And then, just when you are starting to settle into the comfort of having your mortgage paid and avoiding those dreadful management fees, things start to go south. Your neighbors are emailing you; your tenants are not maintaining the lawn, and appear to have acquired an unapproved puppy. Your tenants are emailing you; there's a leak, the a/c is not working, and your vendor has not yet been out to fix it. Your rent check starts to arrive late every month. You are beginning to worry about what is going on inside the home, and you are faced with the decision of letting it go or buying an expensive plane ticket home to perform an inspection. Very quickly, your dream investment has turned into a rental nightmare! How could this have been avoided?
Advertising: While you may believe that finding tenants has been a breeze for you, the truth is that you have limited your pool of tenants to choose from by limited advertising. Imagine if, instead of choosing the first set of prospects that came along, you had three to choose from? Now imagine if you had the proper tools to screen these applicants properly, and choose the best possible tenants? Which brings me to my next point...
Qualifying Applicants: How are you qualifying tenants as a private owner that is conducting the search yourself? A good property manager can and will properly screen your tenants by running a credit/background check, contacting current and prior landlords to retrieve a rental history, and has the tools and experience that is necessary to properly qualify these applicants. Tenant issues are best avoided on the front end of the execution of a lease agreement. In short, properly qualifying tenants now can avoid problems in the future.
Maintenance Expertise: If you hire the right property manager, you are hiring a maintenance expert. The right property manager will know what to look for when it comes to foreseeing maintenance issues before they require costly repairs. The right property manager uses only licensed and insured vendors, with whom they have excellent relationships. These vendors will report back to your property manager on the issue at hand as well as any other issues that they may witness while in the home.
Inspections: For many (if not, most) property owners, it is nearly impossible to lay eyes on your home as often as is necessary to ensure that it is being well maintained. A good property manager will inspect your home before move in, after move out, and regularly during the tenancy, both to look for negligence on the part of your tenant(s) and to look for maintenance issues that are not obvious to the untrained eye. Your property manager will report back to you with the results of these inspections, giving you either peace of mind or a heads up that a repair issue may be imminent.
Security Deposits and Make-Readys: A professional and experienced property manager will hold and disburse your tenant's security deposit in accordance with the law. If the home has been properly inspected before move-in and after move-out, the tenant can and will be charged for any damage that occurred during the tenancy that exceeds normal wear and tear. Additionally, vacancies can be very costly! Your property manager will arrange for the home to be made ready for the next set of tenants.
And so, the question is not "can I afford to hire a property manager?" At this point, you should be asking yourself, "can I afford not to?"