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Many small to mid-sized landlords want to self-manage their rental properties, and for good reason.
Above all, self-managing your properties means more take-home revenue — you won’t have to say goodbye to a large portion of your rental income each month to pay a property manager or company.
Another benefit is that you’ll be closer to your renters and rental operations. When you’re the one screening the tenants and hiring maintenance contractors, you always know exactly who is in and around your properties, and you’ll be the first to know of a problem.
However, there are also some cons. You’ll need to invest considerable time, energy and effort into your properties, which not all landlords — especially those with other responsibilities like W-2 jobs or families — can do. You might also find yourself at a loss if you don’t have the knowledge required for a specific task. You’ll need to rely on yourself much more.
With the right tools and technology, self-management is a profitable and very doable choice for many. In this article, we break down how you can limit expenses with five self-management tips.
Listing syndication is one of the best tools for landlords. Why? Using listing syndication can make rental advertising a one-man job.
Listing syndication allows you to write one listing and post it to multiple popular listing sites in one click. Instead of spending time re-writing or typing your listings for sites across the internet, you can use a listing syndication service to post them simultaneously.
Listing syndication makes self-management possible because it limits the amount of time you spend on listing and advertising tasks. Posting online in general is a good idea because it allows prospective renters to contact you more easily with questions or general interest. However, syndicating your online listings is the best choice — you can optimize your advertisements without having to pay a realtor to do this for you.
Similarly, automating your applicant pipeline is another way to make self-management feasible.
Setting up an applicant pipeline is relatively simple on a particular listing platform. For instance, if you post on sites like Zillow or Apartments.com, you can opt to send introductory emails to renters who “save” your properties or opt to receive more information. Additionally, if a renter doesn’t respond to your initial message, you can designate a follow-up email to be sent after a certain number of days.
Ultimately, your goal is a signed lease, so you need to stay in contact with interested renters and keep communication regular. If you don’t have time to respond to a message for several days or even a week, it’s likely the renter has already moved on. That’s why it’s important to automate the process: You don’t have to respond to each renter personally in order to make sure they get a personal reply. And you can always choose to answer specific questions yourself or receive phone calls from renters who are serious about renting your properties.
Property management software
Perhaps the biggest way to limit expenses through self-management is to use software. Property manager fees can be steep — most charge a percentage of your monthly rent collection, meaning the more successful your business is, the more you’ll have to pay for management.
This doesn’t have to be the case with property management software. Many software platforms offer cheap plans with all the basic management features you need. Others, like Innago, are entirely free to use. You’ll gain access to key features like online rent collection, tenant screening, rental advertising and maintenance management, and you can automate many of these tools as well.
If you’re looking to cut management expenses, software is undoubtedly the best place to start.
Online rent collection
As mentioned, online rent collection is one tool you’ll find on property management software that can save you much time and money. Instead of collecting paper checks or cash every month and driving everything to the bank, your tenants can simply submit their payments online. You’ll get them much faster and won’t have to manually track down late payments yourself — your software will apply and enforce late fees automatically. With more time on your hands, you can focus on generating more revenue, not tracking down revenue you should already have.
Seek guidance when necessary
Although there are many ways to cut costs by doing tasks yourself, don’t let your desire to save money cloud your good judgment. If there’s a task that needs to be done and you don’t have the knowledge or experience to complete it, you shouldn’t attempt it yourself at the risk of causing further damage.
For example, if there’s a serious plumbing problem that needs to be addressed immediately, you most likely won’t have time to watch a YouTube video and teach yourself the fix. Instead, you should call a trusted contractor to ensure no further damage is done to your properties.
Likewise, if you’re facing what’s likely to be a complex eviction and you’ve never attended an eviction court hearing, you should not hesitate to call a lawyer. An experienced eviction lawyer can offer you expertise that is well worth your money when it comes to something as expensive and challenging as an eviction.
Self-managing your properties is an ambitious, but plausible, goal for most small to mid-sized landlords. There are a variety of resources and tools available for exactly this purpose. Many are based on automation, which is absolutely critical if you plan to manage your properties on your own. It won’t always be easy, but there’s much you can do to become a successful manager of your own investments and save money while you’re at it.