Here’s a hard pill to swallow:
Not everybody is cut out to be a landlord.
Yeah, that’s right.
I said it.
Some people were born to landlord. Their personality fits with landlording like … like … peanut butter fits with jelly. (Lame analogy, I know. But who doesn’t love PB&J?!)
Other personality styles, however, might be better suited in a different field.
Are you cut out for this job?
Let’s find out. Here are the top five qualities that every landlord needs:
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Being a landlord is often an experience of “hurry up and wait.”
Months will stretch by with relative peace and quiet. Nothing will happen. Checks will roll in, and life will be grand.
You’ll feel as peaceful as a cat napping in the sun. Zzzzz.
Then in the blink of an eye, fate will turn. Your roof will collapse, a tree will crash onto your driveway, and you’ll have to file a nasty eviction. Hey, and did a fire just break out in your basement?
Suddenly, you’re in crisis control mode. You have to act quickly, make decisions swiftly and put out the fire (sometimes literally.)
2. Peace with Financial Volatility.
Landlording is a financially volatile experience. When your units have full occupancy and you don’t have to deal with any major repairs or maintenance tasks, you’ll be riding high.
In other months, however, you’ll get hit with a spate of expenses …. all at the same time.
You may need to replace the roof, water heater and windows, all in the same month.
You’ll simultaneously need to foot the mortgage bill through an extended vacancy.
Oh yeah, and in your personal life, your cat’s sick. She ate a PB&J sandwich. Now you need to pay an expensive veterinary bill.
Success as a landlord relies in large part upon your emotional strength to deal with this type of income volatility. It also depends on your ability to recognize that long-term big-ticket items, such as replacing a roof, are not necessarily a setback. Now you have a new roof, after all, which (in theory) will serve you for the next 25 years.
3. A Sharp B.S. Detector.
There is no kind way to say this: You are going to hear a ton of BS excuses.
Even if you hire somebody else to manage your property, you are still going to be on the receiving end of BS explanations. They’ll come from your tenants, your contractors and sometimes even the people who you hire to be property managers.
A sharp BS detector is a necessary quality for any aspiring landlord, but don’t worry: If you have a reputation for being gullible, you’ll quickly develop a B.S. detector after just a few months on the job.
You may have to look at 100 houses before you find one that’s an awesome deal.
If you run out of patience while searching for the next property, you run the risk of buying something just because you’re frustrated with the whole search. In other words, you run the risk of buying the wrong house due to your emotional impulses.
Your success as a landlord hinges on your ability to restrain that impulse. You must maintain the patience to look at dozens or hundreds of houses — sinking hundreds of hours into the process — before you find one that is worth devoting your time, energy and attention towards.
Home prices rise and fall — sometimes quite drastically, as recent years have shown us.
If you are a landlord, however, you are a long-term investor. Emphasis on “long-term.”
You need to develop the optimism to smile through those years (yes, years) in which your home value has declined, or rent in your area has dropped, or vacancies in your area have risen.
Obviously it’s important to be realistic and to make a sober, analytical assessment of the market. Duh.
But you need enough optimism (or should I call it “risk tolerance”?) that you won’t panic during a down market. (And let’s face it: the majority of people panic during down markets.)
So call this quality anything you want: optimism, risk tolerance, a long-term perspective. I don’t care what you call it. I only care that you possess it — and that it withstands the test of down markets, high vacancies and other unpleasantries.
Good luck. If you need me, I’ll be napping in the sun.
Photo Credit: Soul Pusher