Each year, you pledge to streamline your operations and management of your rentals; but another year has come and gone, and you’re still not as organized as you’d like to be. You’re still wrangling with overdue repairs and maintenance. Trust me–we’ve all been there.
January 1st is a new beginning. Use it as an opportunity to start fresh. Here are our top 10 New Year’s resolutions for landlords to consider this year:
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #1
Review Your Lease Agreement
When was the last time you looked at your lease agreement? In particular, if you’re still using your state’s standard lease agreement, you should make it a priority to review your lease with your attorney this year. Be sure that the terms of your lease are specific to your rental situation. Carefully tailored leases are a great way to protect your interests.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #2
Start an Emergency Fund
It’s one thing to have a rainy day fund; it’s another thing to have a rainy day fund that’s dedicated to your rental property alone. Set up a separate account that you’ll be able to draw on solely for expenses related to your rental property; then designate a separate savings account for your personal use.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #3
Tackle One Long-Overdue Project
Maybe it’s a roof in need of repair. Maybe it’s repairing the back deck. Or maybe it’s a bathroom renovation. Sure, you could probably get away with letting this project slide a few more months–maybe even another year. Inevitably, however, other repairs and maintenance will start to pile up; and before long, you’ll feel overwhelmed. Start by chipping away at one project at a time. When you commit to just one, it feels a lot more manageable.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #4
You don’t have to commit to installing solar panels; but have you at least considered it? Not only does solar increase the value of your property, but it can save you hundreds of dollars a year if you pay for your tenants’ utilities. Explore whether your rentals are well-suited for solar, and if so, what type of solar might be the best fit. Look into tax credits and other incentive programs offered by your city, state, or federal government. Your utility provider might offer solar discounts, too.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #5
Integrate One New Technology
This could be an in-unit technology (such as a Nest thermostat), a new leasing technology (like smart locks for self-showings), or a new technology that helps streamline operations (such as property management software). Real estate technology is evolving at rapid speed. There are several new tools out there to help landlords realize efficiencies and greater returns on their investments.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #6
Re-Examine All Contracts
It’s easy to fall into a rut and accept the status quo–but when was the last time you took a hard look at your service providers’ contracts? Are you paying the best rates for the quality of service you’re getting? Are you satisfied with that service–or is it time to search for contractors you can really trust? Make it a priority to review all contracts in 2018. Contracts with repair/maintenance vendors, your insurance company, property manager, and accountant are a good place to start.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #7
Read a New Book
If you’re anything like me, you love to read but just can’t find the time to do so; life just seems to get in the way. In 2018, make it a priority to dust a book off the shelf that you’ve been meaning to read. If you don’t have a book in mind, here are a few suggestions that have been on our radar: Moneyball by Michael Lewis; Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki, and Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #8
Find a Mentor
Whether you’re a first-time landlord or have decades of experience, consider finding a mentor. It’s amazing how much you can learn from others within the industry. Local real estate investing meet-up groups are a great way to source potential mentors (and friends!).
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #9
Spend More Time with Friends & Family
This is particularly important for self-managers, who can quickly become preoccupied with the day-to-day operations at their rental properties. Evenings are spent returning calls and showing vacant units. Weekends are consumed by repairs and maintenance. It can become overwhelming. In 2018, take a moment to pause. Devote more time to family and friends. Our rule of thumb: try to set aside at least two days a month–one day to see family, one day to see friends.
New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #10
Consider Hiring a Property Manager
If it feels like you can’t find time for #9 above, then it might be time to consider hiring a property manager. But you like to be a hands-on landlord! We get it. And truth be told, you still can be hands-on. Property managers work under all sorts of arrangements. You may be able to have a property manager help with just finding and screening tenants; or maybe you hire someone to help you with only repairs and maintenance. Property managers can play various roles depending on your needs–make 2018 the year that you explore your options.
Owning rental property can be highly rewarding, but it can also be all-consuming. As a landlord, you really need to operate your rental portfolio like a business if you want to be successful–and like any business owner, that means setting goals and tracking your results over time. Starting with a few New Year’s resolutions is a great way to get started in that direction!
P.S. Wondering what the 2018 real estate market holds for your business? We highly recommend Buildium’s free guide, What to Watch in 2018: 7 Predictions for the Housing Market & Property Management Industry.
Amanda Maher is a self-proclaimed policy wonk who dabbles in real estate law. Amanda holds a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University, as well as a Masters in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern.