We talk to many owners and investors in the Austin area who have interest in property management for their properties in the Austin, Texas region. Everyone is in search of different levels of service and one owner may have needs that another doesn’t. Property management companies are pretty adaptable and can work with the landlords to customer tailor their services to their needs.
There is no denying Austin is a rental city with hordes of real estate investors flocking to the region for the past two decades. The majority of these investors are going to be located out of state and require a more hands-on property manager than those who are local owners. As an owner of rental properties located elsewhere, what should you expect from an Austin property manager? Below we review the A to Z of Austin Property Management!
When you own a rental property your favorite word is ‘rent’. It’s the stuff that keeps coming every month that makes your rental property a passive income asset. So when it comes to the rent for your property, what are a manager’s responsibilities?
- Setting Your Rental Rate: Calculating the rental amount for your property is more than just slapping a number on it and hoping it sticks and someone pays it. A multitude of outside factors are considered when determining this amount: location, comparable properties, school districts, historical prices, timing, etc. Your chosen Austin property manager should be keen on pricing your property just right! If you over price the property, your listing will be stale and the traffic will go elsewhere. Under price your unit and the next 12 months might not be your most profitable months. Curious what your Austin rental home will rent for? Receive a free rental property analysis from our Austin market expert!
- Collecting Your Rent: The Austin property management company you chose to work with is important! The manager you choose should be a trustworthy one as they will be responsible for collecting money and dispersing it to you every single month. If your manager hasn’t integrated the latest technology into their brokerage this can turn into a headache fast. You should elect to work with an Austin property manager who collects rent from your tenant(s) online. If they utilize a software like AppFolio, you’ll always be able to login to an owner portal and check the status of payments and balances!
- Adjusting the Rental Rate: Don’t forget about inflation and appreciation! Typically, property managers will follow a strict guideline for increasing the rental rate on your home every year. A 3-5% increase in rent every year is standard. However, tenant relationships are important and can sway this decision. For example, let’s imagine you’ve had the same tenants for the past 5 years and they are beginning to get priced out of your home. Is it worth it to keep raising their rent and force them out when you know they are reliable and pay on time every single month? These are factors to consider when deciding to raise the amount of rent on your Austin rental home.
What about when the tenants fail to pay the rent on time? You’ll be happy you’ve partnered with an experienced Austin property manager! From enforcing late fees to completely evicting the individual from your property, you’ll rest assured that it’s a headache you don’t have to be the owner of.
When we use the term rent, we are referring to your money. Be sure to hire an Austin property manager you can trust, not just the cheapest option!
The lifeblood of your Austin rental home: tenants. What should you expect from your Austin property manager when it comes to tenants for your property?
- Marketing Your Property: Vacancies are the true enemy here! When your property is vacant you aren’t earning money. If you hired just the average property manager you might even still be paying them during this vacancy… Finding tenants for your property is a tall task and your Austin property manager should be up to the job! Be sure to ask any manager you are considering what their process for marketing is. If they give you the same old spiel about listing it on the MLS you may not be getting the exposure your property deserves.
Are they providing tenants with a virtual walk though to tour your property from their phone?
Do they have established social media channels, like a Youtube channel for available Austin rental homes? Stone Oak Property Management has an in-house marketing team whom hold certifications with Google, Facebook and other digital marketing suites that we utilize to get your property the exposure it deserves!
- Screening Tenants: The Austin property manager you choose to work with should have a rigorous and consistent screening process for any tenant interested in your rental home. This can include background checks, credit checks, database checking and much more. Austin is a big city and if your property manager is experienced they should have experience with handling thousands of tenant applications and screening them so that the best tenant for your property is selected. You should end up with a tenant who pays rent on time, usually stay for a longer tenancy and overall create fewer problems for you and the management company.
- Leases and Legal Documents: Too often we speak with owner’s who managed by themselves and used a lease document that didn’t have the necessary addenda and clauses to protect the owner. When dealing with an Austin property manager, their lease should be bulletproof and include any and all major clauses that offer protection to the owner of the property.
- Move Outs: At the end of the lease, your property manager is responsible for ensuring the tenants are actually gone, inspecting the unit for damages, and determining the amount to be deducted from the initial security deposit if any. After that, you’re manager should quickly have your home rent ready after making and necessary repairs to the property.
- Evictions: Your property manager should be well versed in the process of doing so and at the same time rarely have to perform them. They should be able to handle the entire process from notices to writ of possession without ever involving you. When interviewing potential Austin property management companies, ask how many evictions they’ve had in the past 12 months. If any, this could speak negatively about their tenant screening process. Stone Oak Property Management hasn’t had to do an eviction for any of the properties we manage since 2016, but we do offer an Austin eviction service for self-managing owners and those who need help!
Maintenance & Repairs
It’s your property manager’s responsibility to keep your Austin rental home safe, inhabitable, and up to code!
- Maintenance: Your Austin property manager should perform preventative property maintenance to keep your property functioning correctly. They should have a team dedicated to addressing maintenance issues for your tenants with the goal of keeping your current tenants happy and attracting new, quality tenants.
- Repairs: For any repairs to your property, your manager will have a reserve account on file for you set to a certain monetary amount. For example, Stone Oak keeps $300 of our owner’s money in a trust account. If an issue arises and a repair that is needed costs less than this amount we will proceed with the repair without consulting with you, the owner. If the repair cost totals more than $300, we will contact you before proceeding with the repair. With that said, your Austin property manager should have an established network of vendors and tradesman they regularly work with at discounted rates. Any repairs done on your rental should cost less than if you were to contact the same service for your personal home! Stone Oak has vendor relationships from which you benefit from due to the bulk work we can provide to these vendors!
Landlord / Tenant Law
A great Austin property management company will have a staff with in-depth knowledge of Texas and national laws regarding the following:
- Tenant Screening
- Security Deposits
- Lease Termination
- Safety Standards
Tax & Record Keeping
Choosing an Austin property management company with great organizations skills can make your life easy!
- Track Records: Your manager should accurately keep records on all things concerning your Austin rental property. For example, Stone Oak Management uses AppFolio as our management software and it does wonders with putting our records together for you! Our owners can login via our website at anytime and check expenses for their property and track exactly what we are doing with their property!
- Property Taxes: Your Austin property manager should assist you in understanding how to file taxes for your investment property. Property taxes seem a bit high? Our Austin property management company will even protest your property taxes with tax assessor’s office!
Who you choose to manage your Austin rental property matters. You’re essentially hiring a third party that will act as an extension of you to your tenant’s, vendors, etc so make sure you can trust them! There is no shortage of Austin property management companies so be sure to shop around and talk to as many different sources as you can and address the different points from this article. Your Austin rental property is a valuable asset that will benefit from having the right systems in place for it to thrive!