My wife and I are often asked how we like working together as professional property managers and how we cope with all of the problems associated with our profession. Working side-by-side for some 35 years actually makes our lives as property managers easier. Tasks can be split between the two of us and one can cover for the other when needed. We actually complement each other’s work and now are blessed to have our Son, Daughter and Son-in-law taking the business into the future as we slow down towards retirement.
Individually, property management can be a very interesting and rewarding career. There are many different fields within property management, most of which require licensing. If you manage property for individuals and are paid a fee in the State of Florida, you must have a real estate license. Specialized training and professional property management designations are obtainable through on-line courses or through trade organizations such as the National Association of Residential Property Managers. Some managers specialize in long-term residential property or short-term vacation rentals and there are those who prefer to handle only commercial properties. Association and condominium management are also specialties. Although some agents want to use their real estate licenses to handle several of these categories as well as sales, we have found that concentrating on one specialty (long-term residential management) makes us the best at what we do.
Property managers usually work regular hours, but they are often on call 24/7. If a problem comes up at any hour, they must be available to solve it. A good office staff and answering service can help ease some of the routine decisions, but the property manager has the ultimate responsibility for the property they manage. Managers have to make maintenance decisions, they must screen and decide who will make the best tenants, and they need to know the market to optimize rent and communicate information to their owners.
Life as a professional property manager is never dull which is why we love what we do. We are constantly learning and solving daily situations with maintenance, tenants and owners. A manager must like to deal with the public and possess good old-fashioned common sense. They must hire competent and licensed maintenance people to take care of repairs and be well versed in all aspects of a property from the construction to the lawn. During inspections, a keen eye can detect potential problems such as roof repair, wood rot, or appliance failure. Proactive decision making and experience are the most important traits of a manager.
The fees for managing rental property vary, but are usually a small percentage of the rent collected. Agents who sell property make large commissions and find it hard to understand why property managers put up with the aggravations of our profession for such a small fee. The answer is steady residual income. The small fees come in each month as rent is collected and continue to grow as the manager’s business and experience increases.
Our family, staff and property managers enjoy what we do. When an investor or property owner comes to us with a problem of non-paying tenants, damages or a maintenance issue, we derive satisfaction in turning the situation around and turning a property into a profitable investment. It is always better to have a professional “middle man” that is not emotionally attached to the property to deal with tenants and issues common to leasing real estate.
-J. Matthew Scheel | Owner of Sundance Rental Management, Inc.