Property Management - Yes or No?

By: Steve Gillman

You just bought a small apartment building. Do you hire a good property management company or do you try to manage your rental property yourself? The best answer to that depends on what your goals are and what your skills are.

Your Goals

Do you want to be a landlord or an investor? Of course, the choice isn't that black and white, and you can be both to some extent. However, before you start spending all your time dealing with rent-collecting and fixing broken toilets, consider how that will affect your ability to go out and find more good investment properties. Certainly much of the time spent at your apartment building could be spent on finding more buildings - if you had a manager.

It's worth noting that wealthy investors often spend more time finding the deals than doing the day-to-day things necessary to operate their rental properties. They hire good property management companies, and not just because it frees up their time for more valuable things. It also has to do with the question of skills.

Property Management Skills

It may be tempting to do everything yourself. In fact, this may not be a bad way to start out investing in rental real estate. There is no question that if you do it right, you can reduce your expenses and so generate more cash flow by not hiring a property manager.

In fact, you may need to do the managing yourself in order to have any cash flow. In this case, you may have paid too much or financed the property wrong. Even if you plan to manage a property yourself, you should always buy in a way that the income covers all costs - including management fees if you decide to pay them. Any other way is too risky.

If you are thinking you'll do your own managing, can you do what is necessary? This is an important question. Do you have what it takes to collect from tenants who are late with their rent? Do you know who to call and how to negotiate for cleaning and maintenance? Of course you can learn whatever you need to know, but if you're not willing to learn, you are better off hiring a manager.

Consider too, whether property management will really be as expensive as you think.Sometimes a good property manager will save you money. A company with experience, for example, may have tenants calling all the time looking for apartments. This means they can fill your units quickly, and without the expense of advertising that you would have had if you were on your own.

When there is a vacancy, a good property management company will (hopefully) have a carpet cleaner and housekeeping crew in there within days to get the unit ready to rent. If they get the place re-rented two weeks faster than you would have, that's two week's extra income. Good property management can pay for itself in time and money savings.

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