While I often advocate investing in your hometown, investing in real estate does not necessarily mean you are forever locked into that one place. I have heard many stories of people not wanting to purchase real estate because they think they will be moving in a few years because of the fear of managing properties while away. Well, after experiencing managing properties while away for a certain period of time, I can say that it is actually not that bad.
It has been a long time since I’ve stayed in my town waiting for the next crisis I have to resolve. I’d learned to start delegating a lot of my management responsibilities without giving my properties away to a property manager. I still personally think that a property manager does not really give that much attention to managing your property. I believe you can do a better job at managing properties on your own. On the other hand, to manage properties yourself does require a bit of work in the beginning.
I first started figuring out what are some of my main responsibilities when it comes to managing a property. It seems that I always have to solve a major maintenance issue or make sure the tenants pay rent on time. To alleviate my headaches, I have a few handyman, plumbers, electricians, and air conditioning repair guys in hand so I can quickly send someone over there to repair it even if I am away.
Whenever I get a maintenance issue, I just text these guys and send them over. I don’t really want to inspect the problems myself. It would take too much time. I also have tenants deposit the rent into an account I’ve set up. This way, I can see remotely whether they’ve paid or not without waiting around for a check to be mailed in. Sometimes they would do direct transfer, quick pay, or other ways to deposit more easily. The more automated the process gets, the better.
The last major issue is vacancy. This one I admit I struggle a little bit. I often rely on the MLS system to find renters. I have an agent who would put up a courtesy listing for me while I offer an above market commission for the agent who finds me the tenant. While I don’t have to be there and agents do bring some higher quality tenants, it costs a bit more. I use other methods like signs and Craigslist, which also bring me tenants but I sometimes have to show them the properties myself. To solve that issue, I’d try my best to group them together around the same time and send a handyman over there to open the door for me.
I hope these tips will help you think managing properties is not as hand on as you think. Meanwhile, I’m going off traveling again. As long as I get some cell phone signal, I will be okay.
Photo: Luis Argerich