(and detailed answers)
Looking for a property manager and a property management company in Austin Texas? This FAQ section is designed to help you decide if our property management company is right for you. After all, you need a property manager who takes good care of your interests but different property managers have different property management styles. We believe that there should be a good fit between you, your property manager and your property management company. After all, every property manager is not right for you and you are not right for every property manager!
Austin Texas Property Management and Leasing Questions
How big is your staff?
Our team consists of two licensed Realtors, administrative staff and a core group of highly qualified vendors.
Jim Wilson, Realtor – Property Manager, Leasing and Sales.
Debbie Jackson, Realtor – Leasing Specialist with the company since 1998.
Our property management clients appreciate the small office atmosphere and personal service we deliver. We have none of the employee and personnel hassles that can plague larger property management companies. Your property manager is available to you.
Why should I hire you as my Property Management company?
You should hire us only if you think we are the best match for your property management needs. Frankly, we are not a perfect fit for every property owner and it would be arrogant and wrong for us to simply proclaim "we are the best, hire us!". We may be the best property manager for some owners and properties but not for others.
That is why this FAQ page exists so that you can learn about us and and the guiding principles the property manager will employ in the management of your property.
Turning over your rental property to the care of an unknown property manager can be an emotional and frightening experience. Talk to other property managers before hiring one, and ask questions. You want to be able to trust your property manager so that you won’t be worrying about your home. The more research and information you gather, the better you will feel about your final decision. Of course, we’d love the chance to earn your trust and manage your property, so please read on.
We are asked this question more than any other by new owner prospects. Of course it depends on a lot of factors, but in general, most homes in and around Austin are currently renting for about 0.5% to 0.8% of the home’s market sales value.
The more expensive your home, the lower the ratio of sales to rent value. For example, a $120,000 three bedroom home may rent for $800 to $1100 per month in Austin depending on the neighborhood, the competition and the condition, while a $240,000 home may only rent for $1400 to $1700. This is a very generalized range but will in fact hold true in most instances.
Sales values raced past rent values in the last decade in Austin. Many owners who have purchased in the past 8 years, and made a small down payment, cannot lease the home for an amount that will cover the carrying costs – especially in newer neighborhoods that are not yet built out. You also might not have enough equity to sell without bringing money to the closing table. If you are in this situation, you are not alone. Some of our new clients are "involuntary landlords", forced into leasing their home by market conditions. The good news is, if you can ride out the market, you are likely to be much better off in a few years than if you sell your home now at a deeply discounted price. This in fact is why many out of state investors bought investment homes in Austin, expecting the long term gain to offset the short term cash flow loss.
The most important thing to know is that the rental market is indifferent to your mortgage payment amount. The rental market does not care that you might have a negative cash flow, and will punish with extended vacancy owners who overprice their rental homes. When you hire us as your property manager, we will look at the rental market in your particular area, survey the competing homes, and make sure your home is priced so that it will be viewed favorably against the competition.
What will you do to rent my house?
We give it maximum exposure while it is for rent and we carefully scrutinize all interested parties.
FOR RENT SIGNS – Posted at the property with our website and phone number clearly displayed. Prospective renters can find out very easily – even at 7PM on a Saturday – the price and size of your property and when it will be ready for move-in.
MLS – Your rental property data is entered in the Austin Multiple Listing Service giving access to over 8,000 other Realtors and Renters.
All Austin MLS for rent listings are now available to home searchers through the various public gateways, such as the Austin StatesmanClassifieds.com
website and AustinHomeSearch.com as well as others.
INTERNET LISTINGS – Our available homes for rent in the Austin area are posted online complete with photos, maps and property details for the conveneince of those searching for a new home.
LEASING LOCATORS – We make all of our listings available to the many Lease Locator companies in Austin. These non-Realtor companies specialize in helping tenants find apartments, duplexes and homes for rent in Austin.
WORD OF MOUTH / REFERRALS – Current and past tenants, friends of our tenants, referrals from other agents that we network with.
CORRECT PRICING – Even the best and nicest homes will not lease quickly if overpriced. We make sure your rental home is priced according to current market conditions.
THOROUGH PREPARATION – Even the best located and well priced rental homes will not lease quickly if the rental home is not in top showing condition. Homes for rent in Austin Texas absolutely must show well and have an attractive "curb appeal" or they may sit empty for extended periods. Part of our job as property manager is to make sure your rental home is presented in a clean and attractive condition so that it will attract a good tenant.
