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All Things Property Management

All Things Property Management is a one-stop destination for folks interested in learning more about managing real estate. Broken down into a variety of targeted columns, the information that you are looking for is easily accessible — from investing tips and best practices in The Intelligent Investor to the real-life dilemmas of property managers in Stories from the Front Lines. We’ve brought on contributing writers from across the country to share their respective expertise with you, whether you’re a landlord, a professional property manager, or an association board member. Your feedback, participation, and comments will help us deliver the information you need most.

10 Property Management Pitfalls

A few weeks ago, we talked about 10 Signs of Property Management Success. This week, we’re going to take a look at the flip side of that coin, reviewing some indicators that it may be time to make some changes (after all, the time for New Years’ resolutions is just around the corner!). Following are a few red flags to keep an eye out for in your property management business.

1. Lack of referrals – This applies to both tenants and property owners. In an ideal scenario, you should be creating a web of referrals that expands year after year. If you’re not, it may mean that: 1) existing tenants and clients aren’t confident enough in your work to refer you or 2) business-building incentive programs are not in place.

2. Haphazard organizational systems – If your office doesn’t have an organizational system in place for things like accounting, rent payment tracking, and maintenance requests, your efficiency and accuracy may be taking a hit. An investment in property management software will pay off big in the long-run.

3. Sporadic maintenance schedule – Staying on top of regular maintenance (like winterizing) and repairs will keep your property value up and your tenants happy. Creating and sticking to an annual maintenance check-list is the most sure-fire way to stay on track.

4. High turn-over – This applies not only to your tenants, but also to your property management staff. While people move on for any number of reasons (both personal and professional) , a consistent pattern of frequent turn-over indicates it’s time to take a look at your property management and business management practices. Happy tenants and employees both tend to stick around.

5. Offline – Are your apartment listings online? If not, they should be.  Dip into the online rental listing pool through sites like Craigslist.

6. Slow response time – Do you make a point of getting back to rental queries and tenant communications within a 24-hour period? If not, you could be losing out on potential tenants and letting your tenants’ best interests fall to the wayside.

7. Lack of goals – Having both long-term and short-term goals helps ensure your business not only stays on track, but continues to grow and improve over time. If you have not yet made a point of establishing business goals for yourself, 2011 is the perfect time to start.

8. Missed annual review – Speaking of goals, a great way to determine areas for growth and improvement is through the completion of a thorough annual review. Reviewing your properties, tenants, staff, office procedures, accounts, and marketing programs on an annual basis and honestly identifying your successes and failures will help your business continue to grow and improve. Not doing so can result in stagnancy and missed opportunities for improved processes, cutting costs, and streamlining.

9. Non-compliance – Do you make a point of attending seminars or other informational gatherings at least once a year to learn about changes to FHA, ADA, and other federal, state, and local law changes that may affect you and your property? If not, it’s important to begin doing this immediately—laws change quickly and it’s all too easy to fall out of compliance without realizing it.

10. Slacking on screening – Though it can be a cumbersome process, it’s essential that each and every tenant has a credit and criminal background check, employment verification, referrals from past landlords, and personal references. The more thorough you are, the better tenants you will have.

No business is perfect—chances are you have not yet mastered every single area on this list. But looking for business elements to improve is one of the best ways to build a red-hot property management company.

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