Frequently Asked Questions – How it Works
Below you will find answers to common questions regarding the Property Management and Leasing Service available to you. You should ask these same questions of any Property Management company you are considering. If you have more specific questions not answered below, feel free to contact us by web or call 512-301-5811 ext 3 and speak with Steve.
Q: What are the benefits of using a professional Austin property manager?
Utilizing the services of a Professional Property Management Company in Austin relieves you from the burden of unexpected and untimely tenant and repair issues. It also provides you with a tested and true vendor team (via your property manager) to handle repair and maintenance issues at your rented home. Having an Austin Property Manager handling the details of managing your rental home allows you to focus your time and talents on other matters in your life instead of worrying about your Austin rental property. As an individual Landlord, it would be hard for you to remain aware of all the laws and nuances of managing tenants and handling repairs. We handle it all for you turnkey.
Q: How many years of property management experience do you have?
Steve and Sylvia Crossland have been managing and leasing rental homes together in Austin since 1990. We started our own Property Management business in 1993.
Q: To which professional organizations do you belong?
NARPM – Property Manager Steve Crossland, MPM, has been a member of the Austin Chapter of NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers) since 1996, was Austin Chapter President 2003.
Steve holds both the RMP (Residential Management Professional) and MPM (Master Property Manager) designations from NARPM. The MPM designation is difficult to obtain and is held by fewer than 200 property managers nationwide. Steve is also a NARPM instructor, providing educational workshops and training for fellow property managers locally and nationwide.
ABoR – Austin Board of Realtors. As Realtors, we are able to place your home for lease in the Austin Multiple Listing Service, exposing it to other central Texas Realtors and Leasing Agents, and we abide by the Realtor Code of Ethics.
Steve currently serves as 2016 Vice-Chair of the ABoR MLS Policy Committee and will serve a Chairman in 2017. He previously served on Ethics and Professional Standards committees as well as other ABoR task forces and committees over the years.
Q: Why Does Professional Industry Involvement Matter for Property Managers?
It goes to credentials and how serious your property manager is about the business. It’s a very hard business. No matter which company you choose to manage your rental home in Austin, make sure you pick an Austin property manager who is serious about the profession of property management and the real estate industry. That level of seriousness is reflected in ongoing education, training, and attendance at local property management meetings and events.
Many property managers operate as a sideline business, or an afterthought to their sales business. They make no effort to become and stay educated about landlord/tenant laws or current industry practices. It’s a real easy business to screw up, with a lot of legal landmines that will affect you directly if you are not competently represented. Be very careful who you hire. You should absolutely ask them about involvement and education in the industry. We’re as involved as one can be because it’s that important for both us and you.
Q: How big is your Austin Property Management company?
We are a small Broker-Owner operated company, managing about 100 single family homes. In selecting a property management company in Austin, you will find companies of various sizes, some manage 100s, even 1,000s of homes with large staff. We remain intentionally small, and believe you get better service as a result.
Q: Why is Smaller Better?
The advantage to a “small shop”, such as ours, is that you have a single contact person who always knows everything with regard to your property, tenants, accounting, repairs, etc. You’ll never get transferred from person to person, or department to department. You simply call Steve. He is your Manager, accountant, maintenance coordinator – everything.
The property management industry is starting to undergo consolidation. Large national real estate franchises are buying smaller companies and expanding into as many markets as possible. Sometimes, the person you talk to doesn’t even live in Austin. Many don’t even have local leasing staff. Instead they allow tenants into your home unescorted with a lockbox code.
With us, you have local Austintes who have been buying, selling, leasing and managing homes in Austin ourselves for over 25 years. We live in SW Austin and raised our two daughters in Austin. We own rental property here ourselves. We know this market and are a part of it.
Q: Do you also provide Sales Services – I may want to Sell instead of Lease
Yes, we are also Associate Brokers with Keller Williams Realty. We run all of our sales and leasing activities through Keller Williams, and our Team there. That website is CrosslandTeam.com. Many who contact us about property management are trying to decide between keeping the home as a rental, or selling. We can walk you through all the factors to consider and the pros and cons of each.
Q: I Don’t Actually Own an Investment Property Yet – Can you help me buy one?
Yes, many of the homes we manage were purchased through us by investors who were shopping a property manager to line up before buying. You can learn more about our investment sales service here.
In addition to the roughly 100 homes we manage, we help buyers and sellers with about 40 sales transactions per year.
Q: Do you own and Invest in Rental Property Yourselves?
Yes, we became Austin real estate investors ourselves in 1994 when we purchased our first rental home in Hyde Park. We’ve bought and sold dozens of rentals since then. We own many of the properties we manage. Those are handled through our system exactly the same as those of our clients. Many property managers boast “we manage your property as if it was our own“. For us, it’s actually, factually true, not just a slogan.
