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There are two options for managing your rental property: hiring a property manager, or managing the unit yourself. If you happen to live far away from your rental, that doesn’t necessarily mean self-management won’t work for you. Although it may seem daunting to manage your property from afar, it can be done, and technology can help you do it.

Managing for yourself

No one is going to care more about your property than you do. As the legal owner, and the person who pays the mortgage, your vested interest makes the property’s success your top priority. You know the ins and out of the structure, and will not be fooled when the property is damaged or a tenant makes an unreasonable complaint or request. If you own a small portfolio of units, you will not be distracted by other priorities or trying to recruit new clients, as a hired property manager might be.

The fast paced acceleration of technology means a host of new apps and tools that you can take advantage of to monitor your property. Home monitoring apps can alert you to the status of electricity use, whether external lights are illuminating the property, and to any malfunctions with automatic tools like irrigation systems. Security cameras can enhance your peace of mind, and may be monitored from afar. If work does need to be performed, hiring a technician or contractor remotely has never been easier. Websites that give ratings and reviews abound, and you can use online tools to track contractors down, and to hear how previous customers rated their services.

Be prepared for a steep learning curve when you first attempt to manage your property yourself. The inevitable missteps along the way may cause stress, or even cost you money. The question you should address is whether the savings you may reap from managing for yourself is worth the time and effort. It may be easier to take on managing from afar if you have a local resource, whether it is a hired assistant or a family member, who is willing to perform any on-site necessities for a fee.

Hiring a property manager

Professional property managers bring a wealth of resources and knowledge that can be deployed immediately, without the need for hesitation. The property manager will have relationships built that may promote faster service and quality guarantees. If your unit needs a plumber immediately, a property manager most likely has the experience to know the most contractors. They can handle scheduling, admit the contractor to the unit, and can even handle other necessary tasks. For example, if water damage means that a construction permit will be required to complete repairs, the property manager may help with your municipality laws and regulations. Their familiarity with local laws is a definite plus.

The best property manager can be a definite asset. Unfortunately, property managers are a bit like insurance companies: you don’t need them until you need them. Also like insurance, you don’t know whether you have chosen a good or bad property manager until you get into a jam, and their skills are put to the test. The trick is finding an excellent property manager. The best property managers can come at a premium. Here are 80 questions to think about when hiring a property manager: http://www.reluctantlandlord.net/80-questions-to-ask-your-property-manager/

Making the decision

A professional definitely can pay off in the long run. The question is whether you are willing to pay that premium, or if you are willing to roll the dice while you get up to speed on everything you need to know. Explore your remote resources before you need them, so that you can feel confident when that tough situation arises.

Whichever route you choose, always be willing to fire a bad property manager who is not getting the job done. That means being realistic when you must “fire’ yourself from this assignment and hire out instead. Ask no less of yourself than you would a paid property manager. Be sure to hold yourself to a high standard and be diligent in solving every problem efficiently and effectively.