What do you drive to your rental properties?

108 Replies

I’ve got a 2012 Acura MDX that was my mother’s hand me down when she got a new car with 100k+ miles on it. It’s got dings and scratches but hauls most things I need to move or else my partner has a 2012 Toyota Tacoma to haul bigger stuff in. Either way our tenants don’t seem to care about our vehicles. I plan on driving the Acura for another 10 years at least and if I don’t get another hand me down will likely look for some type of SUV and make sure I still have access to a truck too.

I live in Northern New England and have had a “summer car” before, a little sports car, and if I can find one I would buy one again if I can get one cheap enough but I wouldn’t use it for rental properties. Personal use only! Not something that would depreciate a lot, like a $4,000 purchase.


@Kazi R.

I drive a 2020 Subaru Ascent now. But before that I drive a 2003 Corolla. I’ve always felt if I hired the right tenants, then what I drove wouldn’t matter. Also I’m not flashy otherwise and people can pick up on that.

My 2007 Honda Odyssey!

But of course I try to do everything remotely and they usually see my handyman more often. He drives a fancy contractor pickup truck.

@Kazi R.

Invest in a decent pick-up truck, it's appearance is working for what you have and that you're going to take care of the property they are staying in. Tenants usually notify you sooner if there is a problem because of that visual of a person in a truck. A magnetic business sign is also great on the doors of the truck.

Originally posted by @Joe P. :

2016 Mini Cooper, bright orange. No joke.

I've always loved Mini Coopers, and this thing was sitting for so long (probably because of the color) and the price couldn't be beat, I had to snap it up. It reminds me of the (Philadelphia) Flyers orange and black, and I'm a big fan, so its perfect. I have street parking only, and having a smaller car with some of the bull$&!$ spots people leave on the street has made parking far easier for me.

With respect to visiting properties, I'd like to maintain that I am an investor. I drive by frequently for any visible issues and I report to my property manager. If I have to enter, well, I'm not sure what to say. If someone sees my car (and given the color, they probably will), and they think a certain way about me...that's on them. It's not a sports car, it was used, and probably cost less than their car. I don't care about what tenants think for the most part, and they shouldn't care about what I think. We enter into a lease agreement and both sides have to maintain the specifics of that document. That's it.

 My father has that car (not bright orange, I don't think) and he loves it. I think they look cool, especially the convertibles, but I'm too bulky for most of today's smaller cars. I drive a 2013 Kia Soul most days and I fit pretty good in it, but they kind of built those for older, fatter people :D . I fit pretty well in my Miata, but it's old school and doesn't have all the stuff that today's cars have that stick into the seating area - big consoles, telescoping wheels, huge armrests, etc. 

My daily driver is a 2019 Audi Q8 and I don't feel bad about it. It used to concern me, but I have been husseling for too long, built 3 businesses, I don't need to pretend I am broke. We rent completely updated single family homes and we take good care of our tenants.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

I like minivans.  A 15 year old one with around 100k miles is only about $2k and I can haul most everyrhing with it and a small utility trailer.  Nothing flashy.

When we take my wife's little car to look at property or go to a meeting, we are conscious of it and park around the corner.  Nobody gives a rip most likely but we feel weird about it.  Seeing a bad handyman painter plumber in a convertible is probably a sight😎

 It is interesting what people drive up in when I gets quotes for work at my properties. I have seen people drive up in a brand new Toyota Tundra or Mercedes work vans and some drive up in a rusty truck. When I get the bids, without fail, the person with the nicer vehicle is more expensive. 

I have a tenant who always tells me about their old landlord who drove a BMW and he said, "he had plenty of money". That mentality is why I don't drive my new car to rental properties. Of course, the reality is the person driving the old car could have way higher net worth than the person with the financed fancy car. Interesting book on the subject, "The Millionaire Next Door".

I do think real estate agents should drive nice cars, because it puts out an image of success. Whether it is accurate or not, seeing a real estate agent with a higher end car gives the impression they are closing deals. As far as a hands on landlord doing maintenance or managing tenant relations, avoid anything that looks expensive when you are at the property.

@Joe Splitrock

I totally agree with you. But the contractor that showes up in his crappy rusty truck is most likely not licensed and not very successful in what he does. He probably just recently started, or for some reason never made much bucks. The guy in the nice new truck has mostly high-end customers who pay top dollar and expect top notch workmanship. 

If you hire the cheap guy in the cheap truck, you better keep an eye on him, but he can save you a pile of money.

