent, there are other equally serious problems with a high tenant turnover rate. The turnover process involves a thorough cleaning, changing the locks, painting the walls and possibly new carpet or small repairs, not to mention all the effort associated with marketing, showing , screening and settling in a new tenant. This is a time-consuming and expensive process that can often be averted by keeping tenants happy and well cared for.

A good property management company will have a time-tested tenant retention policy that ensures happy tenants with lengthy stays in your properties. These kinds of programs require a consistent, systematic approach, which is where a good property management company will shine.

Tighter rent collection process

The way you handle rent collection and late payments can be the difference between success and failure as a landlord. Collecting rent on time every month is the only way to maintain consistent cash-flow, and your tenants need to understand this is not negotiable. By hiring a property manager, you put a buffer between yourself and the tenant, and allow them to be the bad guy who has to listen to excuses, chase down rent, and when necessary, evict the person living in your property.

If you let them, your tenants will walk all over you. They have to be trained to follow every part of the lease or deal with the consequences. Property managers have an advantage because tenants realize that they, unlike the owner, are only doing their job and are obligated to enforce the lease terms. Many property managers will tell you that it is considerably easier to manage other people's units rather than their own for this reason.

Regarding evictions, there are strict laws concerning the eviction process, and doing it wrong, or trying to evict a "professional tenant" can be a MAJOR fiasco. A good property management firm knows the law and has a good process for obtaining the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Never having to handle another eviction can be a compelling reason to consider hiring a property management company.

Assistance with taxes

A property management company can help you understand which deductions you can claim, as well as organize the necessary forms and documentation to make those claims. Additionally, the property management fees themselves are also tax deductible.

Lower maintenance and repair costs

Good maintenance and repairs keep tenants happy and preserve the value of your investment which make them a very important part of land-lording. By hiring a management firm you gain access to both their in-house maintenance staff, as well as their network of licensed, bonded and insured contractors who have already been vetted for good pricing and quality work. This can translate into significant savings compared to going through the yellow pages and hiring a handyman yourself. Not only is the firm able to get volume discounts on the work, they also know the contractors and understand maintenance issues such that they are capable of intelligently supervising the work.

Increase the value of the investment

Preventative maintenance is achieved through putting systems in place that catch and deal with maintenance and repair issues early on, before they grow into larger more costly problems. This requires a written maintenance check program, detailed maintenance documentation and regular maintenance visits. The management firm can also offer you suggestions and feedback on upgrades and modifications, both how they will affect the rent you can charge, as well as their impact on maintenance and insurance.

Personal benefits for owners

  • Less stress - Avoid having to deal with middle of the night emergencies, chasing down rent, evicting people from your property, tenants who wreck your property, rental scams, lousy vendors, piles of paperwork.
  • More freedom - Live and invest wherever you want with the constraint of needing to be near your properties. Additionally you can live and travel without the requirement of always being available in the event that your tenants have a need you have to tend to. Once you have found a good management company, it doesn’t matter if you live in the same state. Some landlords live in other countries and simply collect their check every month without ever seeing the property.
  • Free up more of your time - Time is money, and for many investors, their time can be more profitably spent in areas other than servicing their properties. When you focus on asset management you’re working ON your business, when you manage your own properties you work IN it. Additionally you have more time to spend with family or friends doing things you enjoy.

A final thought

Of course, this is an ideal scenario.  These results can only be expected if a management company is competent, trustworthy and a good fit for your property.  A poor choice of a management company can produce many headaches of its own.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? Keep reading to find out.

Next: Property Management Fees - Part I

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide

Handling Tenant and Owner Funds Thu, 25 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Rental property investment statementOwners entrust their property manager with more than just their physical assets. Property managers handle rental income, reserve funds, security deposits, and write checks on the owner’s behalf. To function properly, this relationship requires trust, transparency and accountability.

Here's a list of issues to review and questions to ask the property management companies you interview:

Payment to owner

  • What day of the month do they mail checks to owners?
  • Will the check be for that month, or will the management company hold back a month?
  • It’s better to have your rental revenue is in your bank account collecting interest as soon as possible rather than sitting your manager’s bank account.
  • Do they provide direct deposit?


  • Will the management company provide you with an IRS-1099 and a summary profit and loss statement for tax purposes?
  • Are they able to advise you on tax deductions?


  • Do they keep detailed records and documentation?
    • The goal is to provide a clear audit trail for all funds for each property. Look for a company that keeps and is happy to provide you with copies of all invoices. This will also help with taxes and legal situations that arise.


  • How often do they send out reports? When are they sent out?
    • Monthly is standard; there's no reason to deal with a company that doesn’t provide income/expense statements each month.
  • Will you be able to view reports online?
    • This convenience increases transparency and saves you time.
  • Request to see a sample report
    • Reports are your only window into the performance of your investment and it is imperative that you determine BEFOREHAND that the reports they provide will meet your needs. A sample report with dummy, or no data, is fine. If they are unwilling to provide you with this, consider moving on.
    • Reports should be easy to read and show collected rent, deducted property management fees, itemized maintenance, net dollar amount, etc.

Security deposits

Security deposit

Security deposits are an important tool for motivating tenant care and recouping losses due to tenant damage, but if they aren't handled correctly you could lose your right to keep any portion of the deposit or worse, end up owing your tenant several times the deposit amount. Ask any prospective property management company the following questions:

  • How do they handle security deposits?
    • State laws vary in this area; what's important is that the firm understands the law and abides by it. In states where the law dictates that the funds be held in a non interest bearing trust account, you may run into a management company that reasons this is never checked and its ok to keep them interest bearing accounts. Part of the property managers job is to shield you from legal liability by acting in accordance with all relevant laws, so you should be wary when a prospective manager tells you they use legal short-cuts. Lastly, if your state allows landlords to hold and use the funds at their discretion, consider that using the funds early will add the refund to the other expenses you experience after a vacancy (repairs, cleaning, advertising, etc.). Leaving that cushion in place will smooth out those costs.
  • How much is collected?
    • The security deposit is all you have if things go bad and a larger amount means more cushion. States where this is regulated have a MAX that varies between one and three months rent. That said, between half to a full months rent is typical. Tenants with a questionable financial record may be required to pay more (low credit score, foreclosure or bankruptcy on record).
  • Do they accept personal checks for the security deposit?What if the check bounces? This is not a good idea and the deposit should be cash, a money order or a cashier’s check.
  • How quickly do they send out refunds?
    • They should send the tenant a report with the refund or itemized deductions within the number of days allotted by your state.
  • What is their list of conditions and deductions for refunding security deposits? How often do they go to small claims court over security deposits?
    • The refund and deduction process should be designed to motivate good tenant behavior, not to make extra profit. Avoid property managers who are cavalier in making deductions. Make sure they have reasonable conditions and deduction amounts as well as provide good itemized documentation of damages and repair costs. These things help prevent trips to small claims court, or if you do go, help make sure you don't wind up on the wrong side of a judges verdict.


  • Do they make payments for owners (mortgage, insurance, property taxes, hoa dues, etc.)?
  • Will the manager be authorized to sign checks on the owners account? If so, what types of controls are put in place to prevent misuse of funds or outright embezzlement?
  • How quickly do they pay vendors?
    • Do they have vendors perform work and then not pay them until rent is collected or the unit is rented? Keeping vendors waiting for long periods of time strains the relationship and forces the vendor to raise their prices to compensate for the delay’s negative impact on their cash flow. A properly funded reserve should prevent this from being a problem.
  • Do they prevent the co-mingling of funds among the properties they manage?

Given the fiscal responsibility that a property management company has, it is a good idea to raise these questions during the interview process and make sure you understand their approach.  Next, we'll look at the management company's policies regarding setting and collecting rent.

Next: Setting and Collecting Rent.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Property Management Fees - Part I Thu, 25 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Calculating property management feesWhile property management fees are important they must be viewed in light of what other firms are charging, the scope of services provided and the quality of those services. The company you hire will be stewarding one of your biggest assets and the last thing you want to do is make your decision based solely (or even primarily) on who charges the lowest fees.

A lower price may reflect either an acknowledgment they don’t provide top tier service, or an attempt to gain business by undercutting the competition. The problem with the latter is that it leads to slim margins for the firm which lowers the ceiling on the quantity and quality of service they can provide and still remain profitable. If a firm is under-pricing their services across the board it is possible they may try to make up for it by overloading their managers with as many properties as they can (or can't) handle.

The truth is that price is one of the last things to consider. Not because it is the least important factor, but because you should only think about price, and actually hiring an MC after you have determined that they will provide quality services tailored to your needs. What good are low fees if the management company does a poor job?

Other common mistakes are failure to identify all the potential fees for property management, as well as not making a true ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison of costs between property management companies. A lower management fee could easily be wiped out by a lot of expensive back-end charges and vice versa.

Remember that all fees are negotiable, so before you make your final decision, you should try negotiating the best rate possible from the firm whom you think would do the best job.

Ask prospective management firms about the following fees so that you fully answer the question "How much will property management cost?"

Management fee

There is a significant difference between commercial vs residential property management fees but the average management fee ranges between 4-12% of monthly rent. For a single family home you might expect to pay 10% in rental property management fees. This fee will vary based on the number of properties you need managed, the number of units in each property, the location and condition of the property, and most importantly, what services are included for that fee. (Fees also vary market by market, i.e. San Francisco will differ from Los Angeles and Phoenix.) Other pricing models include flat fees, or a hybrid that sets both a percentage and a flat fee and asks you to pay whichever is lesser/greater. Find out if fees are billed or deducted directly from owner accounts.

Vacancy fee

Many management companies don't require this—if they do, pay close attention. Some management companies charge a monthly vacancy fee ($50) that is prorated when a tenant is landed. Other companies expect to collect the full monthly property management fee even though there is no rent coming in. Make sure that the language in the contract indicates management fees are to be paid out of "Collected rent" or "Rent collected" as opposed to "Scheduled rent" or "Rent due". Ensuring this language is in place will also protect you from having to pay management fees in the event that a tenant stops paying rent.

Set-up fee

This fee is for the time invested in setting-up a new account. It ranges from 0$-300$. Find out if the fee is per unit or per property, and if it makes a difference if the unit is occupied or not.

Leasing fee

Leasing fees compensate the manager for the time, effort and cost associated with getting you a new tenant. While this fee is common, some owners are opposed to paying it, preferring that it be padded into the management fee so there is more incentive for the management company to find long term tenants.

In truth, a good management company views the management fee, NOT the leasing fee as the primary profit center. This is why leasing fees as a stand alone service (meaning without other property management services) are typically much higher (75-100% of first months rent). A transparent fee structure is laid out in such a way that high tenant turnover hurts, rather than rewards the management company. The only time this is not the case is when the fee is excessive, or there are significant vacancy fees. In the event that you are fortunate enough to have a long term tenant, you will benefit by not having to pay a leasing commission that is padded into the monthly management fee.

Good questions to ask:

  1. How much is the leasing fee?

    This ranges from 25% to 100% of the first months rent, but 50% is pretty standard. Instead of charging a percentage, some firms charge a flat fee or a percentage of the gross amount for which the lease is written.

  2. Does their leasing fee decrease or get waived if it takes them an unreasonably long time to find a tenant?
  3. Is the leasing fee structured in a way that provides the firm incentive to bring in reliable tenants?

    This usually either means a full or partial refund (sometimes pro-rated) in the event that the tenant is evicted, or breaks their lease within 12 months of the original move in date. Some firms have a policy of only charging this fee once per 12 months per unit which has the same affect.

  4. Do they use leasing agents? If so, what will you have to pay them in the event they find you a tenant?
  5. Do they require exclusivity in advertising, or can you advertise the unit as well? If you find the tenant do you still pay the fee?
  6. Are there any restrictions or extra charges for showings (they only do X number a week, or not on weekends etc.)?

This list is incomplete. To read about the rest of the property management fees you may encounter read part II.

Next: Property Management Fees - Part II.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.

Land Surveying Units and Resources Tue, 08 Jun 2010 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Man performing land survey

According to the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, land surveying “is the science and art of making all essential measurements to determine the relative position of points…” In short, land surveying is the process of measuring and calculating the position of points in relation to each other for use in developing maps or establishing specific land boundaries. A person or government would use a land surveyor to determine exactly where property lines fall to establish ownership or determine governmental districts. Land surveyors also assist with creating road maps, topographical maps, and other scientifically precise maps using complex mathematical calculations and high-tech equipment. Today's land surveying uses satellite imaging and GPS, tools unimaginable to early surveyors.

Units of Measure

  • Acre – An acre is a measurement used in America and Great Britian, equivalent to 43,560 square feet. Using old measurements, it is equal to 10 square chains or 160 square poles. In Scotland and Ireland, an acre is equal to 1.27 and 1.6 English acres, respectively. The measurement of an acre began as a reference to a plowing area that was 4 poles wide by 40 poles (a furlong) long. A square mile spans 640 acres.
  • Arpent – French measurement for both length and area. (Also used in Canada and Louisiana.) In terms of length, an arpent is 191.8 feet. In terms of area, an arpent equals .845 acres approximately. An arpent is the same as 36,802 square feet.
  • Chain – Measurement of length. Depending on locale, it may refer to a Rathbone chain, but most common reference is to a Gunter chain. A metal chain used by surveyors consisting of 100 links.
  • Colpa – Measurement of land used in Old Ireland. Generally understood to be one acre of good Irish land, although the area may be more, as the true understanding is the amount of land it takes to feed a horse or cow for a year’s time.
  • Compass – Equal to one toise, or 6.4 feet.
  • Engineer’s Chain – Metal chain of 100 links, each link being 1 foot long.
  • Furlong – Length measurement equal to 220 yards or 660 feet (40 poles.) Originally called a “furrow long” which was the length of a furrow plowed by an team of oxen in a single pass. (See also Gunter’s Chain.)
  • Ground – A measurement of area in India covering 220 square meters (2400 square feet.)
  • Gunter’s Chain – Length measurement equivalent to 66 feet. Invented in the 1600’s by Edmund Gunter, it became the standard measuring chain in surveying. The original Gunter’s chain measured 22 yards and equaled a tenth of a furlong. An acre equals 1 chain wide by 10 chains long. Queen Elizabeth I, in 1695 redefined the measurement of a mile from 5,000 feet to 5,280 feet so as to equal an even number of furlongs. One mile is the same as 80 chains.
  • Hectare – Area measurement using the metric system. A hectare is 10,000 square meters. In English measurements, that equals 107,639 square feet (2.471 acres.)
  • Hide – Area measurement used historically in England. The specific measurement varied from region to region, and was dependant on land conditions in the area. In short, it was the amount of land needed by a family to survive. In 1066, after the Norman conquest, it was standardized to 120 acres.
  • Labor – Texas and Mexico use this area measurement equal to 177.14 acres or 1 million square varas.
  • League – Also known as a legua, as an area measurement used in the Southwestern United Sates it equals 25 labors or 4428 to 4439 acres, depending on the state. As a measurement of length it equals roughly 3 miles.
  • Link – 1/100th of a chain, length is roughly equal to 7.92 inches.
  • Morgen – Taking it’s name from the German word, morgen (meaning morning) and representing the area that could be plowed in a morning’s time, this measurement of area equals approximately 06309 acres. It was used in Germany, Holland, and South Africa.
  • Out – When using chains to measure land, carriers staked the end of a chain before moving it and placing a stake at the new end. When ten stakes had been staked, a carrier was “out” of stakes, therefore an area of 10 chains became known as an out.
  • Perch – cross-reference with Pole.
  • Point – A system of reference for surveyors using compass points. The four main compass points, North, South, East, and West are subdivided into points of 11.25 degrees each. This allowed for descriptions such as north, northeast. More precise points are divided again by halves or quarters to provide detailed descriptions such as “SE by South, one quarter point South.” The descriptor “and by” means half a point in some areas.
  • Pole – A unit of measure used to describe both area and length. Other names include perch and rod. When used to measure length, a pole equals 16.5 feet. When used to measure area, a pole equals a square area 1 pole by 1 pole. A mile is 320 poles long. 160 square poles make up 1 acre. In measuring acreage, the acreage is sometimes given like this: 87 acres, 112 poles, which is the same as saying 87 and 112/160 acres.
  • Pueblo – In Spanish terms, a pueblo was a land grant under 1000 acres.
  • Rancho – In Spanish terms, a land grant over 1000 acres.
  • Rathbone’s Chain – Like a Gunter’s Chain, a Rathbone chain was used to measure land. A Rathbone Chain is 33 feet long or 2 poles.
  • Rod – Another term for pole.
  • Rood – Area measurement encompassing ¼ acre.
  • Toise – French measurement for length that is the equivalent of 6.4 feet. In traditional France, this would have been 6 pieds (French feet.)
  • Vara – Length measurement used by the Spanish (also known as the Spanish yard) and in the southwestern United States. A vara equals 33 inches, approximately. It varies depending on area, with states such as Texas standardizing a vara to 33 1/3 in the 1900’s.
  • Virgate – Used in Old English times to measure area, a virgate was the equivalent of one forth of a hide. One person could be supported on a virgate.

