Calendar icon May 11, 2023

10 Hiring Tips For Recruiters in Property Management Companies

It’s not always so easy to build a property management team, and property management hiring tips can be hard to come by. Professional property management is a complex industry with endless responsibilities, nuanced roles, and lots of stakeholders’ priorities to balance. Putting together a dream team – the kind of team that just makes things work, delivers happy residents, and makes workflows feel seamless – it’s hard! 

So, we sat down with an expert in just this subject. He’s perfected the art of finding and hiring the right people – the kind of people who can become your property management dream team. An organization is its people, and few companies in the property management industry have internalized this idea more than Evernest.

Whitaker sat down with Second Nature to talk through some of the key things he wants in an employee and how he goes about identifying which candidates have them and which do not.

Ready to hire the best property management team? Let’s dive into Whitaker’s top property management hiring tips.

Meet the Expert: Matthew Whitaker, CEO of Evernest

Matthew Whitaker has developed and refined his hiring process over years of experience in real estate as a property management firm CEO. Evernest is a nationwide SFR company based out of Birmingham, Alabama. Evernest manages around 6,000 doors and continues to scale its business and grow its team at an impressive rate. CEO and founder Matthew Whitaker has been constantly adjusting and reevaluating his hiring process, and it has resulted in one of the most comprehensive talent acquisition procedures in the property management game. 

 

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1. Hire Based On Characteristics Over “Qualifications”

Whitaker’s biggest insight, which he’s developed over years in the property management industry, is that there is a lot more to hiring the right people than simply hiring qualified people.

The concept of hiring the most qualified candidate seems like it’s pretty straightforward. But if you start to pull it apart, many of us have hired candidates who seem “qualified” on paper but who end up being a poor fit with the company. 

“Who you are matters almost as much as what you’ve done,” Whitaker says. “And as employees rise up through your business, you need to be confident you’ve hired someone who is bought in and is wired for the challenges that come with that.”

Whitaker says their investment in identifying personal characteristics has helped separate their best candidates from the rest of the pack. Be clear with property management recruiters about all the characteristics you’re looking for.

2. Define What a Qualified Candidate Looks Like for You

Evernest hires with a well-rounded definition of “most qualified” – with defined characteristics and experiences they’re looking for. Those descriptions might not be the first things you think of, but it’s helped them with resident retention and growth. 

For example, instead of just seeking candidates with “property management experience,” they’re looking for candidates who can handle failure well, who have shown resilience, and who match their company culture. (More on each of those later!)

As a heavily scaled company, Whitaker recognizes that you’re not going to hit on 100% of hires, but going a little deeper than just career experience can up that number as much as reasonably possible.  

Clearly defining your ideal candidate can help with referrals, as well, since you can describe to others who you’re looking for.

3. Develop Interview Questions that Reveal Important Traits

The next step is to outline interview questions in your screening process that can identify the qualifications and characteristics you defined in Step 1. 

What does that type of person look like? What kind of life experience would they have that built their skills? How have they exhibited the traits that you need in the past? Give them a scenario they might experience while on your team and ask how they would respond. 

Carefully evaluate if their responses align with the candidate profile you created.

4. Look For Resilient People

Resiliency is the trait that really stands out to Whitaker for the property management space. After all, single-family property management, in particular, requires people who can stick with it when things get tough. 

SFR property management is tricky because properties are spread out over larger regions, residents may have very diverse needs, and the properties themselves may have very diverse problems or requirements.

Evernest always looks to hire resilient people who can handle the ups and downs and surprises of the job. Look for any red flags of people who aren’t willing to go the extra mile.

Whitaker is adamant that resilience is among the most important traits a property manager can have and a great indicator of their potential success in the company. 

“One of the things about a property manager is the fact that all you do is deal in the world of problems,” Whitaker says. “If you didn’t have problems, there wouldn't be a role for property managers. So they have to get used to dealing with problems all day and being able to bounce from problem to problem.” 

5. Consider Candidates’ Personal Experiences, Even Beyond Real Estate

Whitaker says that resiliency is legitimately a skill you can identify in the interview process and one that you can design interview questions around.

While it may be challenging to uncover in a conversational setting, Whitaker likes to work through the personal experience of a candidate.