Originally posted by @Jim Spatzenfeld :

@Joe Splitrock

I totally agree with you. But the contractor that showes up in his crappy rusty truck is most likely not licensed and not very successful in what he does. He probably just recently started, or for some reason never made much bucks. The guy in the nice new truck has mostly high-end customers who pay top dollar and expect top notch workmanship. 

If you hire the cheap guy in the cheap truck, you better keep an eye on him, but he can save you a pile of money.

 I only work with people who are licensed, insured and have experience. Quality work and high end work vehicles are not connected in my experience. In fact the person with the expensive vehicle usually has a big payment to make, so they are likely in worse financial shape. I am sure high end home owners expect their contractor to drive a high end vehicle, but that is because of perception that a nice vehicle means quality work. I can see where it is important if you are catering to that type of customer. Ultimately I am an investor, who has done a lot of this work myself in the past. It is pretty hard to BS me on what a job takes to get done. I know what it takes, roughly what it should cost and ultimately I want quality work on a budget. I pay my bills immediately, provide follow on business and I am extremely reasonable to work with. 

I had a roof done in California. I hired a guy off Pennysaver. His ad said “unlicensed”. I asked him why he would write that in his ad. He said he gets a ton of phone calls because people think if he is unlicensed then he must be cheap. I hired him. He was actually very cheap and did a great job.

In Buffalo,NY there are a lot of Slumlords. They don’t have the money to keep up their houses, or just don’t want to spend it. If your vehicle makes it seem like you don’t have the $20k that’s needed to replace a leaking roof, some tenants might be scared to rent from you because their last Landlord could not afford to make repairs on their home. If you have a nice vehicle, they will assume you will also keep up the home nice. And when it comes to collecting rent, they just know that you have an expensive lawyer ready to file for eviction if they don’t pay. 

Just don’t show up in your Bugatti.

I drive my 2002 Chevy Malibu to the property when I go to do maintenance and/or visit. This is actually my daily driver, so I don't currently have a choice except to drive this car. I have found, however, that I feel very comfortable parking this vehicle at the property and showing my tenants that I am not scrooge mcduck, I am a hard worker who is pursuing financial freedom. I like to show my tenants that I am just like them, and I respect them.

Many times, if I have alot of material to bring to the property I will be unloading my trunk and floorboards with bags of stone to put down in the driveway, or will have 12 foot pieces of trim or 2x4 sticking out the back window of my car and I hope this shows my tenants that you can make things happen with what you've got. It's not always sexy, but if you put your head down, don't let others perceived judgements of you affect your behavior, and do the work you can make great things happen!

A 1995 Ford F150. I like to keep her clean when I go over, kinda the same logic of how you want to see clean cars during prospective tenant property showings. 

I hired a property manager, and don't have any idea (or care) what they drive. Then I get to sleep peacefully at night, and drive whatever I would like to :)

@Jay Hinrichs I’ve been on the same boat as you. Using a Toyota Camry then my Moms hand me down Honda Odyssey. Now that we got some positive Cashflow going in the Detroit Market. I finally ordered a truck the F-250 powerstroke Downstroke through the X plan after 450k miles on the Toyota. Can’t wait to retire!!!

Used to be in to flash and fixing up cars. It took me years to realize what a waste of resources that was. I have a nice 2008 F-150 4x4. Second owner, no accidents, no dents, dings or scratches. I take very careful care of it, keep it washed. Wax it twice a year and always keep it serviced and operating perfectly. I get compliments on it all the time. Especially by people who find out how old it is. To the income properties, I drive my "beater" truck. I prefer beater trucks for work because it keeps me humble, keeps my tenants thinking in not the "Greedy Landlord", makes me appreciate my nice truck when I drive it, keeps the newer truck miles down and I don't care too much about getting dings, scratches or random paint stains on it. Also lowers break-in possibilities. I still keep it in perfect running condition though. 

Here is what I've learned from this thread.

  • Have a cheap car so tenants think you are broke like them and they will do their best to pay the rent.
  • Don't have a cheap car as tenants will think you are an unsuccessful loser and you will understand when they can't pay rent.
  • Have an expensive car so tenants think that you are successful and will look up to you and pay rent on time.
  • Don't have an expensive car as tenants will be jealous and think you don't need the rent money.

Personally, I don't think it matters. I drive my new $130K Porsche to my rentals. I don't care what my tenants think about my finances. This is a business. I provide a place that is nice, clean, upgraded, and at a fair price. I never nickel and dime them and when there is a problem, I get it fixed ASAP. How much I make and what I spend my money on is my business. If it concerns them that much about how much I make or what I spend my money on, they are free to take their business elsewhere.