When a thunderstorm hits Atlanta, knocks off siding and parts of the roof of one of my rental properties, and I’m in Nicaragua.
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If I didn’t have a property manager looking over this house and I managed it myself, how would this have played out? I would have had to take the call from the tenant about the damage, coordinated with the insurance company’s inspector to meet him out at the property to look over the damage, and then I would have to somehow verify later that the contractor fixing the damage did his job well. Let’s put a little more reality to all of this. I was in Nicaragua when this happened, so I wouldn’t have even been able to receive the tenant’s call in the first place because I don’t have phone service down there. I would have only seen Google’s transcription of her voicemail. Once I sifted through the transcription, which is usually hilariously off, I would have been in half a panic trying to get my voice over IP app on my phone to call her, which would most likely have cut out our call at least five times just while I was trying to tell her I would take care of everything.
While all this was going on, I would have been missing out on surfing time, exploring time, social time, who knows what. Or had I received the call while I was out zip-lining or volcano boarding (yes, totally did both of those out there last week), it would have taken me who knows how long to get back to a wireless signal before I could even try to respond.
Then, once I was back in the states this week I would have called the insurance company to file the claim, only to receive a call from one of their Atlanta inspectors saying he would like to make it out to the property on Friday to do the inspection. Uhhh, I’m in California. Do I hop a flight out to meet with him? I assume so. Yuck! That’s expensive. Plus, nevermind the beach rugby, surfing, rugby tournament, flying and date night I would have missed out on this weekend by having to go to Atlanta! None of this is sounding fun to me. Then the inspector tells my insurance company what they need to pony up for repairs, but then the repairs have to happen. I have to find repair guys now. Where do I find those?
Once I do find someone, do I go out there to supervise the work? As much as I’d be pumped for more Waffle House and to see my friends and family out there, I’d yet again be missing out on fun stuff out here in CA to go supervise. Or maybe I trust the contractor and don’t have to go oversee. Do I just request pictures of the fixes? Ask the tenant how it all looks? She wouldn’t know a new roof from a door frame. Or worse, what if all this supervising of the repairs hits in the second half of July when I’ll be in Europe for three weeks? Am I supposed to cancel my trip, or tell the contractor to wait until August to fix holes in the roof? Uhhh, yuck?
The Better Reality
Or, how about the version of this story where I have a rockstar property manager taking care of this house? It’s a lot shorter story. I got a call (voicemail) in Nicaragua saying a storm had damaged the house, I emailed him and asked what I needed to do, went surfing still since that process only took about two minutes, got back to the states and called the insurance company, the inspector called that night and I gave him my property manager’s contact information, they coordinated amongst themselves about a day and time for the inspection, I got a call today from the inspector telling me what he was going to tell the insurance company to pay for, now I just wait for the company to call me with further instructions, my manager calls his contractors and heads up the repairs, and tells me when it’s all done. Maybe even sends pictures, if I even care. Done.
You’re either thinking now, holy cow I never want to manage my own properties ever again and will only use property managers… or… I never want to buy out of my local area! That’s fine if I just convinced you of the latter, but remember if you go that route you will never get a portfolio of the best returns possible, you will likely not be able to build as large of a portfolio, and you will most definitely have constant headaches to deal with. If that’s your thing and you like the headaches, go for it. But if you do want to think on a bigger scale and stay away from headaches, go the out-of-state route and always use property managers.
The most work I have to do on any property I own is respond to emails from the manager, which are far and few between, and maybe put out a call like I did with the insurance company. I never have to talk to tenants, I never have to see damage, I never have to supervise fixing damage, I don’t have to meet inspectors, I don’t have to meet contractors, and I don’t have to ever visit the property. Financially, I also save a lot of money. A plane ticket from CA to Atlanta, just to meet the inspector, would have cost me at least four months of property management fees. And that’s just the plane ticket. Nevermind travel expenses and lost time working. So to save money and have no headaches, and not miss out on any play time in Nicaragua, is there any question about the worth of a property manager?
I can’t come up any.
The picture is an actual shot from Nicaragua play time.