Q: What is your style or philosophy of Property Management?
We believe that you hire a property manager to manage your rental home, not to assist you in managing it yourself. We offer a turnkey style of property management service which is most appreciated by those property owners who prefer to be “out of the loop” on all but the most important matters related to the management and leasing of the property.
We don’t pester you with small details, questions, information or “updates” about your property or tenants, except for those matters which will have a significant impact on your monthly cash flow.
Instead, we simply take care of the things you have entrusted us to handle on your behalf. Our fee includes everything we do. We don’t nickel and dime you with extras or try to “upsell” you to a “better” level of service. Every client get’s our very best.
Q: What if I want to be informed or involved to a greater degree than you’ve just outlined?
For some property owners, our system is not a good match, and we understand that. We are very up front about the fact that we don’t want you to hire us if you expect to be involved in minor details or decisions related to the management and leasing of your property. We simply haven’t designed our systems and procedures to accommodate that level of involvement by owners. We can instead refer you to a property manager who accommodates the level of involvement you desire.
Q: Under your “turnkey” system of property management, how informed then will I be about what’s going on with my property?
The general rule of thumb is this; if something has happened, or is about to happen, that will disrupt your ordinary monthly cash proceeds by more than $500, we will let you know about it.
An example would be that we receive a 30-day notice from your tenant, and therefore expect a a turnover, along with related expenses. We want you to be informed and prepared for it.
Another example would be that your A/C unit has failed during the middle of a hot summer; we’ve determined that the 12 year old compressor needs replacing and have initiated the work to replace it. We’ll call to let you know what has happened and the expected financial impact on the following month’s statement. But we don’t seek approval or require your involve you in the decision.
Finally, for new owners that seem a bit nervous, we do tend to accommodate a “break in period” whereby we will in fact keep you a bit more informed than usual during the initial lease-up and make-ready maintenance process. We do want you to be comfortable working with us going forward, so the start-up process may involve more communication, if you so desire, than is outlined above. You will settle in and become comfortable with us very quickly though, and after the initial period of getting started, we’ll revert to our normal routine and level of communication.
Q: What type of rental properties do you manage in Austin?
We manage residential single family homes that are in good to excellent condition. Safe, well maintained homes, in desirable neighborhoods, that attract good, quality renters.
If you own a duplex, 4plex, condo, apartment or anything other than a House, or a house that is rundown that you do not wish to improve, we’re happy to help you find another good property manager in Austin who handles that type of property. Feel free to call and ask for a referral or contact us.
Q: In which areas of Austin do you offer property management services?
We focus on the Central, South, and Southwest areas of Austin. We occasionally take homes in Northwest and North-Central Austin inside Hwy 183 (south/west of Hwy 183) no further north than RR 620. If the mailing address for your home is not an “Austin” address, it’s probably outside our management area.
Exceptions are made if you own multiple investment properties, including some that are inside our desired area and some that are not. Call us to discuss whether we can handle your group of properties. We do sometimes make exceptions for the right properties and owners.
Q: How do you determine the rent value of my home when it needs to be rented?
We generally just know the rent value based on location, size and condition. But each time your home comes up for rent, we conduct a market analysis to determine how much homes similar to yours have been renting for recently.
Once we determine a starting value, we add or subtract based on the time of year, competition from other available rental near yours, the condition of the property (older vs. newer carpet, age of appliances, floor plan, etc.), and other relevant market factors.
As a general rule, we believe it’s a good idea to price your rental property at or slightly below market value and get it rented quickly. Vacancy is your worst enemy and we work hard to prevent excess vacancy loss. Sometimes owners get hung up on trying to squeeze out a little bit of extra rent, but we will council you against being overly optimistic at risk of extended vacancy loss.
Q: Will you allow tenants to have pets in our property?
We would rather not. If we do, pets will be limited to 35 lbs each and a maximum of two total animals. We also prohibit certain aggressive breeds of dogs such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, as does your insurance provider.
If you instruct us to market the home as a No Pets property, we are happy to do so, and will not allow pets at all. Or you can instruct us to allow pet’s to be negotiable. Be aware that pets can cause damage beyond the normal pet deposit of $300 to $500 per animal. On the other hand, not accepting pets eliminates a lot of prospective renters, so the more restrictive the pet policy, the greater likelihood of a longer vacancy at lease-up.
Q: Do you allow smoking in our Austin rental home?
No. Every lease for every home we manage includes a “no smoking” provision.
Q: How do you Screen and Qualify Prospective Renters?
