RENTAL MANAGEMENT EDITION
As a professional manager, I will say with absolute certainty, the way to go is self-management. You get everything done exactly the way you want, on your schedule and at no cost. This, compared to cookie-cutter services from a management company, on their schedule and for a fee. Is there any doubt?
Actually, there is. If there wasn’t, I would not be writing this post! The first area of concern I have when an owner is going to self-manage is whether this owner has any clue what they’re doing. Sure, you may know how to paint or how to fix a toilet. You may know what to do when the tenant doesn’t pay. You may be in a position to respond to emergencies 24/7. You may know all the appropriate specialists to handle everything from a plumbing leak to no-heat; from a roof leak to a failed refrigerator; from an electrical problem to a house fire; from non-payment to tenant property damage. Do you know all of it?
As professional managers we are networking constantly and evaluating contractors of every sort. We are keeping abreast of changes in the law relative to rental licenses, property insurance, collections, fair housing, financing, lead paint and more. We have access to the latest tools of the trade in accounting, vacancy marketing and applicant screening. We are expected to know or to have the resources to get the answer fast.
There is a cost for these services. In time, we expect to earn our fees, either by directly performing a service or by being there when you need us most, complete with the full knowledge and support of a team of experts. But, let’s not focus on what we can do that you can’t. There are things that you can do better. You may have only one or two, maybe 10 houses. A portfolio manager cannot make a living on 50 houses. Typically, they are managing 75 to 150 homes. This requires a certain amount of batch processing—call it cookie cutter service. It’s not as personal as we would like, but it can be more effective. Take, for example, filing collections cases. We file dozens each month. Most don’t go to trial, but when they do, we don’t have another job to be at on Friday morning—our job IS to be at court. Is there a cost in terms of your time or lost wages? If you answered, “no”, we need to talk about the value of your time. Batch processing is always quicker and more effective, thus less costly.
Have you responded to a house fire? We have. We have handled more than a dozen fire restorations and countless water extractions, mold remediations, fair housing allegations, partial building collapses and other major issues. We deal with the insurance adjusters and the contractors—all while you’re at work earning a paycheck.
True, you may have gotten Jose’ the illegal painter to paint your house at a lower cost. We can’t do that and neither should you—it is illegal, you know? Our objective is to manage your property as if it was our own; to get to know you and your expectation; to keep costs reasonable (not always cheap, cheap) and to get the jobs done right the first time by using reputable, licensed contractors. In the final analysis, a good manager can and should out-perform an owner who self-managers, but there are exceptions both with the quality of manager and with the exceptional self-managing owner.
Chris Majerle, PCAM