OWNER FAQs

Q: What type of rental properties do you manage?

A: We specialize in residential single family homes, duplexes, tri-plexes, four-plexes and apartments under 50 units in Alameda County and Contra Costa County.

Q: What geographic areas do you cover?

A: Our property management service area includes all cities in Alameda County and Contra Costa County. In certain situations, we can also service properties in the South Bay or in Tracy/Mountain House.

Q: What type of Property Management experience do you offer?

A: Advantage Property Management Services (APMS) delivers a unique real estate investing experience to our clients. Unlike traditional property management companies who co-manage properties with you, APMS does ALL the work for you. If it’s related to your rental property, APMS will take care of it. Our clients love us because they can be a true real estate investor, not a landlord. The APMS owners have been investing and managing rental properties for more than 10 years. They understand the real estate investor mentality and will treat your rental property as if it were one of their own investment properties.

Q: Why should I hire you as my property manager?

A: Advantage Property Management Services (APMS) delivers a unique real estate investing experience to our clients. Unlike traditional property management companies who co-manage properties WITH you, APMS does all the work FOR you. If it’s related to your rental property, APMS will take care of it. Our clients love us because they can be a true real estate investor, not a landlord. Our services are superior to the outdated, traditional property management model. We have reviewed every component of the property management process and found ways to deliver better service and better results. The Why Choose Advantage Property Management page offers a short list of some key differentiators. Turning over your rental property to the care of a new property manager can be an emotional and frightening experience. You have to be able to trust your property manager so that you won’t be worrying about your property. The more research and information you gather, the better you will feel about your final decision. You should hire APMS only if you believe we are the best match for you. Frankly, we are not a perfect fit for every property owner, especially owners who want to be involved in the day-to-day management. Of course, we’d love the chance to earn your trust and manage your property, so please read on.

Q: How much will my house rent for?

A: We are asked this question more than any other by new owner prospects. The rental market is a competitive market with many variables that are constantly changing. Contact us and we will provide you with a free Rental Analysis. There is also some strategy behind choosing the right asking rent. We have found that asking above-market rent leads to higher vacancy periods and higher turnover. Both of these contribute to a smaller bottom-line. Asking market rate rent increases the chances of finding great tenants who want to stay in the property for a long time. Better tenants and lower vacancy will put more money in your pocket! Many owners who have purchased in the past 10 years and made a small down payment cannot lease the home for an amount that will cover the carrying costs, especially in newer neighborhoods. You also might not have enough equity to sell without bringing money to the closing table. If you are in this situation, you are not alone. Some of our new clients are “involuntary landlords”, forced into leasing their home by market conditions. The good news is, if you can ride out the market, you are likely to be much better off in a few years than if you sell your home now at a deeply discounted price. This in fact is why many out of state investors bought investment homes, expecting the long term gain to offset the short term cash flow loss. The most important thing to know is that the rental market is indifferent to your mortgage payment amount. The rental market does not care that you might have a negative cash flow, and will punish with extended vacancy owners who overprice their rental homes. When you hire us as your property manager, we will look at the rental market in your particular area, survey the competing homes, and make sure your home is priced so that it will be viewed favorably against the competition.

Q: What will you do to rent my house?

A: We give it maximum exposure, convert a high percentage of leads to showings, and showings to applications. We process applications carefully, but quickly, to rent your property as fast as possible. There are a few key differentiators that we have proven will rent your property faster.

INTERNET LISTINGS: Our available homes for rent are posted on dozens of for-rent websites, complete with high quality photos, maps and property details for the convenience of those searching for a new home. Our ad-copy is carefully crafted to provide critical information to prospects who only spend a few seconds reading ads.

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY: Prospective tenants are visual, often looking at the photos before reading the ad. It’s critical to have high quality photos to attract high quality tenants. Compare our photography to other companies. You’ll instantly see the difference and understand why we convert a huge percentage of page-views to showings.

VIDEO TOURS: When possible, we film and publish video tours of our rental properties. Photos are great, but it’s difficult to “feel” the flow of the house with still photos. Video tours give prospective tenants the ability to virtually walk-through your property and experience the floor plan and flow of the home. Our high-definition videography

INSTANT ONLINE SCHEDULING: When a prospective tenant wants to schedule a showing it’s important to make the process as easy as possible. Instead of playing phone tag with a leasing agent, APMS prospects can instantly schedule a showing online. Enabling prospects to instantly schedule a showing allows us to convert a higher percentage of inquiries to showings.

CORRECT PRICING: Even the best and nicest homes will not lease quickly if overpriced. We make sure your rental home is priced according to current market conditions.

THOROUGH PREPARATION: Even the best located and well-priced rental homes will not lease quickly if the rental home is not in top showing condition. Homes for rent in the East Bay absolutely must show well and have an attractive “curb appeal” or they may sit empty for extended periods. Part of our job as property manager is to make sure your rental home is presented in a clean and attractive condition so that it will attract a good tenant.