We require prospective tenants to provide at least two years of good verifiable rental history (or proof of home ownership), good credit, and verifiable income at least 3 times the monthly rent. That’s it in a nutshell, but a lot more goes into the screening than just those three items. You can take a look at the rental criteria that we publish for tenants here.
Q: Do you use a well written lease agreement that protects me and my property?
Yes. We use the most recently updated Texas Association of Realtors Residential Lease Agreement.
Q: How strictly do you enforce the lease agreement after the tenant moves in?
We enforce the lease strictly, including pet policy, unauthorized occupants, vehicle limits, HOA Rules, lease term, and all other terms and conditions of the lease agreement. If we become aware of a lease violation, the tenant promptly receives a violation notice and is required to cure the violation to avoid further action.
Q: How do handle repair requests from tenants?
All non-emergency repair requests are reported to us in writing, as required in the lease agreement. We provide tenants a convenient online form to submit repair requests. We strive to respond to and complete most ordinary repair requests within 1 to 3 business days.
Repairs and property condition issues offer the greatest opportunity for friction and ill will between landlords and tenants. A property manager walks the line between a tenant who wants things fixed ASAP, and an owner who is sensitive to repair expenses. We in fact want the tenant to enjoy a well maintained home in which everything functions as designed and intended. It’s to your advantage that this happens, as a happy tenant is more likely to remain in the property at lease renewal.
This is where the rubber hits the road on the “turnkey service” philosophy that was outlined above. If something in your home is legitimately broken, worn out or in need of repair, we are going to have it fixed or replaced without consulting with or informing you, so long as it falls within the $500 repair cap established in the property management agreement.
In many instances, we will quiz the tenant about the problem and attempt to solve it over the phone. This is commonly accomplished with problems such as tripped breakers or GFI outlets (reset breaker), malfunctioning garage openers (check the eye-beams), disposals (reset button), dishwashers (wall switch), HVAC (thermostat not set properly, filter door loose or intake blocked), etc.
This by the way is where we as a “small shop” can offer a more personal level of repair troubleshooting and diagnosis than a large property management company with an impersonal “repair pipeline” process. Essentially, before spending your money on a service call, we attempt to troubleshoot and solve the problem. Once it’s determined that a legitimate problem exists, and that a service call is needed, we send a vendor who we have probably been using for more than 10 years and whom we trust to take care of the problem.
Q: How much of my money do you hold in reserve for repairs?
$500 is held in your account at all times, to be used if needed to pay for a repair after your rent proceeds have been dispersed.
Q: Will you use my Home Warranty Company, such as American Home Shield?
No. We won’t use American Home Shield or any other Warranty Company on any repair issues at your home under any circumstance. We have no direct control over the vendors sent by home warranty companies, so it doesn’t work use them on rental property repairs.
Q: Why are repairs so important?
Nothing affects the reputation of a Landlord or a property management company more than the manner in which repairs are handled. Tenants judge us by almost no other measure. It therefore makes little sense to entrust vendors we don’t know, whom we have no relationship with or control over, with the reputation of our company and the relationship with your tenant.
Instead, when repairs are needed, we will send our trusted vendors with whom established relationships and excellent communication exists, and they will provide the quality service we require in a professional and timely manner.
Q: What bills will you take care of getting paid for me, related to my rental property?
We will pay your recurring HOA dues, lawn service and any other bill or invoice generated as a result of repairs. Also utilities during vacancy or other services to your property with the exception of mortgage or insurance payments. There is no additional charge for this service. The actual cost will be reflected on your owner statement with no accounting fees or upcharges.
Q: When will I receive my owner statement and check each month?
Your monthly proceeds will be initiated for electronic deposit directly to your bank account each month by the 15th. Property statements are emailed between the 10th-15th each month.
Q: What are your fees for managing homes in Austin?
Management fee is 10% of the monthly rent collected, with a $125 per month minimum.
Leasing commission is one full month’s rent each time a new tenant is located, $1,250 minimum.
Renewal Fee is a $250 flat fee each time a lease renewal is executed with an existing tenant.
Q: Do you charge a markup on maintenance invoices?
No, we do not mark up maintenance or repair invoices. You pay what the vendor charges.
Q: Do you charge a “setup” fee, or other fees hidden in the fine print?
No, there is no setup fee. The three fees outlined above are the only charges 99% of our owners ever see.
Q: What is the process once I decide to have you manage my home?
We will visit your home to make sure it meets our condition requirements. Then we will send you a management agreement and initiate the process of assuming management of your property.
Q: Other Questions
If you have any questions not answered above, or wish to further discuss anything listed above, feel free to call Steve Crossland, MPM, at (512) 301-5811, or contact us online.