So, you've made the decision to purchase an investment property - congratulations! But what comes next? Well, you'll want to find a great tenant who pays rent on time and will care for the property as if it were their own. And you as the landlord would like to be able to ensure that any maintenance issues that arise are promptly and properly handled. When stated simply, that might sound like an easy job.
But what if you don't live close to the property? Or have a lot of other stressful things going on in your life? We've come up with some questions you should ask yourself when considering managing your own investment property vs. hiring a professional property management company. Depending on your answers, it may be time to call in the professionals.
1. Do you live far away from the rental property? Will you be able to handle maintenance issues and otherwise be assured that the property is well taken care of? How often will you be able to visit the property?
If you live in the same city as your investment property (or relatively close by), performing routine maintenance, inspections and handling other situations that arise for landlords may not sound like a problem. But what if you live several hours away or on the other side of the country? Distance can make it difficult for you to manage the needs of your investment property as well as make it nearly impossible to keep track of what is going on there. Plus, what happens when a tenant places an emergency maintenance call in the middle of the night and you're hundreds or thousands of miles away? Investment property owners need to be realistic about how much time they have to devote to the properties they own and the logistics of regularly visiting these properties. If the home or homes you're renting out are more than a short drive away, you may not be the best-equipped person to handle the day-to-day needs of your renters and should consider hiring a professional property management company.
2. Do you get easily stressed or overwhelmed? What else is currently going on in your life?
It's important that investment property owners be honest with themselves - are you a person who gets stressed or overwhelmed easily or are you the type who can handle the various ups and downs that go along with managing rental properties? All kinds of "off the wall" scenarios pop up when managing rental properties - things like late night parties, tenants attempting to sneak in extra roommates or pets and tenants violating lease terms or HOA rules, just to name a few. Are those the types of things you can handle easily or does simply reading that list raise your anxiety a few notches? If you're the type who prefers to avoid conflict, then managing your own rental properties might not be the best idea for you.
Landlords should also take into account what else is currently going on in their lives when considering managing their own rental properties. Do you have a stressful family situation, a health issue or a big project at work that is consuming much of your mental and physical energy? If so, now might be a good time to let a professional property manager take over so you can focus your attention where it's most needed.
3. Are you experienced with general maintenance and repairs? Do you have trusted vendors to send for larger maintenance issues?
Do you have any personal experience with general home maintenance such as replacing garbage disposals, unclogging drains or installing ceiling fans? What about more intensive maintenance projects -- do you have a list of licensed, insured and trusted vendors to call? One of the biggest perks of working with a professional property management company is their ability to quickly and correctly handle maintenance issues. Not only do experienced property managers know how to easily determine what a problem may be by speaking to a tenant or reading a maintenance request, they have a list of trusted core vendors who will visit the properties they manage and make repairs at a fair price.
4. Have you had trouble finding qualified tenants in the past?
Have you had issues in the past with quickly finding a qualified, reliable tenant? Or maybe you feel like you don't quite know where and how to advertise your property and properly screen applicants. Professional property management companies are on the forefront of popular advertising trends and have stringent screening processes that applicants must go through in order to be approved for the rentals they manage.
5. How are your accounting and bookkeeping skills?
How are you with accounting and record keeping? If you have just one investment property this may not seem like a big deal, but if you have several investment properties this can quickly become overwhelming if you aren't familiar with financial processes and bookkeeping. Most professional property management companies have separate accounting departments that will take care of all of your accounting needs for you, provide you with monthly statements and even tax documents at the end of the year.
6. Are you willing and able to be available for your tenants 24/7?
Unfortunately, no one can predict when a water heater might burst or if the A/C might stop working in the middle of July. If these things happen in the middle of the night, are you willing and able to be available to assist your tenants? If you aren't going to be able to respond to late-night emergencies or emergencies on holidays and weekends, it might be best to bring in a professional property manager. Professional property management companies keep someone on call 24/7 or employ third party services who will answer calls and dispatch vendors no matter the day or time which helps ensure your property remains protected from further damages due to a maintenance issue going unattended.
7. Are you able to be confrontational when necessary?
Sometimes landlords have to have unpleasant conversations with their tenants about things like late rent and lease violations. Are you the type of person who can readily have those conversations or are you more inclined to avoid confrontation? Property managers are well-versed in these uncomfortable conversations and know how to conduct them in a professional and courteous manner. Further, property management companies have rules and policies in place that are strictly enforced which leave little wiggle room for excuses from tenants who are non-compliant.
8. Are you knowledgeable regarding fair housing and landlord/tenant laws?
Another important factor in managing your own investment property is adhering to all state, local and federal laws. Are you familiar with all areas of the Federal Fair Housing Act? What about NC Landlord/Tenant laws? If any of this sounds like Greek to you, it may be best to bring in a professional property management company who can guide both you and your new tenants from the initial lease signing, through tenancy and to the eventual move out and security deposit disposition.
If any of the above areas of managing investment properties sounds like something you'd rather not handle, now is the time to start researching and vetting professional property management companies. At Sweyer Property Management we offer a range of services including full-service management and one-time leasing services. If you're interested in finding out more about what our team can do for you and would like to setup a free consultation with our New Client Services Specialist, please reach out today.