Q: What, specifically, do you do to qualify a tenant after they have applied to rent my house?

A: This is one of the most important aspects of successful property management, yet is filled with fair housing liability. To be compliant with the myriad of California and Federal Fair Housing Laws and ensure we only lease to qualified tenants, APMS has created a risk-based model for screening rental applications. Learn more at our Rental Criteria and Application Instructions page. We process applications carefully to ensure that only qualified applications with positive rental history occupy our properties. Our fee structure is designed to ensure that we do an excellent job at screening applications. Nobody screens their tenants as well as our property management team.

Q: How do you make sure the tenant is taking good care of my home while renting?

A: There are several ways we monitor the condition of your property during tenancy. Above all, careful tenant selection from the outset protects your property from being rented to irresponsible people. During the lease term, we may enter the property for repair or maintenance reasons and will use that opportunity to identify lease violations or other maintenance issues. If we are fortunate enough not to have any repairs or maintenance at your property over an extended period of time, your property manager will schedule a Safety Survey twice per year. During Safety Surveys a property manager tours the inside of the property, tests smoke and CO detectors, checks the furnace filter, and checks for unreported plumbing leaks. If any lease violations are identified during the Safety Survey they will be addressed with the tenant.

Q: What do you do if they are not taking care of my property as they should, or you discover unauthorized pets?

A: Your property manager gives the tenant an opportunity to correct the situation and usually the tenant will. If a problem persists, we will make a decision based on that specific situation. If an agreement cannot be reached then we have the option of evicting the tenant.

Q: What happens if the tenant does not pay their rent?

A: We make it so easy for tenants to pay their rent that it is unusual for them to pay late. Each day the rent is late the tenants receive an email from us reminding them to pay. If we still haven’t received rent by the ~7th day we post a 3 Day Notice To Pay or Quit. If the tenant does not respond to the notice, we will contact you to discuss the options before moving forward with an eviction. Whether or not the property manager eventually proceeds with a formal eviction depends on the specific circumstances. It is always financially better for all involved if a solution can be worked out. If the tenant has experienced a one-time event which is causing them a financial hardship, and we have had no previous problems with them, it is better for you and the tenant if we give them a chance to catch up, if there is reason to believe they can do so. If the tenant has demonstrated an ongoing pattern of late payments, broken promises about payments and/or evasiveness, we know from experience that eviction is the best course of action.Each case is unique and the property manager will make a decision based what is best for you and your home in the long run. That said, we proceed with the legal notices required for eviction regardless of any other factors.

Q: How informed will I be about what happens with my property?

A: Each month when rent is paid you will receive an email notification. If a tenant submits a maintenance request you will receive an instant email notification. Absent any special considerations unique to you or your property, our rule of thumb is this: If something may cause a potential interruption in your ordinary cash flow (loss of tenant or non-emergency repair in excess of the pre-authorized limit), we will let you know about it right away. Other than that, the saying “no news is good news” is most appropriate. We encourage you to contact the property manager anytime you have a question or wish to discuss something.Our system provides your 24/7/365 portal access to the status of your property. You can login from any Internet connected computer or device and see the status of rent payments, repairs, bills, etc.If you are a worrisome property owner or someone who desires a high degree of personal involvement with the property or who needs constant communication from the property manager, such as a phone call before any repairs are completed, we are not a good match for your needs. The property owners who appreciate us the most are those who truly want everything handled for them turn-key and don’t want to be bothered unless something important is happening. That is the type of property management service we offer. That being said, we are always available to talk about issues.

Q: How do you handle maintenance requests?

A: Tenants submit maintenance requests using an online form in the Tenant Portal. When a request is submitted, the system instantly notifies you via email. After we receive a maintenance request, the property manager may contact the tenant and ask them questions which will help us determine the exact nature of the problem before sending a service technician. We also make sure it is not something the tenant can fix themselves (ex: reset button on the disposal, tripped breaker) before your money is spent on a service call. After determining that it is a legitimate problem, we will send the appropriate service vendor to make the repair.

Q: Do you use the cheapest maintenance people you can find?

A: No. However, our goal is to deliver the best value to our clients. Our maintenance technicians are middle of the road in price and are competent and reliable. Our main “go-to” maintenance techs work on a time and materials basis, currently at a $65/hour labor rate (subject to change). Some repairs are billed on flat-rate or bid-price depending on the issue. Specialized vendors, such as HVAC, garage door repair, plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc range in price from $85/hour to $120/hour, and sometimes more for conditions such as an after-hours emergency sewer backup. We try to have our primary maintenance techs handle most of the multi-trade and make-ready tasks. This saves our owners a lot of money on multi-trade repairs by cutting down on the number of service calls to the property by different vendors. It also means that if we are called out on a dishwasher repair, we are going to be checking the furnace filter, sink drains, smoke alarms and general condition of the property ‘ something that a single trade vendor will not do for you.We think we have developed a very sensible approach to handling maintenance and repairs and that you will realize cost savings that other property managers simply can’t deliver.

