From the outside looking in, a lot of people assume real estate investors and landlords have it made. They’re under the impression that you work a couple of hours per week and then collect mailbox money. But as you know, nothing could be further from the truth. Your schedule is jammed with obligations and you’re constantly looking for ways to free up time. Let this article be your guide.
6 Tips to Help You Save Time
Rental property investing often gets billed as being a hands-off, passive stream of income. And while it certainly can be, it doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to spend less time managing your properties, you have to be intentional. Here are a few timesaving tactics you can use:
1. Hire a Property Management Service
We’re going to lead with the ultimate tip. Because if you’re serious about saving time, the best thing you can do is hire a property management service to do everything for you. Yes, it’ll cost you a percentage of your rent – but it’s well worth the expense. It frees up your time and allows you to focus on adding more properties, pursuing other entrepreneurial ventures, or spending time with family and friends.
But just in case you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or you prefer to have your hands touching everything, we’ll provide some additional tips throughout this article.
2. Spend More Time Vetting Tenants
You can save tons of time by simply filling your units with the right tenants. A good tenant is going to respect your property, live up to the terms of the lease agreement, pay on time, and leave you out of things that you don’t need to be involved in. A bad tenant, on the other hand, will bring you into a whole host of issues. This may include late rent payments, disputes with neighbors, property damage, etc.
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, spending more time vetting tenants will actually save you time in the long run. So do the extra screening and due diligence. You’ll be thankful down the road.
3. Set Up Online Payments
Few things are more time-consuming and stressful than chasing down rent payments. Do yourself a huge favor and set up online payments so that rent is processed automatically every month. (If you can’t convince your tenants to set up an automatic draft, you can at least streamline the process by allowing them to pay via an online portal.)
4. Inspect Properties Annually
Don’t wait until there’s a problem to call in your maintenance guy for repairs. Not only is this expensive, but it will also create major scheduling challenges. The better approach is to inspect properties on an annual basis. You won’t catch everything, but this will enable you to invest in preventative maintenance to avoid most breakdowns. (This saves both time and money.)
If you can time property inspections in between tenants, great. Otherwise, you’ll want to schedule them far in advance to give your tenants an adequate heads up.
5. Be Smart About Finishes
Here are some simple hacks you can use to save time with property finishes and other simple features:
- Keep track of the paint colors you use for every room – either in a spreadsheet, or by writing down the codes on the inside of light switch covers. A spreadsheet is ideal, because it lets you track the paint color, numbers, and other pertinent details.
- Keep landscaping nice but simple. Avoid lots of shrubs and beds, as they tend to get overgrown quickly. This requires more work on your behalf – particularly in between tenancies.
- Consider providing smoke detector batteries to your tenants. This ensures they have working smoke detectors at all times – even when they don’t feel like going out and buying replacement batteries.
6. Pick Up Your Phone
This one is pretty simple and straightforward. Whenever a tenant calls, try to pick it up right then and there. This allows you to directly address whatever question or issue they have, rather than playing phone tag and/or letting issues get worse.
Always Seek Improvement
Whether you’re a landlord, a parent, an employee, or a business owner, life should always be characterized by growth. Never settle for what’s working now. Continually be on the lookout for new opportunities to improve. In doing so, you’ll discover that success isn’t nearly as elusive as most people make it out to be.