Property Owners FAQs

By Justin Bajema | Property Management Tips

Jan 01

Do I really need a property manager?

It depends on how experienced you are, and how much time/money you can invest while you learn. On the surface, managing a rental property seems like a pretty simple proposition. When you really get into all the little things that can happen with a home and a tenant, and the laws that govern how you work with both, it is more than most people can handle well. That’s why very few people manage their own rental homes long term. Most people handling a rental home for the first time will end up going with a property management company, or let frustration push them out of real estate investing entirely. How much does it cost you every day to have your property sit vacant? If you don’t know you should figure it out. Rent/30 is the cost of each vacant day while your busy life commitments push the rental to the back burner. Most people can’t afford NOT to hire a professional property manager.

Unless you have a solid background in property management, your most expensive choice will probably be to save some money and manage the home yourself. Unless you are very good at pricing your rental, running an ad, taking calls, and negotiating a lease, it is easy to add a month or two to each vacancy. You may lease the house for less than it is worth, or settle for a tenant you can’t properly screen. Unless you are experienced with managing the tenant, it is easy to have a simple 30 day eviction turn into 60 days or more of lost income. With a regular full time job taking your time, even seasoned experts can rarely manage their own rental home efficiently enough to save money over a professional property management company. Those extra vacant months quickly cost you more than Management fees ever will.


How do I pick the right Property Management Company?

Your property manager will have a huge impact on your experience as a real estate investor. We are investors ourselves and have tailored this company to be exactly what we wanted (and could never find) in a property management company. If your property manager can’t say yes to everything below, red flags should be going up for you!

  • Do they get it? If they don’t own investment real estate themselves, they can’t possibly understand what it is like to be an investor, to have a vacant property, or to be left out of the loop. We believe it is impossible to effectively manage a rental property without that personal experience! If your property manager knows what it is like to have a bad tenant, they will screen better if they know what it is like to pay that mortgage with no rent, they will be more committed to getting the home leased etc. If they aren’t passionate enough about real estate investing to be in the game themselves, how careful will they be with your investments? If they don’t nail this one, keep shopping.
  • Can they really focus on YOUR home or are you just #2,000? The critical thing to each investor shouldn’t be how many houses you manage, but how you will manage their ONE property. Before you sign up with a huge company, make sure they can provide you with the personalized care you deserve. How can you tell if they do a good job? Check them out with the BBB or with a simple Google search to find out if they manage their homes well, or just churn through the numbers.
  • Are their fees fair and easy to understand? Don’t be fooled by all the smoke and mirrors. Nobody works for free, but some companies are masters of hiding the dozens of ways they can reach into your pocket. Ask about the renewal contract and find out if your rates will change after the first of the year. Ask about other things that may show up as bills on your accounting. Little extra charges and fees can nickel and dime a great property to death. Make your property manager be honest about their fees. Expect great service and be ready to pay a fair price for it, but avoid the gimmicky promotions.
  • How will they market your home?  A few tried and true quotes come to mind, “you get what you pay for”, or “there is no such thing as a free lunch” and “if it sounds too good to be true…”.  How much marketing do you really believe they will do for free?  None.  Count on it.  We would never trust our results to the stuff we can get for free and we don’t think you should either.  Be ready to make an investment in your vacancy.  The difference between aggressive marketing and free marketing will definitely show up in longer vacancies and extra mortgage payments with no rent.  Leasing is a numbers game and aggressive marketing will create more leads… and more leads give us more choices… more choices result in better tenants in less time.
  • Do they have experts on hand that understand what it’s like to be a real estate investor?  The best expert will be passionate about investment real estate.  If they are passionate, they will have their own portfolio. We walk the walk and talk the talk. At Access, we’ve acquired investments ranging from $50,000 single family home deals up to the multimillion $1+mm dollar apartment deals.


How long does it take to get working on my home?

Quick!  Our online forms make it easy to get set up, and a quick phone call with one of our licensed Property Managers will get the ball rolling, fast. We get your home up, ready and marketed fast at Access Property Management Group.


What makes us West Michigan’s best choice for property management?

The Access Property Management Group staff has accumulated extensive professional experience and industry accreditation in real estate investment and property management.  The agents of Access Property Management Group are always available for personal mentoring and answering your questions about real estate investing. You will enjoy dedicated property managersand qualified leasing agents.  Our customer service staff is committed to quick response and making sure our clients are so satisfied they glady refer their friends to us.


What type of rental properties can you handle?

We are perfectly happy managing a wide variety of single family homes, condos, and apartment communities.  We specialize in middle to upper middle income single family homes, condos, and multifamily apartment communities.


What types of rental properties do you recommend?

There are literally hundreds of factors that impact the properties we recommend to our real estate investor clients.  Overall, we focus on properties that will be held for long term growth, in areas that have the strongest potential for maximum return on investment.  The easiest homes to own and manage are the homes that attract the very best tenants in any given neighborhood.


What cities of West Michigan do you cover?

We cover a wide area of West Michigan but try to stay within a 30 mile radius of Grand Rapids.


Can I see my property accounting online?

You will benefit from many technology advantages including real time access to your accounting.  This includes the ability to pull instant reports to see how your property is doing, and to see copies of any related documents.


How do I get info on my rental property?

As soon as you sign up with Access Property Management Group you will receive a link to your personal portal into the Access network.  You will have access to copies of all important documents, including your Management Agreement, the current Lease Agreement, repair invoices, etc., online 24/7. If you need to talk to somebody after taking advantage of the wealth of information we give you online, call or e-mail us anytime.  We are happy to help you with any questions you may have. Access Property Management Group makes it easy to know what is happening with your homes.


When can I expect an owner check from Access Property Management Group?