The key is asking the right questions. He asks about potential major life events that have challenged their resolve, which he believes can forge resiliency in a person. 

“Sometimes [people who have had major life events] make the best team members because they realize that things aren’t unicorns and rainbows,” Whitaker says. 

 

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6. Find Out How They Deal With Failure

Another key part of the interview process – and identifying resilient people – is to find out how they’ve historically dealt with failure in their life.  

Whitaker believes that someone who has dealt with adversity and failures and come out the other side is automatically going to be better suited to rental property management.

He says, “Whether it’s a huge disappointment they’ve had, a business failure, or a failure in maybe a job, [those experiences] sometimes turn them into somebody that’s very resilient. Some of our best team members actually meet that profile, and I’ve thought that for a long time.”

7. Use a Culture Index to Find a Fit for Your Team

Whitaker and Evernest have proven how important cultural fit can be in such a demanding industry. They use a tool called the Culture Index to test for traits like resiliency, and Whitaker says the tool has really gone a long way for Evernest and the success rate of its hiring process.  

With Evernest hiring at scale, Whitaker believes it has helped them get the right people in the right seats at a higher rate, which results in losing fewer people out the back door. 

“We buy into the idea that Culture Index can help us identify someone’s unique personality or wiring and that. As a result, they have more success when they are put into the right positions on the team,” Whitaker says.

Culture Index is a data-driven personality testing tool and the weapon of choice for Evernest. It’s part of their refined hiring process that they refer to as “The Grinder,” which features four interviews, the third of which assesses cultural fit. It’s one of the keys to finding the right property manager.

8. Use a Personality-Testing Tool

The Culture Index is just one example of hiring procedures that help to identify personality traits. Companies can use any kind of personality-testing tool to ensure not just that someone is a culture fit but that they’re being hired for the right role on the team.

Whitaker shares:

One of our biggest "aha" moments around personality and natural wiring is when we moved a team member out of accounting here in Alabama and moved him to Little Rock to run our market there.

This guy was an excellent operator in Birmingham. He had all the "i's" dotted and "t's" crossed. No stone unturned. When he moved to Little Rock, we expected him to grow the business. We kept waiting and waiting on it to happen, but it never did. But he was still dang good at executing.

Later, when we profiled him, we learned that he is a "Craftsman," which basically means he is a detail-oriented, highly introverted person. So of course he wasn’t out there growing the business. We later moved a "Trailblazer" into the role, which is a highly relational, highly autonomous person, and she KILLED it. She grew the business and it almost doubled in size. The Craftsman came back to Birmingham to run our accounting department and has been incredibly successful.

He continues: “Since we’ve gotten into personality profiling, we’ve certainly gotten a lot more intentional about putting the right people in the right places, and I feel like we’ve been a lot more successful doing that.” 

Failing to invest in a more refined hiring process that features components such as personality testing is cited by Whitaker as one of the mistakes he made early on that other PMs have the opportunity to avoid. 

9. Be Smart About Promotions

Whitaker notes that early on, a less refined and consistent approach opened Evernest up to being a victim of the Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is the all-too-common practice of promoting employees into jobs they aren’t cut out for – based on their success in their previous role. 

“We would use our hiring process to hire middle-level and upper-level management,” Whitaker says. “But then when we would go to hire frontline people, we would just basically skip through the process and hire people. These are the people that are going to move up into the middle management, so not being consistent at the frontline level led to people getting into the company that probably should not have been there.”

From the very start, you need to think about hiring people you can eventually promote. 

10. Don’t Assume You Can Hire from Multi-Family Property Management

Whitaker says that perhaps the biggest hiring mistake he sees in single-family rental management is poorly-vetted cross-hiring between property management industries, from residential to commercial properties, or SFR and MFR. 

He specifically points to single-family homes and property management companies hiring multi-family managers who are unprepared for the transition. And it’s a much tougher transition than it may seem, with differences in property owners, property types, maintenance issues, rent collection practices, property management services, etc. 

“The skillset doesn’t easily translate because a full-time multifamily manager has been working on-site at a property,” says Whitaker. 

The communication and logistical demands of single-family are quite a bit different than multifamily complexes, where every issue that arises is right in front of you. 

