Property Management from a distance?

26 Replies

How many people out there manage their properties remotely or from a distance (out of state etc)?  

I would love to hear your story and how you do it.....

While beign stationed on a ship that gets deployed, I've hired PM companies. Maybe in the future I'll be able to build my own managment system.

@Joel W. , thanks for the comments....i am also military and looking for ways to do property management myself vs paying 10% monthly on all properties.

Caveat:  I use property management

I think I could have used self-mangement at a distance on my property if:

1) low maintenance/newer property.  On my house that was built in 2001 I have had an average of 2 calls per year.

2) low maintenance tenant.  I have had a military officer  and family in one of my properties for 3 years now.  (same property as above)

3) established connections with a handy man and a couple of key maintenance people.

You can do it without those three things...but as you lose each one of them you make your life more difficult.   

@Steve Marshall , thanks for pointing those 3 things out.  I agree that they are important.  I use property management.  I am curious for those that don't live locally and you manage the property do you show the property you have an agreement with someone or a company and you pay them for their services?

@Bryan C.

I have managed my properties from out of state the past few years.  You are right, the one thing you need is that set of boots on the ground for showing the property when they get turned.  I usually have long term tenants so this isn't needed that often.  When I was not living in Florida I had a friend who would show the houses for me on a specific day and time window like an open house.  I would prequalify all the tenants on the phone first, then go through the applications and lease via email back and forth with them.  So, my friend was only opening the door and showing the houses for me.  She would also arrange to give the tenant the keys and do the walkthrough inspection with them on move in day.  Other than that, I handled everything by phone or email.  

For my Maryland property, I use my real estate agent to put the house on the MLS and throw a lock box on there. We worked together for 2 years in that area doing deals together so she gives me a great rate. I also send her a lot of referrals to keep her happy and me at the top of the list.

Other than showing the houses, everything can easily be done by phone and email these days.  I do have a working relationship with all the trades from doing business in those areas the past few years but that isn't even necessary with the internet these days.  It's certainly doable but I will be putting all my houses on property management in the future so I can take myself out of the loop.  

My husband is active duty navy. We have 7 houses, 6 that are rental properties. I self manage all of them, even the 3 that are 3,000 miles away :)

We buy every house with the idea in mind that it will be self-managed. We buy houses that professionals will live in and have a lot of skin in the game to encourage them to live up to their expectations. I have a 16 page lease that goes into all of their expectations. 

Let me know if I can help! We save over 17k a year by me self managing. I have written extensively on this subject. I even have an ebook coming out on this topic! 

Good luck!

@William Allen

 & @Elizabeth Colegrove,

Thank you for your added comments....both are valuable insight to the matter.  I would love to learn more from both of you on this topic.  I will likely PM you tomorrow (stationed in England so its almost 2am...bedtime).  My plan is to sell the existing properties I have and use the cash from the sale to leverage new purchases and self-manage.  Hoping to do this within the next 10 months.

I have two properties which I self manage in other states. I was only able to do it because the tenants are fantastic. They pay the rent each month on time. Both have been there for around 5 years. In that 5 years I've had 2 maintenance requests in which I found a local handyman to fix.

@William Allen how did you work out the fees for your friend that did the showings, key exchange, etc.?

I have one property that I manage from overseas. Originally my niece was supposed to be looking after the property, but she has since moved on to other things. Luckily I have an excellent tenant in a newer unit (built 2008), that pays his rent and has mostly managed the few things that have come up. We keep in contact solely by email

When he moves I will need to find a PM to manage. But for me this its in with my plans in any case as I want to build my portfolio this year and will need help managing.

We (my wife and I) have three properties in Texas and manage them from London. We use a google voice number to keep in touch and handle collecting rent and maintenance calls. When a repair is needed we call family that lives close to the houses to either fix the house or meet the repairman we've scheduled at the house if needed. 

We've had some challenges with a tenant paying late and had to mail notices from London to their house but have managed through it and collected each month.

Does anyone else use family to help mange the properties and if so do you pay them? Our family has refused to accept any payment for checking on the houses and fixing things here and thee.

I'd be very interested in the ebook when it comes out!

@David Light

 thanks for the info.  I am in a very similar scenario.  My family helped me a little bit through the purchase of one property but I cant really use them or rely on them much because they have full time jobs.  They would help me in an emergency though.  In today's world of technology it seems that managing from abroad is easier as long as you educate yourself properly.  

I am interested in that E-book also....I wonder if this is a topic that could be addressed in a Podcast or if there is a book that addresses this in-depth.

I own properties out of state and self manage. I have been lucky enough to not have any problems a handyman can't fix. I have great renters that make it easy. 

@Joel W.

