Austin Property Manager FAQ – Crossland Real Estate
About our Austin Property Management Services
Are you looking for a Property Manager or Property Management Company in Austin to manage an existing rental home or an investment property you are about to purchase? Below you will find answers to common questions regarding our Austin Property Management Services. These are questions you should ask any Austin Property Manager you are interviewing. If you have questions not answered below, feel free to contact by web or call us.
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 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 instead of worrying about your Austin rental property.
How long have you been managing real estate in Austin TX?
Sylvia Crossland has been leasing homes in Austin since 1988. Steve and Sylvia Crossland have been managing and leasing homes together in Austin since 1990. We started our Property Management Company, Crossland Real Estate, in 1993 and since then have leased to more than 2,500 tenants in Austin and helped hundreds of owners with property management services for their Austin rental property.
To which professional organizations do you belong?
National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)
- Property Manager Steve Crossland, MPM, has been a member of the Austin Chapter of the NARPM since 1996, and served for 6 years on the Board of Directors of the Austin Chapter of NARPM, including as Chapter President in 2003. Steve holds both the RMP (Residential Management Professional) and MPM (Master Property Manager) designations from NARPM. The MPM designation is held by fewer than 200 property managers nationwide. Steve is also a NARPM instructor, having providing educational workshops and training for property managers locally and nationwide.
Texas Apartment Association (TAA)
– Crossland Real Estate has been a member of the Austin (Texas) Apartment Association since our beginning in 1993. TAA provides the very best landlord/tenant legal updates and information regarding changes in landlord/tenant laws in Texas. As members, you can rest assured that your property management team is up to date and aware of all important legal issues that affect you and your tenant.
Austin Board of Realtors (ABOR)
– Steve serves on the Ethics and Professional Standards Committee and the Education Committee at ABOR. Sylvia serves on the ABOR Scholarship Committee.
As Realtors, we are able to place your home for lease in the Austin MLS.
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. Many property managers operate as a sideline business or an afterthought to their sales business, and make no effort to stay educated or updated on landlord/tenant laws or current industry practices. In fact, some property managers in Austin are not even licensed real estate agents.
How big is your Austin Property Management company?
There are two of us – Steve Crossland, Property Manager and Sylvia Crossland, Broker. You will mainly deal with Steve and sometimes Sylvia. We are both licensed Texas Real Estate Brokers.
In selecting a property management company in Austin, you will find companies of various sizes. 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.
What is your style or philosophy of Property Management?
We believe that you hire a property manager to manage your Austin 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.
What if I want to be informed 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.
Under your “turnkey” system of property management, how informed then will I be about what’s going on with my property?
Our 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 a turnover, along with related expenses, is pending and 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.
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.
What type of rental properties do you manage in Austin?
We manage residential single family homes that are in good to excellent condition. Another way to say it is; we manage safe, well maintained homes that attract good, quality renters.
In which areas of Austin do you offer property management services?
We like to keep the majority of our portfolio located in the Central, South, and Southwest areas of Austin. We also handle 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 rental properties including some that are inside Austin 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.
How do you determine the rent value of my home when it needs to be rented?
Each time your home comes up for rent, we will perform 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 extra rent, but we will council you against being too optimistic.
For example, a home with a market rent of $1,195, if placed on the market for a more optimistic $1,250, only has to remain vacant about 2 weeks longer than it otherwise would have to completely erase the additional $660/yr. that the $1,250 would have achieved.
Additionally, we stay very tuned in to the rental market all across Austin. No other Austin property manager that we know of provides monthly leasing market and sales market statistics like the ones we provide on our blog.
How will your Austin property management company market our home when it needs to be rented to a new tenant?
Exposure and good photos are the name of the game. We market your home for rent as follows:
Sign in the yard.
* Listed in the Austin MLS with good quality photos and full descriptions.
* Listed on our websites at CrosslandTeam.com and CrosslandProperties.com.
* Listed on Craigslist.com (sometimes)
* ListHub.com, and other various affiliate websites (that receive listing feeds from Listhub, including Yahoo! Real Estate, AOL Real Estate, Trulia, Zillow.com, Hotpads, and others.
How much security Deposit will you require from new tenants?
We stay within the customs of Austin, and our competition, and normally require about 70% to 90% of a full month’s rent.
