If you are interested in interviewing property management companies for your Greater New Haven real estate portfolio it is important to ask them key questions regarding their experience and what they can bring to the table. At Farm River Property Management LLC we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions that can help you gauge candidates.
Are you licensed?
In the state of Connecticut a property manager, working on behalf of a third party, must be a licensed real estate broker. At Farm River Property Management, Matt Hughes, is a licensed real estate broker with years of experience. He is also a member of various trade organizations. Utilizing a licensed real estate broker is one of the safest approaches to operating a property.
We have seen eviction suits prolonged because the tenant raised the point that the landlord was utilizing an unlicensed individual to manage the property and collect rents. This is a classic example of a budget minded landlord cutting corners and actually costing more money. Checking the license status is as simple as looking on the state of Connecticut website. Also it’s important to realize that certain types of property — condos for example— require further licensing
How many properties are you currently managing and what type?
At Farm River Property Management we have extensive experience in the residential leasing market. We have managed single family properties all the way up to apartment complexes. We have worked with in state landlords and out of country landlords. We also have experience with commercial and mixed use properties through out the New Haven area. Each property has its own challenges and we have the know how and infrastructure to manage them. Knowledge of the different types of challenges that each property presents is crucial to success.
What is your fee structure?
This is a big one. Most management companies charge a percent of the monthly income in addition to other fees such as leasing and maintenance. At Farm River Property Management we provide customizable services and our fee structure is transparent and part of the written contract between landlord and management. We are not the cheapest option and we have no intention on being the budget provider. In our experience, from soliciting bids for work on properties that we manage, the budget provider usually costs more in the long run. Many of our clients have come to us looking for prompt and responsive service, after having experienced the inherent issues with a budget provider.
What is communication like between manager and landlord?
At Farm River Property Management we have a simple policy: If the landlord doesn’t hear back from us by the end of the day during which they called, then lunch is on Farm River Property Management. We believe that responsiveness is a core value in our business.
How is the financial reporting handled?
At Farm River Property Management we provide computerized reporting customized to our clients needs. Our bookkeeper, Kathy, is always available to go over the reporting and answer any detailed questions you may have. We provide monthly and year end statements to all of our clients. At Farm River Property Management, our primary goal is to create value for our clients, and this makes it paramount that financial records are provided often and easy to access. Also making our team available to answer any questions is vitality important and a service that we freely provide.
How are tenants screened?
The most important factor to landlord success is to have good tenants. We utilize extensive screening that utilizes credit, criminal, background, income verification and reference verification. At Farm River Property Management we believe that trading a vacant property for a bad tenant, doesn’t solve a problem it merely creates a new one. There is no excuse for not vetting tenants as Connecticut has an elaborate eviction process.
How is maintenance handled?
We have a 24/7 call center dedicated to the tenant experience. Emergency issues are handled promptly and other issues are handled as soon as mutually convenient. We have long term relationships with vendors throughout the greater New Haven area and beyond, and make sure that all of our vendors pass rigorous screening. Making sure that a tenant is safe and comfortable in their unit is key to long term success as it cuts down on vacancy, leasing, and turn over costs — improving the tenant experience is key to Improving the landlord’s bottom line.
Do you have references?
Any manager in the business should be able to provide references from past clients. They should also have sturdy relationships with vendors, realtors, and attorneys. At Farm River Property Management we have a page on our website that is dedicated to our outstanding testimonials from long term clients.
Each company has different approaches to their contract. Some companies may insist on a one year commitment, while others may allow a month to month commitment. It is important to read and fully understand the term and the renewal periods under the agreement. However, in the real world, things don’t always go according to plan; to accommodate this most companies have a cancellation policy. It is important to understand the cancellation policy as it may contain penalties or may require notice. At Farm River Property Management our goal is to provide long term value to all of our customers.Even though we provide a flexible cancellation clause within our contract, we have never had a client cancel the policy because of dissatisfaction with our comprehensive services.
Do you personally have real estate investments?
This is not a make or break question, however it does give the client some insight into the managers experience and approach. While many people are attracted to real estate because of the passive income potential, somebody that is a manager and landlord has a better understanding of the hard work required to earn money the income. At Farm River Property Management, our broker/owner has direct and passive real estate interests as a landlord. This has given Farm River Property Management unique and relevant experience in the industry — while we understand that owning a property is full of surprises, the long term ownership benefits create ample opportunities.
Matthew Hughes is the Broker/owner of Farm River Property Management LLC. Matthew works with landlords and property owners to create value in today’s competitive real estate market. His business provides full services property management, brokerage and leasing services He has personally marketed hundreds of properties in Greater New Haven area. His website is www.frpmllc.com
This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of CTPOA