As a resident’s management company, freeholder or similar, finding the right property manager is essential to the success of your development. A property manager plays a crucial role in ensuring that your development runs smoothly and efficiently, from managing the lease obligations through to maintaining the communal areas. In this guide, I will share with you everything you need to know about finding a property manager who will transform your development into how you would like it to be.
Understanding the role of a property manager
Before we dive into the factors to consider when choosing a property manager, it is essential to understand the role that a property manager plays. A property manager is responsible for managing and maintaining the areas of responsibility that the ‘Landlord’ is responsible for under the terms of the Leaseholders leases, this typically is the communal areas or non-demised areas within a development. This includes managing everything from the company accounts through to resolving leaseholder breaches.
A property manager is also responsible for ensuring that the property complies with all legal requirements, including health and safety regulations and statutory obligations. In short, a property manager is a critical member of your development’s management team, and finding the right one is essential to the success of your development.
The importance of finding the right property manager for your development
Finding the right property manager is crucial to the success of your development. A good property manager can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your development which can lead to higher property values or rental values. On the other hand, a bad property manager can lead to legal issues, poorly maintained visuals and eventually a dangerous place to live.
A good property manager will also help you save time and money by handling all the day-to-day tasks of managing your development, allowing you to simply enjoying living in your home, or be safe in the knowledge that your investment is being looked after properly.
Factors to consider when choosing a property manager – experience, attention, and reputation
When choosing a property manager, there are several factors to consider. One of the most important factors is experience. You want to work with a property manager who has a proven track record of success in managing developments similar to yours. This will ensure that they have the skills and knowledge needed to manage your property effectively.
Another important factor is how much attention your development will receive. Unfortunately, it has become common for a single property manager to look after upwards of 35+ developments so it’s so important to ask how many other developments your assigned property manager will also be managing. You want a fair level of attention spent on your development for the fees you pay.
Finally, consider reputation and transparency. Look for someone who has a good reputation in the industry and can prove transparency in their actions. This will ensure that they are trustworthy, reliable, and have a history of providing excellent service to their clients.
How to evaluate a property manager’s performance
There are several methods these days to evaluate a property manager’s performance from leaseholder surveys through to agreed KPI reports.
Typically, we at Strangford Management use a mix of several methods including quarterly Director surveys, quarterly Director meetings to evaluate progress, a blend of KPI’s and transparent monthly reporting, as well as ensuring open lines of communication with senior members of the team to pass on any comments. Having several methods allows for a more in-depth approach, avoiding the issue of recency bias as well as questionnaire bias.
Again, you must decide what is important to you as a Board of Directors and work backwards from there to create and agree upon the best method of performance evaluation.
Questions to ask during the interview process
During the interview process, it has become common place for managing agents to complete a short questionnaire so that each agent can be judged on a like for like basis. These questionnaires give you the ability to whittle the group down to a chosen few whom you can then interview. It is essential to ask the right questions to ensure that you are choosing the right person for your specific development so do consider what is important to you, what is important to your leaseholders and what is important for your development. Some questions to consider asking include:
- What experience do you have managing properties similar to mine?
- What qualifications do you have?
- Can you provide references from previous clients?
- What reporting do you provide and how frequently?
- Who will be managing my development and what size is their portfolio?
- How often will you come to our development and meet with us?
These are just a few sample questions, but it is important to consider exactly what is right for you as it can differ between developments.
Red flags to watch out for when choosing a property manager
While there are many great property managers out there, there are also some red flags to watch out for when choosing a property manager. Some red flags to consider include:
- Lack of experience or qualifications
- High portfolio volumes = lack of attention
- A history of legal issues or complaints from previous clients
- A lack of transparency in their reporting or financial transparency
Best practices for working with a property manager
To ensure that you are getting the most out of your relationship with your property manager, it is important to follow some best practices. As a generic guide we have given you a few bullet points below that we find gets the most out of working with our clients. Discussing these points ahead of time leads to a more productive relationship between the agent and Directors:
- Clearly define expectations and responsibilities for both parties.
- Setting clear communication channels and frequency of communication expected.
- Providing regular feedback and performance evaluations.
- Setting out what to expect from availability and responsiveness.
Maintaining a positive and professional relationship, we find a mutual respect of working together rather than a ‘you work for us’ attitude goes a long way.
Tips for effective communication with your property manager
Effective communication is essential to the success of your relationship with your property manager. To ensure that your communication is effective, consider the following tips:
- Be clear on your instructions, don’t provide subjective direction.
- Be responsive when needed, don’t dwell on matters, if you aren’t sure, discuss it with your other Directors before responding.
- If it takes more than 2 emails, pick up the phone… this one has personally saved me hours!
- Managing someone’s home is personal, but let’s keep the relationship professional too
Be open about your intentions for the project or issue. If you simply want a cheap solution, say that rather than have your property manager guessing your expectations.
Conclusion and next steps
There are a number of resources available to you when starting your search for a new property manager:
- ARMA (Regulatory body) hold a list of approved agents
- Get referrals from lawyers, surveyors or the wider leaseholder body
- Reach out to companies on google that you believe suit your needs
- Engage a consultant to work on the tender with you such as Insight Property Consultancy
Using these resources should give you enough companies so you can match a small shortlist of companies that you believe would suit your needs, from there it’s time to get in touch with them, ask them to complete your questionnaire if you are going down that route, interview them and make your decision.
There’s a saying that action cures all problems so until you take action to change your Managing Agent, your current problems will remain.
If you are looking for a property manager for your development and believe that a proactive, personal and results driven approach is suited to you, please feel free to reach out to us at Strangford Management. Our team of experienced and qualified property managers can help you transform your development in a short amount of time.