Property management is a stressful job, being on call 24/7 means that you will always have managing in the back of your mind no matter what you are doing. You answer calls, texts, emails, handle tenant disputes, deal with unexpected move outs, prospect new tenants to fill leases and even reach for the toolbox if things get hectic. There’s also no choice in if you want to or not. If a tenant’s main water pipe bursts in the middle of the night it’s your problem, not theirs. Being a complaint-driven industry it’s expected that you will be strong and have the drive to succeed, but what if that’s not enough? What if you want to take a step back to take control of your life and become a remote landlord?
As technology starts to catch up with the property industry its clear that there is a more natural way to manage properties and build your portfolio. We interact with hundreds of property managers and owners each month, a majority of them seem stressed out and ready to throw in the towel.
We hope this article can change the way you view property management and take a large portion of stress off your plate. Keep reading to discover our most helpful strategies that will encourage you to be the most profitable remote landlord you can be.
It’s a Business
Managing or owning a rental property isn’t like typical investments. Compared to investing in bonds, stocks or shares it’s considerably more like running a business. There’s no such thing as ‘buying and forgetting’ when you acquire property as an investment.
Property in an ongoing investment, there is always something that needs attention to keep things afloat, commonly this requires you to be present on the property. Because of the local presence associated with managing a property, becoming a remote landlord seems like an unattainable goal for many managers and owners.
The sooner you understand that you are running a business, and not holding onto an investment the closer you will be to going remote. SnapInspect suggests that there are three critical factors in owning or managing a property remotely:
Building a strong team that can assist you when local presence is needed
Creating efficient, clear company-wide processes that allow your staff to execute tasks that you assign
Implementing a technological solution that will enable you to track progress, communicate with your team, tenants and any other relevant third parties
Hire a Property Manager
If you are planning on going remote, you will need someone who can physically inspect your property, meet with potential tenants and handle other day-to-day tasks that require physical attendance. Hiring the right property manager for your portfolio is crucial. You need to be able to trust the person a considerable amount seeing as you won’t be able to see the property yourself. SnapInspect suggests hiring through a referral.
Ask other investors, search the internet for reviews, schedule meetings with different property management companies and make a decision based on your unique needs. If you can, find a property management company that is already helping other remote investors prosper.
Lay Your Business Foundation With Robust Processes
To begin your property manager will make up the entirety of “your team.” As your business and portfolio grow, expect that your staff roster will too. Once you have sorted the team aspect of becoming remote, next is your business operations.
The primary objective of creating processes is so that you and your property manager can always be in tune and on the same page. When you are operating remotely, even a slight communication misunderstanding can be costly.
When you are brainstorming what you want your processes to be it’s essential to not only select what’s best for the business, but also empower staff, and allow them to make decisions on their own as long as they benefit the company.
Your main goal with setting processes in place is to take the stress off daily management operations and give you the confidence to enjoy the benefits of working remotely without having to worry about your portfolio.
SnapInspect suggests discussing and agreeing upon the following processes:
- Setting the Rent and lease guidelines with clear minimum pricing listed for each property
- Marketing the property
- Tenant selection
- The tenancy agreement & bond lodgement
- Rent collection
- Repair and Maintenance work
- Eviction, Late payment & breaching the lease
Once you are happy with your processes, monitor them closely, especially in the beginning. When you are operating as a remote landlord, you are essentially the CEO of your portfolio. Look at the big picture, overall returns, trends and where you are not meeting expectations.
If you see something that you are not happy with, e.g. higher than usual vacancies or multiple late payments, Communicate that with your property manager to figure out where you are falling short. Then change your processes accordingly. You should always be updating your processes to reflect your business operations until you find what allows your portfolio to thrive.
Technology Solutions for Remote Landlords: Property Inspection Software
As a remote landlord, you need to have a software solution that you and your team can trust and rely on. A cloud-based solution is commonly used among remote landlords as it allows real-time updates and instant communication between staff, tenants and over external stakeholders.
It is crucial when searching for a property inspection software solution to asses what you need before beginning the search. Get together with your staff and brainstorm a list of must-have features.
You may want to consider the following:
- Cloud-based system
- Video and photo capability
- Automatic report formatting option
- Visual and data-driven dashboards
- Web and Mobile applications
- Ability to edit inspections online
- Generate reports in multiple different forms (Microsoft Word, PDF, Webshare link)
- Digital Inspections
- In-app communication
Being a remote landlord means having no office and a lot of the times you also live in a different city than your property manager and the property. There are no filing cabinets, no desks, and no meeting rooms. When you implement property inspection software into your process to strengthen them further, you also cut out pens, paper, clipboards, and digital cameras. The only tools you need to ensure your manager has are a laptop and a mobile device.
The ability to automate administrative, time-consuming tasks is one of property inspection software’s most attractive feature. Instead of asking your staff to sift through filing cabinets to find a move-in inspection, they enter the address into the software’s search bar and instantly locate it.
Instead of spending hours formatting inspections into a professional report, you click upload, and the software does it for you. Instead of having to email back and forth with maintenance teams detailing issues within your property, the software automatically sends an in-depth description with photos pulled from your latest inspection.
Property inspection software saves you up to 75% of inspection time and cuts time spent on post inspection administrative tasks by 80%. Being a remote landlord means you need to be looking for every competitive edge you can. Tenants will appreciate your team’s dynamic inspection capabilities and the gold standard of business you hold yourself to, supported by property inspection software.
Highs and Lows
Being a landlord is already a stressful gig. Adding “remote” in front of that and the stress can very quickly multiply. It’s essential that when you are in the beginning phases of setting up, you get things right the first time. Follow the steps detailed above to ensure you minimize the risk of things going south and that you are best equipped to succeed at being a remote landlord in 2019.