I paid her $50 each time she went to the house to take care of something for me.  The typical turnover involved 3 trips, the best was 2.  Move out inspection / key pickup, hour or two of an open house, move in inspection / key delivery.  The reason I said 2 was because one house rented immediately upon listing it with no viewing so it was just the move out and move in inspection done that time.  Once the house is rented, her job is over and then I rely on the tenant to open the door for any maintenance that needs to be done.  

I'm surprised no one has jumped on here and said it is a bad idea to self manage from a distance, I'm sure there are a lot of those out there.  Maybe the only people reading this thread are those that do it or are interested in it.  I think the main reason I am able to do this is because of the type of houses I own and the great tenants I have had.  However, it only takes one to disrupt the rhythm.  

@William Allen , I do agree that self-managing properties can be a dangerous thing from a distance, but everything in real estate can be dangerous.  Its how educated you are, having systems/processes in place, and the tenants you attract.  If one is smart enough to do all of those properly then minimal impact will occur and the result could be a large savings.  As you pointed out there are times when you need to pay someone to help you out but long-term or big picture it saves money and you manage them the way you wanted it done!

@Walker Seid , what location(s) are your properties? SFH, multi? How many units total? How long you been doing it?

Well the reason no one has said it is a bad idea is that our "military" key words keep going off, almost everyone posting on this thread is military, and has been forced to do this from a distant. I don't think any of us have had the ability, while maintaining our Active Duty job to invest as normal people do. Its just not possible.
I don't think any normal person would choose to self manage from a distant.

@Joel W. - You're right about the "Military" keyword alert haha. Prime example.

@Bryan C. - I don't currently own any properties right now, but I'm buying one in the next month or two after my PCS. I just changed jobs and my new job has a VERY high deployment tempo. Knowing this has made me factor in PM in every deal I've analyzed so far. 

I think it can be done, but it will be on a case by case basis. There isn't going to be a blanket strategy for most investors.

@Matthew Swisshelm , thanks for the added info.  I still add the PM into my calculations but it would be so much nice to do that myself how I want and put that money aside in the "oh Sh**" fund.  Active duty?  What branch and what was the switch in jobs?  Where have you been stationed and where are you going next?

I manage a duplex from a distance. Here's how. If the problem is really bad you have the police and fire dept nearby. If an appliance breaks I have a home warranty that will fix items and if it's a small thing then a handyman can take care of it in a few weeks. And ever tenant I have auto deposits their rent into my bank account. Get good tenants the first time, and the rest is very manageable. I'm a realtor and self manage all my stuff. I cannot ever see paying someone 5-10% to collect a check for me, or whatever they do for 10% a month.

@Bryan C.

Greetings! I own one rental property and currently overseas as well. The PM manage the property and I usually call or email for any status update including saying Hi(at least once a month). So far I only received 2 calls from PM about bad garbage disposal and landscaping which was handled immediately by the PM(I require certain number of quotes if work gets to a specific $ amount). I received tons of advise from BP about managing my PM and annual recommended checklist/inspection which are now all automatic. The added 8% monthly cost is worth it for me based on my situation including field of work.

I guess it is time to set up a "military" keyword. great thread.  I am just getting started but these are all things I will need to be concerned with.  Active Army but I think this will be my last duty station.  I am actually trying to build out and go the other direction..  eventually buying property in Europe and managing from a distance from here with the aspiration of living both here and there seasonally.  Thinking on things I have read and heard in the past couple weeks about having properties in places I would like to spend time.  I think it would be great to have an apartment in a few European cities that I can reside in even if only for a few months out of the year.  I wonder how many military people have their properties near military bases?  Does that seem to help the vacancy rates?  Would you recommend trying to buy near bases rather than in random other places around the country or globe?  I would think that as long as the base is not set to move or close any time soon that being near a base would be ideal.  Does anyone who has property near a base know if there is a way to charge the BAH rates up front?  Great thread!  Good luck!

@John McConnell , that is an interesting strategy to buy European properties while being in the US.  It is doable but you will need someone trustworthy to see it through.  I never thought about that, but it could really be beneficial for traveling and you can list property on Airbnb etc.

@brian c it's my theory and a huge goal of mine to get back to Europe. My kids live there and I am trying to make an easier way to spend time with them. I figure the better I can build the business now the easier it will be to get away later. Of course build the business here first and then migrate to the European market. It's not much different from here. I have a couple friends there who are doing it already fix and flip condos which are a major part of the German real estate market.

@Elizabeth Colegrove @Nat Chan @Andrew Martin @David Light  

This topic really interests me, to hear people self managing from miles away and doing a great job at it!

I am however interested in hearing how you all deal with turnover? Once a tenant moves out if anything needs to be repaired and such 

I apologize if someone has already touched on that in particular 

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