What, specifically, do you do to qualify a tenant after they have applied to rent my house?
This is the most important aspect of the successful management of rental property. Application processing is typically done by us in-house. We don’t send the application to a third party for processing as do most other property managers. In general, we look at an applicant’s past behavior and assume their future behavior will be the same. An applicant must demonstrate a history of being a good, responsible tenant or homeowner as well as meeting credit standards. Nobody in Austin screens their tenants as well as our property management team.
LANDLORD REFERENCES – We personally talk to past landlords and ask detailed, open ended questions about the applicant’s past performance.
CREDIT REPORT - Our property manager and leasing agent has a direct connection with the Experian credit reporting service. We obtain a credit report which tells us the applicant’s current and past performance toward meeting their financial obligations. It also tells us their monthly debt, credit score, and shows their previous addresses (which we compare to addresses listed on the application). An applicant must meet established credit standards.
DRIVER LICENSE VERIFICATION - We pull a copy of the applicant’s public drivers license data. This tells us not only if the addresses given on the application are consistent but also when and what the last drivers license activity was, such as a renewal or change of address. This is important because if someone says they have been living at a certain address for the past three years, but then we see they renewed their drivers license a year ago at a different address, a red flag goes up and we often find in that situation that the applicant is trying to conceal bad rental history.
PROPERTY TAX SEARCH – If a private individual is listed as previous or current landlord, we will pull the tax records and verify that the person listed actually owns the property.
The property tax record crosscheck, along with pulling driver license data, is what reveals most of the fraud attempts that we encounter and is a level of scrutiny that most other property management companies do not even perform.
EMPLOYMENT/INCOME – We contact the employer to verify length of employment, status, and income. An applicant needs to earn at least 3 times the monthly rent in gross income to qualify for rental and we will want to see a copy of their pay stub.
PETS – We don’t generally permit animals/pets into managed properties unless you allow us to do so, however, 50% to 70% of renters have pets. When we make the decision to accept an applicant with pets, we minimize your risk by limiting the breed, age, number and size of the pets. We also use a special pet addendum for your protection. We are careful in selecting tenants who wish to bring pets with them.
OTHER FACTORS – Many of our managed properties are subject to Home Owner Association restrictions such as no boats or trailers, and limits on the type and number of vehicles. An otherwise qualified applicant may be unable to lease a property if, for instance, they own a boat and want to park it in the driveway. We make sure issues like that are covered up front to avoid surprises after move-in.
How do you make sure the tenant is taking good care of my home while renting?
There are several ways your property manager has to know this. Above all, careful tenant selection from the outset protects your property from being rented to irresponsible people. During the lease term, we may have occasion to enter the property for repair or maintenance reasons and will use that opportunity to have a look. If we are fortunate enough not to have any repairs or maintenance at your property over an extended period of time, your property manager will schedule a preventative maintenance walk-through to make sure the air filter is being changed, that the smoke alarms have batteries and that there are no unreported problems at the property.
What do you do if they are not taking care of my property as they should, or you discover unauthorized pets?
Your property manager gives the tenant an opportunity to correct the situation and usually they will. If a problem persists, we will make a decision based on that specific situation.
What happens if the tenant does not pay their rent?
About the 4th of each month, we send late notices to all tenants with unpaid rent. We will post an eviction notice about the 12th day of the month if payment is not received by then. Whether or not the property manager eventually proceeds with a formal eviction depends on the specific circumstances. It is always financially better for all involved if a solution can be worked out. If the tenant has experienced a one-time event which is causing them a financial hardship, and we have had no previous problems with them, it is better for you and the tenant if we give them a chance to catch up – if there is reason to believe they can do so. If the tenant has demonstrated an ongoing pattern of late payments, broken promises about payments and/or evasiveness, we know from experience that eviction is the best course of action.
Each case is unique and the property manager will make a decision based what is best for you and your home in the long run. That said, we always proceed with the legal notices required for eviction regardless of any other factors. We will simply postpone the actual filing of the eviction if the tenant is showing favorable effort toward resolution. Eviction for non-payment of rent in Texas is a slam dunk and there is no way a tenant can prevail in court if they have not paid rent and the landlord has properly executed the notices and filing process. Full evictions, when necessary, can often be completed by the fourth week of the month.
