So whether you're a property owner who pays for property management services or an agent who provides, it, I have a good idea of your state of mind right now - and it's not pretty!
I know what you're going through as a client of a property management firm. I know how hard its to feel satisfied with your property manager, with your property; or with just about anything in the real estate market these days. But I'm on the company side, so I know how hard we work to please you, and that no matter how much effort we invest, we can never make everyone happy.
So sit back and let me share with you a refreshing insight into what is perhaps the most conflicted industry on earth - and especially in Tampa... Property Management!
To everyone out there who is dissatisfied with their property manager: I know why you hate us. First of all, people of our ilk - Realtors - helped you buy that piece-of-garbage property in the first place without disclosing to you that the parking lot moonlights as a meth-lab. Didn't they know what kind of area this was? Why didn't they tell you?!?
Never mind that the average Realtor in Florida is a 53 year old female with an average yearly income of $33,900 who wouldn't be caught dead anywhere near the income property that she was trying to sell to you. She should have known that this community was on a downward spiral and rents would fall 20% over the next 2 years. She also should have known that the maintenance and turnover expenses required to rehab the property every time your tenant's lease expires would completely devour your operating profits, turning your income property into a loss property.
And how about that recommendation to rent. She never told you that you'd be stuck with this decision for the term of the lease and that you couldn't ask the tenant to leave as soon as you changed you mind and wanted to sell Or that as soon as the tenant moved in, things that worked perfectly in the past would suddenly break and you'd have to pay through the nose to fix them? And that when the tenant finally did move out, that a little thing called "wear and tear" would prevent you from holding on to most of the security deposit.
And how about Section 8! She told you that you could rent the home to a Section 8 tenant.What she didn't say was that it takes 2 months to get your first rent payment from the local housing authority; that your "perfect" home would require thousands of dollars in repairs to get it Section 8 approved; and then once the tenant moved in, EVERYTHING would be your responsibility - the tenant set fire to your home (by accident, of course), it will be classified by Section 8 as an emergency repair, and you will be required to make the repair at your expense within 24 hours or your rental income will be forfeited.
You're biggest complaint about us is that NO ONE TOLD YOU ANYTHING! And now that the home is being taken care of by a property manager, still no one is telling you anything. You have to call every time you need an update; no one ever seems to know the full story of what's going on at your property; maintenance expenses are too high; it takes too long to rent your home; and the fact that you have to pay us 10% of collections is the straw that breaks the under-performing back of this ugly camel.
To everyone out there who is a manager of rental properties: Your clients two favorite phrases are: IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT and YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. You know that with the 1000 moving parts that comprise our industry, there's no way you could be responsible for everything. But your client thinks you are. There's also no way you could have known everything - but your client thinks you should!
You should have known that the tenant would default on their lease; that they would damage the wood floors; that they would lie to you and bring a pet into the property; that they would forget to water the lawn and kill it!
Not only should you have know these things, but it's all your fault that the house took so long to rent; that the rent price the owner was demanding was too high; that the HOA didn't process the application in time to retain the tenant. You weren't watching the house carefully enough, so the tenant let the lawn die. You didn't give good-enough move-in instructions, so they damaged a perfectly good house. And its your fault that they moved out still owing money - you should have done a better job with collections.
It's a funny relationship we property managers and our property owners have. We need each other, yet we hate each other. Our industry pays when things are easiest (when rents are flowing in and maintenance is light), but we don't get paid when we have to work the hardest (when evictions happen, when tenants withhold rents, when we knock on the door and no one answers...). There's also a reverse relationship between quality and pay. The worse the properties are, the less you want to pay, but the more time they take to manage.
You clients demand an expert - an average Realtor won't do. But the pay for management is light which means that we have to manage a lot of properties to make money, which in turn leads to the conclusion that you either hire an inexperienced part-time-Realtor-part-time manager or you retain large management firm who might not give you the time and attention you demand. There's no in between in this business.
Yet in spite of the conflict, we stay together. It all seems to work because the challenges of togetherness are nothing compared to the headache of independence. You're hiring us to manage your property, but that doesn't mean you can wash you hands to this. We need your help in decisions and we need our expectations to be aligned. And there's no question that you need help - that's why you hired us in the first place. Remember those mid-night maintenance calls?
I make this commitment to both parties - managers and clients. It won't always be this way. Our industry is morphing at light-speed. Consolidation; economies of scale; technology; all these things are making it easier for us to offer more for less. The gulf - measured by size and services - is wider than ever between the small one-man-shows and the mega-managers. Competition is keeping costs flat even though there's no contest between what we can offer you and what Joe-Realtor can do.