Land Surveying





Remote Sensing

How to Select a Property Manager Fri, 20 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela A Ten Part Guide to Answering Basic Questions About Property Management Companies

A professionally dressed woman holding a magnifying glass over her eye

Selecting a property manager is a big decision that will have long lasting impact on your real estate investments. A good property manager is worth their weight in rent money, and a bad one will make you wish you had never heard the word "landlord".

The following guide is designed to accelerate your learning curve and to help you learn how to select the right property manager without having to learn from painful mistakes.

Before diving in remember that the selection process will, and should, take several weeks. The worst thing you can do is make a hurried decision out of either need or apathy. You should plan on interviewing AT LEAST three management companies, which includes multiple conversations with each company.

The following articles are from our comprehensive guide to hiring a property management company and cover the essentials of how to interview property management companies during the hiring process. We cover everything from breaking down the fee structure, to exactly what interview questions to ask a property manager.

If you think others would benefit from this material, feel free to share it. If you want to return later, bookmark this page at delicious for quick reference.

  1. Property Management Fees - Part I
  2. Property Management Fees - Part II
  3. Handling Tenant and Owner Funds
  4. Setting and Collecting Rent
  5. Property Maintenance and Repairs
  6. Property Inspections
  7. Tenant Marketing and Retention
  8. Tenant Screening
  9. Examining the Organization - Background, Qualifications, Portfolio
  10. Examining the Organization - Size, Staff, Customer Service

Remember to use our site to find management companies in your area that you can begin talking to about their fees and services.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Property Management Fees - Part II Fri, 07 Aug 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Make sure you read Property Management Fees - Part I first.

Here are the rest of the property management fees that you need to be aware of and look out for:

Advertising fee

There are plenty of ways to generate leads using free resources like signs, craigslist, etc. but with vacancies time is money and prolonging the search process to save a few advertising dollars is a bad idea. This fee could be charged in addition to the leasing fee so it’s important to ask who pays and what the typical fees are. The better they are at marketing the less you will pay, if they have a good strategy and use tools like this should be around $100 and certainly not more than $200.

Lease renewals

Some property managers charge this fee whenever they have to draw up the paperwork to renew a tenant’s lease. The fee typically ranges from 0-200$. The process doesn’t require a lot of work, so a big fee should be a red flag. You should ask if they require lease renewals or if they allow tenants to go month to month after the initial term is up.

Breaking down property management fees

Reserve fund fee

These funds are used to pay day-to-day operating expenses, making sure that services are performed promptly and bills are paid in a timely manner. A reserve of $200-$500 is normal for single family properties.

Maintenance fees

Will they contact you with an estimate before performing repairs over a pre-defined amount? Is this negotiable?

  • Their policy may be to notify you if an expense exceeds a higher figure like $500-$1,000, but you may want to ask if this can be set lower ($100-$200) starting out and increased over time as you become more comfortable with the property management companies judgment. Additionally, if this notification is waived during "emergencies", ask that they define what qualifies as an emergency.

Do they have their own maintenance/repair crew?

  • Companies that don’t offer this may portray it as an ethical hazard since the company could overcharge, but so long as you confirm that the billing rate and process is reasonable, it should not be a problem. If managed properly, an in house crew is a benefit that can lead to cost savings and a more streamlined process. Here are some questions to ask:
    • What services do they perform?
    • What is the billing rate? ($30-$40/hr is average.) Does it vary based on the work being done?
    • Is there a trip charge, or a minimum billing time?
    • Are they available 24/7/365? Is there an extra fee/higher billing rate if they are called on off hours, weekends, or holidays?

For larger remodeling/upgrade projects, do they act as the general contractor overseeing the work that is done? Is there a fee for this?

  • Do they get at least three independent bids for larger ($500+) projects?
  • Do they belong to a network to get better repair rates on the work they outsource?
  • Do they charge a "mark-up" fee?
    • This fee is stacked on top of the final bill for the work performed. Not all firms have this fee; if they do it should come in around 10%.

Eviction fee

Fee for serving notices, dealing with attorneys, court appearances, evictions, etc. Hourly rates are typically $25-$50 while a flat fee for the whole eviction process usually comes in between $500-$600 (plus court costs). Find out if they typically use an attorney for evictions and what their billing rate is.

Unpaid invoice fee

This is a small service charge (typically 1.5%) that is added each month to all unpaid invoices that are past due.

Bill payment fee

Fee for making owner payments such as mortgage, insurance, home owners association dues, etc. Some management firms don't charge a separate fee, while others don't even provide this service.

Sales commission if property is sold

Some management firms require an exclusive arrangement to broker your properties. If this is their policy, find out the brokerage rate and make sure there is a limited term which will allow you to re-list with another firm if the property does not sell within a reasonable period of time. Also, if the firm requires it, how much would the sales commission be in the event that a tenant ends up wanting to purchase the property they are occupying? This is typically 1-3% but we have seen higher, always make sure to check the contract.

Other income

Find out if they will be keeping any portion of the following sources of income:

  • Late fees
  • Returned check fees
  • Pet deposits
  • Lease violation fees
  • Interest on security deposits (may not be applicable depending on state laws) and owner funds held by manager
  • Income from laundry and vending machines

Extra duties fee

Some contracts contain a list of extra services not included in the contract along with the billing rate in the event the owner requests any of them be performed. Check to see if this clause exists, what services are listed, and what the billing rate is.

Keep reading to find out where these funds go and how your management company will handle both your and your tenant's funds.

Next: Handling Tenant and Owner Funds.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Tenant Screening Fri, 07 Aug 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Magnifying glass with handNo landlord ever wants to land a bad tenant, but regretfully all screening processes were not created equally. Applicants put their best foot forward and the more they have to hide the greater lengths they will go to hide facts that would eliminate them from consideration.

The screening process can vary widely from company to company so its important to find out just how much protection the company is going to provide you from what later turn out to be bad tenants. It only takes one eviction to drive home just how important this aspect of the management companies duties really is. In addition to the questions below, ask for a copy of the rental application they use to find out if its a generic document or custom tailored.

Get an idea of how much protection the management companies you interview will provide you with their screening process by asking the following questions:

Will they "hold" a property for a tenant, and take it off the market before a lease is signed? If so, do they charge a fee?

There should absolutely be a fee so that you are protected in the event that things fall through.

What systems do they have in place to protect against rental scams? Have they ever been duped by one?

Scams are becoming more widespread and more advanced. It’s not just Nigerian scammers, but local scammers who will copy your ad, break into your home, and show the unit so they can collect a "security deposit" and run. We're not joking, either.

Tenant Screening Fingerprint

What methods do they use to screen tenants?

The more comprehensive the better. Former landlords should be contacted, income and employment should be verified, credit report run, application information verified for authenticity, personal references contacted, public notice (bankruptcy, eviction) search run, etc. There are so many tricks of the trade in this area and each manager will have their own time-tested methods. If they use a third party for tenant screening find out who and why they use them instead of doing it in house.

Which tenant qualifications are most important to them? Will they consider a tenant who meets their qualification is some areas but not in others?

Ideally, you want them bringing in people who are serious about their job or schooling. Remember that the less someone has to lose in life (money, family, career, reputation, personal pride), the less you can expect from them as a tenant. The eviction rate and tenant turnover rate on the properties they manage is a good indicator of how well they screen tenants.

Do they provide you with tenant information so you can approve or deny each tenant?

This may sound like a good idea but in reality it’s not. Tenant screening is what property management companies do, it’s what they should be experts at, and it’s what you are paying them for. If you don’t trust them to perform this CRITICAL function then you should not consider hiring them. When owners get involved in the screening process the possibility of discrimination (well intended or not) goes up significantly. Fair housing violations lead to lawsuits that can cost thousands. This is a significant liability both for you and the management company.

Other Miscellanous questions to ask:

  • What do they charge tenants for the application fee?
  • Do they require the application fee be paid in certified funds?
  • Do they require each adult that will be renting to complete their own application?

Next: Examining the Organization - Background, Qualifications, Portfolio.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

A Tenant's Guide to Lease Agreements Fri, 04 Jun 2010 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Tenante Lease Agreement

There are many important factors that go into creating an in-depth lease that covers all the rules and regulations of your property. A lease agreement is written between the landlord and the tenant. The agreement explains the landlord’s right and responsibilities, as well as the tenant’s rights and responsibilities. It’s recommended to go over the lease with the future tenant and highlight substantial details.

Terms included in the lease

When a lease agreement is being created for a future tenant, there are some basic terms of tenancy that should be included. Having the names of all tenants is essential for a lease agreement and includes all adults living in the rental unit, making each tenant legally responsible for all terms agreed upon in the lease.

Occupancy limits

A limit of occupancy may also be included on a lease. This agreement clearly states that each rental unit is the residence of the individuals agreed to on the lease and their minor children. This give the tenant grounds to evict any persons who move in a relative or friend without your permission.

Lease term

The terms of the tenancy are also an important factor that state if the rental agreement is a fixed-term lease. Leases typically last a year while some rental agreements run month to month.

Security deposits and other fees

Financial information such as the rent amount, security deposit and various tenant fees should also be clearly stated in the lease agreement. A security deposit is money paid in advance, usually equal to the monthly rent amount, which is taken from the tenant prior to moving in the rental unit in case of damage or non-payment. It’s legally required in some states to include details of where the deposit is begin held and whether interest on the deposit will be paid back to the tenant.

Property Maintenance

A portion of the lease agreement should include a tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and repair. This should involve the tenant keeping the premises sanitary and clean and paying for any damages that are created by his or her neglect. The tenant should be required to contact the landlord in case of dangerous conditions with specific details on the cause of the problem and repair requests. It’s also recommended to include any repair limitations if needed in the case of installing built-in electronics such as dishwashers or painting the walls without permission. Some landlords do not allow pets in their rental units. These special restrictions should be clearly stated in the tenant’s lease agreement.

Tenant & Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

Evictions and lease buyouts

When accepting a job as a landlord, you may run into unruly or damaging tenants. Evictions are sometimes needed to remove these tenants from the rental property. This communication is typically between the landlord and the tenant. Depending on the state laws and jurisdiction, a landlord must win an eviction lawsuit before any legal actions can take place.

A lease “buyout” is another situation that a landlord may need to deal with when leasing to tenants. This type of situation involves the tenant paying the landlord a set sum of money to end his or her lease before the lease agreement is over. This can occur for a number of reasons, such as when the tenant is unable to make the monthly payments or the need to relocate. If the landlord agrees to the payment, they can accept the lease buy out.

Tenant rights

Each tenant is covered under the Tenant Bill of Rights. The Tenant Bill of Rights claims that each tenant has the right to a series of factors when renting any property from a landlord. The tenant has the right to:

  • have the landlord perform covenants, or agreement that imposes legal obligations to either one or both parties.
  • possession of the rental premises, starting at the beginning of the least term.
  • quiet enjoyment without interference from the landlord.
  • rent a leased unit that is habitable, to be sure that the rental meets all housing codes.
  • not to be evicted by the landlord for practicing any of the above given rights.

The landlord must also follow strict discrimination laws. This means that the landlord may not refuse housing to any individuals because of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or other personal factor.

Breaking the lease

Unfortunately, lease agreements cannot always be fulfilled and some tenants find the need to end their lease early. You may be able to break your lease legally if the reasoning also means that the landlord broke the rules by failing to uphold safe and sanitary conditions. Depending on the length of the lease, the tenant may be able to make a deal with the landlord that results in little or no penalties to each side involved.

Tenant Marketing and Retention Thu, 25 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Attracting the right tenants and keeping them is what property management is all about. This is one of the most valuable services that a firm can provide, so it’s important to make sure you will be getting your money’s worth by examining their process for each task.

Residential propety for rent sign

Here's a list of issues to review and questions to ask the property management firms you interview:

Where do they advertise their rental listings?

The more exposure the better, unless the management company is billing you to advertise in places and ways that are not effective. Expect your listings to be on numerous paid and free websites and expect your manager to use offline channels such as:

  • Print classifieds
  • Signs
  • MLS
  • Fliers
  • 24-hour hotline where prospective tenants can listen to detailed information about the property

Find some of their rental ads on your own to see if they stand out from the competition. How informative and compelling are they?

Any management company can list basic information on multiple websites. What you need is a company that understands how to optimize their advertisements for maximum impact. The ads should include all the information required to answer people’s questions, but they should also incorporate good copy-writing that engages the reader on an emotional level beyond bland facts.

What is their current vacancy rate?

This is very telling; if they can’t get or keep other peoples tenants very well, there's no reason to think yours will be any different.

How long does it usually take them to fill vacancies on average?

If they tell you longer than a month keep looking, regardless of what they tell you there's no guarantee it will hold up.

Do they know what their cost per lead is?

If they can readily provide an answer, you know you’re dealing with a manager who closely tracks the impact of their marketing and advertising dollars.

Who fields inbound leads resulting from rental ads?

 The system is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. If well placed and written rental ads direct leads to someone unqualified to handle them then the previous effort was wasted.

How quickly do they return prospective tenants calls and emails?

The shorter the better; you are looking for a property management company who is aggressive in responding to and nurturing leads at every point in the sales cycle. This can be an area of weakness for companies who are less sales-oriented, and if neglected it will mean longer vacancy periods. If you want to test the answer they give you, ping the info on one of their ads and see how long it takes them to get back to you.

What do they do to prepare the home for showings? Do they take steps to ensure optimal presentation both inside and outside?

 Showings are where the decision is made, you want your management company to be on the ball with paying attention to the details that matter.

Will they show a unit if it is occupied?


This is advisable so long as the current tenant is informed, the unit is presentable and the necessary precautions are taken to minimize the intrusion and disturbance. If the unit is showable then ads for the unit should be put up prior to the move out date so as to minimize the vacancy period.

Who shows the units, do they allow unsupervised showings from a lock box?

Successful showings require the manager to be organized and ready to sell. Prospective tenants will have lots of questions about the property, the neighborhood, the lease etc. You want to hire a manager that will be able to answer their questions and sell them on the benefits of the property. Using a lock box for showings hampers this process and also introduces the possibility of vandalism, theft and rental fraud when tenants are in your property unsupervised.

How many times will they show the unit during the week and the weekend?

Watch out for managers who are not willing to put in the time necessary to maximize the number of showings for your property.

What kind of a tenant retention program do they have in place?

Increasing your average tenancy periods will be a huge boost to your business. This translates to fewer turnovers and lower tenant placement costs, ensures a steady income stream and usually means responsible, well-behaved tenants. Pay careful attention to how the property manager answers this question.

Does it seem like tenant retention is a priority or an afterthought? A good retention program involves providing quick responses to tenant needs, establishing regular contact to assess needs and ask for feedback, providing appropriate financial incentives, giving notice that rent increases are coming and being willing to explain rent increases. Additional touches that engender good will are things like seasonal cards or gifts, a welcome packet, and newsletter.

As any landlord veteran will tell you, if your unit is priced reasonably getting applicants is easy, its finding QUALIFIED tenants that is challenging. What should you expect from a management company when it comes to tenant screening?

Next: Tenant Screening

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide

Property Inspections Fri, 07 Aug 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Team performing property inspectionYou are paying the management company to be your eyes and ears and it is extremely important that they are strict about scheduling regular inspections. Many owners don't understand how much damage a bad tenant can cause in a short period of time. There is a natural tendency to assume that as long as the rent is being paid on time and there are no complaints everything is going well.

Don't make assumptions or take anything for granted. Not only will regularly scheduled inspections allow you to catch problems quickly, it is also very effective at deterring undesirable tenant behavior.

Ask any prospective property management company the following questions about how they inspect the properties they manage:

What kind of move in inspection do they perform?

While tenant completed inspections are typical for apartments, for single family units, the manager should perform a detailed inspection which includes digital photos. The tenant should accompany the manager for a walk through and sign off on the inspection report. This kind of documentation is critical to resolve disputes over what damage took place during the tenants stay.

How often do they inspect the interior of the property? Are tenants notified before inside inspections?

They should inspect the unit at least annually, with every six months being the preferred time interval in between inspections. The person doing the inspection should have a check list that they go over which includes things like checking all appliances, locks, A/C (filters), furnace, water heater, smoke detector, electrical, plumbing and looking for lease violations.