We cycle owner payments once a month by direct deposit on the 10th so there is never a “check in the mail”.  Remember also, you have online access to your accounting so you don’t need to call to know exactly when the tenant paid, or what your next check should look like.


What if there are problems with the tenant or property?

Being a real estate investor is a long term commitment.  If you follow the recommendations we give you during a portfolio plan, you will end up making real estate investments the foundation of your long term wealth.  One reality of being in the game is that if you own enough real estate over a long enough period of time, you will experience everything being a landlord has to offer!  The good news is that the problems that can come up are pretty predictable and easy to plan for.  Part of the “Plan It”  part of our service is preparing you for those problems and making sure you know what to expect.  The key is to have the experience of a professional property management company behind you so you can get back on track quickly with minimal legal issues, loss of rent, and damage to the home.


What if a tenant needs to be evicted?

Very few tenants ever need to be evicted, but it does happen.  We always start the process with the intent to get the home back as soon as legally possible.  Along the way, we encourage the tenant to cure if we believe they will learn from the experience and stay current in the future.  We handle the 7-day notice, required mailings, the legal document preparation, and interfacing with the attorney.  Once a judgment is secured we schedule the visit to the house with a court officer to execute the “Writ of Restitution” and change the locks on the house.  When possible, we work with the tenant rather than evict them but we are committed to having your tenant on track and staying current or finding you a new tenant who will.


How do you handle Maintenance issues?

Whether it is your primary home or a rental, things do go wrong in a home.  The easiest way to lose a great tenant is to be careless with maintenance, or let the property condition decline. We advocate being very proactive with maintenance to keep the relationship with the tenant strong, and to preserve the value of your investment.  This aspect of your investment strategy is so critical that we strongly avoid cutting corners and going with the cheapest possible solution.  There is usually a reason one painter is half the price of another… and it sometimes means paying the good contractor to go do it right after you tried to save a little money.  We will leverage our volume to get you a good job for a fair price.


Do I approve maintenance work?

No work can be done on a home without funds from the owner for the work.  With a $300 maintenance reserve, this means we will have to contact you for most repairs to secure money for the work so you will be involved in the process.


Can I do my own Maintenance?

If you are very good at maintenance, or like being more hands on… you always have the option of taking care of the maintenance of your property on your own.  In our experience, most people who attempt to be the maintenance man, or even the supervisor end up with more down time, a lot of personal involvement, and more money out of pocket.  If Maintenance is your expertise, go for it… otherwise we suggest you leave it to the experts. Please note, ALL WORK PERFORMED BY ACCESS (A Licensed and Insured Company)COMES WITH A 30 DAY WARRANTY!


Can you get my rental home ready to rent?

Don’t worry about getting your rental property perfect before asking Access Property Management Group to manage it.  We can absolutely take your home in any condition and get it rent ready fast. We’ll tell you up front what needs to be done before we even start.


How much rent can you get for my rental home?

Rental rates fluctuate with neighborhood, time of year, and many other market conditions.  What a house will rent for is entirely a function of the current market and your competition during this vacancy.  Unfortunately, it truly has nothing to do with your mortgage payment, what you rented the home for last time, or anything else.  Making sure you are priced to move, without being too low, will be part of the initial visit our Agent will make to the home.


How fast will you get a great tenant for my rental property?

The fastest property to be leased in any neighborhood is almost always the best rental home for the best price.  We will direct you on how to make your property the best, and how to price it to move.  If you follow our lead, your vacancies will be very short… if we are trying to rent a home that is in rough shape and overpriced, be ready for a few extra mortgage payments.
We balance the need to end the vacancy with the desire to get the right tenant.  We don’t want to slam a marginal tenant in fast, just to evict them in a month or two.  We are committed to marketing the home for maximum phone calls, handling every call well, screening the tenants to avoid problems where possible, and doing it all ASAP.


What type of Leases do you offer?

All our lease comply with all State and Federal laws as well as all Fair Housing Laws.

BEWARE!! That lease you found on Google may not serve your best interests or even hold up in front of a judge!

Our leases are generally 12 months in length with the option to renew if the tenant qualifies.


How much am I investing in your Property Management solution?

For the dedicated price shopper, few things will be more confusing than trying to find the absolutely cheapest possible property manager (who you will naturally expect to outperform the more reasonably priced options).  The reason for the confusion is that many managers will pull you in with an unbelievably cheap initial price that is loaded with hidden fees, and a January 1 renewal that hits like a landmine.
At Access Property Management Group we would rather lose a few of the passionate price shoppers than be the company they get mad at when they realize their “deal” wasn’t what they thought it was.  Our fees are straightforward and easy to understand, but more importantly, honestly disclosed.  We expect our clients to know we need to make a fair profit and we don’t mind being open about how we do it.


  1. Your Management Fee is 9% of the monthly rent.
  2. Your Leasing fee covers everything from yard signs and lockboxes to paying the Leasing Agent. With full management, your leasing fee will be equal to 65% of one month’s rent ($400 minimum). Items Include but not limited to: Completed Federal EPA Lead Disclosures, Marketing, All Showings, Lease Document Preparation, Lease Execution, Backup Electronic Copies for Compliance and Record Keeping.

Sit back and relax while we take care of the rest, no hidden fees, no surprises.


end faq


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About the Author

Justin Bajema, CPM® is the Founder & President of Access Investment Group, LLC and Access Property Management Group, LLC. His love for everything Real Estate and business began with one book back sent to him while he was returning back from the war in Iraq in 2003, "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki. Justin is a proud U.S. Marine combat veteran who served 2 tours in Iraq as an infantryman. He received the Purple Heart from Commander in Chief President George Bush for his wounds received in action while serving with the 24th MEU in Iraq. Justin Bajema, | Founder & President