There’s nothing more powerful than a well-matched real estate investor and property management company. When the partnership is solid and based on shared values, personal and professional relationships, and a common vision for what it means to provide a community with rental housing, there’s almost nothing that cannot be accomplished.
We take our relationships very seriously. Our investors and owners are important to us, and we go to work every day to help them earn more money on the properties that we lease, manage, and maintain.
Our team at Lawson Realty Group is committed to the clients we serve. We’re committed to our tenants and to our community.
We understand the importance of having a good relationship with your Roanoke property managers. It has to be a partnership.
If you’re looking for property management in Roanoke, spend some time getting to know the company you’re potentially going to work with. Do your background research by exploring their website and social media platforms. Talk to others about their reputation.
Then, ask some questions.
If you’re not sure where to start, we have some ideas. These are the best questions to ask a prospective Roanoke property management company. Make sure they’re answered. Make sure they lead to conversations.
Q: What Kind of Experience Do You Have in the Roanoke Rental Market?
The rental market is super-local. What you read about rents nationwide is not always what you’ll find in Roanoke. We have market shifts just like every other region. We have a unique pool of tenants. Shifting demographics. Rental values that are rising. Inflation.
You need a property manager who understands the rental market better than anyone else.
You need a property manager who knows the nuances and the trends in this specific area.
Property Management is Local
Your property manager needs to understand the Roanoke rental market and all of its unique and nuanced submarkets.
Ask your prospective property manager where most of the properties they manage are located. Is this neighborhood similar to the areas in which you invest?
Don’t get lost in a corporate company with management offices all over the country. Keep it local.
Does the property manager live in Roanoke? Own investment property of their own? This is helpful to know.
Are you an out-of-state investor?
Local market expertise is even more essential when you cannot be here physically.
|Local Roanoke property managers who specialize in locations close to your investments will understand the market-driven rental values.
They’ll be familiar with competing properties.
|With a local expert, you can be sure that all local, state, and federal laws are followed closely.
You may not have the resources to ensure your property is in compliance. You need someone in the neighborhood who knows the laws and stays up to date.
|A local property management expert will have a large network of vendors, contractors, and professional partners that can be leveraged to serve your property or building.
It’s hard to coordinate maintenance or upgrades from afar.
Ask about rental values and how they’ve been trending.
Talk about the upgrades and updates that have been necessary lately to make rental buildings stand out in a crowded and competitive market.
Ask about tenant demographics and HOAs.
You want to be sure you’re working with someone who knows your market well.
Q: What Kind of Experience Do You Have?
Experience in the local market is important.
More important is experience in the type of property you rent out.
If you’re a multi-family investor, ask how many buildings they currently manage and how many units are in each building.
If you’re a single-family rental property owner, ask about how landscaping is handled, and how often improvements and renovations are made to increase rental value.
If you have a 10-unit building and the management company you’re speaking with seems to specialize in large apartment buildings with more than 100 units, you might not get the specific type of service you’re looking for.
This is also a good time to ask about resources, capacity, and support. You’re looking for a management company that won’t be over stretched by taking on your portfolio. Ask about their support staff. Do they have people who can answer your questions, pick up the phone, respond to tenants, and coordinate maintenance? What about accounting?
Don’t be afraid to get into specifics that will help you determine what kind of experience your potential management partner actually has. Ask about their systems and their processes.
|How are tenant relationships handled?
|What is the leasing process like?
|How are tenants screened?
|How is maintenance handled?
Questions like these will tell you how a management company operates.
Q: How Does Communication Work with Your Property Management Company?
A good relationship is essential, and good relationships start with good communication.
Always ask about how a company communicates. Some owners like to be heard from regularly. Others want only to be bothered when there’s a major decision to be made or maintenance work that needs to be approved. Where do you fall along that spectrum? And, can the property management company you’re talking to meet your needs?
Look for responsive communication. If there’s an emergency at your rental property, you want to know the management company is going to pick up the phone and talk the tenant through the immediate necessary steps. You’ll want to know vendor communication is instant.
Ask about tenant communication.
While it’s important for your property managers to communicate well with you, it’s possibly even more important for them to communicate proactively with your tenants.
- Tenants are going to need their property managers when maintenance is required.
- They might need to talk about lease renewals or report a problem with neighbors.
- If rent is likely to be late one month, they’ll need to know they can get in touch with their property manager to give them the head’s up and share a plan for when it will be paid in full.
Ask about the process of communicating with tenants.
|Do tenants have an online portal that they can use to pay rent, request repairs, and send messages?
|Are emergency contact numbers available for you and for others who are helping you manage your property?
|Do tenants have the contact information for the nearest police station, fire department, poison control center, etc.?
When there are several channels set up for communication and an effort is made to answer the phone and return messages in a timely manner, you know you’re working with a great team.
We know everyone is busy.
It’s unreasonable to expect your property manager to be available to you every time you want to chat about something or ask a question.
Good property managers have personal and professional boundaries.
But, when it comes to communication, you want to know that it’s prioritized.
Q: How do You Market my Roanoke Rental Property and Choose Tenants?
An effective leasing process is efficient and effective. The end result should be a highly qualified tenant who is placed quickly. This avoids long vacancies.
With good marketing, you know you’re getting the best possible tenants and the highest possible rents in the Roanoke rental market.
- Ask every property manager you interview about vacancy times and rental values.
- Talk about how your property is going to be marketed and what kind of data they use to set the right rental price.
