How Many Property Managers Work From Home – or Still Have a Brick-and-mortar Office?
As many areas of the country pause or slow down re-opening efforts due to the pandemic, a growing number of businesses have decided to close up their conventional offices and operate with most employees working remotely or in a modified office situation that supports social distancing. Property management companies are lining up with this trend.
Due to the business's nature, many property management companies already work with just a skeleton crew in office. They have always relied on remote workers or contractors, and phone-based employees often work from home without any difficulties.
With forced shutdowns, how many property managers work from home, and how many still work from brick-and-mortar locations?
As seen on a property management forum hosted by Rentometer, 90% of participating property managers are now working remotely, supported by various online platforms and portals. A few managers commented that working in this distributed way is only possible, with a really good team in place; some noted decreased productivity when employees were working from home.
Typically, operations now involve bi-weekly in-office meetings, contactless applications, and phone or email contact with current tenants. 80% of the property managers indicated that managing properties virtually had worked out well once they moved to the right online platforms and got their people up and running with them.
One exciting development: With this move to online platforms, some managers reported rental collection as high as 95%, when national news has been reporting …..
If you are a property management company struggling to move from brick-and-mortar to an online operation, what tools should you consider?
With many available, easy-to-use options to support property management functions, companies have choices to consider.
Online tools for daily operations
Rent Manager is an all-in-one software platform for property management companies. Rent Manager claims to be "completely self-contained with a powerful property management database, integrated accounting, contact management, work orders, marketing solutions, etc." It includes a program for overall business functions like accounting and marketing, plus tenant screening, lease signing, rent collection, work orders, and repair requests.
Cozy.co and apartments.com. These companies have merged to become cozy.co. Cozy.co allows you to list properties, collect applications, screen tenants, sign leases, collect rents, charge service fees, etc. There are tenant communication platforms and systems for daily operations and expense tracking for the management company. They offer a unique pay structure for landlords, as it's free to use, but they charge landlords for rental payment collection and bank transfers.
Paylease or Zego-These two companies recently merged to become Zego. This mobile-centric platform was built to serve residential real estate professionals. Zego has all-in-one software options for tenant communication, rent payment, utilities, and work orders to streamline daily operations.
Amrent is a tenant screening platform for residential rental property management companies and landlords. It helps "housing providers throughout the United States improve their bottom line by quickly converting qualified applicants to residents while reducing skips and evictions.”
Showmojo is a platform that handles the listing of rental properties, showings, tenant screening, follow-ups to showings, and lease signing. It has customized forms that tenants fill out to determine if they qualify for your property, and it schedules showings accordingly.
rentometer.com. Rentometer is a rent evaluation website that allows you to set accurate rental rates based on daily listings in the specific search area. It allows you to compare your rental rate to others in your neighborhood to learn whether or not you are within a reasonable range for rent or charging too much or too little. The platform allows property managers to dial in their rental rates and improve their profits.
With all of these online options, why would a property management company have a storefront?
Some counties and states require property management companies – and even solo property managers – to have an actual physical location to operate their business. Property managers working in Virginia confirmed in forum conversation that this was the case for them. These respondents indicated they would gladly do business as online-only operations but are required to have an office.
Does the lack of foot traffic in a property management office impact how quickly properties get rented?
Property managers who do continue to work from physical locations have said that the lack of live, in-person interaction with tenants or potential tenants has not hurt them. They have maintained social distancing rules when they do come in contact with tenants and applicants, all while keeping the office functioning efficiently.
Is there anything property managers have not been able to do online?
With most property management activities moving to an online platform, some companies mentioned a few tasks they cannot complete online.
Move-in and move-out inspections— A few managers moved to contactless move-in and move-out inspections, but have not yet chosen a completely online option where tenants send in a video or do a live virtual tour for an inspection.
Repairs and service calls- While the scheduling of service or repairs has moved online, it doesn't take care of the actual physical repairs that need to be done in person. Management companies have been able to schedule these appointments to take place in a contactless environment, ensuring that tenants are away from the premises during the repair times.
As property management businesses transition from working remotely back to more in-office operations, many will choose to lower the overhead tied to their physical location and do as much as possible by working remotely. These savings on building ownership costs or rent can support investment in a mix of platforms and services to improve efficiency and productivity.
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