Q: Do you hold some of my money for repairs? How much?

A: We will reserve some money in your account so that we may distribute funds to you earlier in the month.

Q: How do I know your property manager won't spend my money on large repairs without my approval?

A: This is a legitimate fear. We promise in writing not to do that. The Property Management Agreement includes a spending limit to protect you.Sometimes expenses such as a replacing a water heater, repairing a roof leak, or emergency furnace repairs are unavoidable. In emergencies where 1) the health or safety of a tenant is at risk, or 2) there is only one option to consider or 3) the property will incur damage if immediate action is not taken, the property manager will initiate the repair work even if it is higher than the pre-authorized spending limit, and then let you know of the situation and what we are doing about it.

Q: What if I want you to use my plumber, A/C company, etc?

A: If you would like to nominate a service company to be added to our preferred vendor list, they can contact us and we will interview them and let them know what documentation and references we need, what our invoicing and payment policy is, etc. We cannot guarantee, however, that your favorite company will be sent on all service calls to your home. Our concern is always to resolve repair problems in the most efficient way possible with the best available vendor at the time.Our professional reputation as property managers, both with tenants and owners, is largely, if not almost entirely, determined by the effectiveness with which we handle maintenance. We follow a practice that is most likely to insure the best possible response and resolution to maintenance and repair problems for your property.

Q: When do you distribute Owners funds and send statements?

A: Owner’s distributions are sent via ACH to your bank account on or about the 10-15th of each month. Statements are posted to the Owner’s Portal at the beginning of the next month.

Q: When will I receive with my monthly statements?

A: Monthly statements showing all income and expenses are published to the Owner Portal at the beginning of the following month. For example, March’s Owner Statement will be published at the beginning of April. All invoices/receipts are scanned and saved to the Owner Portal in real-time.

Q: How much is the leasing fee?

A: There is NO leasing fee under our full service property management program. If you are interested in leasing services only, the leasing-only fee ranges from $1,500-2,000 depending on the size of the property.

Q: Are your property management fees negotiable?

A: No. We don’t think price should be the determining factor in deciding which property manager you hire to manage your home. We don’t try to compete against lower priced property management companies or Realtors who practice property management as a side business. Frankly, we know you can find a cheaper property management company. Companies that offer low rates have to cut corners or limit service levels. We are not willing to compromise our service level to compete with the low cost providers out there. Our focus is on value — delivering the very best property management service at a fair price.The ultimate cost of using a property manager is determined by many things other than the fee charged. The efficiency and manner in which maintenance and tenant relationship problems are handled, how fast turnovers are completed, and the level of detail during the move-in/move-out are areas in which we excel. By simply turning properties faster we can put more money in your pocket and more than offset our management fees. We feel that our set of services, our systems, and the experience and expertise we offer are an excellent value at the fee structure we have established.

Q: Are there administrative fees or other service charges up and above the property management and leasing fees?

A: There are no administrative fees or start-up costs. We don’t charge for advertising, lease renewals, copies, long distance calls, mileage, or other incidentals. We don’t mark up maintenance costs or nickel and dime you with petty fees as do some property management companies. The only other expenses you could incur would be for services which fall outside the normal scope of our property management agreement (examples include attending HOA meetings, coordinating with the tenant for a refinance or property sale, or managing a capital improvement or restoration project).There are two exceptions to this. 1) If you are not a resident of California and cannot obtain a waiver from the CA Franchise Tax Board, we do charge a nominal administrative fee to manage the required withholding and file the quarterly form. 2) If you have a home warranty and we submit a claim through the home warranty provider we charge a nominal fee to manage the claims process.

Q: Does your property management agreement give you exclusive rights to sell my property?

A: >No, we are property manager’s not sales agents. We would be happy to refer you to an experience real estate broker who can assist with the sale. This is another trick that discount property managers use. They manage your home at little or no profit knowing they have you locked into an eventual sales listing. We think, at the time you decide to eventually sell, you should be free to decide who the best listing agent will be for your property given its location and characteristics. Most of our owners choose a full time sales agent to sell their home and we encourage them to do so in most instances.

Q: Is the Property Management Agreement a standard, widely used form?

A: Yes. We use the California Association of Realtors Property Management Agreement.

Q: How much security deposit do you charge the tenant?

A: As a general rule of thumb we collect 1.25 times the monthly rental amount for the security deposit. Based on an applicant’s qualifications we may increase the deposit to mitigate risk.

Q: Are you a licensed Property Manager?

A: We are licensed real estate brokers through the California Bureau of Real Estate. Our company’s license number is 01764298. Verify real estate licenses online at http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp.

Q: How soon can you start managing my home?

A: We can start the process immediately. We will start by obtaining some information about you and your property. Contact us online or call us today at (925) 273-9865 x1.