Do not accept the management company only performing inspections in between vacancies. Tenancies can last years and there is no excuse for not inspecting the unit during that time. Of course tenants must be given notice before the inspection takes place (24/48 hrs depending on state laws).

How often do they inspect the exterior of the property?

Between monthly and quarterly is standard, although the more frequent the better. Realize that more often than not for many managers these are drive by inspections where the person doing the inspecting does not get out of their car. While this may be acceptable for more frequent visits, a full scale exterior inspection should be performed at less frequent intervals as well.

How often are inspection reports sent to you?

Ask to see a sample copy.

A management company can be operationally perfect, but if they can't attract new tenants do those skills even matter? Next we hit the nuts and bolts of what makes a management company effective in finding (and keeping) tenants.

Next: Tenant Marketing and Retention.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Property Maintenance and Repairs Thu, 25 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Repair and maintenance manPreserving and ideally increasing the value of owner properties is one of the chief roles of a property management company. Tenant requests should be addressed promptly and owners provided with transparent system for seeing how their money is being spent. A competent manager accomplishes all of this with the assistance of both internal staff and their network of qualified, licensed vendors whom they have vetted for excellent cost effective service.

Here's a list of issues to review and questions to ask the property management firms you interview:

Note: Property maintenance and repair fees are covered in Property Management Fees - Part II.

How does the property manager track incoming resident maintenance requests and the subsequent work orders?

A software solution should be in place here. You want to find a manager with a system that does not allow maintenance requests to fall through the cracks and require multiple tenant requests before the work is done. Ideally, tenants should be able to submit maintenance requests online.

How are after hours maintenance requests and emergencies handled and who handles them?

Make sure its someone qualified to handle the problem. The last thing you want is an answering machine or someone saying you will have to wait till Monday to get your or your tenants issue resolved.

What system do they have in place to practice preventative maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is the mechanism a manager uses to maintain the value of your property and avoid letting small issues become larger more expensive problems down the road. This involves things like a predefined maintenance and inspection schedule as well as promptly addressing known issues. This of course assumes owners are willing to make the necessary repairs when they come up. Slum lords may balk, but successful real estate investors know that when you’re in for the long haul you have to engage in sustainable practices that maximize property values, not short-term practices that delay (and multiply) costs.

Do they have their own maintenance crew?

If the answer is yes, are they covered by workers compensation and are they licensed, bonded and insured? Additionally are they available 24/7/365 for emergencies?

What contractors do they work with? 

 Do the contractors carry workers compensation and are they licensed, bonded and insured? Does the management company oversee the contractors’ work for quality, code compliance and cost effectiveness? Some owners like to take the extra step of researching the primary vendors that will be used to make sure there are no red flags.

Do they have any conflicts of interest with their vendors? 

 Beware of relationships that are based on something other than good work and the best price. Vendors reward management companies for their business, but this should be in the form of discounted rates, which benefit the owner, rather than "referral bonuses" that go to the management firm.

The management contract may state something to the effect that the management company may:

“…perform any of its duties and obtain necessary products and services, through affiliated companies or organizations in which Management may own an interest, and may receive fees, commissions and/or profits from these affiliated companies or organizations.”

If this is the case make sure you get full disclosure on the nature of any pre-existing relationships where this applies and will be notified when this comes up again in the future with new vendors.

One possible exception to this rule would be when the management company receives a small fee from vendors for guaranteed payment, meaning the vendors gets paid by the management company regardless of whether the owner whose property is being worked on has sufficient funds in their account.

What rules do they have in place regarding contractors entering occupied properties?

Lawn maintenance crew

Make sure they have an established policy here. Anytime contractors and maintenance personnel are entering occupied units there is potential for trouble if the situation is not handled carefully.

Do they provide itemized statements with receipts for the work performed?

This adds accountability and transparency to the billing process. You don't want to work with a management company that is unwilling to provide solid documentation of where your money is going.

Do they let tenants perform repairs?

Tenants perform inferior quality work, and their lack of insurance coverage, liability or workers compensation could leave you liable in the event of an accident or injury. Why take the risk of having them accidentally fall off a roof or ladder, electrocute themselves, or flood your home? If they don’t allow tenant repairs, make sure this is written into the rental agreement. If you are comfortable allowing them, at least have the tenant sign a waiver and agree that the repairs must be approved by the manager.

Do they allow tenants to hire their own handyman?

This is also inviting trouble, and the rental agreement should prohibit this.

What recurring maintenance tasks (lawn mowing, etc.) do they expect the tenant to perform?

This is not considered a liability hazard although providing these services eliminates the issue of tenant neglect and can improve tenant satisfaction which helps with retention.

What is involved in their process for preparing a property to be re-rented after a tenant has vacated? How long does this process take?

The property should get the usual cleaning, paint job, re-keying, etc. but this is also a good time to consider strategic improvements that will maximize your rental revenue. You want to find a property manager that will proactively offer this kind of feedback on an as needed basis. Obviously the quicker the turnaround time, the better.

The best crew in the world can't fix what they can't see. Regular inspections are a critical component of preventative maintenance.

Next: Property Inspections.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Property Management and Rental Terms Glossary Tue, 20 Sep 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Whether you are interesting in entering the real estate field, or have just entered into the industry, it is extremely helpful to understand the various terms associated with different transactions. These terms are relative to property management and rental situations. Read through this comprehensive glossary to ensure that you understand the meaning of each term. For further information, click on the links that are provided.

Affordable Housing: This type of housing is that of which a federal or state agency governs in an effort to offer assistance and control the rent to those who meet a certain predetermined criteria.

Amenities: Intangible and tangible features that are included in or on a property that enhance the desirability or value of the property.

Apartment: A multi-family building that is designed to house separate individuals or groups of families within the same building.

Broker: A real estate professional who purchases and sells property for others in order to receive a commission. This professional must be licensed and eligible to practice in the state he resides in.

Condo/Condominium: A multi-unit building that allows for individual units to be owned by its dwellers. The common elements of this type of building are owned by all owners within the condominium.

Conventional Housing: This type of housing adheres or conforms to the market rate, or acceptable standards, of the area’s housing.

Co-Signer: An additional signer on a lease or mortgage that is used in order to verify the identity of the principle owner or to provide a certain level of surety to the lender or landlord.

Duplex (House): A house that was designed to house two separate individuals or families within the same house. For instance, a house that has an upstairs for one family and a downstairs for another family is considered a duplex.

Equal Housing Opportunity: The opportunity for all citizens in America to be able to live in various housing communities regardless of race, gender, age, nationality, familial status or disability.

Escrow Account: The account that a broker establishes during a real estate transaction in order to hold onto the funds until the transaction has been completed or cancelled. This assures that the purchaser has the money that is needed to successfully complete the transaction upon approval.

Ethics/Professionalism: A system of rules and moral principles that come into play when conducting professional behavior.

Eviction: A process through legal means in an effort to remove a person from their home due to a violation of the agreement, whether the dweller has not paid rent/mortgage or if they have violated another form of the agreement, such as noise disturbances.

Fair Housing Act: This law is of a federal status and was put in effect to stop the discrimination that occurs in housing because of race, age, color, handicap, sex, religion, national origin and familial status.

Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contracts (PDF): The HAP contract is used so that those under the voucher program are able to receive section 8.

House: A residence in which people reside.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD): The mission of HUD is to increase the access to housing that is affordable without discrimination; support the development of the community; and increase the homeownership rates.

Income Levels: These are limits as defined by the government that are used to establish tax credit limits and other types of affordable housing.

Lead Based Paint Disclosure: Requirements that became effective as of 1996 to ensure that families and individuals are made aware of homes that contain lead-based paint.

Lease: An oral or written contract that is developed between a landlord and his tenant that provides the tenant with the right of exclusive possession of the home for a specific amount of time. Generally speaking, for leases that are longer than one year, the agreement must be in writing.

Lease Option: An agreement that allows the tenant the option to purchase the property they are leasing at the end of the lease term, or some time during the term of the lease.

Lease Renewal: The renewal of a lease once the term of the lease has expired.

Lease Term: The amount of time that is agreed upon between the landlord and tenant in which the tenant will occupy the property.

Leasing Agent: A licensed real estate agent who leases property and has the authority to sign on the behalf of the lessor.

Lessee: The tenant who has agreed for the term of the lease.

Lessor: The landlord who has agreed for the term of the lease.

Low Income Tax Credit (LITC) Properties (PDF): These types of properties provide the owner with a certain amount of tax credits in exchange for renting to eligible tenants as designated by the Justice department, HUD and the IRS.

Maintenance: The upkeep and care of a property.

Market Rate: The current rate of the real estate market.

Persons With Disabilities Act: An act that guarantees equal opportunity for those with disabilities.

Pre-Qualification- This is the first stage in the bidding process where the maximum loan amount for the applicant is determined.

Property: A piece of real estate as well as the permanent fixtures, such as buildings, that are attached.

Property Management Agreement: The agreement between the landlord and the management company that discusses the details on how the property will proceed with being managed. This agreement also includes other details that pertain to criteria and payments to the management company.

Property Manager: This is the person who manages a piece of real estate that belongs to another person in exchange for compensation. Some of the duties as a property manager include keeping up with all of the accounting details, maintaining the property and collecting rent from the tenants.  For example, see property managers in Phoenix.

Proration: Prepaid expenses or those that are paid in arrears at the signing of the lease. These expenses are divided between tenant and landlord or the seller and buyer at the closing of a purchase.

Real Estate: A piece of land that may or may not have permanent fixtures attached to it.

Real Estate Agent: A licensed agent that deals with selling and leasing real estate.

Realtor: A professional that is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Rent: A period payment that is set at a fixed amount that is made by the tenant to the landlord.

Rent Schedule: A statement that proposes the rental rates. This document is put together by the property manager, owner or both.

Rent to Own: A lease agreement that provides the tenant with an option to purchase the property.

Rental Discount: A discount that is given to the tenant by the landlord if the tenant pays the rent by a certain day.

Repairs: Improvements to a property that fixes something that is broken or outdated, or something that simply enhances the value.

Sales Agent/Salesperson: A person who works with a licensed broker of real estate and performs real estate activities.

Section 8: A voucher program that increases the amount of choices that are available to families who are considered to be in the low-income category. This allows them to choose homes that are privately owned.

Security Deposit: A payment that a tenant makes to the landlord as a security in the event that there is damage to the property.

Single Family House (SFH) : A place of dwelling that is designed for one family to live in.

Subsidy/Subsidized: Assistance that is granted to a group or person by the government.

Tenant Damages: Damages that are considered outside of normal wear and tear is done during the term of the lease.

Townhouse: A row of houses that are simply joined together by sidewalls.

Indemnification and Boiler Plate Items Mon, 10 Aug 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Make sure to read our introduction to this series on management contracts

In continuation from our last article, here are more items to pay attention to in the property management contracts you review:

Liability and Indemnification

All contracts will have a section that addresses what the management company can and cannot be held liable for.

Some contracts are broader and more comprehensive than others in terms of what the firm requires the owner to indemnify them from.

Indemnify: To compensate for loss or damage; to provide security for financial reimbursement to an individual in case of a specified loss incurred by the person. (

To get an idea of what the management company may ask you to hold them harmless from, here is an excerpt from a contract with a pretty comprehensive liability and indemnification clause:

Liability and Indemnification:

  1. Broker is not responsible or liable in any manner for personal injury to any person or for loss or damage to any person's real or personal property resulting from any act or omission not caused by Broker's negligence, including but not limited to injuries or damages caused by:
    1. Other brokers, their associates, inspectors, appraisers, and contractors who are authorized to access the property;
    2. Acts of third parties (for example, vandalism, theft, or other criminal acts);
    3. Freezing or leaking water pipes;
    4. A dangerous condition or environmental condition on the property; or
    5. The property's non-compliance with any law or ordinance.
  2. Broker is not responsible or liable in any manner for:
    1. Any late fees or other charges Owner incurs to any creditor caused by late or insufficient payments by any tenant in the Property; or
    2. Damages to Owner caused by a tenant's breech of lease.
  3. Owner agrees to protect, defend, indemnify, and hold Broker harmless from any damage, costs, attorney's fees, and expenses that:
    1. Are caused by Owner, negligently or otherwise;
    2. Arise from Owners failure to disclose any material or relevant information about the Property;
    3. Are caused by the Owner giving incorrect information to any person; or
    4. Are related to the management of the property and are not caused by Broker, negligently or otherwise.
  4. Owner is responsible and liable for all contracts and obligations related to the Property (for example, maintenance, service, repair and utility agreements) entered into before or during this agreement by Owner or by Broker under Broker's authority under this agreement. Owner agrees to hold Broker harmless from all claims related to any such contracts. (pdf:

While the contract almost always holds the property management company liable its for acts of negligence, as you can see above, they are not liable for the negligent acts of those whom they hire to work on their (your) behalf. While it would be unreasonable to expect them to be responsible for all the actions of the 3rd parties they hire, they should at least be held responsible in the event that they hire someone who has a history of bad work and they either knew about it or should have known. This can be accomplished by adding a reasonable care clause like the one below

"Agent may perform any of its duties through Owner's or Agent’s attorneys, Agents, or employees and shall not be responsible for their acts, defaults or negligence if reasonable care has been exercised in their appointment and retention." (pdf:

Bookshelf with legal books

Boiler plate legalese

The following are common clauses found at the end of many contracts.

Entire Agreement

This provision establishes that regardless of what you talked about with the management company before hand, this contract is the final version of the agreement and supersedes all prior written and oral proposals.


The contract should contain a clause stating the contract can only be modified by a written agreement executed by both parties.


Could the management company transfer their contract with you to another management company without your consent? Some contracts allow for this, so make sure there is a requirement that your approval is a perquisite for the management company transferring or "assigning" your contract to another firm.

Time is of the essence

"A phrase that, when inserted in a contract requires that all references to specific dates and times of day noted in the contract be interpreted exactly.

Failure to act within the time required constitutes a breach of the contract. The general rule is that time is not of the essence unless the contract expressly so provides. As a result, with respect to real estate transactions, the modern view is that time is not of the essence unless the parties have manifested such an intent." (

Governing Law; Venue

This clause determines which states’ laws will govern the interpretation of the contract, and may also specify the jurisdiction (county) in which all disputes are to be initiated and resolved.


This clause allows the contract to remain valid and enforceable even if a specific clause is found to be otherwise. This way a legal error in the contract does not require the entire agreement be done away with.

Your comments are appreciated!

This concludes both our overview of property management contracts, and our series on what to look for in a property manager.  I hope it has been helpful.

As always, if you disagree with a point we've made, or have something to add, let us know in the comments!

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Responsibilities and Representations Fri, 26 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Make sure to read our introduction to this series on property management contracts.

While contracts can range in size from 3-10 pages, 5-6 is average. Some are comprehensive, while others are very basic. While we can't tell you what exactly what the agreements you see will look like, there is a good bet they will contain some of the items outlined below. Remember that each management company must be viewed in its entirety when compared against another. While some issues are more important than others, making a true comparison between the property management companies you interview requires taking into account the full scope of their management fees and services.

Here are some things to pay attention to in the property management contracts you review:

Introductory paragraph(s)

Most contracts start off by stating this is a legally binding exclusive management agreement and then naming the parties to the agreement and the legal address of the property being managed. This is also typically the section that communicates the broker will be working on behalf of the owner in the managing of the property. Terms like "Grant", "Employ", and "Appoint" all communicate that the owner is transferring agency to the broker. Agency is defined as:

Agency: n. the relationship of a person (called the agent) who acts on behalf of another person, company, or government, known as the principal. "Agency" may arise when an employer (principal) and employee (agent) ask someone to make a delivery or name someone as an agent in a contract. The basic rule is that the principal becomes responsible for the acts of the agent, and the agent's acts are like those of the principal (

Broker Responsibilities (AKA "Authority and Powers")

This is the section of the contract that should specify exactly what services you will be receiving and how those services will be performed. We have already covered the majority of this section in the following posts:

Two people exchaning a contract and a set of keys

  • Handling Tenant and owner Funds
  • Property Maintenance and Inspections
  • Setting and Collecting Rent
  • Marketing, Screening and Retaining Tenants

Make sure that the contract contains a due diligence clause (AKA "best effort") where the management company states that they will do their best in the management of the property.

