Are You A Homeowner or Real Estate Investor Trying To Find A Property Management Company in Northern Virginia?
If you are a Homeowner or Real Estate Investor who needs to find a property management company in Northern Virginia, NOVA NARPM is your best resource. Our chapter, known locally as the Northern Virginia Chapter of Residential Property Managers (NOVA NARPM), is comprised of qualified National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) members and is the only local official chapter of Northern Virginia Residential Property Managers. What this means is that all of the top property management firms in Northern Virginia are members of this group which provides consumers with an unbiased and quality representation of the local property management industry. To help property owners and real estate investors become more informed, and as part of NOVA NARPM’s informational spotlight series, we recently interviewed Tiffany Izenour of Freedom Property Management in Manassas, Virginia to help Northern Virginia homeowners and investors become better educated about how to find a qualified, professional property management company.
Freedom Property Management’s advice to locals is a great resource because they have been providing residential property management solutions to the Northern Virginia market since 2005. They maintain a core value centered on being locally owned and maintaining a focus on serving the local community and serving it well. Izenour tells NOVA NARM, “being locally owned and a small business we live here, we work here, play here, and we have a vested interest in the success of our community as a whole and that inspires the way we manage our properties as well. We like to say that we manage your property like it is our own by taking that extra initiative and giving it that added touch by going out of our way to be there for our homeowners, and our tenants as well.”
This kind of hyperlocal insight is what we want to share with homeowners and real estate investors to help provide the education needed to make an informed decision when trying to find a property management company in Northern Virginia. In her recent interview with NOVA NARPM, Izenour gives tips on how to choose a qualified property management company, and offers an informed and perceptive view of the local Northern Virginia market.
Real Advice From A Qualified Property Management Company
NOVA NARPM: Northern Virginia is part of the larger Washington D.C. metropolitan area and because the area is so expansive, how can homeowners and investors find a property management company in Northern Virginia to fit their needs?
Tiffany Izenour: One of the biggest things that I recommended is, of course, do your research. One of the main things we find in this area is that there are locally owned companies like ours, the larger franchises and then you’ve got realtors who are managing properties on the side. So, make sure that you are doing your research and using someone that has the resources to fall back on because there is no property management licensing. There are no separate certifications, so the only thing you need to be a property manager is to say that you are a property manager. Doing the research, getting the referrals and working with a company that is a member of an association like NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers) are things that are essential when choosing a property management company.
NN: What if a homeowner or investor wants to manage their own property? What would you say to them?
TI: Not to do it. Of course, I would say that, but all joking aside and in all seriousness, if someone is an expert and they know the housing market, know landlord-tenant law and know how to be a landlord then great but if they’re not an expert they need to hire an expert. What we’re seeing is people taking one of the biggest investments they will ever have, which is property, and risking that. It is too big of a liability for an individual to take on. Paying a management team on a monthly basis can ensure that you’re limiting your liability. Because like I said, unless you know all the landlord-tenant laws and are keeping up-to-date every six months, and you’re keeping up with zoning and building codes, and can be available 24-7 for maintenance emergency calls, then you need to hire a professional. And those are just some of the things you are paying a professional company to handle for you. I compare it to homeowners insurance. You’re paying on that every month and most people will never use it but it’s there because if you get a huge windstorm that comes through your neighborhood like we’ve had recently and you have a tree fall on your house, that’s what it’s there for. In this context, it’s very similar to property management. Most of the time, if we can come in and do our job from the beginning, you are going to have smooth sailing but if something happens, having a professional in there to mitigate that risk for you is key.
NN: What’s the housing market look like in Northern Virginia right now? Who’s got the advantage?
TI: Homeowners are at an advantage right now. We are seeing a lot of our property owners who didn’t intend to be landlords–and in this area we have a lot of military, lot of government–and what we have found over the last year is that our property owners have gotten to a point where values have increased enough that it is time for them to sell. So, what was their investment–their rental property–has increased in value enough that they’re able to sell. That’s good in terms of it being a seller’s market however, we’re also seeing rising interest rates which is reducing the purchasing power for buyers. Therefore, the current renters who are hoping to be buying a home can now afford that much less. So, we’re seeing that renters are going to be renting for a much longer period of time.
