Working With a Management Agency
Some overseas property owners choose to let their homes for certain periods and local property management agencies can alleviate many of the headaches that come with this task. Allowing an agency to manage your property, however, means giving up a great deal of control over your own affairs and paying someone else to do this for you. Before deciding to work with a management agency, research their reputation and legitimacy, make sure you understand what they do, discuss your expectations with them and confirm the fee structure so that you know how much everything will cost you.
Research Agency Reputation and LegitimacyWhen you purchase overseas property it can be hard to determine who you can trust and who might be trying to swindle you. Similarly, turning over your property in a foreign country requires a great deal of trust. Prior to employing a management agency, research their reputation and legitimacy. Determine if:
- Your estate agent knows anything about an agency.
- Your estate agent has any business ties to an agency.
- An agency is spoken of highly in the expat community.
- An agency advertises heavily within the expat community.
- An agency has a bricks-and-mortar office as well as a website.
- An agency has representatives who will make an appointment with you.
- Any of your new friends or neighbours work with an agency.
- An agency is registered as a business.
- There have been any formal complaints or lawsuits against an agency.
Understand What the Agency DoesOnce you decide an agency is legitimate, meet with a representative so that you can be certain you understand what the agency does. Don’t forget to ask if everything an agency offers must be utilised, or if you can put together your own package of services for a negotiable price. Common duties carried out by management agencies include:
- Advertising the property when required.
- Screening potential tenants.
- Collecting rents.
- Communicating with tenants about the state of the property.
- Employing cleaning services, landscaping services and security personnel.
- Carrying out maintenance as needed on the property.
- Translating official documents for property owners.
- Reminding or explaining to property owners various local real estate requirements.
- Bringing in cleaning and/or provisions prior to a holiday let.
Discuss Expectations with the AgencyOnce you and an agency understand their brief for your property, discuss your expectations of them. This will be particularly important regarding communication. Be clear about:
- How often you expect to communicate with them.
- How you will communicate with them.
- If you would like one person as your dedicated contact.
- If you would like scans sent before/as well as hard copy documents.
- Who will communicate with tenants.
- When the management agency can enter your property.
- How the management agency can advertise your property.
- Where your contract(s) with the agency can be upheld by law.
- When and how you would like the agency to contact you in the event of problems.
- How much notice either party must give before ending the professional relationship.
Confirm the Fee StructureBefore signing on the dotted line with any management agency, make sure you understand the fee structure for which you are about to become responsible. How much will the agency be charging you and why? When will payment need to be made? How will they accept payment? Which charges will be standing/recurring? Employing a management agency is usually a significant investment for your overseas property, so don’t allow yourself to be surprised by unexpected fees in the future.
Working with a management agency might seem like a way to ease the stress of owning overseas property, but working with the wrong agency can bring even more stress into your life. Prior to employing an agency make sure that you research their reputation and legitimacy, understand what the agency does, discuss your expectations with them and confirm the fee structure to which you will be committed.