“When you add multiple real estate investments and then the logistics of single-family, it becomes a much more complicated business,” says Whitaker. “If you’re going to pull from the multifamily industry, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re hiring some of the best and brightest from that industry because, again, dealing with 300 homes and 50 investors is way more complicated than a 300-unit apartment community all together with one investor.”

 

Transitioning a property manager from a multifamily business to a single-family has a number of logistical roadblocks. You need to know more about a candidate than how successful they were to feel confident they're up to the challenge.


That doesn’t mean that cross-hiring is impossible, and Whitaker clarifies that Evernest has done so successfully. But the bottom line is that a diligent and robust hiring approach like Evernest’s is important to identify whether a person is up to the transition. 

Final Thoughts

Building a good property management team is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The key to creating your dream team is to outline a robust hiring process and know exactly what makes a candidate successful in SFR property management.

At Second Nature, we work with thousands of residential property managers around the country and have helped ensure PMCs have the tools they need to retain their best talent. Get more insights like these from Matt by listening to our Triple Win Podcast, or check out more from our blog.

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Property Management Pest Control Gone Wrong: Resident Horror Stories & Nightmares

In the world of property management and real estate investing, maintaining a clean and pest-free environment is central to the well-being of the residents who live in your properties. That being said, effective pest control is not only a best practice, but also a strategic move that enhances your properties’ living experience, making your life as a property manager easier and your residents happier. Pest control is crucial for several reasons: Investing in pest control saves significant potential costs by avoiding large-scale infestations and property damage, enhancing resident satisfaction with a healthier, pest-free environment, and preserving property value. This approach reduces health risks, protects against liability, and maintains a good reputation by demonstrating the property management company’s dedication to providing safe, comfortable living spaces for great tenants. Ultimately, pest control sets professional property management companies apart from DIY and amateur real estate investors by safeguarding both residents' well-being and property assets. By addressing these points, you can foster a positive living environment that benefits both you and your residents. It’s important to note that our goal is not to call out “good tenants” vs. “bad tenants.” Instead, we always aim to foster a constructive dialogue focused on addressing problems and finding solutions. By emphasizing respect and fairness, we can help create a positive environment that benefits all residents, ensuring their rights and dignity are always respected. Also note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. "House of Horror" Stories Most property managers have encountered their share of resident horror stories – and many, not for the first time. These tales often involve unexpected and severe pest infestations, made worse by residents' behaviors. Indeed, from bedbugs and roaches (the truly bad tenants any property manager is looking to be rid of) to animal issues, the range of pest problems is vast and daunting. Our "House of Horror Stories" video provides a vivid account of these situations, including some landlord horror stories that are too distressing to include here. Maggots falling from the ceiling: A tenant reported maggots falling from the ceiling onto their bed. The pest company discovered that these maggots were larvae of beetles infesting the air ducts in the neighborhood. Pets and extensive damage: Animals in one property caused extensive damage by covering all floors with feces and chewing through doors, door frames, flooring, HVAC systems, and appliances, with clean-up costs exceeding $15,000. Flushable wipes backup: A tenant flushing baby wipes caused a major sewage backup, leading to water damage throughout multiple rooms (including the living room and master bedroom), with clean-up costs close to $5,000. Donkey in the basement: During the purchase inspection, a donkey was found tied to the deck and later moved to the basement to hide it from animal control, calling for its quick removal. Rodents damaging appliances: Rats infested a property, chewing through a new dishwasher, insulation, and electrical wires, requiring repeated pest control visits and extensive repairs. These stories from a range of contributors highlight the unpredictable and often extreme challenges property managers face in maintaining their properties and ensuring the safety and well-being of their residents. How to Control Resident Pest Issues A robust pest control program is often the property manager’s best friend. After all, infestations can be difficult to proactively defend against, given that background checks, references, and tenant screening go only so far in uncovering the pest issues that can befall even the best tenants. Regardless of the challenges residents may present, a comprehensive pest control plan can mitigate potential infestations before they escalate into true horror stories. This includes timely intervention, and educating residents about maintaining cleanliness. Providing residents with clear guidelines on waste disposal and food storage can also significantly mitigate pest problems. Additionally, offering pest control services as part of a Resident Benefits Package can encourage residents to report issues early, allowing for swift action. Planning Ahead When dealing with problematic residents, it's essential to have a clear action plan. Issuing notices to clean the property promptly (e.g., with a 7-day notice period) is a critical first step. Leveraging a notice-to-clean template can streamline the process and ensure that you comply with tenant laws and legal standards. If worst things come to worst, an eviction notice may become necessary. However, this process is governed by various rules and regulations that can differ significantly across federal and state lines. It's important to be well-versed in these laws to avoid legal pitfalls. A detailed “notice to vacate” template can be incredibly helpful for property managers looking to take care of these complex situations. Nipping Things in the Bud In conclusion, maintaining a pest-free environment is integral to property management success. On-Demand Pest Control is a service in Second Nature’s fully managed Resident Benefits Package (RBP). It offers predictable, cost-effective, and fast solutions when a pest issue arises. Instead of expensive scheduled preventive treatments, residents can request service as needed. This approach ensures fast response times, directly addressing the problem at hand and saving costs over recurring treatments Property managers simply select the best pest plan from four tiers of service levels to include in their RBP. When an issue arises, the resident reports it in the On-Demand Pest Control portal, and the pest issue will be resolved. Learn more about On-Demand Pest Control by getting in touch, or read our latest study on the impact of our RBP on the resident experience.

