10 qualities to look for when hiring your next property manager

Amanda Maher
Amanda Maher | 7 min. read

Published on February 2, 2018

Some people are hesitant to hire a property manager. Could someone possibly care for your property as well as you? Even established property management companies might be hesitant about hiring someone new for their team. After all, a bad hire can be incredibly disruptive to a business.

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It’s nearly impossible to guarantee that someone will be a good fit for your company or property. That said, in our experience, it is possible to screen for a number of important characteristics that great property managers often have.

So, without further ado, here are 10 qualities of a good property manager—whether you’re a property owner or a growing property management company.

#1: Experience

This one is a given. When interviewing a prospective property manager, ask a series of probing questions. How many properties have they managed previously? Do they have any experience turning around troubled properties? A good property manager will also have thorough knowledge of local real estate laws, regulations, and standard operating procedures.

#2: An Investor Mindset

To the point at the beginning of this article—you want to be sure that a property manager is going to care for your property as if it were his or her own. The best way to do that is to have an investor mindset. Even novice property managers should have a basic understanding of the difference between internal rate of return (IRR) and net present value (NPV). They should be able to calculate cap rates and cash-on-cash returns.

Having an investor mindset helps property managers to see the “big picture” and equips them to make important business decisions, like when to offer rent concessions and what to spend money on. A candidate who lacks knowledge of these concepts shouldn’t automatically be disqualified, but you’ll want to be sure that they show a willingness to learn more about real estate investing.

#3: Patience

Property management can be stressful at times. A successful property manager needs to have an innate ability to be patient—with contractors who are behind schedule; with unruly tenants; with investors who can sometimes have unrealistic expectations.

When interviewing a potential property manager, look for someone who seems willing to listen. Look for someone who has great customer service skills. Gauge whether a person will be able to handle complaints and stressful situations with grace. If a candidate does not have direct property management experience, be sure they have some sales or customer service experience.

#4: Aggressiveness

This might seem counterintuitive, given #3 above, but successful property management is really a balancing act. Most of the time, property managers will need to be patient—but on rare occasions, a property manager will need to be aggressive. He will need to track down rent late payments. She will need to hold a contractor’s feet to the fire. The ability to be aggressive, when necessary, is a quality to look for in a potential property manager.

#5: Professionalism

The ability to be patient at times and aggressive at others requires a property manager with the upmost professionalism. A candidate must be able to get along well with residents, contractors, and others in a kind but firm manner—especially when dealing with sensitive business matters. We always look for someone who speaks professionally, treats others with respect, and dresses for success.

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#6: Strong Communication Skills

A strong property manager should have exceptional communication skills, both written and oral. They should be able to convey to you (and residents) what’s happening at the property at any given point in time. Clear, precise communication helps to reduce the incidence of disputes and ensures that your team (and the properties under your purview) runs like a well-oiled machine.

#7: Organization

Property management has so many moving parts. A property manager could be leasing one unit, renewing leases for another, renovating another, and managing eviction proceedings for yet another. In order to stay on top of all of these details, a property manager must have exceptional organizational skills. When interviewing candidates, ask how they stay organized on the busiest of days. Their response will give you insight into how they manage multiple competing tasks at once.

#8: Tech-Savviness

The property management industry is evolving at rapid speed. New technologies are being introduced all of the time, from software applications to hardware that enables landlords to conduct self-showings. It’s important that candidates are comfortable using technology because sooner or later, your business will want to jump on the #proptech bandwagon to stay competitive with your peers.

#9: Flexibility

Inevitably, things go wrong. A tenant might go off the grid and stop paying rent. The landscaping company might forget to do the year-end cleanup. A landlord might forget to send you certain paperwork. In the property management industry, someone’s ability to manage through problems is critical.

One quality we look for in a property management candidate is their ability to be flexible. This is a tough quality to screen for, so you might have to get creative. Consider rescheduling the interview on short notice, or “get stuck in traffic” and show up to the interview 15 minutes late. See how the person responds to the change. Do they seem agitated? Understanding? These little tests can be really insightful when interviewing prospective property managers.

#10: Ingenuity

There’s no blueprint for property management. Each property is different. Every investor’s goals are slightly different. Sometimes, it takes a little ingenuity to manage a property successfully. Look for someone who seems willing to think outside the box.

Bonus Trait: Commitment to Ongoing Education

Okay, confession—we couldn’t keep our list to just 10 qualities of a good property manager! So here’s a bonus trait for you to consider: A candidate’s commitment to ongoing education, which goes hand-in-hand with all of the qualities listed above.

Hands-down, our favorite question to probe further in this regard is by asking candidates what they read. Some will say they that don’t have time to read (gulp!), while others may tell you they read the news. Some may read fiction, while others may read business education or professional development books. Look for someone whose reading choices support ongoing industry education and professional development.

Again, it’s almost impossible to find a “perfect” property manager. Some people’s skills will be stronger in one area of the business than others. Regardless of their hard skills, however, you’ll want to find someone who displays these 10 (err—11!) time-tested qualities of a good property manager.

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Already have a great property manager, but are looking for ways to run your properties more efficiently? Discover 7 steps for choosing the right property management software for your business.

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Amanda Maher

Amanda Maher is a self-proclaimed policy wonk who dabbles in real estate law. She holds a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University, as well as a master's in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern.

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