Extra duties

Some contracts contain a list of services that the agreement does not include or qualify as "work exceeding normal management duties". If this clause exists you need to find out what items are listed and what the billing rate is for these services. If a billing rate is listed, it likely may be "an hourly fee equal to the current monthly management fee". Otherwise the contract may state the fee shall be agreed upon before the work begins, in which case you want to find out more so there are no surprises down the road in the event you need any of these services.  If the list is simply services they don’t provide under any circumstances then make sure you are comfortable foregoing, or outsourcing the items listed. Services typically listed are things like modernization, refinancing, fire restoration, rehabilitation, process serving, advising on proposed new construction and assisting sales agents or appraisers. That said, sometimes the list can be more comprehensive and include things you might have assumed would be included in the management fee so its important to check the contract.

Legal compliance

Some contracts have a section entitled "Equal Housing Opportunity" which outlines compliance with fair housing laws. This is only part of the equation. Here is an example of a more comprehensive legal compliance clause:

"The parties will comply with all obligations, duties, and responsibilities under the Texas Property Code, fair housing laws, and any other statute, administrative rule, ordinance, or restrictive covenant applicable to the use, leasing, management, or care of the property." ( pdf)


This clause addresses the issue of the Agent expending its own funds to pay owner bills. Many contracts clearly indicate that the management company is not required to advance the owner funds. Others go further stating that while not required to advance funds, the firm retains the RIGHT, at its sole discretion, to advance funds to cover necessary expenses. The owner is of course obligated to make immediate repayment, and there may be fees if repayment is late (1.5% of invoice per month is average).

Owners representation

The purpose of this clause is pretty straight-forward, you are simply disclosing the facts about the property, your ability to enter into the agreement etc. Read it carefully and make sure you let the company know if there are any potential conflicts or if you are not sure about certain points.

Owners responsibilities/Duties

Here is where the owner’s responsibilities in the relationship are outlined; pay close attention to see what you will be committing yourself to. The following are some of the items that may be included, some being more common than others. The contract may specify that the owner agrees to:

  • Not hire any other company to lease or manage the properties included in the agreement while the contract is in effect.
  • Not take any action that would jeopardize the management company’s ability to offer the property for rent in compliance with fair housing laws.
  • Abide by restrictions on entering the property. This will vary, but the basic idea is that owners can not enter their property whenever they want once it is occupied as this would be in violation of the tenants rights. The restriction may only require informing the tenant before hand, or it may require the owner to notify the agent and work through them to schedule a visit.
  • Transfer security deposits paid by existing tenants to the management company (This may not be applicable depending on the laws in your state).
  • Provide broker with all necessary records and documents the management company will need to do their job.
  • Reimburse the management company for expenditures they make on behalf of the owner in the management of the property.
  • Immediately notify the management company in the event the owner’s representations as described in the contract are no longer valid or if other circumstances have arisen that are legally required to be disclosed to the agent, are necessary for the agent to know to perform their duties, or would affect the habitability of the property.
  • Immediately inform the manager in the event the owner has missed payments (becomes delinquent) for financial obligations related to the property such as property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, and most importantly, the mortgage payment.
  • Not rent the property to anyone without the management company’s prior consent.
  • Not deal or negotiate with current or prospective tenants about anything related to the management or leasing of the property, but instead refer them directly to the broker.
  • Maintain property in a condition necessary for it to comply with all relevant laws.
  • Set-up and maintain a reserve
    • These funds are used to paying day to day operating expenses making sure that services are performed promptly and bills are paid in a timely manner. A reserve of $200-$500 is normal for single family properties. The owner is obligated to maintain this reserve fund.
  • Maintain Insurance - See below.


Find out what kind of insurance and what amount of coverage they require you to maintain. The contract will likely require that the policy cover the management company in the same manner as the owner and require notification in the event coverage is changed in the future. In some cases the contract may actually authorize the manager to purchase insurance on your behalf (at your expense) in the event you lack sufficient coverage now or in the future.

Keep reading to find out how the terms of your management contract will effect your, or your management companies decision to break off the relationship early.

Next: Contract Termination.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Contract Termination Fri, 26 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Make sure to read our introduction to this series on property management contracts.

In continuation from our last article, here are more items to pay attention to in the property management contracts you review:

Term (AKA "Duration of agreement", "Retainer period")

Most property management companies require a 1-2 year contract period with very few offering month to month services. Bear in mind that the contract will be legally binding upon its execution (signing), even though the start date or "effective period" may begin later. After the initial or "primary" term is over, the contract may automatically renew itself for another term repeating the process each time the expiration date occurs. Find out how long of a term the auto-renewal will commit you to, it could be longer that the initial term was for, which would be important to know. Also, in the event that you want to prevent this automatic renewal from taking place, you might have to provide written notice at least 15-30 days before it takes place.

Owner Termination

The termination clause is a very important piece of the contract. It will dictate under what circumstances you or the manager can end the relationship prematurely and what penalties or costs you will incur. Without an exit plan, you might find yourself trapped if the relationship doesn’t work out. Find out how much notice the management company requires before allowing termination of the contract (30 days is normal but some companies require up to 90). Also, does the contract require "cause" as a prerequisite to being able to provide this notice? If so, the agreement needs to spell out what exactly qualifies as "cause".

A pink termination notice slip in tucked in someones coat sleeve

Will there be any fees or penalties for terminating the contract early? Not all managers charge a fee; if they do it’s either a straight forward flat fee (300-500$), or something conditional. Conditions can vary widely, from having to pay a fee if you cancel during the initial vacancy period, to only having to pay a fee if you cancel after a tenant has been landed, or within the first 12 months. Worse case scenario? We've seen contracts that in the event of early termination still require the payment of monthly management fees for the duration of the remaining lease term(s) and others that require the total management fee for the life of the contract (based on scheduled rents) to be paid upfront as a pre-requisite to early termination.

Ideally, you want a contract that allows for termination without cause with 30 days notice. Bear in mind that while this clause is a legitimate way for the management firm to protect itself from making an upfront investment in a property only to have the owner bail, it also speaks to the company’s faith in its ability to satisfy its clients needs. If they are having to implement extreme switching costs (termination fees) in order to retain clients, this is a bad sign.

There should also be some provision to allow you to exit the contract without penalty in the event that the manager is not able to secure a tenant within an extended period of time (3-4 months).

When you do decide to terminate, make sure your written termination date reflects the exact contract term expiration date, otherwise you could be liable for the penalties mentioned above.

Agent Termination

Pay close attention to the circumstances in which the management company cancels the contract, the notice they will give you and the financial implications it will have. Below are some excerpts from real contracts that describe circumstances which allow the management to elect to terminate the contract:

... if the agent in its sole discretion deems the continuation of the agreement subjects itself to liability or is in breach of its duties to the tenants or any other persons. (pdf:

If Broker determines that Broker cannot continue to effectively provide leasing and management services to Owner for any reason at any time during this agreement... (pdf:

...should Owner fail to promptly fund repairs required by any city, county, or state law, regulation or ordinance and/or to maintain the condition of the property being rented in a habitable condition as required by either the rental agreement and/or applicable California code sections or appellate decisions, of if the Owner fails to promptly comply with any government issued Notice of Corrections or court orders. (pdf:

...Owner has made any misrepresentation of material fact regarding the real property, the tenant, and/or the status of the landlord-tenant relationship, if any, or has been or is not acting in strict conformity with this Express Property Management Agreement and Authorization, or fails in any way to cooperate with the Agent in managing this real property (pdf:

Bear in mind that some contracts don't even contain an agent termination clause, but if they do, they can include a very broad and general list of circumstances. Make sure the contract entitles you do adequate notice (30 days) in event that this does take place. Lastly, find out what the financial ramifications of agent termination will be. Worse case scenario, you could be dealing with a situation like the one outlined below:

In the event that this (name withheld) Agreement and Authorization is terminated for cause as allowed by this section, said termination will not release nor relieve Owner of its responsibilities for payment to Agent of expenses and management fees for the full term of this (name withheld) Agreement.

Duties upon Termination

Once you or the management company has decided to sever the relationship, there are still important things that need to happen to make for a clean break. Owners need to make a final payment to the management company to settle the account and the contract should cover the following tasks for the management company:

  • Provide owner with a final financial report along with remaining rents on hand minus agents fees and funds needed to cover all outstanding expenses the manager has incurred in the course of managing the property. There should be some time parameter dictating how quickly this will take place after termination. Also, check if the contract contains a clause giving the manager permission to withhold owner funds, either all or a portion like the reserve, for a certain period of time. This is usually for 30-60 days and is done in order to make sure all expenses are paid, such as those already incurred but not yet invoiced.
  • Provide owner with necessary records and documents. This would include a list of tenant security deposit obligations, copies of tenants’ leases and other instruments entered into on behalf of the owner.
  • Provide owner with a record of tenant security deposit obligations.
  • Transfer security deposits either to the owner, or the owner’s new agent minus the relevant deductions as dictated by the contract.
  • Provide tenants written notice of the exact dollar amount of the security deposit and inform them that the owners or owner’s new agent is now responsible for returning their security deposit.
  • Provide tenants written notice that they are no longer managing the property, and provide them contact information for the owner’s new agent or designee.


If either party breaches the contract, how long will they have to fix the problem before the other party has the right to terminate the contract? (Ranges from 0 to 30 days)

Mediation and Arbitration

Does the contract specify the usage of a mediator or arbitrator to resolve disputes? If so who preside and what is the process? Who pays for their services? Note that there is a difference between mediation and arbitration.

Attorneys fees

In the event legal proceedings are required to settle a dispute about the contract, will the prevailing party be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees? Check to see if the contract puts a cap this amount, if so the entity with more cash may have an inherent advantage in the event of dispute.

In our next and last article in this series we are going to provide you with a easy to understand description of some of the common legal clauses and concepts covered in the contract.

Next: Indemnification and Boiler Plate Items

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide

Examining the Organization - Size, Staff, Customer Service Sat, 08 Aug 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Make sure you also read Examining the Organization - Background, Qualifications, Portfolio.

The service you receive will only be as good as the people doing the work. This step is critical in ensuring you hire honest, knowledgeable professionals who will be attentive to your needs and the needs of your tenants.

Group of property managers

Here's a list of issues to review and questions to ask the property management firms you interview:


How many people do they have on staff?

There are pros and cons on to both large and small size companies. While these are certainly not universal, here are some to consider:

  • Larger company benefits
    • More specialized staff (i.e. the accounting dept. consists of trained accountants)
    • Typically have an in-house maintenance crew
    • More process-driven
    • Able to negotiate better vendor contracts and advertising rates because of size
    • More likely to have made a significant investment in enterprise level software that helps them perform property management functions, as well as other more general tasks like accounting, communication and administration.
    • Plenty of back-ups to fill in when someone gets sick, goes on vacation, quits, etc. This load-sharing can also help with burnout.
  • Smaller company benefits
    • The buck stops with the people you directly deal with.
    • A shorter chain of command means quicker responses and less finger pointing when there are problems.
    • You may have more pricing leverage
    • The fact that a mom and pop company has their name (sometimes literally), reputation and personal identity tied to their business can be viewed as a positive motivating factor to provide good service.


What is their staff turnover rate?

The property management industry has a higher turnover in general, so bear in mind this figure is only meaningful when compared to other property management companies in the area. High turnover is a bad sign. You want to deal with the same people, not a new face every few months. Additionally, this may a sign of poor management and possibly financial instability. If financial stability is a question, you can always run a credit check on the company.

Head shot of a female property maanger

Who is the specific PM that will handle the property?

The interview with management may go well, but if the manager they assign to your property is sub-par, it really doesn’t matter how well the rest of the organization operates. Make a point to meet the specific property manager(s) who will be stewarding your properties. Consider the following:

How do they show? Do they dress and act professionally? Do they seem knowledgeable about their profession?

A nice outfit, warm smile and firm handshake don't cut it. Ask enough questions to the point that you are satisfied they know what they are doing.

How long have they been a (insert your type of property) property manager for (working as an actual PM, not an assistant)?

Relevant experience is key. They may transition quite well and do a good job but either way you want to know their background upfront.

How long have they been with this company, where and for how long were they with the company before that?

Job hopping is not a good sign, and because of the localized nature of real estate, more time spent locally is preferable to a recent transplant from different rental market.

How is their compensation package structured?

This says a lot about how invested your pm will be in the performance of your properties. Wouldn't you want your property manager to be rewarded if they do a good job, and to experience pain, if they don't? Look for pay structures that establish a direct correlation between compensation and key metrics like low vacancy rate, delinquency rate, etc.

Who would you be dealing with if that person is sick or on leave?

There will be a day when the planets align and Murphy's Law comes full force. Your manager is out of town and a situation arises that requires immediate attention. Is there a qualified back-up person who will know how to solve the problem or it fall on you to deal with the problem?

Customer Service

What are their office hours, do they close on weekends?

Property management is a 24/7/365 vocation, look for a property manager that will be working for you and your properties on the weekend as well.

Who handles after hours, weekend and holiday calls?Customer service agent

It needs to be someone who is qualified to competently address owner and tenant concerns IMMEDIATLEY, rather than explaining that you or the tenants will need to wait till Monday morning before you can get redress. If one of your tenants has a pipe burst at 11:30 Friday night, you don’t want them talking to someone who is not qualified or capable of promptly getting the problem solved. Regardless of the answer you are given, the only way to know is to call the given number and see who picks up. If tenant or owner emergencies are met with an answering machine you may want to think about moving on.

How quickly do they respond to tenant and owner calls?

If during the interview process you have a hard time getting a hold of them, or getting a quick reply, consider it a sign of things to come. Why would you consider hiring a property management firm that is hard to get a hold of?

Next we'll be taking an in-depth look at property management contracts, and how they govern your relationship with a management company.

Next: Responsibilities and Representations.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Photo Credit, MauraNeill 

Examining the Organization - Background, Qualifications, Portfolio Fri, 26 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela The service you receive will only be as good as the people doing the work. This step is critical in ensuring you hire honest, knowledgeable professionals who will be attentive to your needs and the needs of your tenants.Interior of a proprety management companies office

Here's a list of issues to review and questions to ask the property management firms you interview:


How long has the company been in operation? Under this name or under a different name?

The rule of thumb is to look for five years or more experience, but this must be weighed against all the other criteria as there are subpar veterans and excellent startups in many markets. Also, beware of a company that has changed its name to avoid bad past.

Have they been doing property management that whole time? Have they been managing the type of property you own that whole time?

Property managers who focus on one property type and/or don't provide realty services pride themselves on this point. There are definitely benefits to working with a company that has a single focus and specialization, but there are plenty of competent property management companies who provide realty service and/or manage multiple property types. The main thing to look out for is people who decide to become property managers overnight even though they are unqualified. Although this applies to people from all backgrounds, its worth noting that when the real estate market slows down a good number of realtors moonlight as property managers, some of whom lack the proper licensing and or skills required.

How knowledgeable are they?

If they appear to not have the time to answer your questions in the interview process, move on. They either genuinely don’t have time for their clients, or this is a front to mask their lack of knowledge. Try offering them some hypothetical scenarios to see if they offer you solid answers or dance around the question. Quick, clear answers mean there are well laid out processes in place rather than a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants, more reactive mentality.


Are they licensed to practice property management?

This is a very important point as it is a serious problem when anyone tries to practice property management without being licensed and educated in the field. The fact that your property management company is licensed means they are subject to the ethics and guidelines established by their states governing authority. If they don’t have a broker’s license, they either will likely be operating under another broker’s license or are in a state that does not require a broker’s license. Either way it's worth checking the laws in your state and verifying things to make you don't hire a company that is practicing property management illegally. Also make sure to find out if they have a current errors and ommissions insurance policy.

What certifications does the company and its employees have? Do they participate in continuing education?

This is a good indicator of how seriously the company takes their work. You want to look for companies that nurture their employees professional development by encouraging (or even better requiring) them to attend graduate level courses and seminars. Professional certifications mean the recipient has invested considerable time and money acquiring the skills required to be an expert in their field. Here are some trade organizations and the designations they provide:

Consider it a bonus if the above certifications are complimented (not substituted) by other related real estate management designations. This indicates an even broader skill set which further informs their practice of property management.

Does the management team dress and act professionally?

First impressions matter. The companies you interview are likely on their best behavior during the interview process so if they don’t look and behave professionally then, don’t expect things to improve. Consider that this person will represent you when dealing with current and potential future tenants; if you don't find them agreeable what are the odds your tenants will? It’s also a good idea to get a look at their offices as this will provide yet another window into what kind of property conditions they find acceptable.


How many types of properties do they manage? Do they have a specialty?

Generally speaking it is a good thing if they focus on specializing in one area.

How many properties are they currently managing? Is the company trying to grow, hold or slim their portfolio?

This question is closely related to size which is covered in the next article.