There’s a lot that goes into the leasing process. Some of the follow up questions that come during this discussion might be:
|How is my property priced?
|Where do you get your market data?
|How does the marketing process work?
|Do you take professional photos?
|Where is my home listed online?
|How quickly do you respond to tenants when they want to schedule a showing?
|Do you offer in-person showings or self-showings, or both?
|How are tenants screened?
|What is your rental criteria?
|Where and how do you hold the security deposit?
|What’s included in your move-in inspection?
|Can I see a sample lease agreement?
A good property manager should be able to estimate how long it will take to rent your property given the current market and the local competition.
Well-managed leasing systems are important for establishing expectations, generating immediate rental income, and ensuring a reliable tenant is put in place.
Q: How Do You Handle Rent Collection and Day-to-Day Property Management?
Imagine, with your prospective Roanoke property manager, that a tenant has been approved and the move-in process has gone smoothly (with a good management partner, it WILL go smoothly).
Ask about what a company’s management looks like once a qualified tenant has been chosen and is living in your property.
Most property managers in Roanoke will be prepared to tell you about their systems and processes for:
Ask about how rent is collected and when it’s due.
Find out if there are late fees when rent doesn’t come in on time and whether you’ll receive those late fees or they stay with the management company.
Ask how you’ll be paid – is there a direct deposit into your bank account or can you expect a check?
You need to know what happens if rent isn’t collected. How does the eviction process work, and do they typically try to avoid eviction?
Routine and Emergency Maintenance
Ask about how routine maintenance is handled and what the plan is should an emergency occur at your property. Find out if there are preventative maintenance plans in place and always ask about the vendors and contractors a property manager uses. You’ll want them to be licensed and insured. You need to know if they’re an in-house team or if the work is hired out. What kind of maintenance costs should you expect?
Rental Property Inspections
Ask about inspections and how relationships are developed and maintained with tenants.
Are maintenance inspections conducted?
How does the move-out inspection compare to the move-in inspection?
Will you see maintenance inspection reports?
Accounting and Financial Records
Can you expect to receive monthly reports that show your income and expenses?
Are there more involved or advanced financial statements that are generated?
What about taxes?
Talk about these ongoing management processes and systems, and continue asking follow-up questions until you’re feeling assured that your manager will be responsive and available to you and your tenants.
Consistent property management plans are important. So is flexibility. What will your property manager do when something unexpected happens? How do they solve problems? What if rent isn’t paid? What’s the process if a lease violation is discovered?
Q: How do you Monitor and Comply with State and Federal Rental Laws?
Laws change frequently. You need a property manager who keeps up.
It’s easier than ever to make a legal mistake during the leasing and management process. Even the wrong wording in your marketing materials can land you in the middle of a fair housing complaint. You hire a property manager to ensure those mistakes aren’t made.
Federal Laws: Fair Housing and ADA
Most of the federal laws that affect renting out your property are related to fair housing, discrimination, and credit reporting rules.
How do you know your property manager will treat everyone consistently?
You can ask about their written policies.
Ask to see their standard rental criteria, checklists, and processes.
Security Deposits in Roanoke
Security deposit laws in Virginia include specific rules on how much you can collect and how the process of returning a deposit must go.
When you’re collecting a security deposit from a tenant, you cannot collect any more than the equivalent of two months’ rent. When you’re returning the deposit at the end of a lease term, you have to make sure it goes back to the tenant within 45 days of the tenant moving out. It’s also important to remember that you can deduct for tenant damage, but not for general wear and tear. That’s going to be your responsibility as the property owner.
There’s a specific process for evicting a tenant in Roanoke, so you’ll need to know that your property manager understands and follows the process.
Eviction, with good property management, should be rare. Talk about eviction rates and what your property manage does to avoid evictions.
Q: Do You Invest in Property Management Technology?
Technology has become absolutely essential to effective Roanoke property management, and in 2023, there is no reason that you should be working with a management team that does not leverage great tech.
Technology keeps costs down and also protects you and your investments by providing outstanding documentation. You and your tenants should have portals so you can keep up on the things going on with your home. Accounting statements should be readily available and accurate. Transparency is critical, and you want to know you’ll always be able to see the income and expenses associated with your investment.
Q: How Do You Provide Outstanding Customer Experiences?
Ask your prospective property manager about how they provide customer experience.
A Roanoke property management company needs to focus on the services they provide you, as the owner. But, tenants are customers, too.
What kind of emphasis do your prospective property managers place on good tenant relationships and high tenant retention?
This impacts what you’re able to earn on your property.
You’re looking for a property management partner who is willing to prioritize your needs, but not at the expense of good customer service for your renters.
Pay attention to what tenants think about the company that manages their building and their rental home. Take a look at reviews and testimonials from tenants as closely as you do those that are left by owners.
The best property managers will hold your tenants accountable to the lease agreement and make sure those tenants are aware of their responsibilities.
Just important, however, is that the tenants feel valued and cared for while in your property. Holding onto high quality tenants is an important part of any investment strategy. You need your property to be occupied by good renters.
There are dozens more questions you should ask any Roanoke property management company before you hire them. These are our best starting points.
If you’d like to hear more or you’re interested in hearing how we would answer these questions, why not get in touch?
Please contact us at Lawson Realty Group whether you’re a new investor or an experienced real estate owner. We manage properties in Southwest Virginia throughout the Roanoke Valley, including Salem, Cave Spring, Hollins, Vinton, Glenvar, and Southwest Roanoke County.