Proactive Property Management: Watch Your Property Value Grow

By: Paul T. Robertson

Your clock registered 3:15 a.m. The phone is ringing and you scramble to wakefulness desperately searching blindly for the receiver. Surely, it is something terrible for anyone to call at this late hour. The voice on the other end of the phone is your tenant complaining, no whining, and no squeaking about a possible home invasion by something big, furry, and possibly canine in origin. Then again, it might just be the rental property settling on a windy night. She's not sure. She has barricaded herself in her bathroom, dragging the cordless phone with her, and she has called you. You begin to question the value of buying real estate rental properties.

You are relieved that the world will go on another day and annoyed that Helena has awoken you from a sound sleep yet again. As the landlord, you are probably all too familiar with the nervous Helena, whiny Erwin and house wrecker Sam and his college buddies. What does this all mean? Welcome to the world of do-it-yourself real estate management. Many eager property investors step into something they were just not ready for - how to efficiently and effectively manage a property, not to mention a growing portfolio Helena's and Sam's. Investment properties and their management is a reality that many people aren't ready to deal with.

Some unexpected problems the novice property owner soon learns aren't in the brochures about making money in real estate or disclosed by realtors. Tenant selection requires a great deal of experience and is the core of the rental success.

For example, in Queensland, Australia in 2006, 63.7% of the disputes filed by tenants involve properties that were managed by property owners. Surprisingly, property owners counted for only 12.7% of the market share, and this 12.7% was involved in nearly 2/3 of the disputes filed. Of the other 87.3% of the properties, these were managed by property managers and not the owners. In these cases, only 36.3% of the disputes were filed. Saved legal fees alone could wind up paying for a decent property manager and the stress and headache of trying to do-it-yourself would be eliminated.

Communication is essential when managing rental properties. Clear and to the point communication eliminates misunderstandings and keeps both tenants and owners happy. This results in fewer problems, a lower turnover rate and good tenants. In order to maintain this balance, it's important to stay in touch and maintain regular visits for upkeep.

Disasters in properties tend to take up all of the landlord's attention and they seldom happen at a time when it's convenient. As a result, property owners will invest great sums of money with little regard to the income that's being produced from the property. Vacations and holidays disappear in the maelstrom of repairs and crises.

Alleviation of the annoyance of tenant phone calls at all hours of the day and night only comes when there is a property manager to field communications and establish regular, scheduled visits and upkeep which takes care of many disasters prior to them happening. Property managers also have the skill to see major problems in the making because of their experience in dealing with properties.

Another large aspect of property management falls under dealing with tenant and tax laws. Reading and keeping up with the ever changing rules and regulations is part of the property managers' job where they assist the property owner to avoid costly mistakes that could wind up in the thousands of dollars of fines, penalties and fees.

There are qualities to look for when you hire a property manager. The seasoned property manager understands all the changes and interpretation of the complex rental laws. They communicate on a regular basis with both you and the tenants. Property managers know who to contact for those sudden repairs and provide preventive maintenance so fewer occur. A scheduled maintenance inspection often eliminates the need for high repair cost later. Good managers return phone calls promptly. A proficient property manager handles arrearage with expertise and professional demeanor in a timely fashion.

If an investment property portfolio grows larger, the owner should be prepared to expand with more property managers. In exchange, they will avoid the nightmare of paperwork, rules and regulations, fines and penalties. It is a win-win for all involved with the property owner reaping some of the benefits of owning real estate. In this case, the brochures should include part of the dream - hire a good property manager in the beginning. You won't be sorry you did.

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Author: Paul T. Robertson highlights the benefits of property management to protect your most important asset. Visit the "InHousePropertyManagement" website for expert advise on how to find and keep quality tenants and manage your property and save time and money.

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