Calendar icon July 3, 2024

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Your Guide to Property Management Laws, Regulations, & Rules

Property management activities involve overseeing rental properties, ensuring they’re maintained, residents are managed, and finances are handled effectively. While a real estate license is not always necessary to manage rental properties, licensing requirements can vary significantly by state. Typically, states may require property managers to hold a real estate license or work under a licensed broker. Property managers should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations in their state to ensure compliance. What Are Some Important Property Management Rules and Regulations? Property management laws encompass various areas, ensuring the safety, rights, and responsibilities of both property managers and tenants. Key areas include: Anti-discriminatory laws: Fair housing laws such as the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) prevent discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Lease paperwork: Legally binding lease agreements must include specific terms and comply with local regulations. Safety, maintenance, and repairs: Property managers must ensure properties meet habitability standards, including weatherproofing, heating, water, and electricity. Financial management: Proper handling of security deposits, monthly rent collection, and financial records is essential to comply with regulations and avoid disputes. Property management laws by state Each state has specific property management laws that property managers must adhere to. For instance, in many (but not all) jurisdictions, property managers must obtain a real estate broker license to operate. These laws are typically drafted and enforced by various regulatory bodies such as the state's Department of Real Estate or similar agencies. For instance, the California Department of Real Estate is responsible for regulating real estate activities, brokers, and salespersons, including those who work in property management, while the Texas Real Estate Commission handles these responsibilities in Texas. These agencies ensure compliance with state licensing laws and often provide resources and guidelines for property managers of both residential properties and commercial properties. Below is a table linking to the respective government sites for state-specific regulations: State State Body Alabama Alabama Real Estate Commission Alaska Alaska Real Estate Commission Arizona Arizona Department of Real Estate Arkansas Arkansas Real Estate Commission California California Department of Real Estate Colorado Colorado Division of Real Estate Connecticut Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Delaware Delaware Real Estate Commission Florida Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation Georgia Georgia Real Estate Commission and Appraisers Board Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Real Estate Branch Illinois Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Indiana Indiana Professional Licensing Agency Iowa Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, & Licensing Kansas Kansas Real Estate Commission (for commercial real estate property management only) Kentucky Kentucky Real Estate Commission Louisiana Louisiana Real Estate Commission Michigan Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Minnesota Minnesota Department of Commerce Mississippi Mississippi Real Estate Commission Missouri Missouri Division of Professional Registration Montana Montana Department of Labor and Industry Nebraska Nebraska Real Estate Commission Nevada Nevada Real Estate Division New Hampshire New Hampshire Real Estate Commission New Jersey New Jersey Real Estate Commission New Mexico New Mexico Real Estate Commission New York New York State Division of Licensing Services North Carolina North Carolina Real Estate Commission North Dakota North Dakota Real Estate Commission Ohio Ohio Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing Oklahoma Oklahoma Real Estate Commission Oregon Oregon Real Estate Agency Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation South Carolina South Carolina Real Estate Commission South Dakota South Dakota Real Estate Commission Tennessee Tennessee Real Estate Commission Texas Texas Real Estate Commission Utah Utah Division of Real Estate Virginia Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation Washington Washington State Department of Licensing West Virginia West Virginia Real Estate Commission Wisconsin Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Wyoming Wyoming Real Estate Commission Note: This list excludes resources from Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Tenant screenings Tenant screenings are a critical step in property management, involving background checks, credit checks, income verification, employment verification, rental history, and proof of ID to assess prospective tenants. This process helps ensure that potential renters are reliable and financially responsible. It's important to obtain signed consent before running credit checks, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to comply with legal standards and protect tenant privacy. Another important guidance is provided by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing-related