Can You Manage Your Own Rental Properties Or Should You Hire A Professional?

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Whether you've made a hobby of purchasing rental real estate in other parts of the country or are relocating for business and aren't quite ready to sell your home or condo, you may be considering the prospect of renting out your property and managing your rentals from a long distance. This may seem time-consuming or even overwhelming -- however, you may not like the prospect of paying someone else a portion of your rental profits (or adding to your expenses) to manage your property for you. Fortunately, some advances in technology now make it easier than ever before to remotely manage your rental property. Read on to learn about some programs and features that can benefit you while you're on the road.

Online payments

One of the banes of the landlord's (or property manager's) existence is confronting a tenant who has failed to pay his or her rent on time. However, with the advent of mobile technology, this interaction can be as conflict-free as possible -- and can also ensure that you're quickly paid. 

By paying a personal visit to late-paying tenants (and bringing your trusty tablet and credit card reader), you can provide tenants with the option to pay their rent immediately by swiping a credit or debit card. Alternatively, you can set up a tenant payment portal and allow the tenant to input payment information using your tablet. 

In some cases, this nonpayment might merely have been an oversight, and the tenant may be happy for the opportunity to avoid a stern letter by paying online immediately. In other cases, you'll be able to have a face-to-face conversation with the tenant to make alternative payment arrangements (or to provide them with notice that you'll soon be filing for eviction). 

Mobile video property inspections

Many landlords will periodically need to travel back to the location of the rental property in order to perform a visual inspection. It's usually a good idea to do this once or more per year so that you can ensure regular maintenance is being performed and there are no obvious problems with the way the property is being taken care of. However, if you live across the country, this trip can be lengthy and cost-prohibitive (even taking into account the tax deduction for rental management expenses). One tech-savvy way to get around this physical inspection is to use a mobile video chatting application to perform a visual tour of the property.

This visual tour provides several advantages over a physical tour in addition to the much lower cost and eliminated need for transportation. Because the renter's phone or tablet on the other end of your tour should have flash photo capabilities, you can request a well-lit inspection of inside cabinets or around pipes or other hard-to-access areas. This can all be conducted at a relatively minimal inconvenience to your tenant, particularly when compared to an awkward in-person inspection.

When should you hire a professional property manager?

Although these technological advances can save you quite a bit of time and money in managing your rental property, there are some situations in which you may be better off with a professional property manager who can handle these tasks on your behalf in exchange for a portion of your rental profits.

If you have no interest in collecting or tracking payments, or if you are uncomfortable interacting with or potentially confronting tenants, you may want an intermediary to perform these tenant services on your behalf. Generally, you'll pay somewhere between 8 and 12 percent of the rental rate in property management fees, which can be a bargain if it removes these responsibilities from your plate.

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8 July 2015

Sarah's Renting Tips

Although I've never worked professionally in the real estate business, I sure know my way around it. How, do you ask? Well, I have simply rented a lot of different places and worked with a lot of different landlords and real estate agents. In the past 7 years I've lived in 11 different houses or apartments, none of them my own. In finding those 11, I have looked at literally hundreds of apartments. I used to hate house hunting, but now it's kind of fun. You just need to know what you want and the right questions to ask. Hopefully this blog can help you learn some of the tricks of the trade from another renter like yourself.