First, there is the brokerage firm with a rental department model. These companies list and sell houses for a living, and have a “rental department” in the basement. Some of them do management well enough but their agents are always torn between showing a home for sale, and showing a home for rent. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that agents make a lot more money on a sale than they do renting a house. Most agents refuse to work with renters because it just doesn’t pay enough. Call around and you’ll hear lots of brokerage firms say, “We don’t do property management”. They understand how different sales and leasing are and experience has taught them they don’t mix well. When they do manage rentals, it’s a sideline to their brokerage operation and not their core business. A few are doing it because they have to not because they want to. Most will admit it is a necessary evil because they want to appear to be a full service company. You will recognize these companies by looking at their website. Most of them don’t even mention their management department and their company advertising fails to mention they manage rentals. It’s just not worth promoting.
Then there is the mom and pop cottage business model.
In any town there are agents that manage a few houses out of their home. They are generally learning the business and some are even trying to grow it into a real company. We have bought out 12 of these companies over the last 15 years and watched many others close their doors and go out of business. Property management is tougher than it looks. Lots of agents go into it thinking it’s just an extension of their sales business, only to discover that it’s a completely different business than they expected. Many get into property managing when times get tough and get out when sales return. These businesses come and go and often leave the property owner in a stranded.
Lastly, there is the freestanding property management company.
This is the company that does property management as a primary business. Their staff has designations from the property management trade organizations and they pride themselves in the property management training they have received. They see property management as a profession and have studied it as such. They have offices and staff to handle the varied issues of managing, and they are marketing property management as their core business. This company has developed several rent payment options for their tenants, has varied ways to disburse to their owners, are members of the credit bureau, are posting available properties on the big national rental hosting web sites (not just in the local multiple listing service), and attend the local property management trade association meetings. They have professional designations in property management and have taken the time to learn the intricacies of this business. There are plenty of these companies in every town. You just have to know what your’re are looking for.