Pro Tips for Landlords

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I need some guidance. I’m a new landlord responsible for managing two properties. Each property has six apartment units. I’ve taken care of the twelve apartments for about two years, and it’s much more challenging than I expected.

I’ve encountered multiple bad tenants so far. I’m constantly updating vacancy ads around town and filing paperwork. I also struggle to collect rent, because checks arrive at all different times in the mail.

All that work is time-consuming. There must be some way to reduce the amount of work I do. Are there products or services designed specifically for landlords and property managers?

Property management is no simple mission. You definitely aren’t the first landlord to face problems running your real estate. Remember that no business venture is without its challenges. What’s most important is that you tackle them with the right mindset. There’s plenty of insightful literature you can browse to further educate yourself. Don’t underestimate the value of self-directed research, especially when it comes to problem-solving.

One immediate suggestion is reading what Jimmy Moncrief wrote published on Landlordology, which covers his top ten tips for landlords. Several points might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many landlords disregard, underestimate, and/or overlook them. Making rent a priority, screening tenants effectively, and knowing fair housing laws are all critical factors in running a successful real estate business. Brandon Turner at The Huffington Post echoes similar sentiments in his own article discussing five easy tips for being a successful landlord. Brandon’s recommendations focus on tenant interactions, except the last one, which suggests tapping into other resources for help.

Fortunately, there are countless products and services that might address your troubles. The services are typically offered by property management companies, and the products include property management software solutions. Erin Eberline at The Balance explains how to find the best property manager. The decision isn’t easy to make, but you’d eliminate most of the work with which you struggle, in exchange for some of your profits. One major con is choosing a property management company that isn’t the right fit by mistake. The only way to avoid that scenario is by conducting appropriate research.

With regard to products like landlord software, you should also realize that technology isn’t a panacea. There’s a balance to strike, no matter what. Staff writers at Better Buys put together a definitive guide to property management software, which contains much of what you need to know to get started. You’ll want to think about the features most desirable to your business (i.e., automated online application forms, customizable vacancy ads, financial transaction processing, etc.), and then weigh them against the possible cons of utilizing the tool (i.e., the learning curve, time/money investment, system dependency, etc.). You should first prioritize your business struggles before starting an evaluation or comparison. Never underestimate the value of a roadmap or checklist.

“Landlords grow rich in their sleep.” – John Stuart Mill

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