PropertyManagementMaven: New Clients * Interview WITHIN their Interview

New Clients * Interview WITHIN their Interview

Just this week, I've had 5 phone calls from property owners who are considering renting their unsold homes...3 home owners have already left the area and 2 are leaving in a few weeks.  During these phone calls, my interview questions are different than those I ask an investor owner.

First I want to know how long they expect to hold the property * I only have 2-year management agreements so if they think they can put a tenant in for 6 or 8 months, that is not long enough for me to take the property for management.  Then, I want to know if they have an expectation of a rental rate.  If their sales agent quoted an unrealistic rental rate, I'll need to talk them down from that figure which will take time and energy.  If they indicate they want to hold the property for 2 to 3 years and ask ME to provide a rental rate, they move to my "prospects" file.

Then I research the property on the local MLS and offer a suggested initial rental rate based on the time of year the property will be marketed (our area has a strong market for new-hires moving into the area wanting smaller homes or town homes.  Prospects for larger homes rented before school started).

If the property is vacant and still listed for sale, I may use my MLS lockbox key and preview the property.  If the property is still occupied, I'll drive by and check the curb appeal and arrange a time for me to make a management proposal presentation with the owners.  Depending on their schedule, I may send this proposal via USPS Priority Mail so hat they can review it first.

If the owner is no longer in the area, I'll send the management proposal and agreement in PDF via e-mail.  I do not have this information on my website since I often require greater initial owner deposits depending on the potential for getting residents in quickly.

I always provide a SASE with 2 copies of my management agreement to make it easier for the clients to return the signed management agreement and their initial owner deposit check.  If the agreement is returned without the check, I'll notify the owner that I will not gegin my "marketing efforts" until their owner deposit is received.

By determining the owners' expectations up front, I don't waste my or their time if their desires for their property do not fit my management program so that we both enjoy the benefits of our relationship.

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Comment balloon 5 commentsWallace S. Gibson, CPM • October 03 2008 01:13PM


Wallace, why a 2 year agreement?  I understand you may want to lock in the client, but you may cost yourself some business.  A one year agreement works for us and most end up staying longer.  I could see some owners saying that they don't want to tie themselves up for that long. 

Posted by Robert Machado, CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management (HomePointe Property Management, CRMC) almost 11 years ago

Bob - good question....Gibson Management Group is just me with part-time assist from my husband so I don't want to spend time and energy on properties I won't manage for longer than 2 years....I have not done lease-onlys for many years and I don't want a property that will be re-sold in a year....I don't charge a "set-up" fee when taking on a property so taking the photos, having the floor plans done (my husband does those), creating postlet and HomeRentals listing PLUS putting in local MLS (only when it is vacant) is VERY TIME CONSUMING.....While I do charge a min $600 lease fee/half-first full months rent as the leasing fee....I clocked how long it takes me to do the marketing/promotion materials and setting up a property in my PM system and it is 2 to 3 hours.....add that to an hour for preparing the original management proposal and owner meeting and it can get up to 5 or 6 hours....I want to be able to determine FROM THE INITIAL PHONE CALL if I want to INVEST my time and energy to manage the property AND if the owner actually wants a property manager OR a leasing agent they can BULLY.

Many PMs use the more the better business model and end up spending half their time dealing with less than 10% of their PITA owners, tenants and properties. 

I try to eliminate that eventuality by taking on GOOD, RENTABLE properties with REALISTIC OWNERS who take the LONG VIEW of their real estate investement.

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 11 years ago

This entry carries some good seeds for the garden of thought. What other questions would you ask potential clients? How do you figure the amount of your initial owner deposit? Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Posted by Kenneth Ferreira (Ramona Property Managers, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Kenneth - If the property owner is local, I get $500 and if they are out of state I ask for $1,000 and explain that those are always their funds and I need them in case of emergency between tenants or after disbursement has been made. 

Explaining that the money is ALWAYS THEIRS' is the key.


Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 11 years ago


Again, a wealth of information here.  Thank you again for taking your time to share your experience with the rest of us.  Best wishes for continued success.

Posted by Dave Hamill, Prescott, Arizona Real Estate (EXIT Realty Legacy) almost 11 years ago

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