Austin Property Management Blog

Should I Get a Home Warranty for My Austin Rental Property?

Grant Williams - Monday, January 4, 2021

Having been in property management for over 10 years, Stone Oak Property Management has worked with our fair share of vendors in different industries. One industry our owners are always checking to make sure we work with are home warranty companies. As a leading Austin property management company, Stone Oak advises our current and potential clientele to leave the home warranty policy behind. While a home warranty policy can seem attractive on paper, typically they just add another layer of work on top of any issues with your rental property. 

Typically a Home Warranty is “gifted” to our property owners during the purchase of a rental property to enhance the perceived value of the property “deal“. Other times they are purchased by the home buyer/owner that may be afraid of an avalanche of maintenance costs. In both cases, the perception of value is far greater than what will typically ever be realized.  Not only will the value prove to be less than was hoped for, the aftermath of trying to utilize it can cost you in a number of untold ways.

In every case, the first action the Home Warranty company will do, when contacted by your property management company, is seek to deny your claim.  If they cannot disallow the claim through the fine details of the contract, they will arrange for a vendor to go to diagnose the issue, and further try to disallow the claim using terms like negligence, life expectancy, improper maintenance, etc.  Regardless of what they determine, you will be charged a fee for their trip.  Typically that is around 75 dollars, whether they do anything or not.

The two major items that they can on occasion help offset the replacement costs on are the water heater and HVAC system.  Assuming you had a property inspection at the time of purchase, you likely know approximately how old your water heater is, and if it is approaching 8 plus years in age this could become a consideration, though a typical complete replacement of a standard residential water heater is around 1200 dollars - or roughly two years premiums for Home Warranty coverage.  So let's say you keep the money in your reserves that you would have paid the Home Warranty Company instead, if the water heater lasts just three more years, you are way ahead financially.

If the diagnosis requires a repair or replacement of a water heater they usually find a way to stick the homeowner with the bulk of the cost.  They always say the unit must be brought up to code and will give a price higher than our cost of replacing the unit.  The warranty will not replace the unit unless the additional money is spent to bring it up to code, and they will not send other vendors to bid the job nor will they allow ours to do so.  This is just one example of how they increase your cost and provide the bare minimum. 

So that leaves us with the Air Conditioner.  This is where they scare you and sell you., and this is the area that will cause you the greatest discontent, extreme upset, and disloyalty from your residents.

In the hot summers of Austin, every HVAC breakdown is critical, and rapid response is crucial in maintaining strong resident appreciation and ultimately retention.  Home Warranty companies DO NOT accept after-hours calls, and the vendors do not do after-hours work even if the call was received during business hours.  It is not uncommon to get a call from a resident on a Friday afternoon that cannot even be assigned a vendor until Monday morning when dealing with home warranty companies.  When a claim is made it is put in the queue of vendors that often means they will not get an actual visit to the property for at least 3-5 days.  So in this scenario, we could have a resident go well over a week with no air conditioning in order to access home warranty benefits.  Sometimes if it is something simple they are able to do a quick repair and the home warranty serves its purpose, but most of the time what we see is that the vendor has to report back with a diagnosis and seek approval from the home warranty company.   This can lengthen the process and then if the home warranty approves the work they have to order parts and/or schedule a follow-up visit that further delays the repair all the while the tenant is without AC.

In addition to that delay, which is not the exception, rather the norm, there are other problems that come from warranty contractors.  The people that are sent to do the work are not vetted by us and we have no control over the customer experience with your resident. They are paid flat, predetermined amounts for work that is usually under market rates thus they may cut corners or do otherwise shoddy work. 

Financially, we have to consider the reality of what they are selling as well.  These contracts typically range from $450-$850 depending on the company, coverage, etc.  The reality is that they would go out of business pretty quickly if they were paying for $1200 water heaters or $5000 HVAC replacements on a regular basis. 