NN: If it’s a seller’s market and the buyer’s purchasing power is reduced, wouldn’t that create a problem in terms of inventory?
TI: It does, it does. Right now we’re experiencing a big lack of inventory with both homes for sale and homes for rent. And the beauty of the Northern Virginia metro area is we always have people coming into the area. We have military, we have government. We have a great mixture of high quality tenants–and high quality homeowners–that are coming into the area for one-to-three years looking to rent good quality properties, and right now they’re in situations where there is very little to choose from because of what the real estate market, as a whole, has turned into. You’ve got homeowners that aren’t confident and aren’t able to make upgrades so they can’t go from that townhome to that single family home because they can’t afford it or because there’s just not the selection of houses for them to choose from.
NN: Okay, so is Northern Virginia still a prime place to own rental property in terms of long-term investment?
TI: Yes, absolutely. As we mentioned there is a lot of military, foreign-service and government personnel, which brings in a lot of high quality tenants. With that tends to be higher budgets for rentals. The vacancy rates in this area are also very low, which is a great incentive for investors. When there’s good quality tenant after good quality tenant, the overall loss rate for vacancy is next to nothing.
NN: Where are the best neighborhoods, towns and cities to own rental property in Northern Virginia right now?
TI: With most of our business being done in Prince William County and surrounding areas, we see a lot of potential in the Prince William market because it has a range of those good quality properties that are going to fit that lower rent price point, as well as your upper end three-to-four thousand dollar rentals fitting into that luxury rental market. A lot of what’s contributing to that is we’ve got high quality schools. You can get more house for your money out here than you can closer to the city and still have a reasonable commute time to get into the city, and there’s a lot of options. You’ve got the metro close by, the VRE trains and you’ve got two different interstates that are running through.
NN: How would you encourage someone to purchase investment property in Northern Virginia, or hold on to that investment property?
TI: Well, you have to be working with the right investor. Investors are in a couple of different categories. You have the accidental landlord who didn’t go into that home purchase planning on it being their investment property. They went into it for themselves either because they were upside down or because they got transferred out of the area or some other life situation happened and that property now needs to become a rental property because either they can’t afford to sell it or they don’t want to sell it yet. Those are what we consider accidental landlords and those are the people that are going to be selling much quicker than a normal investor would. But then there is this whole other part of our portfolios that are actual real estate investors and they’re looking at it from a business perspective. Those are the types of owners that are really focused on the dollars and cents and understand the benefit of investing in property in the Northern Virginia market. Investing in a quality management company will help that kind of investor grow their business. Our industry as a whole wants to focus more on that kind of investor because they’re interested in buying and maintaining quality properties long-term as part of their larger investment portfolio.
NN: What does real estate investing for rental homes from a business standpoint look like in Northern Virginia right now?
TI: You know, I read something recently saying like 2 percent of all real estate investors use a professional property management company. Derick Hunter is a property management coach out of Australia, and there, something like 75 percent of investors use property management firms. The whole outlook and mindset–and the value—it almost seems like we are on the cusp of property management being a more prevalent market and a lot of that is coming along because of changes to real estate and licensure regulation. For example, Virginia legislation is working toward putting certifications in place for property managers and regulating our industry much more closely because, for example, our biggest competition is individual realtors who are managing properties on the side to provide themselves with recurring income meanwhile they are not necessarily informed of or understand property management other than they do it for a dozen of their clients, because they are their clients and they want to maintain that relationship for the later opportunity of a home sale. However, they are carrying a huge risk on their brokerage because they are not thoroughly versed on how to manage properties. The reality is the guidelines and laws are much different for property management than they are for real estate because they are applied in different ways. At this stage the goal of our business and other area property management firms is to set that bar high and position ourselves for these changes.
Freedom Property Management has been serving the Northern Virginia market for over 10 years and specializes in Residential Property Management. To learn more about them visit www.freedompm.com and find them on Facebook at @freedompropertymgt. To connect with NOVA NARPM on Facebook, find us at @NOVANARPM. To learn more about the NOVA NARPM Members visit our Members page.