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Property Management FAQ's

1st Choice Real Estate, PLLC offers full service property management services.  I currently manage over 300 properties for owners in the Greater Lansing and surrounding areas.  Here is a list of questions and answers that should explain everything you need to know about my services.  Please feel free to call my references and compare my services to other companies.

How much is the fee?

11-12% of the monthly gross (no charge for advertising).

Leasing fee of 40% or a minimum of $250 of the first full month’s rent.


What other properties do you manage?

I manage over 300 properties in and around Lansing (1570 Birchwood Dr – Okemos, 605 Clinton – St Johns, 1607 Huntshire – Holt, 2352 Dobie - Mason, 8644 Jacaranda – Dimondale, 419 W Saginaw - East Lansing, 1246 Keusch - DeWitt, 11921 Shady Pines - Grand Ledge, 1732 Vassar - Lansing and 1175 Buckingham - Haslett are a few...)


Who will actually handle the property?

I handle the property personally with the help of my team members. I have a manager who handles all of the accounting, an office coordinator and administrative assistant, two maintenance coordinators, two leasing agents, an advertising coordinator and a collections coordinator. I have a 24-hour maintenance person on call, and a list of qualified contractors for repairs.


What costs extra? Is it extra for showings? Do evictions cost extra (beyond the legal fees)? Any other extras?

I do not charge anything for showings. That is part of my fee. I do charge a 5% service coordination fee on maintenance. Until the proposed law is passed that will allow me to go to court on evictions for you, I am unable to do that. I do charge $50 per day to be in court if I am needed as a witness.  If we need to evict a tenant, you will be responsible for court costs.  We can normally recover most of those from the tenant, but not always.


How is the fee collected and when? Will I be billed, or will it be deducted from your account directly? Monthly? Quarterly?

I collect all rents monthly. You must maintain a $250 balance in your escrow account. I process an ACH payment to you on the last day of the month, after deducting my property management fee, and any other monthly costs I have incurred (usually repairs).


What type of advertising? How do you advertise the units and what does it typically cost me?

I put a sign in the yard. I also advertise on 40 different online sites -- at no cost to you. I can do that, as I am the owner of www.RentLansing.com. I do not give out the names of other online sites I advertise on. I have worked too hard to find these, and set up systems to get the best coverage for advertising properties. Should you desire to have newspaper ads placed for your property, you would pay that cost.


Cost and time to prepare units? What is the typical cleaning fee on a vacancy, and how long will it normally be before it's rented out again?

I pay my cleaning people $17 per hour to clean and prepare your unit for rental. Typical cleaning fee on a vacancy is $90-$140. That does not include any trash removal fee, if the tenants have left anything behind (furniture, trash, clothing, etc...) I cannot guarantee how long it will take to get your property rented. If you set a monthly rent that you will not drop below, it may take longer to get the unit rented. I like to set a rental price, and drop it by $25 every 2 weeks. That gives me a fresh ad presence on the websites. I currently have a handful of vacancies, most on lower end properties (which take longer to rent). I have reduced the rents to a point where I am now getting 7-8 showings a week. I still have to select good tenants. My philosophy is -- taking $50 less per month in rent, gets the unit rented, you aren't paying utilities, and over the course of a year, it makes up for leaving the unit vacant for a month.


What needs owner approval? What dollar amount needs my authorization, and is this negotiable?

I require owner approval on any repair over $200 in any month. If repairs are less, I handle them, and deduct it from your monthly owner distribution payment. This is not negotiable. I find owners who want to micro-manage, really should be their own property manager.  If there is an emergency repair (health & safety issue), I do not contact you, regardless of price.  I make the repair based on my best call.


Hours of operation? What are business hours, and who takes weekend calls?

All owners and tenants are given my business card, with all company contact information.  We do have 24-hour maintenance services. I can be reached during the day. If you get voicemail, I WILL call you back.  Don't be surprised if you do go to voicemail.  I average 80-100 calls a day with my business.  Tenants are advised to call the maintenance staff with emergencies.


Accounting? What reports do you send? How often? How are accounts set up?

Accounting is done in AppFolio, a property management software. You will receive a monthly report via email. The owner statement report will show you a breakdown of income received and expenses incurred. It will show the management fee for the month and the owner distribution payment. I do not send copies of receipts. If your CPA requires this, we can discuss it. I have never had a client tell me the reports are not detailed enough for their year-end with the CPA. At year-end, you will receive a cash flow report.


How long have you been managing residential property?

I have been a Broker/Owner of 1st Choice Real Estate since July 6, 2007. I have been managing my own properties since 2005. Property management companies are required to be brokers under Michigan law.


Are you available part-time or full-time?

I am available full-time. I run 1st Choice Real Estate, and also sell real estate for 1st Choice Real Estate. I make my own schedule and hours, and do not have any set office hours that I must commit to anyone else.


Are you certified, licensed, etc.? Please provide license numbers and agency name.

I am a licensed broker in the State of Michigan.