How informed will I be about what happens
with my property?
Absent any special considerations unique to you or your property, our rule of thumb is this: If something may cause a potential interruption in your ordinary cash flow (loss of tenant or non-emergency repair in excess of $300), we will let you know about it right away. Other than that, the saying "no news is good news" is most appropriate. Non emergency items will be communicated along with your monthly statements and, of course, we encourage you to contact the property manager anytime you have a question or wish to discuss something.
We know some owners desire a level of involvement that our property management system is not designed to accommodate. We try our best to make sure you are a good match for our style of property management. Part of that process is this Question and Answer page so you can obtain a sense of how we think and how the manager will manage your investment property.
If you are a worrisome property owner or someone who desires a high degree of personal involvement with the property or who needs constant communication from the property manager, such as a phone call before any repairs are completed, we are not a good match for your needs. The property owners who appreciate us the most are those who truly want everything handled for them turn-key and don’t want to be bothered unless something important is happening. That is the type of property management service we offer.
How do you handle maintenance requests?
Tenants may fax or mail their requests to us, but most fill out an online form on our website. After we receive a repair request, the property manager may contact the tenant and ask them questions which will help us determine the exact nature of the problem before sending a service technician. We also make sure it is not something the tenant can fix themselves (ex: reset button on the disposal, tripped breaker) before your money is spent on a service call. After determining that it is a legitimate problem, we will send the appropriate service vendor to make the repair.
We tell our tenants that we are able to handle most repair requests within 1 to 3 working days, and in fact are usually able to do so. Comfort items such as Air conditioning, no hot water or heat, receive highest priority and are usually attended to the same or next business day.
Do you use the cheapest maintenance people you can find?
No. Our people are middle of the road in price and are competent and reliable. We also have dedicated all-around maintenance sub-contractors who are capable in a wide range of home repairs including air-conditioning, light plumbing and electrical. Our main "go to" guys charge $45 per hour. Our other vendors range in price from $35 per hour to $75, and sometimes more for conditions such as an after-hours emergency sewer backup. We try to have our main guys handle most of the multi-trade and make-ready tasks and use other vendors when we are backed up. This saves our owners a lot of money on multi-trade repairs by cutting down on the number of service calls to the property by different vendors. It also means that if we are called out on a dishwasher repair, we are going to be checking the a/c filter, sink drains, smoke alarms and general condition of the property – something that a single trade vendor will not do for you.
We think we have developed a very sensible approach to handling maintenance and repairs and that you will realize cost savings that other property managers simply can’t deliver.
Do you hold some of my money for repairs? How much?
We will hold back $300 per unit in your account so that we always have funds to pay our vendors quickly.
How do I know your property manager won’t spend my money on large repairs without my approval?
This is a legitimate fear. We promise in writing not to do that. For ordinary maintenance and repairs of less than $300, the property manager will take care of it without notifying you. You will find out when you receive your monthly statement. If we think a repair might exceed $300, we will call you and let you know what is happening, what we think should be done, and what the estimated cost might be.
Sometimes expenses such as a replacing a bad water heater, a roof leak that needs patching or repair, or emergency A/C and furnace repairs are unavoidable. In those cases where 1) the health or safety of a tenant is an issue, or 2) in instances where there is only one option to consider or 3) the property will incur damage if immediate action is not taken, the property manager will initiate the repair work, even if it is higher that the $300 limit, and then let you know of the situation and what we are doing about it. Mainly, we don’t think important repairs should be delayed while we try to contact you for permission to do the obvious.
What if I want you to use my plumber, A/C company, etc.
We already have a stable of very qualified and reasonably priced vendors that we have used for many years. If you would like to nominate a service company to be added to our vendor list, they can contact us and we will interview them and let them know what documentation and references we need, what our invoicing and payment policy is, etc. We cannot guaranty however that your favorite company will be sent on all service calls to your home. Our concern is always to resolve repair problems in the most efficient way possible with the best available vendor at the time. Property managers can’t keep track of a pre-established roster of vendors assigned to certain properties – it would be a cumbersome and inefficient property management system and would not achieve the best service to the tenant and your investment property.
