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How do I choose a GOOD Managing Agent?

Just like there are competent and incompetent people in every profession, there are excellent managing agents and useless ones. Hiring an incompetent agent is worse than managing the property yourself because you are led to believe all is being taken care of when it isn’t.nnHere’s the problem – Real Estate agents are expert self-promoters – it’s how they win sales listings. They have slick websites and tell you everything you want to hear – how good they are at marketing, finding tenants, arrears management, property inspections.. etc etc.nnBut you don’t have to take their word for it – it is easy to find out how true any of this is.

Following is a list of 10 things you can actually verify for yourself when choosing a managing agent:

1. What priority does the office place on their Property Management section? Check the company website and note as a percentage how much space is devoted to Property Management. You may also notice that this section is placed AFTER the Sales section, indicating that Property Management plays second fiddle to Sales.

2. What kind of staff do they employ in their Property Management Department?
Look at the Property Management Department section on their website and see if they are proud to tell you who works there and provide a photo. Does the staff have the experience and ability you believe they should have? Be aware who will be taking care of your property and ask yourself if this fills you with confidence.

3. Does the Principal/Business Owner know anything about Property Management?
Check their website and read the Principal’s bio. Does it mention any experience in Property Management? Note that the typical real estate office is headed by a Sales Principal who knows very little about managing properties. Even the ‘specialist’ Property Management agencies are often headed by a business person who has never managed a property. Is this important to you? Don’t you think that the head of the company which manages your property should know what is involved and be able to train their staff accordingly?

4. How effective is their marketing?
Check online to see how they advertise rental properties. Look for any errors in the text or inadequate descriptions. Look at all the photos and rate how they present the property. Would you like your property to be advertised like this to potential tenants?

5. How easy is it to apply for a rental property?
Do some ‘mystery shopping’ and make an enquiry with one of their available rental properties. You can see from the tenant’s point of view if the agent makes it an easy process and provides professional service that reflects your valuable investment.

6. How many vacant properties do they have?
Look at the availability date of all of the agency’s rental listings. ‘Available Now’ means the property is vacant and the owner is losing rental income. In most cases, properties should be advertised well before the tenants vacate, so that tenants can be secured BEFORE the property is vacant. If a high proportion of the agency’s properties on the rental market are actually vacant, this is a tell-tale sign of a lack in the agency’s procedures, pro-activity, and efficiency throughout the office. It also means that your property may remain vacant for longer than it should be.

7. How efficient is their office?
Your initial enquiry into the agency’s property management services is the first test of whether procedures are in place and working. Is your enquiry answered within 24 hours? Are all your questions answered professionally and truthfully? Do they follow through with what they say they will do? Do they follow up after the first contact? If this is not done when you are a POTENTIAL client, how can you expect any more once you are an ACTUAL client?

8. What do their clients say about them?
Most agencies feature testimonials on their websites. Unfortunately, you need to be wary of the authenticity of these, but you can spot the genuine ones. Look for a common theme, simple non-industry specific language, and an underlying emotional content. And look for the number of posts – there should be at least 20.

9. How ‘Tech Savvy’ are they?
Technology has revolutionised our industry, enabling Property Managers to provide a higher standard of service and complete their duties more efficiently. Your best representative will be the one who has kept up with these changes. Is the agency’s website kept up to date? Can you see recent blogs or newsletter articles? Do they offer an online portal where you can access information about your property 24/7? Do they use an online inspection booking system that tracks all rental enquiries so you don’t miss out on good tenants?

10. What kind of negotiators are they?
A good agent will negotiate on your behalf to get the highest rental price from the best tenants, the most competitive price from contractors, and the best outcome in tenancy dispute matters. All you need to ask an agent is ‘Will you discount your fees?’ If they do, they are telling you that they do not value their own service and they are lousy negotiators.