Virtual property management is quickly becoming the new normal. Technology is penetrating all kinds of businesses that used to be offline before. As a property manager, you are seeing the coronavirus real estate trends unfold as a result of travel bans, social distancing, and the need to keep employees safe as much as possible. This is a guide to going remote and running a property management company virtually.
Dealing with Clients (Rental Property Owners)
In property management, communication with clients is as important as that with tenants. You are responsible for taking care of the rental property and keeping the owner informed about what is going on. Luckily, a huge part of it can be done online or via phone. Virtual property management is really easy on this side.
You can make it a habit to send a weekly or monthly email with updates. Include:
- The current situation with tenants – is someone moving out, is there a problem with anyone?
- Invoices for repairs and materials
- Reserve fund balance
- News from other owners in the building or neighbors on the block – someone selling, for example.
- Warn of potential renovations needed before it is too late.
- Ideas for upgrades if suitable (this will increase the monthly rental price and your fee accordingly)
Paying bills and taxes
This can also be done online. Get the owner’s authorization and only send paperwork for signing when needed.
Those can be moved entirely online, using platforms for video calls, or they can transform into Facebook groups where the discussion can be ongoing. Suggest it to your homeowners’ association – most people do not enjoy those meetings anyway.
Even if you have not worked this way before, going remote might be easier if you do not need your property management clients to sign off on every little maintenance bill. The reserve fund gives you some money to pay as you need on behalf of the owner. It saves you both the trouble.
Property management software to automate most of these tasks exists if you want to make the investment.
Related: Remote Work: 10 Tips for Property Managers to Retain Efficiency
Growing your business
Virtual property management actually allows you to expand your business. It makes managing rental properties remotely possible so you can get property management clients in any state. That is a great way to grow your property management company to the national level.
One way to find new property management leads is through Mashvisor’s Mashboard. This is an online database of real estate investors and property owners, with their contact details. So it is full of opportunities if you have ever wondered how to find out who owns a house. You can even directly contact people from the platform to offer your property management services.
Related: What Does Mashvisor Do for Property Managers?
To learn about your options for signing up for our services, click here.
Dealing with Tenants
The other side of virtual property management would be keeping tenants in check without physically going to the rental unit. This can be harder if you are a freelance property manager, but there are some things you can do to make it easier for you and your tenants.
Have a maintenance team
You will have to find contractors to clean and do regular maintenance as needed. Make sure your contract requires them to respond as fast as possible. Having a backup option is also smart. Keep in mind that your property management fees should reflect that external service – either bill your clients for it separately (meaning charging less) or include it in your fee fairly.
For a truly successful virtual property management business, we recommend putting together your own maintenance team. This makes you independent from contractors so you can react fast to requests and issues.
Filling a vacancy can be tough through an entirely online process. The good news is that, as millennials are the dominant age group in the rental market, they are comfortable with using technology. They would not mind filling a screening test online, for example, if you decide to vet candidates before showing them the rental property.
Hosting virtual open houses is a logical next step. Firstly, younger people want to get as much information as possible online before they commit to visiting the rental property in person. They would go through all the content (photos, videos, 3d renders, maps, etc.) you have on your property management website before calling you. Virtual reality is the cutting edge of all this. Like it or not, the winners of the younger generation are the truly tech-savvy virtual property management companies.
Communication and paperwork
For any announcements and requests, you can easily start using email or a chat app of your choice. This way, you will have all communication with each tenant recorded to avoid misunderstandings. It is much more convenient for both sides. If you manage a whole building, a dedicated group on social media can work great. It will save you the time to write to each tenant individually and will foster community spirit. There are professional property management tools for this purpose, but really you can do without them. Only, think about how tenants should contact you in case of an emergency. A hotline available 24/7 is a good idea. Just make sure tenants know it is only for emergencies or virtual property management will turn into a nightmare for you. You can also rotate your employees to take shifts being on call.
If you have not already, install cameras in common areas and outside the building. This keeps the place safer and you can immediately know if strong wind tears a cable, for example. And it will make tenants follow the rules such as no unregistered flatmates.
The Advantage of Virtual Property Management
The best thing about virtual property management is that it is location-independent. You can operate on the entire US market out for your home. You do not have to be in the same place as potential tenants, clients, or a rental property. If you set up in advance, you can get things done with a call. And becoming a virtual property manager will save you a lot of time!
Related: Coronavirus and the Digital Real Estate Revolution
To Sum Up
The future of property management is virtual. This is what people increasingly want and it is safer for all parties involved. Plus, it will save you time, going back and forth between the office and rental properties. You can even get more clients or properties because you will have the time. Virtual property management actually opens up more opportunities for you and your company.