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.
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 cats only, or dogs only. Be aware that pets can cause damage beyond the normal pet deposit of $200 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.
Do you allow smoking in our Austin rental home?
No. We write into every lease, for every property we manage, a “no smoking” policy.
How will prospective tenants be screened and qualified by your property management company?
We require 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.
We call the applicant’s current/previous landlords and ask about the applicant’s payment history, whether there were bounced checks, late payments, unauthorized roommates, pets, noise, damage, etc.
If the former landlord is a private home owner (instead of an apartment manager), we pull the County tax record to verify that the person listed as the landlord is in fact the owner of the former rental property.
We also run an MLS search on the tenant’s former addresses to see if there was any MLS sales or rental activity that contradicts the rental time frame listed on the application.
These two additional cross-checks alone have caught many bogus applicants in years past who might otherwise have slipped through a less rigorous screening process.
Additional Address Checks
We also pull a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license from a public database we subscribe to. This online driver’s license service shows the date of last renewal (which isn’t shown on the actual driver license). We compare that address and date to the most addresses and dates listed on the rental application.
The online driver license also allows us to click on the applicant’s driver license address and see all other driver licenses that have the same address listed. This sometimes reveals interesting results as we discover additional people (girlfriends, roommates) not listed on the application, with recent license renewal activity at the same address of the applicant. We then ask questions to clarify whether or not those individuals are planning to move in to the new rental property as well.
We perform the same address crosschecks against the addresses that appear on an applicant’s credit report.
We fax an employment verification form to employers, and ask the applicant for a recent check stub. Income must be at least three times the monthly rent to qualify.
Criminal Background, Eviction and Terrorist Database Search
We perform a Texas Criminal Background check on each applicant as well as an Eviction History search and Federal Terrorist Database search.
Most good applicants will sail through the screening process and be approved. Otherwise, the screening process may reveal “red flags” which we look into further. Commonly, an applicant may qualify based on income and rental history, but have poor credit. In some instances, if we think the applicant is a reasonable risk, we will offer them approval with additional security deposit equal to at least one month’s rent.
In all instances we are very thorough with our screening of tenants, probably moreso than many other property managers, and will never let an urgency to rent diminish our screening requirements.
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.
How strictly do you enforce the lease agreement after the tenant moves in?
We enforce the lease very strictly, including late fees, 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.
How does your Austin property management company 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 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 eyebeams), 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.
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.
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. If you have a Home Warranty and wish it to be used, you’ll have to hire someone other than us to manage the property.
Why won’t you use my Home Warranty Company?
Because doing so takes the repair and maintenance outside of our direct control. If, as a property manager, I wanted to damage my reputation with as many tenants as possible by providing the lousiest repair service possible, I can’t think of a better way to accomplish that than by using American Home Shield on all service calls.
They simply are not compatible with the level of service we demand of our vendors, and they don’t make the cut to be a member of our vendor team. We’ve been burned so many times in years past that we finally decided we’d had enough, and said “no more”.
Why are repairs so important?
Nothing affects the reputation of 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.
Will you use my brother-in-law to perform repairs, he’s fairly handy?
No, we only use our qualified vendors. We are not able for liability reasons to use your friends or relatives to perform work on your home unless they are in fact licensed vendors (see below).
Will you use my favorite Plumber, A/C Company, etc. each time a repair is needed?
We will be happy to invite them to join our vendor list, if they are qualified and insured, but we can’t promise that a specific vendor will be dispatched to your home for certain repairs.
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, utilities or other services to your property with the exception of mortgage or insurance payments. There is no additional charge for this service.
When will I receive my owner statement and check each month?
Your monthly proceeds will be electronically deposited directly to your bank account each month by the 15th. Property statements are emailed between the 10th-15th each month.
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.
Do you charge a markup on maintenance invoices?
No, we do not mark up maintenance or repair invoices. You pay what the vendor charges.
Do you charge a “setup” fee?
No, there is no setup fee, but we will need you to mail your repair hold-back of $500 to us along with the management agreement. If an existing tenant is in the property, we will need you to send the security deposit to be held in our deposit escrow account.
What type of Property Management Agreement will I be signing?
We use the Texas Association of Realtors Property Management Agreement along with an addendum. Samples are below.
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.
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) 327-3900, or contact us online.