Switching to Self-Management
Hello! We are first-time investors with a triplex we bought in January. We live in Florida and the house is in Cleveland. We are on our second property management company and have gone from terrible to even worse, so now we're thinking about whether we can manage it ourselves. We're already spending hours each week trying to get hold of people, so while we know we'll have headaches managing on our own, we already have headaches, and at least then we won't be paying for the privilege.
A few questions for those who know about managing a property from 1,000 miles away:
1. How do you manage repairs when the tenant isn't home to let in the contractors? We aren't going to be able to fly up on a moment's notice to let in a furnace repairman while the tenant is at work, for example, so how is something like that handled?
2. How do you fill a vacant apartment? Our issue is mainly showings. I know we can set up an account on apartments.com or zillow and manage the listing, but again, we can't physically be there to show the apartment.
3. How do you handle things like lease violations, evictions, etc? Can you hire someone to post a 3-day notice, for instance?
4. How often, if ever, do you go to the property to take a look at it in person? Only at turnover? Never? Can you hire someone to be the eyes and ears and drive by occasionally to make sure nothing untoward seems to be going on, that the lawn company is actually doing the mowing, that there isn't trash piled up in the yard, etc?
5. Is there anything else you might advise on? What didn't you think of when you first started managing your own property that you wish you knew?
Thanks so much for any advice!
Why would you need to be there to let in contractors? If a Tenant requests a repair, we provide the Tenant contact info to the Vendor, who then coordinates direct with Tenant. The Vendor, depending on the task, is required to call me from site and/or send pics from site to discuss and authorize their proposed repair.
Be very careful you do not end up with either squatters or a stripped out unit.
Does local law require you to "post a notice"? If not, simply mail, Certified, Return Receipt Requested. Save any returned, unopened items as well as the signature card when you get it back. Some Tenants will never "accept" Certified mail, so you also send by Regular Mail if local law considers that "proper notice".
As long as you know what you are looking at, you absolutely should get "eyes on" when "Rent Ready", and annually. Prevention of problems is far less costly than remediation. Providing neighboring Owners (make sure they are not someone else's Tenants!) your contact info and introducing yourself can go a long way toward preserving your property.
If you are not very familiar with local LL/Tenant laws, including SD limits and handling, State and Federal Fair Housing Laws, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Service Members Civil Relief Act, HUD and EPA regulations, local contractor licensing requirements, and the States definition of "Real Estate Activities"; OR, if you are generally unfamiliar with residential construction and inexperienced at leak detection, and household systems troubleshooting, you should probably hire a qualified PM.
Managing a property remotely is going to be far more challenging than finding a good property manager in the area.
1. It's impossible to do repairs remotely, so you'll have to have a local, trusted repair service that can handle all the repairs.
2. You could use a service like tenant turner or showmojo here, but you still have to have somebody install the lock box and there are risks with remote showings.
3. Some property managers will just do notices and evictions. You would have to find somebody willing to only do that.
4. You really need to inspect the property at least every 6 months. It should be more than a drive-by. This is a normal service property managers provide.
5. I'd recommend spending your time interviewing and finding a GOOD property manager. Ignore pricing up front and look at reviews they've received from other property owners. Get a good one and you'll never consider self managing again.
One more add to #5. If you do go about it yourself, be sure to follow best practice when interviewing tenants. There are very specific laws you must follow in relation to applicants, order, screening, placement, language, etc. Be sure you get that all right and be certain you do a full background (credit, criminal, eviction) on any potential applicants. If you are self managing from 1000 miles away, you'll want to only accept A+++ tenants.
@Michelle Cohen All of the questions you are asking are exactly why you need a GOOD PM. If you are not local or have no knowledge of the area all of these things you are asking are going to be a problem. Go to Narpm.org and find a reputable PM in the area. Remember cheaper is not always better. Be willing to pay to a quality service to protect your investment!
Broker Oklahoma (#156017)