1st Choice Real Estate, PLLC - ID #6502350891.


Will you outsource your duties?

I will outsource repairs and cleaning. I do not do that myself.


Please provide three references, such as clients?

Contact us for a list of referrals.


Who handles maintenance and repairs for your properties? Does the management have in house service or is work outsourced?  What is the billing rate?

I contract out all repairs. Minor repairs such as faucet replacement, lights not working, broken window, are all done through my 24-hour in-house maintenance staff. Their work is priced per call plus parts (not marked up). I do charge a 5.0% service coordination fee on maintenance. If I am coordinating repairs on a unit which is empty, prior to managing it, I do charge a 15% fee. I subcontract all electrical and plumbing to licensed contractors - if it requires a permit. I work by the book. Billing rate is based on the contractor available. 


Reserves: What is the required cash reserve for anything that comes up? Is the unused balance refundable?

$250 reserves, which are returned to you at the end of your contract.  A copy of my contract is attached under the download forms section on the right hand side of this web page. If we will manage multiple units for you, the required reserve per unit is $50.


What is the termination policy, in case you discover that the relationship isn't working out? Is there a fee for early termination of the management agreement?

Contracts are for 12-months. I learned the hard way, some owners like me to get good tenants placed, then they find they can do the rest themselves. I charge a $400 termination fee if you cancel in the middle of a contract.


Does the company have a lawn service that tenants can use? Do they handle leaf and snow removal? Landscaping or removing trash or debris? If so, how much do they charge and how is it billed?

I do not provide these services. Tenants are responsible for their own lawn, snow and trash. I do have someone who will handle these services if the tenant does not do it. The tenant will also receive a "Grounds Violation" notice, and be billed accordingly for the service. Tenant is given 48-hours to resolve the violation. Multi-unit apartment buildings are an exception.


Does the company have a drive by schedule for the property it manages? Do you verify that the property is in good condition and leasing terms are adhered to during the lease term?

Either myself or a team member will drive by my properties at least once a month. My maintenance staff drives by them more often. I perform "Seasonal Inspections". These are done 90-days following a new tenant move-in and periodically as needed thereafter. Tenants are notified in writing. I bring them a furnace filter when I come to inspect. I ask what they would like to see done at the property. I determine how they are treating your property. There is no charge to you for this service, other than the cost of the furnace filter, and any minor repairs that I determine need to be done.


Does the company handle all evictions? If so, what are the costs to evict a tenant? How many evictions have you done?

Under Michigan law, I may not handle your evictions. I will send the 7-day notices and 30-Day notice to quit. I will coordinate with the lawyer for the eviction.  You may take tenants to Small Claims Court, if they leave owing you money.  I am no longer allowed to do that in 54-A District Court (Lansing cases).  I will confer with you first to determine if the amount is worth going to court for. You can always request an attorney and move to District Court, without going to small claims.  In that case, I can be a witness, and you do not need to show up at court.  I take pride in NOT having a high number of evictions.


What is the tenant application procedure? Is there a written application used? What is the typical background check used? Which credit reporting service, e.g. Equifax, Trans Union, etc. do you use. Are tenants checked against criminal and sex offender databases? Is this done by an outside agency or in-house? If done by an agency, are they licensed to provide such services in Michigan?

Tenants must complete an on-line application, with a non-refundable $35 application fee. I run a felony background check through OTIS. I use Experian for my credit checks. I do check the public website for sex offenders if needed.

Best Regards,
 Jill Powell

Our Technology Advantage

We invest in advanced technology systems so we can provide you with the best service and manage your properties efficiently and effectively. We have chosen property management and accounting software called AppFolio Property Manager. Some of the benefits that we are able to pass on to you:

  • We can respond faster and provide better service to both owners and tenants.
    We can securely access information about all properties at any time and from anywhere. Sensitive data is securely housed in a state-of-art data center, and backed up regularly and automatically.
  • Monthly statements can be delivered to your email inbox, saving time and paper.
    The statements are easy to read and provide you with a quick snapshot of your property details for the past month.
  • We address property maintenance issues faster.
    We can create electronic work orders and communicate with vendors so we quickly solve issues.
  • You will be paid faster and more securely.
    We are able to use electronic payments (ACH) to deposit funds directly into your bank account.
  • We can more effectively market your properties to fill vacancies sooner.
    We can quickly and professionally advertise your properties on our Web site, Craigslist, and other Web sites.

Owner Statements Available Online

Did you know that you can now access your owner statements online?


  • Concise statements covering the performance of your property for the previous month
  • All data on your property is stored in a state-of-the-art data center
  • Access information about your property 24/7
  • Access information about your property from anywhere with an internet connection

How it works:

In order to keep your financials secure, we use a state of the art portal system which communicates with your email.

Each time you wish to view your reports, you must visit the portal and enter in your email address. You will be emailed a single-use link where you can view your statements. This link does not have a time limit, however, it will only work once.

View Your Owner Statement