The temptation to manage your own investment property is understandable. You probably think you can save money by not paying a management fee every month. Maybe you like to do home improvement projects, and you think you’ll have no problem keeping up with the maintenance and repairs that your property needs.
DIY property management can work for some Fort Worth rental property owners. If you have a lot of time to dedicate to finding tenants, screening applications, managing resident requests, and keeping your home maintained, you might be able to do it successfully. If you’re able to stay up to date on all the laws pertaining to landlord and tenant relationships and behavior, you probably won’t have to worry about lawsuits or complaints. And, if you follow the rental market closely and you understand the local rental rates and tenant pool, you won’t have to worry about losing money on low rents and high vacancy rates as a DIY landlord.
However, if you don’t have the time, skills, and knowledge to expertly manage your own investment property, you should seriously consider talking to a professional Fort Worth property manager. A management company can actually save you money – even help you earn more money – with their systems, procedures, and market knowledge.
Professional Fort Worth Management vs. DIY in the Leasing Process
Finding and placing a great tenant in your rental property is one of the most critical aspects of being a landlord. If you don’t pick the right tenant or set the right rent, you’ll have a hard time recovering. Every investor wants a successful rental experience, and it starts with tenant placement and the leasing process. DIY landlords can often find a tenant and get a lease signed. However, if you really want to maximize what you earn and how your property performs, a professional Fort Worth property management company can make a difference in a few key areas.
- Preparing your property for the rental market is a good way to earn more rental income and attract high quality tenants. Your property manager can make recommendations on what might need to be improved or upgraded. You won’t be required to renovate the entire home; but a few changes like fresh paint, new hardware on the kitchen cabinets, or low-maintenance landscaping can make a difference in the amount of rent you charge and the types of renters who want to live in your home. Your marketing photos will look better, and you’ll create a positive first impression for the prospective tenants who come to see your rental property.
- Pricing your home has a critical impact on your ROI, and many DIY landlords in Fort Worth choose an arbitrary price that’s based on what they want to earn. The market drives your rental price; not your mortgage, not your expenses, and not the amount of cash flow you’re hoping to earn. A good property manager will understand the market and the nuances of your home’s location. Your manager will compare your home’s size, condition, and amenities to others in the neighborhood. The result will be a fair, competitive price that limits your vacancy time and appeals to reliable, long-term tenants. Over-pricing your home will only result in less rental income. Your property manager will help you avoid that risk.
- Showings can be complicated for DIY landlords. Unless you have the time and the inclination to meet tenants at their convenience, you’re going to have a hard time renting out your property. Most potential tenants want to see properties after work or on the weekends. They don’t want to do a lot of back-and-forth when it comes to scheduling the showing. Professional property managers have access to technology that can allow tenants to visit the property on their own, at the time that best suits their schedules. This moves the leasing process along and is responsive to the needs of tenants in the Fort Worth market.
- The importance of tenant screening cannot be overstated. You want to know everything you can about the people who are trying to move into your rental property. While DIY landlords can usually manage to run credit and a background check, you might find it more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to really dig deep into a tenant’s application. You want to verify employment and income, check for past evictions nationwide, and talk to former and current landlords. You want to make sure everything on the application matches up with the information you get back on criminal history, former addresses, and financial information. A professional manager has this down to a science. We have systems and processes that ensure a fair, consistent screening procedure. The result is a well-qualified tenant who will pay rent on time and take care of the home.
- You need a strong lease to properly protect your own interests and your investment property. Many independent landlords make the mistake of using a generic lease that they find online. This is not going to help you if you find yourself in court trying to evict a tenant or defend your use of the security deposit to pay for damages. You need a lease that’s compliant with Texas law and enforceable in Fort Worth. Professional property managers have leases that are reviewed by attorneys.
Maintenance and Repairs: Professional Fort Worth Management vs. DIY
One of a property manager’s most important functions is to protect the condition of your rental property. This is done through inspections and responsiveness. If a tenant reports that a repair is needed, you need to take care of it as soon as you can. For professional property managers, this is easily done with online maintenance reporting and either in-house maintenance teams or a reputable network of excellent vendors and contractors.
DIY landlords can sometimes struggle with getting repair work done in a timely manner and for an affordable rate. If you want to do the work yourself, you’ll likely need to keep the tenant waiting until you have the time to get over to the property and do the repairs. If you don’t already have relationships in place with vendors like plumbers, roofers, and other contractors, you won’t be able to access their services during emergencies or after hours. If your tenant calls you at 2:00 in the morning with a leaking water heater, you don’t want to start your search for a plumber at that moment. You want to have someone reliable to take care of the matter immediately.
Professional property managers can also keep your maintenance costs down. We often have preferred pricing schedules with the vendors we work with. That’s due to the amount of work we give them. An independent landlord with one or two properties cannot provide the same volume, and will usually end up paying more.
Rent Collection and Lease Enforcement
Professional management can also make a big difference when it comes to getting your rent paid on time and enforcing your lease agreement. Tenants know what they can get away with, and when they’re paying rent to an independent landlord, they are usually more willing to pay late or not at all. It can be difficult to chase down late rent, especially if you’re busy or not a fan of confrontation. When rent isn’t paid or your property is damaged, it’s easy to become emotional and to take things personally. A property manager can be an effective buffer between you and your tenant.
Lease enforcement is something property managers take seriously to avoid evictions in a rental property. If rent is late, there will be a late fee collected. If eviction proceedings need to begin, notices will be served and documents will be filed. We will conduct inspections and make sure there aren’t any unauthorized pets or residents in the home. Owners count on us to make sure the property is being protected and maintained.
Distinguishing between wear and tear and tenant damage is one of the most challenging parts of the move-out process. When your tenant vacates the property, you need to inspect it and decide whether to return the security deposit. You can get into a lot of trouble for not returning the security deposit on time, or for charging it for things that you should pay for yourself. Your property manager understands this process and is very good at conducting inspections and documenting the condition of your home. You’ll be at less risk for violating laws, and you’ll have a shorter turnover period between tenants.
Deciding Between Professional and DIY Management
If you’re a Fort Worth rental property owner trying to decide whether you want to manage your own home or turn it over to a professional property manager, consider these final questions:
- Do you know what your property is worth on the rental market?
- Do you have access to vendors who can keep it maintained?
- Do you have time to advertise the home, show it to tenants, answer questions, and respond to maintenance?
- Do you know the federal, state, and local laws pertaining to rental properties? Are you familiar with the Texas Property Code, which is pretty specific when it comes to things like deadbolts and smoke detectors?
We are here to help you spend less on your property and earn more. If you’d like to hear more about the value that professional property management services can provide, please contact us at Specialized Property Management Services in Fort Worth.