If you've decided to take the leap as an investor and begin working with a Sarasota property management company, you're probably wondering how you can find one you can trust.
Here at Gulf Coast Property Management, we've been serving the Sarasota and Manatee County area since 2003, so we have some experience under our belts when it comes to what renters are looking for in a rental home—and what property investors should be looking for in a property management partner!
Instead of putting your investment portfolio on the line in the hands of an unknown, it's important to take your time to thoroughly 'vet' your property management pick—just like you would with any contractor or vendor. The process isn't that much different, except there are a few key traits you want to look for in a property manager that won't come up during the hunt for the perfect plumber!
Here are some of the key areas to target when screening any property management professional you may want to work with, courtesy from your rental experts here at Gulf Coast!
Don't Discount the Power of Google
In the wake of COVID-19, it's worth reading reviews left on any business page with a grain of salt. However, the power of a local referral (or in this case, an online one!) when it comes to Sarasota property management is not to be dismissed. There's a reason why Google reviews now hold such sway over whether your business will be successful: people trust word-of-mouth recommendations!
In the high-tech world we find ourselves in, a Google review is the equivalent of your next-door neighbor saying, 'Hey—these guys are alright!' or the complete opposite. You'll rarely find a review online where someone lists a company as 'middling,' so it's worth combing through either extreme presented to see if you notice any patterns in behavior.
- Is your property management pick consistently ranked as a great communicator?
- What do renters have to say about their rental experience under their care?
- Are there any recommendations from out-of-state investors?
- Do they respond professionally to complaints?
The last two are particularly important because they highlight how adept your potential property management partner is at handling your investment portfolio in Sarasota completely 'hands-free.' It's a safe wager that if your property management partner can't successfully navigate the needs of out-of-state investors, they won't be able to handle your properties if you live next door! By the same token, a company that responds with threats or a foul attitude likely isn't someone you want to partner with.
Work With a Local
There are national property management chains, there are 'hobbyist' property managers, and then there are the local experts. The latter is what you want when picking the right partner for your investment. A lot of the larger chains will advertise that their 'nationwide experience' benefits you—but as any investor knows, Sarasota rental real estate is a completely different animal from the Albany, NY market! To be successful in Sarasota property investing, you need a Sarasota property management company that lives, works, and plays in the area.
Choosing a local (but professional) property management company will ensure you have the right support when marketing your rental property, screening your renters, and navigating the unique nature of Florida's rental laws, among other services. A local will also understand the area surrounding your rental property far better than any national chain will, which makes it far easier to appeal to what renters in Sarasota want in their next home.
If your potential property management partner doesn't know what they need to about the Sarasota area, it's likely they won't be able to maximize your property's true value and leverage any marketing skills they have to great effect. That said, while it's important to stick with a local company, you also don't want to fall into the hands of a 'hobbyist' property manager.
These are property management companies whose primary focus is on buying and selling real estate with a dash of property management tacked onto the side. Pick a property management partner whose primary focus is property management: this will ensure you'll get the skills, services, and expertise you need to have a successfully managed rental property.
Investigate Their Policies
This is where you dive deeper than the surface level of a Google review or a quick glance at some Better Business Bureau ratings! You need to get into the nuts and bolts of your potential property management partner and see how they 'tick' under some serious magnification.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions: any property management partner you pick has to earn your trust—not the other way around.
- Make sure you understand their pricing structure and fees, as well as what those fees entail and the services covered.
- Investigate the kind of marketing services they offer and the materials they use to pursue potential applicants:
- How devoted are they to ensuring they find you the right renter faster?
- Do they have a professional website where they showcase their available rentals?
They say that 'Honesty is the best policy,' and this is no less true with your potential property management pick. If their policies and pricing structure aren't transparent—and if they aren't willing to explain the services they provide—you're better off working with a different Sarasota property management partner.
Even if you can't interview a prospect in person, they should still be able to answer all of your questions over the phone or even by Zoom call, with examples at the ready for the kind of marketing they can provide.
Choose the Best: Choose Gulf Coast
At Gulf Coast Property Management, we believe we provide the very best management services to investors in Sarasota County. We have nothing to hide about what we do, so if you have questions about how our skills can benefit you, reach out to us to get a dialogue started!
We also recommend that you download our Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Investment, one of the many free resources we offer to property owners to help boost your ROI.