These are only a few points that come from our experience with dozens of home warranties, of which most are overall terrible while others are ok to work with even though we end up with similar results.  Some other points that contribute to our assessment without getting into the details are long delays in getting vendors to the property including some that go on for weeks, vendors failing to show up or respond, long wait times to get someone on the phone to file or follow up on claims, and no urgency when an actual emergency repair is required to protect your asset. 

In summary, understand what you may be purchasing.  In our opinion, it all but guarantees your residents dissatisfaction when living in your Austin rental home and having maintenance issues. Tenants will definitely remember these things when it is time to renew and it's in our client's best interest to keep rent-paying tenants in their properties!

Have questions about your rental property and the different protections you can offer it? Contact our team of Austin property managers today to learn more about our company & services!

103 Insider Loop Available for Lease in Elgin, Texas!

Grant Williams - Tuesday, December 15, 2020

103 Insider Loop, Elgin, TX 78621

1,539 SF | 3 Bed | 2 Bath

Visit our 'Rentals' page to learn more and view our available Austin rental homes.

12292 Mulligan Glen Court C Available for Lease in Austin, Texas!

Grant Williams - Wednesday, December 9, 2020

12292 Mulligan Glen Court Unit C, Austin, TX 78753

1,266 SF | 2 Bed | 2 Bath

Learn more about this home and view more available Austin rental properties on our Rentals page. 

_________________________________________________________________________

Own a rental property like this? Learn more about our Austin property management services

Austin Home for Lease: 10302 Stubble Quail Circle

Grant Williams - Monday, November 23, 2020


10302 Stubble Quail Circle, Austin, TX 78758

1,324 SF | 4 Bed | 2 Bath

Apply for this home today or view this and other Austin, Texas homes for rent from Stone Oak Property Management!

Austin, Texas Leasing Market Update | November 2020

System - Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The markets in Austin & the Central Texas area are still going strong. We were not sure how COVID-19 would affect the housing market and more importantly the local economy, but we keep getting surprised.

The rental market has slowed as we enter the tail end of the year, but we believe it to be seasonal. We are still leasing homes every week and our economy is strong in Central Texas. In September, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) stated that our unemployment rate for Texas is 6.8 percent and 5.5 in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. “Texas is below the national seasonally adjusted rate of 8.4 percent" and the rate has been slowly dropping and is now the lowest since March 2020.

The market for homes for sale has not slowed down. The demand for housing in greater Austin is fueled greatly because we don't have the inventory to meet the demands of everyone trying to move to the area. Affordable houses are being sold well over asking prices after a bidding war and often without inspection periods. Our brokerage and sister company, Central Metro Realty, has had consecutive record months since July. People are still flocking to the Austin area from states like New Jersey, New York, Arizona and California where the cost of living is higher than here, at least for now.

Many housing experts and economists point to the virus as a potential reason for the surge in the suburbs for both sales and leasing. People are looking for more space, have less commuting to do and this has driven them to suburbs in droves. They are ditching their high-end, expensive apartments and seeking single-family homes for accommodation which is driving an increase in rents for single-family rentals across the country. 

All the while, we are pleased that people are paying their rent. Less than 5% of our tenants are in delinquency status, which is significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, yet still indicative of a relatively strong residential rental and job market.  This is in spite of the ban on evictions being in place until the end of the year. 

We are fortunate to be in a market that is able to experience growth like Austin, as the influx of people to the city continues to drive the strong market. With Tesla bringing their new factory to the area and Apple building their new campus right up here by Stone Oak's offices, we feel strongly about the Austin housing market going forward.

If you have any further questions about the leasing market or property management services for Austin rental homes, please don't hesitate to contact our team at Stone Oak Property Management. 

Stone Oak Property Management
512.617.6766
Contact Us

1200 E 11th Street #304 For Rent in Austin, Texas

Grant Williams - Friday, November 6, 2020

1200 E 11th Street #304, Austin, TX 78702

513 SF | 1 Bed | 1 Bath

For more information about this apartment for rent visit the 'Rentals' tab of our website.

What Does an Austin Property Management Company Do?