Our professional reputation as property managers, both with tenants and owners, is largely, if not almost entirely. determined by the effectiveness with which we handle maintenance. We follow a practice that is most likely to insure the best possible response and resolution to maintenance and repair problems for your property.
No. Sorry, but we won’t use American Home Shield or any other warranty company to make repairs at your home. The logistics and communication problems we have encountered with past attempts to use the warranty companies are not acceptable for the level of property management service we strive to achieve.
American Home Shield once left our tenant without air-conditioning for 9 days in August (100+ degrees) while they went through their ridiculous "second opinion" process. The property manager finally had to call out our regular people who had the problem fixed in two hours. We vowed never again to be hamstrung by that sort of bureaucracy and lunacy.
We hold all of the home warranty companies in extremely low regard and believe, overall, that their plans are a rip-off (read the fine print in your service contract) and border on fraud. If you want your home warranty company to be used for the repairs and maintenance of your rental property, we are unfortunately not the property management company you should hire.
My home has a pool. How do you deal with that?
We no longer accept properties with pools or operational spas. The liability scares us. If your home has a spa, we will have it winterized and shut it down, therefore not including it with the use of the home while rented. It must also have a hard surface cover that can be latched down.
You guys seem sort of picky about the clients and properties you take, why is that?
Well, we’ve been property managers long enough to have seen and experienced everything imaginable, and we prefer to anticipate and avoid common problems rather that deal with the same ones repeatedly.
We believe you and your investment property are best served by a property management system that is as free of problems and chaos as possible. Hence, we don’t handle pools, don’t deal with Section 8 housing, don’t work with home warranty companies, don’t take run down properties, don’t rent to large groups of roommates, etc. because we know those things consume a disproportionate amount of a property manager’s time and distract from the care and attention that your good property deserves.
We strive to maintain a group of "like-minded" clients with properties that are at the same time diverse, yet homogenous enough that our systems, methods and style can be applied uniformly across all properties we manage. The worst property manager you can hire is one who good heartedly tries to accommodate every special circumstance or request from his various owners until his operational system is so scattered and ill defined as to be dangerous. We like the consistency and predictability that comes with welcoming owners and properties that are compatible with our system of property management.
If you think about it, when you hire a property manager, you are for better or worse, employing that property manager’s system (or lack thereof). We promise you our system of property management is mature, stable and time tested. We will make good decisions for you. Your property will receive professional care and maintenance. Your lease agreement with the tenant will be enforced in a cordial businesslike manner, and we will always act in your best interest while at the same time insuring that your tenant receives fair and ethical treatment. You can expect also that we are always looking for ways to improve our service.
We do want you to thoroughly examine our company, ask for references, ask any questions that are not answered for you on this website, and make sure that ours is the property management system you want serving you and your property.
When do you mail the owner’s checks and statements?
Owners checks are mailed out on or after the 10th of each month but no later than the 15th for that month’s activity. Most months, you will have your check and statement in hand by the 15th.
Can you put my rental proceeds directly into my checking account?
We will be happy to send your check directly to your bank for immediate deposit while sending the statement to you. This is not an electronic transfer, but rather we mail the check directly for deposit.
What will I receive with my monthly statement?
The monthly statement showing all income and expenses for the accounting period and the original receipts for any repairs. We don’t mark up repair invoices and we send you the original copy so you’ll see what was done.
How much is your monthly property management fee?
Our usual property management fee is 8 percent of the monthly rent, with a $75 per month minimum. If your home rents for less than $937 per month, or is vacant for a period of time, you will be charged a flat $75 per month.
The leasing commission is 70 percent of the first full month’s rent for new tenants, with an $800 minimum. A renewal fee of 10% of the new monthly rent is charged for retaining current residents and executing a lease renewal. All classified advertising costs are passed through to owners, and we absorb all other costs of leasing the property including MLS fees, internet marketing, for rent signs, lockboxes, etc.
No. We don’t try to compete against lower priced property management companies or Realtors who practice property management as a side business. Frankly, we know you can find a cheaper property management company in Austin Texas. We just don’t think price should be the determining factor in deciding which property manager you hire to manage your home.
The ultimate cost of using a property manager is determined by many things other than the fee charged. The efficiency and manner in which maintenance and tenant relationship problems are handled, and the attention to detail during the leasing process are two of many areas in which we excel. We feel that our set of services, our systems, and the experience and expertise we offer are a good value at the fee structure we have established.