Do they manage properties locally, regionally, or nationally?

The conventional wisdom is that a local only is best becuase is allows for a more singular forcus as well as increases managements attention and ability to meet your needs as well as your access to decision makers in the company. That said, this can be an overgeneralization easily out weighed by any number of the other factors covered in this hiring guide.

Do they manage any section 8 properties?

These kinds of properties come with their unique challenges and require specific knowledge to manage. If you own, or think you may consider purchasing section 8 properties in the future you are best looking for a company that has experience in this area.

How long is their average client relationship?

Longevity is a good sign.

Ask for the addresses of some of their properties so you can do a drive by and if possible get a walk through.

Bear in mind they will select properties that reflect well on them, if you really want to go the extra step you can hunt down one of their other properties by locating some of their rental listings. Either way, if you get the opportunity to talk to tenants try to assess their level of satisfaction with the management company.

Where is their office located? How far is it from your rental property?

The farther away they are the more likely the level of attention your property receives will suffer. A maximum of a twenty five minute drive is a good rule of thumb.

There is more ground to cover, read to the next article to see what we left out.

Next: Examining the Organization - Size, Staff, Customer Service.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

Photo Credit, chrismeller

Benefits of Using A Property Management Company Tue, 29 Nov 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas Owning a rental property can be a rewarding experience, as it often generates a steady income. However, a rental property only generates income when a landlord has good tenants who pay their rent on time and do not destroy their units. Once a landlord encounters a problem tenant, owning and managing a rental property becomes difficult and time-consuming. Using a professional property management company has a number of benefits for landlords, especially those who own multiple properties. These benefits save landlords a significant amount of time and money and make owning a rental property more rewarding.

One of the biggest benefits of using a property management firm is that the firm can handle all tenant screening activities. Some landlords do not run credit or background checks because they do not have the time or know where to get the reports. Renting to people without regard for their criminal background and financial history is one sure way to end up with problem tenants. Property management companies manage the entire screening process so that landlords get tenants that pay on time and take better care of their units than those who were not screened.

Property management firms handle all of the legal aspects of dealing with tenants and maintaining a property. Landlord-tenant laws vary by state and municipality, so it is important to know how to handle problem tenants and other rental issues properly. Property managers handle evictions, property inspections, lease negotiations, lease terminations, and the collection of rent from tenants. They also make sure that each property is in compliance with all property codes and safety laws. These services can help landlords avoid costly lawsuits and legal problems.

Landlords need to collect rent on time every month to ensure that property taxes and other expenses are paid on time. On-time rent collection is also the only way for a landlord to generate reliable income. Unfortunately, some landlords do not control the rent collection process as well as they should. They listen to excuses from tenants and allow people to pay their rent late. In some cases, tenants use bad checks to pay their rent and the landlord is stuck with bank fees and other problems. Property managers control this entire process so that landlords do not have to deal with tenants who do not want to pay their rent as agreed. A property manager will contact a late-paying tenant until payment is received. If a tenant does not pay as agreed, a property manager can start the illegal eviction process.

Lease enforcement is another unpleasant part of being a landlord. The terms of a lease protect both the landlord and the tenant, but the landlord is the one who suffers if the tenant breaks his or her end of the deal. Property managers will take care of lease enforcement and deal with tenants who break the terms of their leases. If a tenant is not allowed to have pets and someone reports that a pet is on the premises, the property manager will contact the tenant and demand that the pet be removed within a specific timeframe. If the tenant puts holes in the wall or makes other property modifications that were not discussed with the landlord, the property manager can make sure the tenant pays for repairs.

Making a profit as a landlord comes down to collecting rent consistently and knowing how to reduce the tax burden of owning a rental property. If a landlord does not claim the right number of deductions, he or she could face stiff penalties from local, state, or federal tax agencies. Not claiming the right number of deductions may also increase the amount of tax a landlord owes. A property management company can help landlords determine which deductions to claim and help them get organized each tax season. This can help landlords save time and money, and it can also save them from having to pay fines and penalties for filing their taxes incorrectly.

Using a property management firm can help shorten vacancy cycles, which cost a landlord money. Without a property management firm, it may take a landlord several months to prepare a property for rent, determine how much rent to charge, and market the property to potential tenants. Professional property managers can reduce the amount of time it takes to perform these tasks. Once a tenant rents a property, a property management company can also improve tenant retention. Once a landlord finds a good tenant, he or she wants to keep the tenant in the property as long as possible. Property managers can help make this happen by making repairs quickly and helping good tenants whenever they have a problem. This improves the chances of a good tenant staying in the property.

Many of the benefits of using a property management company are related directly to saving money. However, using a property management firm can also give landlords several personal benefits. The less a landlord has to deal with problem tenants, the less stress he or she will have. Using a property management company also reduces the amount of time a landlord must spend making repairs, chasing down tenants for late rent payments, and enforcing the terms of a lease. The most important personal benefit of using a property management company is that it allows landlords greater freedom. Instead of being attached to one property, a landlord can buy multiple properties in different locations and let the property management company take care of each one.

The following resources explain more about why a landlord might consider hiring a property manager and what a property manager can do.

Setting and Collecting Rent Thu, 25 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela A house of money with a key next to itRental income is the lifeblood of the landlord’s business. If the mechanisms are not put in place to bring in the right amount at the right time each month, the business will eventually wither and die. When properly performed, this is what allows top real estate investors to achieve a higher than average return on investment.

Here's a list of issues to review and questions to ask the property management firms you interview:

Setting the Rental Rate

How do they determine their rental rates?

There is a science behind maximizing rents. For a property manager to achieve this requires them to have knowledge of the local market and perform solid research on the last 10-20+ most recently rented comparables. Rules of thumb like the 1% rule (charging 1% of the property's value as the monthly rent) are handy for reference, but can not replace thorough research using current market data. Aside from affecting rental income, your rental rate can also impact the properties value. The goal should be to get the unit rented within a month.

How often do they raise rents?

Rental rate surveys should be performed at least annually, and more frequently if there are vacancies or lease renewals.

Do they put contractual escalators in the lease?

Contractual rent escalators allow the rents to be raised without the need to negotiate, offer an explanation or give notice. Tenants know they have already agreed to it so it doesn't feel arbitrary, and tenants are actually grateful if the firm decides to not enforce the full rate hike.

Rent collection

Collecting Rent

How is rent collected?

It’s a plus if the management company offers direct debit for tenants. Processing fewer checks improves cash flow and saves time and money. This lets you know as soon as possible if funds aren't there and eliminates excuses about checks lost in the mail.

How do they deal with bounced checks?

This is usually a warning sign of trouble ahead; after the first bounced check tenants should be prohibited from writing personal checks until at least 6 months of good payment history has been established. Additionally, there should be a provision in the rental agreement that says tenants agree to pay the maximum the law allows for all returned checks.

How do they deal with delinquent payments?

Find a property management company with a process that is firm but reasonable. Tenants will start paying later and later if the management company lets them, therefore it is imperative they enforce ALL aspects of the lease. Once they identify a tenant with a trend of delinquencies, they should keep a close eye making sure they either get back on track or deal with the consequences. Remember that a strict collections process is only balanced out by the property manager quickly responding to tenants’ needs with quality service.

What is their current rate of delinquency?

Find out if they run a tight ship or allow things to get out of hand.

When is rent due? Is there a grace period, if so how long?

Due on the first day of the month (in hand not postmarked), late on the second day of the month is standard. A grace period that extends to either the 3rd or the 5th is also standard. Keeping it shorter prevents it from getting significantly delayed in the event of a holiday or long weekend.

How much is the late fee?

While late fees can generate revenue, their primary function is to get tenants back on track to timely payments as quickly as possible. This property management fee is typically between five and ten percent of rent, sometimes a small daily fee is added to this as an incentive to catch up ASAP. In theory, the late fees are supposed to reflect the penalty the owner would experience in the event of a late mortgage payment.

How do they handle evictions?

Their process should be well documented, and although the best course of action will vary based on the circumstances, they should be able to explain to you the basic checklist they go through each time. You want to deal with a company that acts quickly, documents their actions, and understands your area’s unique laws for this process.

In the last year, roughly how many evictions did they experience, out of how many properties being managed?

The higher the number, the less confidence you should have in their screening process.

How quickly do they usually get repossession of the property when an eviction takes place?

Time is money, and a smart tenant with bad intentions can drag this process out for a very long time. Find a manager who excels at containing and eliminating the problem as quickly as possible.

Do they provide eviction insurance?

This is basically a small monthly fee that insures that the management company will pay for all attorney and court costs associated with evicting a tenant they placed. It's not a widely offered service, but it’s a valuable service that speaks to the property management companies confidence in their screening process.

Cashflow may be strong now, but rent will inevitably decrease over time if the property is not well maintained. Keep reading to find out how to determine if a management company has a strong preventative maintenance and repair program in place.

Next: Property Maintenance and Repairs.

Back to Hiring a Property Management Company - The Complete Guide.

How to choose a property management company Sun, 20 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Choosing the right property manager can make or break your real estate investment, but property managers abound in every real estate market with new companies hanging out their shingle every day. How can you tell them apart when most make the same claims and provide the same services?

The outbound messaging and branding that a company puts forth is certainly an important factor in judging what they are about, but to really understand how they operate you need to ask the right questions.

Things should start off by finding our if they are licensed, what kinds of properties they manage and asking for a list of references. Don't move forward if they are either unable or unwilling to provide you with documentation. Even if they have a good reason for doing so there are simply way to many management companies out there to forgo getting the basic documentation neccesary to verify they are a legitimate operation.

If they pass that initial hurdle, then move on to asking them about how they handle the following:

If you are satisfied with their answers then there are two things left to talk with them about:

Now the final and most important step is to repeat this process and talk to AT LEAST three companies in your area before you choose who to hire. Don't get lazy after you've come this far. Even if you really like the first firm you interview, you simply can't lose by talking to other companies. Doing so will confirm your initial preference, raise new questions to ask them, or introduce you to another even better option.

If you don’t do this last step you will be flying blind because you have nothing to compare the first company to.

A good management company is worth their weight in gold which makes it very much worth your time to become adept at learning how to thoroughly interview a property management company. Lastly, don't forget to use our database to find property management companies in your area.

The Effects of Pets & Animals On Property Value Thu, 03 Nov 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Pets and animals offer many benefits to their owners, from constant companionship to the potential to earn money by selling the wool, eggs, and other items that come from farm animals. Dogs help those who are disabled and need assistance performing daily activities of living. Cats and dogs work as therapy animals, going into nursing homes and hospitals to help people who are sick or injured. Unfortunately, owning animals can also reduce the value of a residential or commercial property. If pets urinate indoors, scratch hardwood floors, or tear up carpets with their claws, it may be difficult to sell a property for a fair price.


Cats cause several types of damage indoors. If their claws are not trimmed regularly, these pets may scratch floors, pull up pieces of carpet, and scratch at walls. Cats that are not cared for properly may urinate on the floors or spray the walls with their scent, leaving behind a strong odor that is very difficult to remove. Feral cats are also a problem for property owners. These cats tend to live near people, as they can rummage through garbage for food scraps and seek shelter under porches and in sheds, barns, and other buildings. Male feral cats mark their territory by spraying a foul-smelling liquid that can end up on porches, doors, windows, and other building structures.


The extent of property damage caused by a dog sometimes depends on its breed. Docile dogs may never cause any damage, but bully breeds such as boxers and pit bulls may break through screen doors or gates. If a dog’s nails are not trimmed regularly, they can scratch wood, laminate, tile, linoleum, and other hard floor surfaces. The nails can also get in loops of carpet and pull them, leaving the carpet looking damaged. Another type of property damage caused by dogs occurs when an owner does not get a female dog spayed. When a female dog goes into heat, blood can get on carpets, furniture, and other fabric surfaces.


Cleanliness is one of the major issues associated with owning pet birds. Bird droppings and feathers can get on floors, window treatments, furniture, and other surfaces. If not cleaned immediately, the droppings can harden, making them extremely difficult to remove. If a bird owner allows his or her pet to eat outside of its cage, the seed hulls will accumulate on floors and other surfaces, making it necessary to vacuum at least once per day.

Farm Animals

Owning farm animals requires a great deal of hard work, as some of these animals weigh several hundred pounds and need regular food, cleaning, and medical care. Although these animals have several benefits for owners, they can also cause property damage and reduce the value of a property. Large animals such as cows and horses can damage fences, posts, and even farm equipment. Farm animals that are kept indoors can damage walls by kicking their hooves with great force.

Wild Animals

Many property owners do not realize that wild animals can also cause property damage. Deer may nibble on fencing and trample grass with their hooves. When a bear searches for food, very few things will deter it from its mission. Bears have destroyed trash cans and bent railings and fences in order to reach their meals. If a bat gets inside a property, its droppings can cause a foul odor and stick to flooring and other surfaces, making it difficult to clean the property thoroughly. Rodents may gnaw through wires, make holes in walls, and cause other property damage if they get indoors.

Despite some of the damage they can cause, owning animals also has a number of benefits for property owners. Feral cats feed on mice and rats, reducing the number of rodents that can make their way into a commercial or residential building. Dogs can actually help reduce property damage by acting as guard dogs and alerting their owners if someone is stealing or damaging property. Farm animals provide manure that fertilizes grass and helps plants grow. Some animals also eat spiders, flies, and other bugs, reducing the number of insects that get indoors. Proper care of these animals is one of the best days to prevent damage and reap the benefits of animal ownership. Providing scratching posts or scratch pads gives cats a place to exercise their scratching instincts without damaging floors and furniture. Trimming a dog’s nails regularly can help prevent scratch floors. Ensuring that farm animals live in well-maintained areas will prevent them from roaming around and damaging property. Keeping trash indoors deters bears, rodents, and birds from feeding close to a house or commercial building.

Consult these links to learn more about how animals affect property value and how to prevent this type of damage.

House Cats (Feral): This resource from the Internet Center for Wildlife Management explains how to prevent property damage caused by feral cats.

Controlling Nuisance Bears: The Missouri Department of Conservation explains how to deter nuisance bears and prevent damage caused by these animals.

Don’t Put the Welcome Mat Out! Pest Proofing: Soni Cochran of the University of Nebraska Extension discusses several ways to deter insects from entering a home.

Preventing Deer Damage: Experts from Colorado State University Extension provide several tips for preventing damage caused by deer.

Farmers’ Liability for Their Animals: This resource explains what farm animal owners are responsible for when their animals damage the property of others.

Prevent Scratching with the “3D’s”: Doctors Foster and Smith explain how to deter cats from scratching.

Marking – Understanding It, Stopping It: An informative article that explains why dogs mark and gives tips for preventing marking indoors.

Pests of Homes, Structures, People, and Pets: This resource discusses the damage caused by rats and explains how to manage a rodent problem.

Feline Behavior Problems: House Soiling: Experts from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine explain what causes indoor spraying and offers several hints for deterring cats from spraying indoors.

Quick Summary of Feral Cat Legal Issues: The Animal Legal & Historical Center explains the legal issues surrounding feral cats.

Birds, Urban Wildlife Damage Control: Experts from the Kansas State University Extension discuss how to prevent damage caused by wild birds.

Tips for Pest Control: The Environmental Protection Agency offers tips for safely controlling pests in the home.

Removing Pet Stains and Odors: The Human Society of the United States offers a helpful guide to cleaning pet stains and getting rid of pet odors.

Frequently Asked Bear Questions: New Hampshire Fish and Game explains how to keep bears out of garbage.

Selling a House with Pets at Home: This resource explains how to sell a home when pets live there, particularly if pet stains or odors are present.

What to Look for In a Property Management Contract Fri, 20 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Note: This is designed to be a helpful overview of property management contracts, but keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice.

The contract you sign with a property management company should not be viewed as a mere formality, but rather the sole determiner of what services you or will not receive, what costs you will incur and what rights you will have in the relationship.

Choosing to not thoroughly read the contract is no different that choosing to not interview a property manager before you hire them. The contract is designed to eliminate confusion and create a clear mutual understanding of how the relationship will function in all foreseeable circumstances where a dispute could arise.Property management contract

Don’t let positive impressions about the company’s professionalism and ethics make you less attentive when reviewing the actual terms of the contract.

The "fine print" may seem like a chore to read through, but not doing so can lead to misunderstandings about the property management fees, the property management services that are included, the way tenants are treated and what you must do and/or owe in the event you want to end the relationship. Make sure to ask questions about anything that isn't crystal clear.

Also, don’t wait till the end of your search to ask for the contract; get a copy from each company early on while you are still talking to and interviewing multiple property management companies. This way you get a clear picture of what each company is truly offering early on while you have a number of options available.