Grant Williams - Monday, November 2, 2020

Whether you own a portfolio of rental properties, a single unit or you’re thinking about investing in rental properties you may have looked into the operational side of things and have been considering hiring an Austin property management company to handle your property(s). 

If you own properties already you may have considered a property manager in the past or may have even worked with one, but if you’re new to investing in Austin real estate you still may be weighing the benefits of hiring a property manager to manage your property. After all, a rental property is an investment vehicle and everyone, regardless of industry, should be looking to make their investments do more for them. 

It’s popular for new real estate investors wanting to acquire a rental property in the Austin area to think that real estate is this passive, headache-free investment that will net them serious profit for years to come. Some feel that once you place tenant things get easier from there and you collect your passive rental income. If only that were true..

The truth is, once a property has a tenant things become more hands-on for rental property owners. Prior to having tenants living in your property, you only had to worry about what you thought about it and your goal was to find a tenant to live there. Now that you have someone living there things get much “louder” and hands-on. Are you ready to answer the phone at 3 am due to your tenants busting a pipe and needing you to act right away? If not, you should consider working with an Austin property management company

So, what does an Austin property management company do for rental property owners & investors?

An excellent Austin property manager will handle nearly all of the details and day-to-day for your rental property. This encompasses everything from marketing & finding tenants to live in your home to collecting rent and performing maintenance on the home. Bear in mind that not all Austin property management contracts are the same and not all Austin property managers are equal. Regardless, some of the basic duties you should expect from an Austin property management company are:

Setting the Correct Rent Rate for Your Austin Area Rental Home

Your property manager should be familiar with the neighborhood in which your rental property is located. This is key, as your property manager will be tasked with researching comparable properties to your home in the area and determining the max your rental property can receive in monthly rent. A variety of different factors play into how much you can earn every month aside from just where your located, such as:

There can be other factors at play and your property manager should let you know if they can think of anything once they walk the property with you for the first time. Determining an accurate rental rate is important and will set the stage for your rental property’s financial health and your investment margins going forward. Your Austin property manager should review your property before they list it for rent so you will have input on what your property is listed at. Just know that a lot of times property owners and investors can expect unrealistic amounts in rent that the market won’t support. Your best bet is to partner with a property management company that sticks to the data that the market provides. 

You can learn how much your Austin rental property can earn in monthly rent by requesting a CMA packet from Stone Oak Property Management.

Your Property Manager Will Ensure Your Property Meets the Guidelines Set Forth in the Texas Property Code

Upon first inspection, your property manager should be eye-balling your property and looking for anything that goes against the guidelines set forth in the Texas Property Code. Some common mistakes that go against Texas Property Code we run across when meeting with new clients at their rental property(s) are:

  • Rental property owners are required to provide keyless deadbolts on all exterior doors of the property.

  • Any sliding glass doors on the property must have a bar or pin lock that prevents them from being slid open.

  • Smoke alarms must be present in all bedrooms and common areas of the home.

  • Exterior doors must have a window or peephole for the occupants to view outside.  


These are some common errors we run across on our initial inspection of rental properties in the Austin, Texas area. You’ll want to make sure you partner with an Austin property management company that has the experience and a full understanding of the Texas Property Code so you don’t face any issues down the road. 

Marketing & Leasing Your Austin Area Rental Property

Your property manager should know, to a reasonable degree, how fast they should be able to find a tenant for your rental property. For example, Stone Oak’s rental properties average a total of 23 days on the market over the last 6 months. This is achieved via a combination of offline and online marketing practices that provide the best exposure for your rental home to the most qualified pool of tenants. Good marketing starts with great photos, so if your property manager shows up with a camera phone they are doing you a disservice. 

Another thing to ask if the property manager is a part of the local MLS systems, ABOR or WCAOR in Williamson County. If not, your property won’t be listed on the MLS and will be at an extreme disadvantage when trying to find tenants or to even give tenants the ability to view the property. 

