9 Landlording Lessons I Learned During This Year’s Peak Moving Season

by | BiggerPockets.com

I am a huge believer in transparency, so I’ll be the first to admit that the life of a real estate investor is HARD! The things I have experienced this moving season have made me feel like I’m on a treacherous roller coaster ride — and that the safety bar just failed.

This is not an easy life, and the journey is not stress-free. If it were, BiggerPockets wouldn’t be needed, and trust me, this has been one of the biggest tools in my tool chest!

I’ll be honest: The reason why I have been less than “regular” lately is because I’ve been hanging off the roller coaster with only my hands holding onto the safety bar. My husband is MIA (welcome to the world of being a military spouse), and I’m juggling three house-turns, a crazy full time job… and did I mention I’m trying to close on two houses? Oh, and added to that, California is a common property state, so closing with just one person’s assets makes things more complicated, not easier.

Here are the 9 most important lessons I’ve learned this moving season. I hope this helps your life become a little less stressful. Do you have a lesson you’re willing to share? I know I could use a little reprieve from ulcer-inducing stress levels, so share them below in the comments section to save us all a little “fun.”

Related: Moving Your Tenants Out: A Security Deposit Mistake to Avoid

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9 Lessons I Learned During This Year’s Peak Moving Season

Do Not Hold

If a tenant wants it, they will complete it ASAP. No matter if it is the weekend — there is still Paypal, and they can go to the packing store or office store for scanning.

Stick to Your Principles

I knew better than holding, as Rule #1 implies. I have a deep rooted “first come, first approved and all complete” standard. Well, guess what? I overruled those thoughts because I was tired, and it cost me a week’s rent and a lowered price. So no matter how hard it is or how tired you are, stick to your guns!

Problem Children Should be Handled Firmly

For the first time in my landlording career, I had a problem child. I surprisingly (and this is said somewhat sarcastically) followed the book to the rule, and things went well. I was always professional, but didn’t give an inch, and while it certainly created ulcer-inducing stress, I was successful. You can be professional, successful and stand firm!

Always Have Contingencies in Place

For the second time in the past 8 months, one of the units broke the lease to buy the house. If you’re in an area that has a cheaper mortgage than rent, make sure you have contingencies in place. I charge a 2 months’ rent deposit and require 2 months’ notice. This way, I am covered no matter what is happening in my life!

Trust Your Gut

If something feels wrong, end it right there. Don’t try to make it happen. I tried to make a situation work long past when I should have because a friend was involved. The situation still went to pot, and I lost that friend/team member.

Be Prepared for When Your Out of State Team Falls Apart

Did I mention that one of my team members stopped speaking to me? So I suddenly was flying cross country to do a flip and show and then back in a weekend because my day job couldn’t give me any time off. If you are going to manage rentals long distance, be prepared for the “for worse” moments — because they exist! While it worked out fine in the end (both houses are rented, YEAH), it was slightly more painful than I would have liked.

Be Flexible!

No matter how prepared you are in life, things will still go wrong. We have been working on a short sale for 8 months. I had 6 POAs, yet a provision still wasn’t caught. We were able to make it work with a little bit of prayer and a COD delivering mail at the right time. It also helped that I am cynical and followed up on every detail. The point is, follow up on EVERY step no matter how many times you have done this because there is always a surprise! The key is to find it before it finds you.

Related: 3 Common Mistakes Landlords Make During Lease Signing & Move-In

Don’t Give Up

No matter what, don’t give up! I am not saying don’t call uncle when it is appropriate. I am saying that when life is too much and you are hanging off the roller coaster, don’t give up and let go. Keep fighting because I promise, you will figure it out! Even if that includes speaking in “strong” professional words to your out of state title company on why you need this deed NOW.

Think Outside the Box

I don’t know “in the box” thinking. My crazy red hair stereotype fits my style to a T. Don’t be afraid to look at things from all sides. This has been successful for me because I haven’t been afraid to look at a situation from every side! Don’t forget, you don’t necessarily have to be traditional to be legal.

While turnovers for my current rentals are over, the fun involved in moving into a new house and fixing up a foreclosure/renting it out is just getting started! So check back to hear the next post in this saga. For now, at least I’ve survived.

What did you learn this moving season? What is your favorite metaphor for when you’re losing your mind? Mine is “wildest roller coaster possible with a broken safety bar” — Let me know yours!

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Elizabeth Colegrove

Elizabeth Colegrove is a passionate "buy and hold" investor who specializes in turning her once-negative transient lifestyle (Military) into a positive lifestyle. She self manages her entire real estate portfolio from long distance while holding down a full time job. When she isn't finding new real estate deals, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with her awesome boat-building husband, playing with her mischievous kitty, or writing on her newest project, her blog.


    • Elizabeth Colegrove

      Glad you like my sense of humor because sometime it is all I have! I am the first one to tell you that real estate was the best thing to happen to us financially. It’s can also be an incredible (hear the sarcasm) journey!

      If you like my sense of humor you will love my post on 2 buys and refi 😉 I can truly say this moving season has been an incredible journey, and when I escape it with only a ulcer inducing movement it will be a success 😉

      Until than just know your not alone! Every experience landlord I have talked to has agreed with me when I say buying/selling/placing is the most painfully time of owning investments.

  1. David Faulkner

    Take a deep breath … this too shall pass and you’ll be richer in both cashflow and experience as a result. One other thing I learned in the tough times: the importance of NOT over leveraging … equity you have in the property is NOT “dead equity”; it is an insurance policy that buys you peace of mind and, by keeping the mortgage expense down, helps you to make it through. You may still be able to hustle your way through the tough times if you don’t have it, but it makes things much easier and less stressful if you do. Of course, you pay for that insurance on the upside, so how much you carry is a personal choice, so long as the pros and cons of the trade-off are carefully considered.

  2. Ryan Potter

    Hey just wanted to say a special thanks for sharing. As others have said, your writing style is awesome, funny, and deep with helpful information. I appreciated it all. Very smooth and easy to mentally digest. Aim to reciprocate with my own helpful stories one day soon.

  3. Jerry W.

    Thank you for the article. It can be easy to go to dead batteries after a hard week or 2 at work, and multiple problems with rentals. It helps to have a solid plan to fall back on, but you also need to take some time to get away. I am working on that right now. Don’t forget to make a life while trying to make a living. I also want to thank you and your husband for serving. While you are not in the service it is really the same thing if your husband is. Someone has to pay the price for keeping the family going while they are deployed or gone. Chin up and keep going. Best of luck to you and your family.

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