A Three Part Guide to Breaking Down Management Contracts

Most property management contracts aren't exactly what you would call spellbinding. This guide is meant to cut through the legal jargon and help you see both what is in the contract and how it will affect your relationship with the management company.

Remember that nothing is set in stone and if you take issue with a certain point, feel free to ask about it and see if they are flexible. While hiring a lawyer to review the property management contract is not absolutely necessary, it is recommended if you feel unqualified or just want to make sure you aren't missing anything.

If you think others would benefit from this material, feel free to share it. If you want to return later, bookmark this page at delicious for quick reference.

  1. Responsibilities and Representations
  2. Contract Termination
  3. Indemnification and Boiler Plate Items

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.

What do property managers do? Wed, 23 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela It depends on the management company and what kind of property is being managed. Office space has different needs than retail space or an apartment complex. In this article I am going to cover what services you can expect from a management company overseeing a residential property.

Here are the highlights of a property management company’s duties.

  • Research rental rates and set the rent
  • Create and place ads (online and offline)
  • Prep and show the unit to prospective tenants
  • Process and screen tenant applications
  • Collect the rent
  • Deal with delinquent tenants (sometimes includes evictions)
  • Go to court to represent landlord when necessary
  • Regularly inspect the property on the inside and outside
  • Provide accounting services including monthly financial reports
  • Handle indoor and outdoor maintenance and repairs

Even though many firms provide these functions, property owners should never assume that their management company will or won’t be performing these services. All management services should be discussed in detail up front, including any additional fees. Afterwards the contract needs to be reviewed to make sure it is in line with what was discussed and there are no surprises. A lot of the disputes that arise are caused by a misunderstanding of who would be doing what and how the relationship would work. Make sure everything is laid out clearly up front to avoid conflict down the road.

 Lastly, remember that its not just what the management company does but how they do it. They will be stewarding one of your most valuable assets so make sure you do your homework beforehand and interview more than one management company. Read the "Property Management Hiring Guide" to know what to look for in a property management company.

Major Strategies for Time Management Tue, 20 Sep 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Time management strategies are helpful to people in many lines of work. For instance, a legal secretary with dozens of calls to make as well as paperwork to file, benefits from prioritizing their work tasks. Alternatively, the owner of a trucking company is able to determine the whereabouts of all of their shipments due to an organized filing system in their office. Whether an individual has a lot of small projects or just one, time management strategies are crucial in getting a job done in an organized, timely fashion.

Task Listing

At times, a person may feel overwhelmed in thinking about the work he or she must complete at the office or at home. Often, the individual has only a vague idea of the projects that need attention. By making a task list, the person has a definite idea of what needs to be done. For example, while driving to work a bookstore owner may envision an immense amount of unfinished work waiting for them in their shop. Once they arrive at work, creating a task list may reveal that there are only six overall tasks that need to be done. In short, task listing allows a person to see the specific tasks that need to be accomplished.


This time management strategy is an extremely effective one. Once a person has made a task list, he or she can determine which tasks are the most pressing. For instance, the bookstore owner may prioritize setting up a display for an upcoming sale ahead of reorganizing the biography section. The owner gives the task of setting up a special display abou the city of Phoenix in preparation for local history month. A person who is prioritizing tasks may want to examine the details of each project. Prioritization helps prevent a person from expending time and energy on an insignificant task at the expense of an important one.


A lack of organization can be a leading cause of wasted time. After a person prioritizes his or her tasks, time needs to be put aside to complete the tasks. For instance, if returning phone calls to customers is a priority, then an adequate amount of time must be allotted for that task. Attending a meeting during the time allotted to make customer phone calls is not an effective use of time. An organized schedule means assigning the proper amount of time to each task in order to accomplish it in a thorough way.


Flexibility is also an important ingredient in the effective use of time. For example, the owner of an art supply shop may give top priority to returning customer phone calls on Monday morning. In the middle of making phone calls, the owner receives a call from a supplier who is having problems filling an order for the art supply shop. In this case, the owner must be flexible in stopping their calls to customers to work out a solution with the supplier. After all, if the supplier doesn't deliver the goods to the art supply shop, then the shop owner is liable to lose new customer orders. The art supply shop owner was flexible when another issue came up and adjusted their task list.


Once the tasks on a person's list are accomplished, a reward can reinforce the benefit of organized time management. For example, a student who completes the task of organizing items for a class presentation can reward themselves by going to a movie with a friend. Plus, they have the added reward of avoiding the stress of last-minute preparations for their presentation. A fun reward can be a great incentive to get organized.


Procrastination can sabotage any of the time management strategies noted above. When it comes to a task, people procrastinate for a number reasons. A person may envision a task as being unpleasant or difficult. Also, a person may be fearful of working on a particular project. For instance, a student may procrastinate in writing a speech for a public speaking class because of his or her fear of speaking in front of others. Organization and an eventual reward can help a person to overcome procrastination. Of course, the idea of just getting a project done and out of the way is another motivation to knock out procrastination.

50 Time Management Tips for Students Thu, 13 Oct 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Time Management Essentials

  1. First things first – While it may look like you’re doing a lot of work when you are working on a lot of things at once, the fact remains that you could be doing more if you focused on one task. Multitasking is nice, but remember to do more “tasking” than “multi.”

  2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – If you’re an ambitious student looking to build a bulletproof transcript, it might be tempting to take all advanced classes, join every club, take some hours at the soup kitchen and maybe volunteer at the hospital. The problem is, you might be doing yourself a disservice. Few colleges will look at a 4.0 on your transcript and say “Sure, but did she save any puppies at the animal hospital?”

  3. Write it down – Whether you use a notebook, an agenda, some Post-Its, or a bunch of napkins, find a system that works for you and write down what you need to do each day. It may seem like a pain, and the list might be long, but you’ll end up staying up all night if you didn’t write down “study for test” and you remember at midnight.

  4. Organize – Part of this is writing things down, but no matter if your system is color-coded piles of papers or every paper you have received since kindergarten organized by what the weather was like that day, find a system that works for you and stick to it. You never know when that kindergarten paper might come in handy.

  5. Don’t read this later (procrastination) – Do you know what’s worse than missing that dramatic part of your favorite show? Having to miss it again next year when you’re taking the same course again. Might seem dramatic, but if you put off class long enough, next year comes quickly.

  6. Start earlyThe best part about a term project is that it’s due at the end of the term? Right? Only if you stay on top of things. It’s easy to put off long-term projects until it’s too late, so set yourself a schedule and save yourself some heartache.

  7. First time’s the charm The only thing more difficult than learning difficult material is relearning it after you’ve learned it wrong. If you don’t understand something when it’s taught to you, ask a question. Chances are you’re not the only one confused.

  8. Go to your happy place – Remember, the key to reducing stress in school is time management. Do the most you can in the shortest amount of time. Do you really work better with music? Would the world end if you turned off your phone? Is YouTube going anywhere? These are some questions to ask when sitting down to study.

  9. Don’t think you can… know it – No matter what you do, even if you take on just the right amount of work, things will get stressful. Inevitably life happens and it’s nothing you can schedule for. Managing your time every day ensures that you know you can handle life’s speed bumps.

  10.  No passing notes (or texting) in class – Stay focused in class, and remember why you’re there. Even if it’s that one class you hate, even if it’s that one teacher you can’t stand, the only thing worse than being in that class during the school day is being there for detention. Not to mention it might help your grades too.

  11. Prioritize – Whether your goal is to be the best in class or just do enough to make it through, know what your goals are and get there by knowing what must be done versus what you’d like to get done.

Study Skills

  1. You can tell the future – The syllabus. The Great Prognosticator. This beautiful piece of paper will tell you when that big project’s due and what the homework was, not that you weren’t paying attention.

  2. Make downtime uptime – Watching the varsity team play after your basketball game? Waiting in the wings for your scene three scenes from now? Take out that textbook. Save yourself time later.

  3. Find a way to study – Just like everyone else, you’re unique. What works as a study technique for one person might not work for you. The only way you can mess this up is by deciding the study skill which works for you is procrastination.

  4. Set realistic goals – Anyone can set the goal of perfection. The trouble is, no one’s perfect. Set realistic goals for yourself. Remember to push yourself!

  5. Remember to exercise your memory – Eating healthy, reading often, doing brain exercises (look them up online) and playing games can keep your memory healthy, reducing the amount of work you have to do to memorize your material.

  6. Save the best for last – While it is tempting to put off your least favorite subject until last, it doesn’t make much sense. Why wait until you’re tired to do the toughest work?

  7. Get to class – So you have that one class you hate, and it’s so tempting to skip it once in a while. The problem is, the less time you spend in class, the more time you spend catching up. You never know when that one vital piece of information will be announced, so why miss it?

  8. Take a break – There are studies proving that if you do short stints of work and give yourself short breaks, you’ll learn more. The people who did these studies probably took a few breaks, and they do studies!

  9. StrategizeDo yourself a favor and plan out how your evening of studying is going to go. Write it down and stick to it, that way you won’t multitask too much, which can have negative effects. It will keep you focused and give you an idea of how long things will take.

  10. Study groups are for studyingStudy groups are a great way for some students to learn material. Note: some. If they work for you and all involved, use them as much as you can. Be honest, though. If they aren’t working for you, find yourself a quiet place.

Managing Homework

  1. Set a schedule – Know how long certain things are going to take and make a schedule from there. Give yourself extra time. If something should take a half-hour, schedule forty-five minutes. It’ll help you later.

  2. Know when you work bestSome students do the most amount of work right after school while the material is fresh. Others need to have dinner, refuel, and then tackle homework. Find out what works best for you and stick to that.

  3. Make molehills out of mountainsThe large projects usually assigned at the end of the year are meant to be taken on a little at a time. Break up these big projects into smaller ones and make them more manageable.

  4. Set your own due datesWithout due dates, many of us would procrastinate, and in turn would never get done what we needed. Sometimes, though, just one due date won’t due. If you have a book report due at the end of the month, set deadlines for yourself so you don’t put it off.

  5. Maximize your timeWhile multi-tasking is not always the best course of action, it is important to make sure you are efficient.

  6. Let your teacher teach – If you don’t understand a lesson, ask questions. Also, stay after class – it’ll save you lots of time later. Even getting a tutor might be a good idea. Falling behind is the worst thing you can do.

  7. Be a glutton for punishmentThose projects you’ve been dreading aren’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s a lot like walking toward something looming on the horizon. Let enough time slip by and as it gets nearer it grows into something unmanageable.

Establishing and Maintaining your Schedule

  1. You aren’t superhuman – There’s so much temptation to do everything possible, to fill every hour of your day with something constructive. This can fracture your attention though, and wind up hurting you in the end.

  2. Have a plan – This applies for the day, the week, and the semester. Have a plan and stick to it… it’ll give you more spare time than you plan for.

  3. Work out a schedule for the week – You don’t have to plan out every minute of every day, but having a plan for your productive time can help you reduce the amount of your week you spend being so productive.

  4. Life’s going to happen – Plan for the unplannable. Impossible, sure, but give yourself time in your schedule to deal with the unexpected.

  5. A calendar’s your BFF – It always helps to be able to not just plan your week or month, but to have it there in front of you a few times a day. Color-code your test days and study group appointments. It will serve as a reminder when you forget you need reminders.

  6. Know thyself – Here’s the thing: Only you know how long things will take you. Is that book report going to take you twenty minutes longer because you won’t be able to resist spending time on Facebook? Schedule for the realistic you.

  7. Write down your tests – Write down reminders to study for your tests, not necessarily the dates of your tests. By the time the day of your test comes, it’s usually a little late to start studying. Linked in this tip is a great way to do this. Just write it down!

  8. To-do lists should be able to be done – Be realistic when it comes to your to-do lists. We would all love to be able to study and see that movie with our friends, but can they both be done?

  9. Be open minded – Whether you have a 4.0 or 0.4, keep trying new study methods such as the pomodor technique, speed reading of the phoenix method. You never know what might work, especially if you’re the one with the 0.4.

  10. It’s 5 o’clock; do you know where your books are? – Set up a time every day to study. Have nothing to study? Find something. It’ll save you time studying later and raise your grades.

Managing Time for Work

  1. Work close to home – Reduce your commute by finding something you can walk to or drive to quickly. It will save you time not studying, and studying will help you not have to work at that job one day.

  2. Whistle (or study) while you work – If the job allows it, try to squeeze in a little studying while you’re at work. Even if it’s just a half hour during your break, it will save you time later.

  3. Know your availability – Give yourself an availability at work that allows you all the time you need to study, and try to find a place with enough employees to grant you flexibility in your schedule.

  4. Get credit for your hard work – Find out what work-study programs your school offers and try for one of those. You might as well get some school credit for what you’re doing.

  5. Freelance isn’t free – Find that one thing you do well and find someone willing to pay for it. Be a tutor, a writer, an artist, something worth money on your free time.

Personal Time

  1. Reward yourself. It’s not always easy to motivate yourself with the thought of good grades, so why not television, sports, or anything else you like to do?

  2. Make time for your rewardsIf you plan to reward yourself, make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy the reward, rather than feel guilty for it.

  3. Just say no. Being ambitious is one thing, but it can lead to being too willing to do what everyone asks of you. This can leave you little time to do your actual work.

  4. School isn’t all there is. The great thing about school is that it offers you more than just class and grades. Clubs, sports, and other activities make you look better on your transcript, and you might have a little fun on the way.

  5. An apple a day… Staying healthy is vital to keeping your grades up, mostly because you’ll stay up during class. It’ll help you focus as well.

  6. Set boundaries for yourself. Focusing on one thing at a time is good, but focusing on only one thing ever isn’t. Don’t let one thing take over your life or you won’t get anything done.

  7. Your time is valuable. Understand that all your time is valuable, that time spent studying is no more important than the time you spend relaxing, that relaxing and working both have a place in your life.

Why hire a property management firm? Thu, 17 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Why hire a property manager when you can do the work yourself? There are plenty of landlords that manage their own properties so why cut into your precious rent money to pay someone else to do it?

Here are my top 3 reasons why hiring a property management firm might be for you:

  1. More revenue - Here's the breakdown:
    1. Better advertising = shorter vacancy cycles
    2. Better tenant screening = longer tenancies
    3. Better rental rate surveys = charging as much rent as possible
    4. Better rent collection = getting paid on time each month
  2. Lower costs - Here's the breakdown:
    1. Better tenant screening = fewer trips to court and less wear & tear on the unit
    2. Better preventative maintenance plan = fewer maintenance costs
    3. Better maintenance and repairs = lower costs and better quality work
    4. Better understanding of the law = less exposure to lawsuits and  court judgments against you
  3. Less stress and more time
    1. Its hard to put a dollar amount on the peace of mind afforded by not having to deal with the day to day landlording tasks, especially dealing with tenants. Landlording is definitely not for everyone and if you don't know what your doing things can ugly pretty quick.  Property managers are on call 24/7 for emergencies regardless of the time of day, holidays or vacations. Additionally, many investors are able to spend their time on more profitable activities and are not able to match the efficiencies that full time professional management firms can achieve.

These are all compelling reasons, but they are only applicable when you find a quality property management company. Use our "Guide to Hiring a Property Management Company"  to find out what questions to ask and where to get the answers. Remember that performing due diligence during the hiring process is the only way to ensure you're handing the keys over to someone with the skills and integrity to make your investment shine.

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.

How to Avoid Bad Tenants Tue, 24 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas Evicting a tenant is a costly and time consuming process that most landlords would rather avoid.  That's why it is important to screen your prospective tenants carefully before handing over the keys.

Often, properties where the owner acts as landlord are targeted by bad tenants since their financial history is less likely to be investigated than if they approached a rental managed by a property manager.  An experienced property management company will notice red flags which might escape the notice of the owner, and will conduct the research necessary to minimize the risk that you'll receive a bad tenant.

While there are number of stand alone tenants screening services as well as bad tenant databases to check against, the reality is that it takes experience to detect the cues that accompany tenants who may look good initially but turn out to be trouble in the long run.

Keep reading to find out how to determine if a property manager provides adequate tenant screening.

Property Management Marketing & Advertising Thu, 12 Aug 2010 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela There are a number of ways for property management companies to gain new clients but as with all marketing campaigns some methods are better than others and measuring ROI is key with any property management marketing campaign.

