5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a New York Property Manager
When you’re looking for New York City property management in Lower Manhattan, you’ll likely do some research before you begin contacting management companies. You should spend some time exploring websites, reading customer reviews, and talking to people who might be able to provide referrals for a great management partner. 

With all of the options you have, how do you choose the right company for your investments?

There are five key questions to ask any property management company in New York, and we’re taking a look at what those are so you’ll be better prepared for any interviews with potential management companies. 

Here’s where to start.

1. What Kind of Experience Do You Have in the New York Rental Market?

Whether your investment property is in SoHo, the West Village, Tribeca, Chelsea, or anywhere else in Lower Manhattan, you need a property manager who knows the nuances and the trends in this specific area. 

New York is huge, it’s unique, and it’s diverse. You can’t settle for any property manager who works in the city. You don’t want a large corporate company that’s spread out with offices all over the country. For the best results for your property, you need a local expert and a team that’s able to get to your property quickly if necessary. 

This is particularly important for investors who are out of state or even out of the country. You’ll benefit from local property managers because:

  • Local New York City property managers who specialize in Lower Manhattan will understand the market-driven rental values. They’ll understand the tenant demands and they will be familiar with competing properties. 
  • With a local expert, you can be sure that all local, state, and federal laws are followed. You may not have the resources to ensure your property is in compliance. You need someone in New York City who knows the laws.
  • A local property management expert will have a large network of vendors, contractors, and professional partners that can be leveraged to serve your property or building. It’s hard to coordinate maintenance or upgrades from afar. Your local property manager can handle that for you. 

It’s critical that you choose a management partner who knows the local market. Ask about rental values and how they’ve been trending. Talk about the upgrades and updates to make buildings achieve the highest rents. 

You want to be sure you’re working with someone who knows your market well. 

2. What Kind of Experience Do You Have with Properties Like Mine?

Once you have satisfied your questions about local market expertise, it’s time to ask about their other experience. You want to know that the management company you ultimately work with has spent years managing properties just like yours. 

Ask how many buildings they currently manage and how many units are in each building. Do these sound similar to what you would need the company to manage for you? If you have a 10-unit building and the management company you’re speaking with seems to specialize in large apartment buildings with more than 100 units, you might not get the specific type of service you’re looking for. 

This is also a good time to ask about resources, capacity, and support. You’re looking for a management company that won’t be over stretched by taking on your portfolio. Ask about their support staff. Do they have people who can answer your questions, pick up the phone, respond to tenants, and coordinate maintenance? What about accounting? 

Don’t be afraid to get into specifics that will help you determine what kind of experience your potential management partner actually has. Ask about their systems and their processes. 

  • How do they handle day to day operations? 
  • What is the leasing process like? 
  • How are tenants screened?
  • What’s the process for maintenance? 

3. How Do You Approach Emergency, Routine, and Preventative Maintenance?

Maintenance is one of the most crucial parts of property management in New York City. Many of the buildings here are old and they need a lot of ongoing work and frequent updates. Units are constantly being renovated and improved in order to attract high quality tenants and the best rents. 

Your property management company needs to have a consistent and documented process for accepting maintenance requests and completing the work. They also need a good network or an in-house team of qualified vendors who are licensed and insured. 

Emergency maintenance requires an immediate response. You’ll need to ask if tenants and owners can get in touch with someone 24 hours a day and seven days a week. What constitutes an emergency? How is work authorized and approved? 

Routine maintenance should also have its own process. You’ll want to know how tenants make requests when something breaks. A written process is often the best way to accept maintenance requests because it provides the documentation you may need to protect the condition of your building or your unit and make decisions about when to replace or repair certain items in the property. 

Most important, perhaps, is preventative maintenance. 

When you work with property managers who have a great preventative maintenance plan in place, you’ll find you’re able to keep your repair costs down. There are fewer emergencies and you won’t run into deferred or unreported maintenance issues, which are often expensive and frustrating. 

Additional questions around maintenance should be:

  • Will your property manager recommend work that may need to be done before you list the property on the rental market? 
  • How will turnovers be handled between tenants? 
  • What is communication like during repairs?

You want to make sure you’re working with a company that values making the updates and upgrades that increase your rental value, limit your vacancy time, and deliver higher ROI.

4. What Kind of Investment Do You Make in Technology?

There’s nothing more frustrating than working with a property management company that’s not up to speed with the latest software, platforms, and best practices. 

Technology is more important than ever when we’re talking about New York City property management. The right technological tools can automate a lot of the processes that cost the most money and time. You don’t want to work with someone who is still mailing out paper rent checks or signing paper leases. 

You should absolutely ask any potential property manager how they leverage technology to provide a better and more efficient rental process. Ask about:

  • Marketing technology and online advertising. Are they syndicating their listings across multiple platforms when you’re trying to attract tenants? Are they using high quality photographs and video tours?
  • Showing technology that makes it convenient for prospective tenants to see a property.
  • Applications and lease agreements that can be completed and signed online. 
  • Tenant and owner portals where rent can be collected and paid online. You should also have access to financial statements and accounting reports. There should be 24/7 access to all the information both tenants and owners need. 
  • Inspections and documentation. With the right technology, you’ll get a detailed inspection report that lets you know your property is in good condition.

Good technology leads to better communication, fewer mistakes, and an altogether better rental experience for owners and tenants. 

5. How Do You Provide Outstanding Customer Experiences?

It’s also important to ask how your property manager treats tenants. 

What kind of emphasis do your prospective property managers place on good tenant relationships and high tenant retention? This impacts what you’re able to earn on your property. You’re looking for a property management partner who is willing to prioritize your needs, but not at the expense of good customer service for your renters. 

Ask any prospective property manager about:

  • How they support tenants during the move-in process.
  • What they do to communicate expectations to tenants.
  • How they solve problems or manage disputes and conflicts with tenants.
  • What type of tenant retention methods are used. 

You should pay attention to what tenants think about the company that manages their building and their rental home. Take a look at reviews and testimonials from tenants as closely as you do those that are left by owners. 

You want a management team that’s going to hold your tenants accountable to the lease agreement and their responsibilities. You want to be sure rent will be collected on time every month, the home will be well-cared for, and the lease terms will be followed. 

Just important, however, is that the tenants feel valued and cared for while in your property. Holding onto high quality tenants is an important part of any investment strategy. You need your property to be occupied by good renters. A positive customer experience is critical. 

There are dozens more questions you should ask any New York property management company before you hire them. These are five good questions with which to start. 

If you’d like to hear more or you’re interested in hearing how we would answer these questions ourselves, please contact us at Krieger Property Management. We’re a full-service property management company specializing in Manhattan and Brooklyn. We’d be happy to speak with you.