Property Management Success: 7 Key Factors DIY Landlords Must Do

Property Management Success: 7 Key Factors DIY Landlords Must Do

I often get asked what the critical property management duties and responsibilities are as a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) landlord. And so, my view is that if you follow these steps, you’re setting yourself up for a much more comfortable and headache-free process.

The truth is: There is no finite answer, but these are key areas to focus on:

1. Property presentation

Property presentation

A tenant is highly unlikely to be interested in your property if it’s unclean, messy and in a state of disrepair. One of the frustrations of being a DIY landlord is having to deal with the transition period between tenants, but making sure a property is in a habitable situation at all times—especially for viewings—will pay back in more income, greater tenant return rates (especially if your property is marketed for vacations), and favorable tenant reviews and recommendations.

Property Management Success: 7 Key Factors DIY Landlords Must Do

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2. High-quality marketing

High-quality marketing

By ensuring that your property is well presented, you’ll be able to take high-quality pictures and appropriately market your property. Use high definition equipment and a fish-eye lens to accentuate the available living space and views. By using neutral color themes and styles throughout your property that are highly attractive and not too obtuse or extreme, you’ll add a certain level of aesthetic value.

Focus your marketing material on the stand-out features of your property. Sea/countryside views, garden areas and spacious rooms are all highly appealing features to focus on in your marketing material—not that small, single bedroom right at the top of a house.

Ensure that you target high-traffic and reputable websites and media for your marketing. Flyer marketing can be an effective solution, especially in areas where you know there might be tenants who are looking for a new place to live. However, if you don’t possess an artistic streak, then this is an aspect that should be outsourced.

Property Management Success: 7 Key Factors DIY Landlords Must Do

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3. Market research

Market research

There’s no point charging $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment when every other apartment on the street is consistently charging rents of $700. For such diversity to exist, your property needs to stand out from the crowd exceptionally.

So, don’t compare apples with pears. Make sure your market price is relevant to the suburb, town, or city where your property is located. Take into account similar-sized properties that have comparable features and selling points to yours. Views, access to gardens, a spacious and well laid out kitchen, security, local amenities, and access to public infrastructure and shopping districts all play a part in determining your market price. You’ll only be able to charge what someone is willing to pay, so don’t price yourself out of the market. Do your research.

Property Management Success: 7 Key Factors DIY Landlords Must Do

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4. Excellent communication

Excellent communication

By responding to tenants and potential tenants swiftly and effectively, you will go a long way to ensure your success as a DIY landlord. No current tenant will want to have to wait more than 24 hours to hear back about an urgent repair to the heating in the middle of winter. No future tenant is going to want to wait more than 72 hours to view your property, especially if they’re looking at similar properties.

Also, keeping in touch with and establishing a strong working relationship with a team of  repair and maintenance  people is highly advisable. In time, you’ll build a level of trust with them and be able to send regular work their way. Positive and efficient communication will go a long way in ensuring this is the case, and you’ll then be able to call on them in an emergency, serving your tenant’s and their needs at the same time—a very powerful formula.

Even if you can’t act on a request or don’t know the answer to a question, acknowledge that you’ve received the message anyway and find out the solution or make sure the issue is resolved in a timely manner. The important thing is to keep in contact with every single stakeholder. Without tenants and a habitable property, there’s no income. And without income, there’s no business.

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5. Time management

Time management

Combined with excellent communication, managing your time effectively as a property landlord is pivotal. By scheduling your week in advance—on a Sunday, for example—you can decide when exactly during your week you’re going to do the most essential tasks. At a glance you can see if there are any gaps in tenancies for scheduling repairs, cleaning, taking updated photos, replacing furniture, and everything you need to do to run your DIY landlord business correctly.

This can also be drilled down to each day so that when you wake up, you already know what you’re supposed to be doing that day. It can be very easy to sit back and put things off, especially if you don’t have a job to go to and your day is entirely yours to manage. By being proactive and scheduling up front, you know exactly what you’re doing and when. This will remove complacency and will help improve your business success.

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6. Prioritize your tenants’ needs

Prioritize your tenants’ needs

I’m not saying that your tenant is always right because sometimes you might need to stand your ground. However, by not listening to them and communicating with them poorly, you’ll be doing yourself and your business a disservice.

You don’t need to become their best friend, but you can be a helpful and positive landlord with minimal effort. Don’t put off fixing the heating because you were going for a run that day. Don’t ignore their texts or emails because they stained the carpet, and most definitely don’t ignore them because you had scheduled a specific time of the day to do your accounts and taxes.

Be flexible with your time management, prioritize your tenants—and potential tenants—and don’t forget to communicate regularly with them!

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7. Manage your finances

Manage your finances

Cash flow is highly important as a landlord, so knowing exactly when your tenants are paying their rent in comparison to when your mortgage and regular bills need paying, can seriously remove any money-related headaches from your life.

My suggestion is that you have a spreadsheet set up that you can easily maintain for each month. It should show income and expenditures separated but with totals that indicate if you’re ever going to be in a negative cash flow situation. If this does happen, it can be countered by having some capital put away for emergency needs.

This also extends into knowing how profitable your business is, without needing an expensive bill from an accountant who’s telling you that a property is making you a loss. What you should really be outsourcing to them is your taxes, where their expertise is really important.

Use your time management planning to schedule time at the very beginning of the month to set up the month’s forecast. With a weekly review that only needs to take 10 minutes and a quick review at the end of the month, you’ll clearly understand your ongoing financial position.

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Final thought

If you are brand new to property rental as a landlord, and these seem to be a little overwhelming, you can start first with communication and time management. With these in place, all the other  property management  duties and responsibilities will later fall into line much easier. Obviously, that isn’t to say that they will happen automatically. You will need to work on them, and you’ll find that being a DIY landlord can be highly rewarding and profitable.

When the “word on the street” is that your property is known to be presentable, comfortable, is pitched at the right market price, and you’re not known as a “landlord from hell,” then you’ll get tenants through the door very well. Just make sure to keep them.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please share it with others whom you think can benefit from these tips as well. Thanks in advance, and I wish you much success!

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Sabine Ghali is Managing Director at Buttonwood Property Management, a property management company in Toronto. She is an entrepreneur at heart who endeavors to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Sabine is published in a number of media outlets, including Entrepreneur, Toronto Sun and Gulf News, among many others. Read more >>

Posts By Sabine Ghali