Our New Property Manager, a review so far

July 21, 2011

IMG_2464It’s been over two months since we signed on the dotted line with a property manager for our rental house. I could sum up the experience by saying So Far, So Good! However, I think what might be more accurate is So Far…Pretty Good. Here’s the story…

Back in May we called four property managers in the Kansas City area after doing quite a bit of research online. From those calls, we set up an interview with our top choice. Let’s call her Cathy. I met Cathy at the rental house, explained our situation, briefly walked her around the property, and asked her a few questions. She was kind, prompt, and informative.


During this interview, I was the one asking the majority of the questions, reminding Cathy that we were serious about our investment but that we were appreciative of guidance and assistance with the process, as this was our first solo property. The fact that she didn’t immediately launch into a reassuring and educational speech about how she would help and why we should hire her to manage our first baby, should have raised a red flag.

Not so great.

We signed with Cathy and immediately made a few changes to the house based on her recommendations. For example, we neglected to realize during remodeling that there wasn’t a mailbox on the outside of the house, obviously something a tenant would require. The initial appliance package we purchased didn’t include a fridge, also necessary. Per the lease, the tenant would be expected to keep the landscaping in the “same condition that they found it,” so it was apparent to us that we wanted to spend a few hours sprucing it up, which we did. Finally, the contractors had kindly left the extra paint, caulk, and tile that they had used in the house, in the basement, which we wanted to document. We took photos, left the paint, and loaded up the tile to store in our own home for safekeeping.

All of these things would NOT have been brought up if it weren’t for our own doing. Cathy didn’t really mention, or didn’t seem to care, about any of them except for the mailbox.

Not so great with the proactive recommendations for a new landlord? Perhaps.

Anyway, Cathy got to work in marketing the property for rent and, miraculously, found a tenant within two days. Within four days she had done the background check on the potential tenant, informally presented us with the details on their job status, employment history, credit history, criminal history, and pets, and how much rent the tenant had agreed to pay. We gave our go ahead and the lease was signed.

Very, very great!

We rushed to complete the tasks before the first day of the lease arrived. Would it have been nice to have a bit more communication with Cathy about how much work we had to do and when we would have preferred the lease to begin compared to that work’s completion, etc, etc, etc? Yes. She got a tenant for us, which was great, but she didn’t really seem to care about…us.

The day the tenant moved in, Cathy emailed requesting our thoughts on two things: purchasing a cover for the large, basement window well in the back of the house, and supplying inside window coverings for all the windows in the house.

Huh? Really?

Should we, as the owners of the property, probably realized these two things were necessary? Yes. Had we just completed a massive remodel and, while completing everything else, overlooked a couple details? Yup. Were we new at this and still ironing out the process? YES.

Would Cathy have noticed these two things if she took even a few seconds to look over the property when she came for the initial interview, saving us the headache of rushing around at the last second to complete them? YES, YES, YES.

Not so great, Cathy. Not so great.

She offered to have her handyman price out and install the basement window well cover and cheap blinds for every window in the house, which we immediately took her up on. The labor and materials charges appeared a week later in the lovely, online account software that Cathy’s company offers her property owners.


The only way we knew that the work had been completed, though, was when the charges posted to our account. There was no communication from Cathy that they had been taken care of.

Not so great.

Two weeks into the lease, the tenant submitted an urgent request for maintenance – apparently there was sewage leaking into the basement. Cathy immediately contacted us, asked for our permission for her to call the 24/7 plumber, which we of course gave right away.

Great! (Also: eww!)

We waited four days, hearing no word about if our rental property had floated away in a river of sewage. I texted Cathy after the fourth day, she replied that it had been taken care of the first day. Two days after that, the charges from the plumber appeared in our account.

Umm, not so great. Not so great at all. Where was the communication there, Cath?

I could go on and on, so let’s wrap this up. After just two months we’ve already had our share of adventures with the property. Ups and downs, the good and the bad. Our advance planning in being able to pay for a property manager and still collect a worthwhile cashflow every month has already come in handy – taking care of safety issues, finding the tenant, performing background checks, responding to maintenance requests – of that we will absolutely NOT deny.

However, we could be more satisfied with the experience, and especially the communication, of our property manager.

She does her job well. She does not do customer service well.

Big difference, don’t you think?

What about you, do you have any thoughts on property managers?

Horror stories? Hero stories?
I wish-like-hell-that-I-would-have-hired-one stories? We’d love to hear ’em.

More to come!

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