Transparency in the leasing process is important. While some property managers will provide you with periodic updates here and there, some have robust systems that keep you in the know every step of the way! If you’ve ever ordered a pizza from Domino’s Pizza you’ll know they have a tool that lets you know where your pizza is, from the moment you order your pizza to it leaving the oven and arriving at your door. Our property management company is happy to provide a similar tool via our technology partners. With Stone Oak Property Management, you’ll know exactly where your property is in the leasing process.  



The screenshot above is an example of the type of system owners are provided with for their property when Stone Oak Property Management is leasing the home. Owners are kept in the loop throughout the leasing process and are able to check the status of their property at any time by logging in to the portal provided to them! Renters can provide feedback that shows up directly for you and your property manager to review. 


Find and Placing *Quality* Tenants

We want to emphasize the term ‘quality’ here, because some Austin property managers see it as their job to find a tenant as quickly as possible and place them in your rental property, regardless of any red flags that might come up. That is the wrong approach to finding tenants for your Austin rental property and can cause major headaches for you, the owner, down the road. The Austin property management company you choose to manage your rental property should have strict criteria set forth and should hold all tenants to that same standard. 

Be very wary of any company that wants to place the first tenant that applies regardless of credit score or any of the criteria that should be considered. With COVID-19 and the restrictions put in place for evictions, finding quality, rent-paying tenants is more important than ever right now to ensure your property’s financial health. Be sure that any property manager you trust with your property has proper protocols and criteria in place to ensure you don’t get stuck with a dud tenant or you may be forced to shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to go through the eviction process.

Managing Tenant Move-Outs & Evictions

Tenant move-outs are a crucial part of the process. When your previous tenant’s move-out, your Austin property manager should walk the property to assess any damages or potential issues left behind by the tenant. Your property manager should be experienced in knowing what to look for so that all issues can be addressed and deducted from the tenant's deposit before you are legally required to give the money back. 

It is important to find an Austin property management company that has a team in place for maintenance. Typically, they’ll have better processes and systems in place to accurately detail the condition of your property and know what to look for going forward. Per the aforementioned Texas Property Code, you have 30 days to return a tenant’s deposit with a full ledger accounting for any work done to the property that the cost would be deducted from their deposit. If your property manager doesn’t act quickly or doesn’t understand the importance of this time period, you can be left paying the tenant 3x the deposit in damages.

Your Austin property manager will also be your line of defense when it comes to evictions. Be sure to partner with a property manager who tries to work with tenants when issues arise, but also knows how to navigate the JP court system here in Texas. Swift action should be taken to remove any problem tenants before it starts to seriously affect you and your finances as the owner of the property!

At Stone Oak Property Management, our team is proficient with evictions and handling the Travis and Williamson County JP Courts. A division of our property management company has been set up to handle evictions for our clients as well as those we don’t provide property management too. You can learn more about our team at Texas Tenant Evictions and how we handle evictions on our website. 

Rent Collection & Managing Finances

Collecting rent from your tenants and disbursing that to you every month is a task performed by your property management company. This includes handling late payments, partial rent payments, & staying on top of tenants and other financial issues that can come up for tenant’s. (Going back to placing *quality* tenants, this is why this it’s important!). 

Your property management company should make it as easy as possible for tenants to pay their rent. If they are still requiring checks to come into the office you should look at partnering with a property manager who is a little more tech-savvy. Your Austin property management company should provide your tenants with the ability to pay their rent from all of their electronic devices. The easier it is for tenants to pay their bill, the more likely they are to pay it!

Not only that, but owners (you!) should be provided with a portal that they can visit to review the finances on your property. You’ll want to be sure you partner with an Austin property manager who operates with full transparency on your property and its finances or you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of! Austin property management companies that are transparent should provide an owner portal to you to log in at any time and check on your property’s financial health. 