Property management marketing can be broken down into online and offline strategies. Here is a quick view of the most common methods for each:


  • Newsletters
  • Postcards
  • Coldcalls
  • Print ads


  • Pay perclick - google etc.
  • Banner advertising
  • Blogging
  • Video marketing
  • Forum participation
  • E-mail campaigns
  • Lead generation services

Each of these tactics must be evaluated in terms of the time and money they require to deploy and the results that they generate. One of the advantages of online marketing is that it is easier to measure it's performance using the any of the many analytics products that exist. Measuring performance is easier with some tactics than others, with pay per click marketing for example you should be able to see exactly how many leads have been generated for the dollars you have spent. Other tactics like blogging, while still measurable, require a little more analysis to understand exactly what the ROI is.

The starting point for any online property management marketing campaign is a company website that is designed to communicate to prospective clients what you do and how they can contact you. As simple as this sounds, many many company websites do neither. You company's website should be built in such a way that visitors are able to figure out what you do and find a way to contact you within seconds. Your companies phone number should be prominetly displayed on your homepage as well as every subsequent page of the site.

While participating in social media is a very trendy thing to do right now, it is a long term strategy that requires regular participation. Make sure that your own website is optimized for seo (search engine optimization) before you start spending time on other places on the web.

How to avoid bad property managers Tue, 15 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela When you hire a property management company to oversee your real estate investments there is a lot riding on the line. And while a good property manager can be worth their weight on gold, a bad one can truly wreak havoc.

So how can you tell the wheat from the chaff BEFORE you hire them? Here are some tips:

Questions to ask:

  • How long have they been managing for?
  • What is their current vacancy rate?
    • Expect their current vacancy rate to be what you can expect in the future. It is helpful to compare this number from several firms.
  • Do they have their own maintenance crew?
    • So long as the fees are reasonable this is definitely a plus.
  • What kinds of property do they manage?
    • The fewer types of properties they manage the better as it allows for specialization. If they do manage multiple types of real estate ask which they specialize in before you tell them what kind you own.  
  • Do they manage property exclusively or do they also provide brokerage services?
    • Again specialization is important, and while there are some competent firms that do both, there are also a lot of realtors who jump into property management as a side endeavor without fully committing the time and resources to mastering it.
  • How often do they send out checks and reports?
    • This should happen on once a month. Anything less is unacceptable.
  • How often do they have to evict tenants?
    • This is indicative of how well they screen tenants. Good property managers still deal with evictions, but at a less frequent rate than those that do a poor job screening.
  • What are their fees?
    • There is not a simple answer to this question. The management fee is the figure people usually focus on, but the reality is there are many other fees that can come up. Read more about property management fees.
  • How does their management contract address contract termination?
    • You should plan on reviewing their management contract with a fine tooth comb to ferret out important details like this. Read more about what to look for in the property management agreement.
  • Are they licensed?
    • If they no, walk away.
  • What certifications do they have?
    • For each type of real estate there is a trade organization that provides training and certifications for professionals in that industry. Look for certifications from organizations like CAI, NARPM, IREM, NAA and BOMI. These are not required but they are a good sign that the company takes its profession seriously and is committed to ongoing education in their field.

Bad signals to look out for:

  • Unpleasant or unprofessional demeanor
    • Don’t hire someone you don’t want to deal with on an on going basis. The interview is where they are putting their best foot forward so its not going to get any better after you hire them. Also, think about the fact that this person is going to represent you to your tenants and their disposition will be a critical factor in their job performance.
  • Limited hours
    • Property managers are on call for emergencies 24/7/365. There is no 9-5 in this business. Additionally, firms that close on weekends will cost you a lot of money because of the lost rent from not showing your vacant units on weekends.
  • Lack of responsiveness
    • How long did it take them to get back to you after making contact? If they are hard to get a hold of or take a long time to get back with you then its time to move on. There is nothing worse than a property manager who is unresponsive. You should also test how responsive they will be to your tenants by calling their after hours tenant hotline and seeing who responds. You don’t want your tenant to ever get an answering machine when they have a legitimate emergency that needs an immediate response.
  • Unwilling to provide references
    • This is a deal breaker. If they are not willing to let you talk to past clients you better off moving on.

One of the most important things you can do is to interview at least three property management companies. This is extremely important as it will give you a relative reference point for judging and interpreting what each is telling you. I can not over emphasize how important this step is.

For more information read our "Guide to Hiring a Property Management Company". 

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.

Maintenance and repairs on rental properties Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas A big part of a property manager's responsibility is to oversee the ongoing maintenance of the properties they manage. This includes things like getting bids, making recommendations to owners, overseeing the work, and resolving complaints when services are not performed properly.

They typically are well connected with licensed, bonded and insured contractors who have been vetted for good pricing and work that is up to code. This built in network of contractors is one of the significant advantages of working with a property management company. Landlords who choose to self-manage may go through multiple contractors before they find one who shows up on time, does quality work and charges a fair price.

The formation of a preventative maintenance program is also one of the other significant a management firm can provide. This will insure that repair needs are addressed earl y on while they are small, and inexpensive, rather than neglecting repair needs and waiting till they become larger more costly issues.

Working with the right property management company can be a strategic move for many landlords. Keep reading for a list of questions for property management companies about how they perform maintenance and repairs.

Do you need a property manager? Sat, 12 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas Every real estate investor will ask themselves this question at some point. There a few factors that usually push investors one way or the other. Take these items into consideration:

Size of portfolio - How many properties do you own? The larger the number the more difficult it becomes to manage. If you are not willing to devote increasing amounts of time to managing your properties, and do not want your investment options to be restricted to what you can personally manage then you might want to consider using a property management company

Location of properties - The further they are from you and the further they are from each other the more time you spend traveling to each the higher the likelihood you will not keep as close of an eye on each property as is needed. Additionally, if you have considered buying property in other parts of the country, or other countries, you will likely be forced to hire a property manager in that area (landlording from afar is generally a bad idea).

Experience - Landlording requires a number of distinct skills that you may or may not have experience with. Things like maintenance and repairs, understanding of landlord tenant law, book keeping, marketing, etc. If you have previous experience in any of these areas you will have a leg up, if all these things are new to you it can be a lot to take on at the same time. While many landlords learn these skills and self manage the reality is that a professional manager will always have the advantage over part time landlords because they have years of experience performing these tasks on a daily basis.

Willingness to deal with stress - Some say good landlords are born others say they are made. Either way it takes a special kind of person to be able to handle dealing with tenants. You may consider yourself a tolerant or thick skinned person, but ask yourself how you would deal with the following scenarios:

  • Domestic disputes
  • Tenants damaging your unit
  • Getting sued by your tenant
  • Habitual late payment of rent
  • Tenants disturbing or getting in fights with the neighbors
  • Dealing with a professional tenant
  • Overzealous maintenance requests
  • Dealing with someone who is angry or just generally difficult

Does this stuff happen all the time? No, but when it does it has to be dealt with a in efficient and professional manner. If you feel like you can handle the stress these situations would present, and you think doing so is worth saving on the management fees then it may be in your best interest to manage your own properties.

Otherwise, use our database to find quality property management companies in your area.

A Renovators Resource: What To Know Before Hiring a General Contractor Thu, 03 Nov 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Home renovation may sound like a lot of work, but a well-constructed house is worth the time, effort and money. It is extremely important, however, to be sure that the quality of the materials supplied is sufficient and durable and the professionals and workers involved are skillful and dedicated to their respective jobs. Otherwise, the renovation could become disastrous for the homeowner. It is crucial that the previously mentioned details of any renovation are paid great attention. These considerations should include choosing the professionals best suited and most qualified for the construction job. The tips presented in this article are primarily concerned with hiring general contractors.

Here are some of the things you need to know before hiring a contractor and commencing your home renovation project.

Decide on the scope of work to be done.

As a homeowner, you should first decide what area of your home the work will take place in and how much you’re willing to spend on that particular project. These two factors will determine who you will hire. If the cost of the project is more than 500 dollars and includes a variety of professional work, such as electrical, mechanical and etc., you should look for a general contractor. Otherwise, you could opt for a handyman to do the job for you.

When searching for contractors, ask others!

Now that you have decided to work with a general contractor, the next step is to look for the best candidate for the job! Start by asking people. These could include the local furniture maker, hardware suppliers, construction professionals like architects and engineers or even your neighbors and relatives who have had their own good experiences. Ask them who they would recommend for your renovation project. In addition, inquire about the potential contractor’s work ethics, attitude, experience and other relevant information that you could obtain from these people.

Asking the right questions.

The next step is the interview. Keep in mind that you must gather as much information as you can and that you should feel comfortable with the contractor you’re considering for hire. Trust your gut feeling and don’t feel the need to settle immediately on one particular contractor. Also be sure to take some time to reflect on the answers you've obtained during your contractors interview.

Don’t settle for a couple of bids, go for more!

You have the freedom to invite contractors to bid for your project. Since you’re supposed to choose the best contractor for your project, don’t just settle for a couple of bids. Four or five bid proposals should give you enough options to choose from.

Protect yourself from disputes and scams.

Many homeowners and construction clients have had bad experiences in construction projects. Some of these people experienced scams and in some cases lost properties and huge amounts of money. Don’t let this happen to you. Remember that it’s very important to communicate what you want and what you’re expecting from your contractor as your contractor should communicate the same with you. Miscommunication often leads to disputes and complaints. Also, always remember to keep copies of your documents and never sign papers that you haven’t read thoroughly.

Helpful Calculators to Manage Your Home and Property Mon, 14 Jun 2010 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Agriculture & Horticulture


  • Garden Mulch Calculator — Gardeners can figure out the amount of mulch they need for their garden here.
  • Number of Plants Calculator — This page allows users to figure out the maximum number of plants that they can put in their garden given a rectangular or triangular grid.


Fertilizer & Spreaders

Pesticides/Herbicides & Sprayers

  • Tank Mix Calculator — Here is a tool for calculating herbicide applications.
  • Turf Spray Calculator — This calculator enables users to calculate the amount of liquid pesticide needed for a given area.

Automobile, Truck & Motorcycle

New & Used Car Pricing

  • Auto Loan Calculator — Using this calculator, it is possible to compare auto loan types and determine pricing and monthly payments.
  • Kelley Blue Book Calculator — Click through the links on this page to determine what the real price should be for a new or used car.

Measurement & Torque

Car Payment

Car Depreciation

Automotive Design & Development


Fuel: Costs & MPG

Lease, Loans, Finance & Taxes

Tax Calculator

  • Federal Tax Estimator — Estimate tax liability or refund with this useful calculator.
  • Withholding Calculator — The IRS provides this calculator to help users figure out how much tax should be withheld from their income each payday.

Loan Interest

  • AIER Loan Calculator — The American Institute for Economic Research provides this calculator to help users figure out monthly payments and total cost of a loan.
  • Loan Interest Calculator — Here is a tool that estimates monthly payments, total interest, and provides different payment plans for any loan.

Finance Rate

  • APR Calculator — This annual percentage rate calculator figures the true annual cost of a loan.
  • Auto Loan APR Calculator — Even though this calculator is called an auto loan apr calculator, the apr for any loan can be found by using it.


  • Mortgage APR — Users can figure the true annual percentage rate on their mortgage with this calculator.
  • Refinance Calculator — This tool shows mortgage holders whether or not a refinance of their loan is worth it.


  • Retirement Pensions Planner — Determine how much a person needs to save for retirement with this calculator.
  • Retirement Planner — Here is a calculator that shows users if they are on track to meet their retirement goals.

Salary/Hourly Wage & Timesheets

Social Security

Trust Funds

Clocks & Sundials

Clocks/Watches/Time Sundials

Solar Energy

  • Solar Calculator — Estimate the needed size of a home solar energy system using this site.
  • Solar Energy Calculator — This calculator will help homeowners figure out the amount of solar energy they can generate.

Wind Energy

  • Solar and Wind Energy — Fill out this several page calculator to estimate how much one can save by using wind or solar power.
  • Wind Turbine Power System — Here users can estimate how big of a wind turbine is needed to help power a home.

Cooking & Nutrition

Conversion Sizes

Calories in Food

  • Calorie Calculator — The Mayo Clinic provides this tool to measure how many calories are needed to maintain one’s current weight.
  • Food Calorie Calculator — WebMD allows users to find out the amount of calories in many different foods on this page.

Basic Math Calculators

Basic Math

  • Basic Math Calculator — Add, subtract, multiply, and divide with this simple calculator.
  • Scientific Calculator — This scientific calculator allows users to perform some more complex mathematical functions online.

Adding Machines

Paper Tape Calculators


Unit Conversion (Time, Distance, Length, Speed, Weight, Etc.)


The Guide to Property Management Thu, 20 Oct 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela One of the many growing career fields in the United States is property management. As one might expect, property management requires both the skills needed in the fields of real estate and business management. To manage property is to contribute to its life cycle. Property managers can be involved in all parts of a residential, commercial or industrial building. They are often made responsible for booking maintenance, handling paperwork during transfer of ownership, and even handling the daily goings-on and money circulation. Indeed, their control is expansive so too must be their knowledge and expertise. This Guide to Property Management should serve as the source for understanding the formal qualifications of the field.

Job Description

Someone in charge of property and real-estate management is responsible for preserving the value of a property through maintenance. Oftentimes, landlords and owners of apartment complexes, office buildings and industrial facilities do not have the time or the skills to manage their own property. They would then hire a property manager to collect rent and pay bills accordingly. The property managers do not maintain the grounds, but they are usually responsible for drafting contracts with landscaping and janitorial services that will. Property managers generally earn around $36,880 annually.

Property managers may work onsite or offsite. The former will enforce agreements made between residents and administration. They will collect rent and handle termination-of-lease procedures if the rent is not paid. They will also enforce parking and pet violations. Offsite managers serve as a liaison between the people who are onsite. For example, they will tell a landlord that someone hasn’t paid the rent but not collect it themselves. Property managers also consider the wishes and demands of the renters. They aren’t merely a police force hired by the landlords and owners.


Only certain types of people are suited for employment in property management. The most important qualities in a property manager are speaking, writing, computer and financial skills. Their most valuable credential is experience in the field of management. Onsite managers in particular should have some experience with real estate and have at least a basic understanding of building mechanics.

There is no required amount of education needed for the job. However, it is becoming more and more of a good idea to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree prior to applying for a job as a property manager or assistant property manager. Formal degrees in business administration or real estate are most recommended. Licensure is a separate issue. If a property manager intends to work in public housing they will need to be certified by the Federal Government. This certification is unnecessary for other careers in the field, but the professional recognition is attractive for both resumes and property owners looking for services.

Professional Designations

Property management personnel may be certified with one or multiple titles pertaining to their position. These titles are awarded by organizations such as the National Association of Realtors and require successful completion of certain training courses. These designations not only make an individual more valuable to their career field but they also make the recipient more proficient and capable of assisting a wider variety of clients. The following is a list of just a few acknowledged areas of expertise.

Useful Tools

Tracking the finances for a facility and keeping records of its tenants is an intricate process. In order to manage data most effectively, property managers should maintain various digital files with information they can update quickly and periodically. There are various property management software programs available on the market, each with its own features and benefits. Some tools that these programs offer might include emergency notification call trees, response polls, status updates referring to progress and the ability to attach notes on files. One important factor to consider when shopping for property management software is making sure it is secure. The files that the program reads will likely contain personal information so it is crucial that these files are protected with complex passwords and other login information. Search for software with the utmost caution. A slight difference in price can be a significant difference in protection.

Consult the following resources for more information on property management training, designation and tools.

Why hire a professional property management company? Sun, 06 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas Ultimately it boils down to two factors: your lifestyle decisions and return on investment.  Many owners determine that their time would be more productively and enjoyably spent doing something other than actively managing their rental properties.

Here are some of the ways a property manager can help:

  • Research comparables to determine the optimal rental rate for your property.
  • Market the property to minimize vacancies and maximize income.
  • Screen tenants and protect you from bad prospects and scams
  • Maintain the property and handle preventative maintenance to maintain the value of your investment.
  • Etc.

For a more complete list of services read "Property Management Services - A Complete List".

If you decide to hire a property management company, and find a manager who is a good fit for your property, the benefits can be substantial, including:

  • Higher quality tenants
  • Shorter vacancy cycles
  • Fewer costly and time consuming legal problems
  • Better tenant retention
  • Tighter rent collection process

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.

Property Management Cost Sat, 26 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela There will be significant variation in the costs that owners should expect depending on several factors including the location of the property, the size/condition of the property, the level of service you require and of course the management company itself.

Property management companies typically charge between 4-12% of monthly rent (10% is common for single-family homes) There are other pricing models such as those that include flat fees, or something in between that sets both a percentage and a flat fee and requires you to pay which ever is lesser or greater (depending on the manager).

