April 2018 marks our one-year anniversary of owning rental property. (Check out the story of how we got started by purchasing three rental properties in one day from Roofstock). Over the year we’ve learned a ton.
While we spent the previous two years learning about real estate investing and saving to purchase our homes, nothing quite matches having rubber meet the road. With that, here are four important lessons we learned during our first year of owning rental property.
Lesson 1: Align with your property manager from the get-go
Nothing will make your experience of owning rental property sour faster than if you and your property manager (PM) are not in sync with communication expectations. It can and will keep you up at night. Plus, it is your job to manage the manager, and no one will care about your investment like you will.
When you are not aligned, things can quickly feel out of control. Imagine not understanding where you are in the tenant turnover process or the needed time to repair an item in your property. When will the property be occupied again and how much will it cost? Lacking the answers to these questions is not a fun feeling.
The best thing that you can do is to set expectations for both sides from the get-go. We live many time zones away from our property manager, so email is our primary communication method. Admittedly there was a bumpy start, but once we connected on this and agreed to expectations, things were much smoother.
If there is an issue that merits our attention, we know that our PM will reach out via email within 48 hours. He is a busy guy, and I would rather him make sure the tenant is taken care of first. Why? They pay your bills, and if you treat them poorly, you will pay the bills.
When necessary outside of email, we will connect with our property manager on an early morning phone call if there is something that is easier to talk about rather than write a novel of an email. For those who are in a physically closer time zone to their property manager, I would recommend setting up a monthly call to discuss any issues, concerns or more complex questions.
It’s great to see all of the relevant information in one area at your fingertips. I have found that many of our questions are answered here which saves us all time and unnecessary emails. If there is an issue outstanding, you can clarify it on your monthly call. (Side note—many property systems will automatically email you updates anyways. How cool is that?