At some point or another, anyone who owns a rental property is going to consider renting it out themselves. For some investors not having a property works just fine. Most commonly this is not the case. The time spent on the day to day; handling maintenance, chasing down unpaid rents, detailed accounting, can be a real hassle. The money saved on management fees can quickly be lost with even the slightest oversight or mistake. If you feel that self-management may be right for you and your property then we urge you to accept a little free advice.
- Time Management. – Be prepared to spend time consistently on your property. Only giving attention when it is required can lead to missing out on preventative maintenance. This wastes time and money. The more problems you can fix prior to them becoming problems will be time well spent in the long run. Do understand that as a landlord you are on call 24/7. If a tenant has an emergency at 3 am that needs attention you will be the only person for them to turn to. With all the tenant protection covenants within the VRLTA, emergencies have to be handled immediately. Procrastination could lead to costly law suits. Self -management of your property is, at best, a part time job. There will be times, even with just one property, that full time hours may be required.
- Preparation – Property Management an unpredictable task. Even with your best efforts in screening your tenants and being proactive with your maintenance, anything can happen at any time. Your property may take damage from storms, tenant neglect, accidental and intentional sources, etc. Your tenant may lose income due to company shutdowns, medical issues, arrests for crime or drug activity, etc. Basically, anything can happen at any time which you will need be prepared for. The experienced landlord knows that these risks affect all homeowners and can handle the situation with a cool head and professional attitude. Learning the “hows” on dealing with any of these issues will come over time.
- Learn the trade - To be efficient at managing your property successfully there are quite a few aspects of the trade you need to become familiar with. This overall skillset includes Marketing the property, screening applicants, understanding leases and other legal documents and compliance, evictions, inspections, the list goes on and on. Millions of dollars and countless man hours have gone into setting the standards of today’s property management for companies nationally in order to establish the methods of performing the task with the highest efficiency. If you are going out on your own, take the time to research and become familiar with some of these ”best practices.” With so much to learn there is no time to re-invent the wheel.
- Build a network – The tasks necessary for maintaining a rental property long term is commonly more than a landlord can do on their own. To keep up with everything you will need to have a network of contractors that you can trust. You may need a handyman, landscaper, cleaners, carpet techs and even potentially lawyers to ensure legal compliance. Most independent landlords do not have the volume of properties to justify getting discounts. Be sure to take the time to shop around for deals and search for loyalty programs that can help stretch each dollar and potentially keep you from paying full price.
- Consider your options – If you are ill prepared for the workload that managing a property is sure to require, it would be advisable to really consider your options. Most independent landlords aim to do the management themselves in hopes of saving money. In most cases this is not the end result. Take the time to truly evaluate if you would be saving money by managing the properties yourself.