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11 Problems Only Property Managers Have

Jun 24 2017

Property managers play a unique role in the world, interfacing as we do between real estate investors and tenants, contractors and city officials, home-seekers and real estate agents. Few people get the chance to see the good—and bad!—sides of people from so many different socioeconomic levels, employment types, and motivation levels. The results are often painful—but even more often, in retrospect, hysterical. See how many of these you recognize!

11 Problems Only Property Managers Have

1. The Case of the Non-Present Money

How many times have you seen a tenant rocking a new iPad or even a new car just after Christmas—and then pay late on rent because all of their cash went toward presents for their friends and family? On the one hand, yes, we know that Christmas does actually work that way sometimes, but seriously, don’t you think it would be wise to maybe ask for help paying your rent?

2. The Incredible Transforming Applicant

This is the end result of poor tenant screening—or perfectly good tenant screening with a tiny bit of bad luck. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do once your rock-solid-seeming tenant has turned into a monster is find the most efficient way to cut your losses.

3. The Prodigal Brother’s Dog?

There are a few often-repeated excuses we get when we find a pet in a home that doesn’t have a pet on the lease. The most common of them is, “It’s not mine, but the owner will get back any day now!”—and a complete pile. Pets aren’t allowed without a pet deposit, period. If your brother wants you to watch his dog while he’s on vacation, you call us and you get that pet added to your lease, and you submit a pet deposit. Sorry, Fido!

4. The Case of the Vanishing Social Life

There’s nothing quite like your third or fourth Friday night in a row spent elbow-deep in someone else’s broken plumbing or sputtering heater, especially when your family and friends are patiently waiting for their turn to be the focus of your attention. This is when knowing some trustworthy repairmen can really be helpful.

5. Late Date and Irate

It’s amazing just how many ways a tenant can accidentally show you that they may have more money on hand than their late rent would indicate. The question is, how aggressive do you get in pursuing that late rent? After all, those Amazon boxes may have been paid for several weeks ago and just shipped overseas from China. Right?

6. When You Don’t Even Know

You are about to enter another dimension—a dimension not just of sight or of sound, but of pure inexplicable chaos. This is the Tenant Zone! No, seriously, you don’t even know how much you don’t even know until you walk into a situation you thought made sense over the phone and find that the maintenance issue you thought you could fix with a green scrubby and some WD-40 turns out to be something that the laws of physics cannot explain. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

7. Lawyer Money Comes from a Different Wallet

Admittedly, the only real “problem” here is not laughing in the faces of the agitated evictees who throw threats like this at us—but hey, sometimes that’s hard!

8. TFW They Want The Whole Security Deposit Back And…

“Did I say wear and tear? I meant it was like this when I moved in. Honest!”

9. We Didn’t Let You…

Subletting may sound like something that medieval physicians did with a special variety of leech, but it’s actually much, much more disturbing than that—doubly so when your tenant is collecting rent from a tenant of their own and isn’t actually living at their listed address at all!

10. It’s Just an Uncooked Meal

One of the reasons why contract lawyers come at such a premium is that they can, hopefully, prevent situations where a single reasonably-misinterpreted word or phrase can mean the difference between a lease going off OK and a lease going to court and wasting everyone’s time and energy.

11. But I’m Only One Day Late

How is anyone supposed to get the idea that rent is due on the first if you always give them until the fifth before any consequences actually land on their heads? This is why our lease explicitly refers to the grace period as a privilege that can and will get taken away if it’s abused. That way, we never (OK, rarely) end up in this situation.

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If you’ve ever considered investing in a few rental properties in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA now might be a good time. Prices are still low in Philadelphia, but have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home in a US metropolitan area grew 13.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the latest in a 17-month streak of year-over-year price increases. 

New landlords can choose from properties that are likely to appreciate and a large pool of potential renters.Licensed realtor Pat Mueller cites a few reasons for this trend: “Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are entering the rentals market for the first time in years. Mortgages are also harder to get now, so fewer people are qualifying for a new one.”The more skills you bring to the table to get into Houses for Rent in Philadelphia Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA and the more time you have to devote to your properties, the faster you can make a return on your investment. 

But investing in rentals can also be disastrous (or too stressful to be worthwhile) without expertise. Here are three professionals you may consult about your new rental properties, and what you can do to mitigate how much they cost you:Handyman:  You may need to hire a specialist for some work on your rental. If you need new outlets or new pipes, for example, hire an electrician, plumber or licensed contractor. Handymen usually tackle smaller, more manageable tasks, like:

  • Painting and paint removal
  • Drywall repair
  • Minor appliance repairs (fixing a leaky toilet or faucet, among others)
  • Installing tiling or flooring, moldings, windows, doors
  • Refinishing decks, cabinets and other wood items

When You Could Skip It: You could do any (or all) of these projects yourself if you have the time and interest in learning. Of course, this only works if you live relatively close to your rentals and are flexible enough to service them on short notice. And if you’re willing to respond to the occasional 5 AM basement flooding.

Average Savings: Any base rates or costs-per-hour vary from location to location in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA , but nationally, you can expect to spend an average of $60 to $85 per hour for repair costs. It general costs less to hire an individual handyman than a handyman employed by a company. Expect an additional charge if your job requires a trip to the store for materials.

Resident Property Manager As the owner of a handful of rental properties, you may be able to manage them yourself, but if you want help, a single resident manager would probably be more cost efficient than a property management company. Resident managers may:

  • Serve as a handyman
  • Advertise vacancies in your units
  • Show apartments to prospective tenants
  • Review rental applications
  • Collect rents

When You Could Skip It: Again, the closer you live to your properties and the more spare time you have, the less likely you are to need a manager. The obligations of being a boss will also cut into the time you save on maintenance.

Average Savings: The national median wage for residential managers is just over $25 per hour. Research the wages in your community and adjust according to how much responsibility your manager will take on. 

Real Estate Agent: Once you’ve gotten your financials in order and done your own research on the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, you might contact a realtor to show you potential properties. You can also arrange for a realtor in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA to show rentals once they’re ready to rent.

When You Could Skip It: It depends. Even if you’re a local, or have thoroughly researched the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, a realtor is a great resource for a first-time rental buyer. Realtors have access to data and statistics not necessarily available to the general public and first-time buyers may not know all the right questions to ask. Using a realtor to fill your Houses for Rent vacancies is less of a no-brainer, depending on your other time commitments or whether you plan to hire a resident manager who could do the same thing.

Average Savings: As a buyer of rental properties, as when buying your own home, sellers typically pay most, if not all, of the buyer’s realtor fees. In this case, Mueller points out there’s little reason not to work with a realtor. For help in filling your units in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA, the services of a realtor would set you back between 10-20% of the unit’s rent per month.  Mueller recommends interviewing with several brokers before making your final decision to invest into Houses for Rent .

The Bottom Line: As a new landlord, you can’t necessarily control the flexibility of your schedule or the amount (and cost) of unexpected repairs to your properties. Rentals are a long-term investment. However, to maximize profits from your Houses for Rent, new rentals, you can buy close to home and start small. It is best to begin with just one or two properties. This will allow you to maximize the time you spend on your properties’ needs, and minimize the amount you’ll have to pay anyone else.

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