Handling Maintenance for Your Rental Property

Your Austin property manager will be in charge of maintenance on your property, such as overseeing any landscaping crews that work on your home to overseeing any in-house maintenance that is required. Your property manager will serve as the tenant’s point of contact for any maintenance issues so it’s best to partner with a property manager who has the systems and operations in place to be available to your tenant 24/7. In regards to maintenance, if you’re an out-of-state investor who owns properties in Austin a property manager will be a huge asset to you when it comes to maintaining your home and ensuring the health of your investment property!

Over time your property manager will also direct you on upgrades and remodels to consider to improve your Austin area rental home! Asking potential property managers about their maintenance handling and the team and systems they have in place is important. They will be the frontline of defense for your property should any issues arise so make sure you trust them!

An Austin property manager that treats your rental property as their own can be worth their weight in gold. While you have no shortage of options, you’ll want to make sure you fully vet any property managers to make sure they handle the things you need to be done for your rental property at the very least. 

All property management companies in Austin will be run differently but the basic tasks they provide shouldn’t defer much. Keep in mind that your property manager is essentially a direct extension of you and your rental property business. While there are discount property management companies across Austin, you’ll want to be wary of their practices and their incentive to act fast when it comes to any issues that arise with your rental property. If you're going with the cheapest option you might be doing more harm to your property than good. 

If you have any questions regarding Austin property management services or what to expect from a property manager you hire, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at Stone Oak Property Management. 

4702 Dove Springs Drive for Rent in Austin, Texas 78744!

Grant Williams - Saturday, October 31, 2020

4702 Dove Springs Drive, Austin, TX 78744

1,092 SF | 3 Bed | 2 Bath

Check out this home and other available Austin, Texas homes for rent!

Do you own a single-family rental home like this in Austin or the surrounding area? Learn more about our Austin property management services today. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us!

Stone Oak Owner Update | October 2020

System - Friday, October 23, 2020

If you haven’t already taken a look at our recent post regarding the news interview and article about evictions you can view it by visiting the link below.

Eviction Protections in Austin, TX Hurting Landlords

We have been notifying our tenants of any available rent assistance programs and encouraging them to participate if they are delinquent.  We are seeing an uptick in delinquent accounts of which most are setting up payment plans and complying. However, it is a much higher delinquency rate than we’ve seen before.  The current rate is about 5% of tenants, that number has grown from less than 1% previously.  

Politics aside, hopefully after the election we’ll see some action on taking the burden off of landlords that was created by the CDC order protecting tenants but doing nothing for landlords.

We also want to give you a quick update about tax protests. Our contact with the firm we use recently notified us that due to the pandemic the hearings are being scheduled much further out than normal, and many accounts will be heard after the tax bills are mailed this year.  Normally tax bills are mailed in October, however, we have some hearings scheduled for the first week of November while other accounts have not been given a hearing date yet.

Since the hearings are after the normal mailing date the process this year is going to be a bit out of the ordinary.  If we do succeed in getting a reduction in the taxes they will mail a new bill, but there is no guarantee it will be received by the tax due date. Depending on your county you should pay the bill on time regardless of the protest to avoid late fees and penalties.  After the new valuation is processed they will generate a new bill, and if you’ve already paid they will send you a refund.  

As usual, once we have the results of the hearings we will notify you. Keep in mind this may be after you receive the bill for the full amount.  

If you have any questions about this give us a call or send a message.

1165 Nevarez for rent in Kyle, Texas!

Grant Williams - Wednesday, October 14, 2020

1165 Nevarez, Kyle, TX 78640

View this and more Austin, TX area homes for lease made available by our Austin property management company!


Showing 11- 20 of 218

Contact Us

Stone Oak Property Management
13497 N Highway 183, Ste. 700
Austin, TX 78750

Phone: 512.617.6766
New Accounts: 512.615.7737
Toll Free: 888.892.7940
Fax: 512.994.2300

Copyright © 2021 Stone Oak Property Management. All Rights Reserved.
Sitemap

Stone Oak Management is committed to ensuring that its website is accessible to people with disabilities. All the pages on our website will meet W3C WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level A conformance. Any issues should be reported to jason@stoneoakmgmt.com. Website Accessibility Policy