What you want is a simple cost structure that is transparent and consistent. Problems arise when either the property manager does not disclose all the costs or the property owner is not diligent to fully understand what they will be charged in all circumstances.

A good property management company will more than earn their fees by increasing revenue while decreasing costs not to mention the other benefits of hiring a property manager.

Make sure that you interview a number of property managers before you hire and go through the interview/proposal process with at least three companies.

For a more in depth discussion of property management fees, read our two part series "Property Management Fees - Part 1" and "Property Management Fees - Part 2".

Intellectual Property: Manage & Protect Tue, 20 Sep 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is considered any commercial or artistic creation, unique name, logo, or symbol, designed to be used commercially. Intellectual property can include protection by a patent, trademark, or copyright. Patents are used to protect inventions. Further, trademarks can be used to protect branding devices such as logos or slogans. Copyrights are used to protect artistic creations including but not limited to books, music, and film.

Why Intellectual Property is Protected

Intellectual Property Infringement is more of a risk today than at any point in history. This is mostly as a result of extreme popularity of the Internet. With an unprecedented increase in the exchange of information, has come the unprecedented rise of intellectual property theft, commonly referred to piracy. Domestic companies face counterfeit imports while exporters face unfair competition overseas.

These issues of counterfeit goods do not simply affect a company's income, but can also affect the health and safety of consumers.

How Can I Protect my Intellectual Property?

PatentsAn inventor can gain the property rights to his or her invention for up to twenty years by obtaining a patent. Patents are extremely important to the inventor, and though patents are territorial, meaning they are only valid in the country in which the patent was obtained, they are essential for the discerning inventor looking to protect his or her intellectual property. When a patent is approved or pending, it does not give the inventor the right to bring the product to market, but rather it prevents others from doing so.

TrademarksA trademark is a distinguishing word, phrase (slogan), or symbol typically used as branding by the company to encourage consumer recognition of the company. Different from patents, trademarks do not stop another company from producing a particular good, but rather prevents deliberate attempt to confuse the consumer by passing one company's product as another's .

CopyrightsAuthors of “original works of authorship,” such as literary and dramatic works, musical compositions, and pieces of art, should copyright their work. This general rule applies whether or not the work is published, as unpublished work is also vulnerable to be the subject of intellectual property theft. Like trademarks, this protection does not prevent others from producing similar products (classical music CDs , car manuals) but rather protects the form of expression.

Who Can Help Me Protect My Intellectual Property?

National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center – This organization protects the US from the dangers inherent in counterfeit goods arriving within the country’s borders. It does this by deterring entities which would attempt to import dangerous counterfeit goods. Also, it investigates major criminal organizations and entities using the Internet for the purpose of perpetrating intellectual property rights violations.

Office of the United States Trade RepresentativeThe USTR is develops and coordinates international trade for the United States. Also, it negotiates trading costs with other countries. One of its goals, with its annual Special 301 Report ,is to identify countries the US should pay special attention to. These countries, according to the report, pose an increased risk to the United States’ interests by being more likely to cause intellectual property rights issues.

IPR Organizations

National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center – This site will gives Americans the resources they need to proactively protect their goods along with allowing them an avenue for reporting past IPR violations

United States Copyright Office – Not only does this site provide further information about copyrights, but provides means of obtaining and registering these copyrights.

United States Patent and Trademark Office – An agency of the department of commerce, the USPTO is the place to go to register patents and trademarks and protect intellectual property.

Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section – The Internet has made it easier than ever to commit intellectual property rights violations. For that reason, the United States Department of Justice has committed an entire section of their efforts to stop IPR violations through the computer.

Intellectual Property Rights SearchIPSR is a database people can search to find intellectual property rights records.

Avoid Intellectual Property Infringement

Copyright Infringement

Avoiding copyright infringement is important to avoid lawsuit, as well as, deformation of reputation. Reputation is important in the commercial market to establish a relationship customers. The principle is to not claim one’s intellectual property. This may not be as simple as it seems. Situations can easily arise when an honest person can accidentally commit an intellectual property violation, being entirely unaware of the infringement until after publication. Therefore, it is important to be informed about what intellectual property is, how it is protected, what is actually protected, who is responsible for protection, and steps to take to avoid accidental theft. Before publication or commercial use of a new venture, conduct research and if there is already a protected essence of the property, obtain permission from owner prior to continuing.


Avoiding plagiarism is a rather straightforward issue but the the frequency with which people encounter unintentional plagiarism has led to many publications of the rules regarding this issue. Since research is a major component of academia, students are at a high risk for unintentional plagiarism. The common denominator of these rules revolves around citing the words or ideas of another's work. Reiteration of the verbatim words must be formatted with quotation marks and cited. Paraphrasing must also be cited. And when in doubt, obtain permission from author or consult a trusted person who is knowledgeable about intellectual property issues.

Scientific Misconduct

Infringement is not only an issue in the creative arts, but extends also into the academic. Scientific Misconduct is a major issue within intellectual property law, and is an instance of someone not giving credit for certain ideas for the purpose of unethically giving credit to another scientist. In order to avoid this type of IPR violation, original ideas and research efforts should given credit and allowed the opportunity to give permission of use.


Mostly an issue in the creative arts, there are simple steps artists can take to avoid litigation due to this IPR violation. Appropriation of art is any work which relies on the the creation of another's work without obtaining permission and giving credit to the original piece.The general intention of the reuse may be to pay homage to the original piece however, without permission, it is still considered a IPR issue. Appropriation is not limited to the musician world.

Musical Sampling

A musician can choose to use part of another artist's song in a new song, such as a melody or vocal line. This is considered musical sampling. In relation to appropriation mentioned above, musical sampling is the term used after someone has obtained permission to use another musicians work to further their own. Without this permission, use of the song would, as in all cases of copyright infringement, be considered piracy and is punishable through the courts.

Fair Use

The intellectual property landscape is not as bleak as it seems, however. There is some common sense to be had among the various technicalities of IP law. One example of this is called fair use. Basically, fair use laws state that if someone is going to use a copyrighted work for commentary, criticism, or parody, there can be no legal ramifications.


There is also the issue of Cryptomnesia, which can be difficult to avoid and even more difficult to prove as a defense again IPR violations. It is an instance when a person mistakes another's work as an original idea. An example of this would be if a musician creates a song believing it to be an original work but unknowingly uses the melody of another song. Unlike sampling, the musician did not intend to reuse this melody and honestly created the song to be an original piece of work. This can be difficult to avoid since the artist is unaware that IPR violation has occurred. Artists can seek the opinions of peers prior to publication in an attempt to lower the risk of this occurrence.

Trademark and Patent Infringement

Avoiding trademark and patent infringement is a rather easy task with the help of the Internet . There are searchable online databases with all necessary information about registered trademarks and patents. This can be important not only because it protects the legal rights of others who registered the patents and trademarks, but because it reduces the frequency of accidental occurrences of IPR violations.


Piracy is a major issue since the common use of the Internet. This may be because, many people do not perceive the illegal downloading of an album to be equivalent to stealing a CD from a store. The ease of download and the relative anonymity of the computer encourages all types of people to commit piracy. Because of this, there has been a rise in piracy in terms of software, music, and many other digital products. Without a tangible product, people are more willing to own pirated merchandise. In order to avoid doing so unintentionally, consumers should be aware of the terms and conditions of the products they own, and the terms and conditions of anything they download for free on the Internet. Generally, if something which usually costs money to own is free, it is likely to be considered piracy.

More Information – This website is a comprehensive resource to Copyrights.

Copyright & Fair Use – This site from Stanford, provides information about Copyright and Fair Use issues.

Free Patents Online – Here is a searchable database for Patents.

International Trademark Association – Here, trademarks can be purchased to protect commercial branding property internationally.

Google Patents – Another search engine dedicated to searching through over 7 million patents the world over.

United States Patent and Trademark Office – All the documentation, applications, etc., one might need to register a trademark. –This site is a comprehensive resource to plagiarism.

Purdue Online Writing Lab – OWL is a great resource for writers both academic and creative, and the people at this site know plagiarism is not always a black and white issue. Here are some clarifications.

TurnItIn .com – Turn It In is a great resource used by many colleges to be sure that students are not plagiarizing their work.

A DIY Guide to Winterizing Your Property Thu, 03 Nov 2011 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Many people live in houses that become drafty during the cold winter months. Cold air often enters a home through leaks in windows and doorways. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent drafts from sneaking into a home. The following article contains tips on preventing drafts as well as several other suggestions for winterizing a home. A few simple preparations may lead to a warmer, more inviting home this winter.


The winter weather months bring days of cold winds and blowing snow. Even a small leak in a window or a door can allow heat to escape from a home. Some drafts can be prevented by placing weather stripping around the open edges of a doorframe. In addition, a homeowner may want to replace all screen doors with glass doors to give the doorway even more protection against drafts. Many people opt to put "draft snakes" against the bottom edges of their doors to prevent drafts. Alternatively, a window can be winterized by putting a layer of caulking around its edges. A homeowner may even want to buy a pair of curtains made of heavy fabric to pull closed in front of a drafty set of windows. In short, these simple ideas can create a more comfortable atmosphere in a home.

Changing Furnace Filters

A dirty furnace filter full of pet hair and heavy dust can prevent a furnace from working to its full potential. Not surprisingly, a furnace with a dirty filter is working twice as hard to deliver its warm air. By changing the furnace filter on a regular basis a family can enjoy all of the warm air that a furnace has to offer. Furthermore, a clean filter allows a furnace to be more energy efficient especially during a stretch of extremely cold days in the wintertime.

  • Furnace Filter Changes: Learn how changing a furnace filter can save on energy costs as well as keep a family safe.
  • Energy Efficiency at Home: Find out the importance of discovering energy leaks in a home along with other winterizing tips.
  • Furnace Winterizing Tips: (PDF) Discover how to prepare a furnace for winter and read several other helpful tips for home or business owners who are looking ahead to winter.

Ceiling Fan Maintenance

Some families purchase a ceiling fan to add style to the décor of a room. Chances are, they get a lot of use out of their ceiling fan on humid summer afternoons. A ceiling fan can also be of great advantage in the winter. Many ceiling fans are capable of moving in the opposite direction with the flip of a switch. A ceiling fan's counterclockwise motion will push the warm air downward back into the home's living space.

Attic Insulation

If an attic is poorly insulated, heat can escape leaving the members of a household cold and unhappy. Consequently, no winterizing process is complete without checking the insulation in an attic. In fact, a homeowner would be wise to get a professional to evaluate the energy efficiency of an attic. He or she may be able to recommend a particular type of insulation that would suit the needs of the homeowner.

Pipe Insulation

Frozen pipes are a common occurrence during the winter months especially pipes that are located in a garage or a basement. It can be expensive to replace frozen pipes that burst from expansion. A homeowner should check for proper pipe insulation before the arrival of the winter months. Also, if a garden hose is attached to an outside spigot it should be taken off and stored to prevent freezing. It's also a good idea on extremely cold nights to leave the kitchen faucet on at a slow drip in order to prevent pipe freezing.

Heating System Maintenance

Regular maintenance of a heating system can help it to work more efficiently. An owner that arranges for regular checkups for a heating system may be able to avoid large, costly repairs. Plus, a heating maintenance specialist will likely be able to recommend some ways to make a heating system more energy efficient throughout the winter. In addition, a homeowner may want to research some types of thermostats that are especially designed to save on a household's winter heating bills.

Chimney Maintenance

A burning log in a fireplace can be a comforting sight on a cold winter's evening. It's important for homeowners to winterize their fireplaces and chimneys so they will work properly and safely. For example, a chimney should not have leaks that allow cold air to blow down into the home. In addition, a chimney should be cleaned to make sure there is no build up of ash or creosote inside it. If a family doesn't use its fireplace, the chimney flue should remain closed and the doors spanning the front of the fireplace should be firmly shut to prevent stray drafts.

What kind of financial services to property managers provide? Mon, 30 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas Property managers bear significant financial responsibilities given that they handle rent monies, reserve funds, security deposits, and write checks on the owner’s behalf.  They are also responsible for making sure bills get paid (taxes, mortgage, insurance premiums, etc.).

Community association managers, in contrast, collect homeowner dues and pay for the maintenance of community-owned facilities.

These duties require financial discipline and orderliness, high standards of integrity as well as safe guards to establish transparency and accountability. The laws in each state vary, but many forbid the co-mingling of funds and list out rules for how tenant and owner funds are handled.

It is extremely important that investors receive regular detailed reporting on the performance of their investments under management. Keep reading for a list of questions for property management companies about how they handle tenant and owner funds.

Local property management Thu, 03 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas Hiring a local property manager can be a great help to owners living at a distance from their investment property.  There are many activities in property management that cannot be performed at a distance and should not be neglected.

For example, it is wise to have the property inspected periodically to discover potential problems before they become significant issues, and it is important to have someone on call to deal with any urgent concerns which may arise.  It is also helpful to work with someone who has connections with qualified local contractors and can oversee their work.  This is part of the reason that many investors advocate using a property management company, especially for out of state properties.

Use our database of management companies to find a property manager in your area.

Local property management


Hiring a local property manager can be a great help to owners living at a distance from their investment property.  There are many activities in property management that cannot be performed at a distance and should not be neglected. 


For example, it is wise to have the property inspected periodically to discover potential problems before they become significant issues, and it is important to have someone on call to deal with any urgent concerns which may arise.  It is also helpful to work with someone who has connections with qualified local contractors and can oversee their work.  This is part of the reason that many investors advocate using a property management company, especially for out of state properties.


Use our database of management companies to find a property manager in your area.

Property Management Business Center Thu, 12 Aug 2010 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela Running a property management business can be an exciting and profitable venture if managed properly. The Manage My Property property management business center is designed to equip current and aspiring property managers with the necesary tools to start, sustain and expand a successful enterprise.

This hub will expand over time with new resources, please contact us if you have suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in the property management business center.

Coming soon:

Find and keep good tenants Sat, 28 Nov 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas In order to attract and keep good tenants, your property will need to have a track record of being well managed.  Since it costs time and money to place a qualified tenant, it makes sense to do whatever you can to limit your tenant turnover.  Tenant satisfaction should be a high priority.

The experience and efficiency that a professional property manager brings to the table could give your property the edge in a competitive market.  It's good to ask a prospective management company: "What is your average turnover rate?"  Their answer will help you determine if you could benefit from their experience in this area.

The reality is that strong tenant retention numbers don’t just happen, they are the result of consistent, quality service and a pre-planned tenant retention program. A tenant retention program can start small and can include inexpensive things like seasonal greeting cards and minor amenities that let tenants know management cares.

Tenant satisfaction means longer tenancies and happier tenants that have fewer disputes and complaints. Keep reading for a list of questions for property management companies about their tenant retention programs.

Out of state property management Tue, 01 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Christopher Berkompas There are a lot of benefits to having someone nearby oversee your investment property.  Periodic inspections and responding to complaints are necessary if you want to keep your property in good condition, but are difficult to perform if you are out of state.  Hiring a property management company in close proximity to your property can increase tenant satisfaction, and lead to problems being discovered and resolved more quickly.  Local property managers also tend to be well connected with quality contractors and service providers in their local market, which can help save you time and money.

If the tenants are actually aware of the fact that the owner lives out of state the likelihood of lease violations goes up as tenants know there is a lack of accountability. Your real estate investments are to significant to not have someone keeping a close eye on.

Use our database of management companies to find a property manager in your area.

Property Management Agreement Tue, 29 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Jordan Muela The relationship between the property owner and property manager is set in stone when the property management agreement is signed. This legally binding document should be reviewed and signed before any work begins and will define the relationship between both parties.

Depending on the scope of the document it will likely cover all aspects of the relationship including things like the management fee, when checks are sent out, how much say the owner will have in the tenant screening process, how long the contract will last etc. It is extremely important that owners review their management contract in its entirety before signing. Typically most owners should be able to understand everything in the property management agreement, but some owners choose to have their attorney review the agreement to make sure that their best interests are being protected.

Some important sections to review in every agreement are those dealing with fees, duties, termination and arbitration.

Make sure you review the contract to see how it answers the following questions before signing it:

  • How long is the agreement for?
  • How much is the management fee?
  • What other fees does the property management agreement list?
  • Who keeps late fees, interest on security deposits and rent collected after eviction?
  • What responsibilities does it list out for the property management company?
  • What requirements does it place on you?
  • What happens if the contact is terminated early by your or the manager?
  • How will disputes/arbitration be handled in the event of a dispute over the agreement?

For a more in depth discussion of management agreements, read our three part series "What to look for in a property management contract".

Find and compare property managers from Phoenix to Los Angeles and everywhere between. Start searching today.