activities based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability, ensuring equal access to housing for all individuals. Learn more about Tenant Screening Tips for PMs Lease agreements A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant, outlining the terms of the tenancy. Key components of rental agreements include lease terms, rent amount, security deposit regulations, and common clauses such as maintenance responsibilities and lease renewal terms. Regulations governing lease agreements can vary by state, so it's essential to ensure that leases comply with local laws. For instance, state laws often contain security deposit limits, provisions for the return of unused portions, as well as a clear accounting for any deductions. Consulting with a lawyer is crucial to ensure your agreement is legally sound and reflects your specific circumstances. We’ve shared some relevant resources below: Learn more about property management agreements, featuring a free template Learn about security deposit insurance, and its pros and cons Financial management Effective financial management in property management involves establishing clear rent collection procedures and maintaining organized financial records. This includes tracking rent payments, managing tenants’ security deposits, and adhering to landlord-tenant laws to avoid legal disputes and financial penalties. Keeping detailed records can help property managers resolve issues efficiently and ensure transparency with tenants and property owners. Solutions such as property management software can streamline financial operations, automate routine tasks, and perhaps most importantly - ensure accuracy and regulatory compliance with respect to various accounting regulations and legal requirements. Evictions Evictions are a legal process to remove a tenant from a property. Common reasons for eviction from rental units include nonpayment of rent, property damage, lease violations, and criminal activity. Property managers must follow their state's rules for eviction notices, such as unconditional quit terminations and termination for lease violations, to ensure the process is lawful and fair. State laws regarding unconditional quit terminations and terminations for violation of a lease vary widely. Unconditional quit notices typically demand that tenants move out immediately without an opportunity to remedy the violation. States like Indiana and Mississippi allow landlords to issue these notices for serious or repeated violations, with Mississippi requiring 14 days to move out. For lease violations, the notice period and the opportunity for tenants to remedy the breach also differ by state. For example, in Kentucky, tenants generally have 15 days of written notice to cure a violation, but if the same violation occurs within six months, landlords can issue a 14-day unconditional quit notice. In contrast, states like Iowa and Maine require a seven-day notice period for tenants to address lease violations before eviction proceedings can begin. In California, on the other hand, tenants must be given three days or more to cure the violation before landlords can file for eviction (source). These legal nuances emphasize the importance of PMs and tenants understanding their specific state regulations to navigate eviction processes appropriately. Property maintenance and repairs Maintaining rental properties is a legal obligation for landlords, ensuring that properties are safe, habitable, and free from hazards like lead, asbestos, and mold. This includes weatherproofing, providing adequate heating and water, and ensuring electrical systems are functional. You can find out more about these issues in our Property Maintenance Guide for PMs. Landlords must also give notice to tenants before entering the property for repairs, as required by most state laws. When in doubt, consult a legal advisor to ascertain the specific laws that apply to you in your state. Tenants have the right to a habitable living environment, and failure to meet these standards can lead to legal consequences as well as issues with occupancy rates. Indeed, when landlords fail to make required repairs, tenants have several options depending on their state's laws. Tenants may withhold rent, make the necessary repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the rent, pay a reduced rent, report the issue to local building inspectors who can order repairs, or even break the lease and move out. Additionally, tenants can sue the landlord for a partial refund of past rent or for damages caused by the substandard conditions, including discomfort and emotional distress. Get our preventative maintenance checklist for property management Learn about the importance of pest control to maintain a pest-free environment Second Nature's Guidance Staying informed about state-specific regulations, maintaining organized records, and ensuring compliance with federal laws such as the Fair Housing Amendments Act is key to successful property management. On a practical level, understanding and adhering to property management laws and regulations is crucial for property managers to ensure smooth operations, maintain property value, and foster positive tenant relationships. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon July 3, 2024

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