Im looking to become a buy and hold investor. I'm planning on starting a company.
My question is to experienced landlords is what trade skill example ( hvac electrician) would be the best to know. And what is the worst damage someone has done to one of your units.
I may be wrong on the best trade but plumbing would be my choice, if I had to choose.
The worst I have ever had a tenant do, was he stole the coper lines as he was leaving and flooded my basement in the middle of winter. I got lucky because I was there within a few hours or it could have been a really bad problem for me.
I'd have to say HVAC is the best since you'll learn a bit of everything to get it. Bit of electric, bit of plumbing, and they're one of the easier certifications to get (or so I've been told).
The worst tenant issue I had was a roach infestation that we had to open up the walls to put poison in them. The exterminator flat out told me it was the worst he'd ever seen. If that's how bad the roaches were, you can imagine the cleanup that came with it.
I would have to go equally on either a plumber or electrician. My SFR's were built in the period where Aluminum wiring was used so it depends on your style/age house.
The worst I ever had a tenant do? Two things come to mind. (1) An entire family got into the drug culture and ended up being evicted. Wallboard was trashed, rugs needed to be replaced, lots of trash left. (2) A tenant used the ridge beam in the garage as a hoist to pull an engine block out of his car and cracked the beam. Found this after they were evicted.
Luckily these were two isolated events on 4 homes over a 35 year period, not your normal stuff.
Trades can be taught and will save you a little money.
Real money will be created by understanding people, really understanding the psychology of what makes people perform, click along and respond to you.
Understanding what motivates people.
How to negotiate with people by being fair, being honest but at the same time breaking down the barriers between you and what you want.
The art of creating and closing a deal will deliver us trucks loads of money when we master the science. I'm a student everyday figuring this game out.
I truly believe we are all stuck in a massive wind tunnel with money blowing around us and we all have a short window of time to figure out how to create a contraption to collect as much money as possible.
I would say plumbing. Knowing how to change a HW heater, fix a sink trap, change a toilet. Most stuff is basic.
Trouble shooting a HVAC system is good too. Making sure the thermostat is working, checking the transformer on the circuit board, changing the pilot light module or heat sensor. Basic trouble shooting.
As far as horror stories, it runs the gambit.
And you should know how to screen tenants, and have an expectation as to what you allow on a background. That is more important than any trade skills.
95% of tenant issues can be solved in the screening process.
I would agree that plumbing is a pretty good trade to learn. Just think of how much money you can make off of electric water heater replacements alone! Additionally, plumbing products have come such a long way (i.e. PEX/shark bite fittings). Not that pros use shark bites, but many don't use copper anymore.
There's no reason you cannot learn all of those trades well enough to solve the minor and even medium issues. Spend the time alongside your subs as they're working - ask questions (not enough to be a pain - and it can help if you throw them $100 for all the questions) but keep watching them and what they do. I would say 50% of the problems in rentals are repeats of the same issues so if you can get some basics down, you will be set.
Worst damage? That's tough actually. I had a tenant cut holes into the ceiling so that he could tap into each of 2 neighbors' power lines in order to turn his entire apartment into a hydroponic growing lab. I had another tenant who set fire to his apartment (took out three units before it was put out). I think my favorite though was a tenant who, knowing the apartment next to him had been vacant for sometime, knocked down the wall between the two... these were of course all inherited tenants in terribly neglected buildings - I evicted each and every one of them of course.