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Local Vs. Long Distance: How Close Should You Live to Your Properties as a Landlord?

One of the best things about being a landlord is that you can run your rental property business however you see fit.

That means you can purchase and rent a property just about anywhere – even if you live far away from it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can opt to only purchase local properties, which are plentiful in Maryland areas like Anne Arundel County.

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However, the freedom to choose your properties place pressure on your to make sound decisions. You need to figure out whether you are best suited to be a local landlord or a long-distance landlord before you start investing. Otherwise, you could end up feeling overwhelmed and facing problems that make you question your choice to become a landlord in the first time.

To help you with your decision, we’ve put together this blog post. Keep reading, and you’ll learn the different issues faced by landlords living both near and far from their properties.

Should Landlords Invest in Long-Distance or Local Properties?

The benefits of being a long-distance landlord

If you’ve been considering buying properties far from your home, you many be curious about the pros and cons of doing so. First, let’s talk about some of the benefits of being a long-distance landlord:

More investment opportunities

When you only invest in local properties, you may be limited the annual income of your rental property business. However, long-distance landlords can invest in properties anywhere, giving them the opportunity to become more profitable.

For instance, you may live in Northern Maryland but choose to purchase rental properties in Central Maryland areas like Anne Arundel County, which have a higher cost of living and a denser, or diverse population. By doing so, you could see a considerably higher return on investment in the long run.

Or, if you would prefer to keep your upfront financial investments low and manageable, you could try to a region with a lower cost of living that would allow you to buy more property. But remember, the larger your territory, the more you may need to rely on property management!

Somewhat passive income

When you live far from your property, you can’t easily travel to it to handle tenant requests, make repairs, and collect rent. Everything must be handled from afar.

In other words, you’ll need to plan carefully to create a realistic financial model. It’s necessary to forecast the projected cash flow your properties will bring in while considering all the necessary expenses of being a responsible landlord from a distance.

While this can present its own set of challenges, it also gives you the opportunity to turn your rental property business into a more passive source of income. That’s because long-distance landlords outsource some of their duties to property managers and contractors so their tenants stay happy and their properties remain in good shape.

Tip: Check out this blog post to learn what questions you should ask a potential property manager to determine whether or not they’re the right fit for you. 

Tax deductions

All landlords get certain tax breaks, but what you may not realize is that you can write off any long-distance travel expenses related to your rental property business.

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Of course, long-distance landlords also face certain challenges that local landlords do not. For example, they are often unfamiliar with the area their property is located in, which sometimes results in poor investments. Also, some long-distance landlords face challenges when they pick the wrong property manager, resulting in a worse return on their investment.

Overall, having an experienced team of professionals on your side is key to your success as a long-distance landlord. You many want to visit the area where your property is located before you rent it out so you can meet up with potential property managers and contractors in person. While this may take up a bit of your time, it’s better than dealing with problems in the future that  affect the profitability of your rental property business.

The benefits of being a local landlord

Lots of landlords choose to invest locally before they branch out to other areas, but some prefer to stick to local property investments because of their benefits:

Familiarity with the area

One obvious benefit of being a local landlord is that you’re more likely to make good investments due to your familiarity with the local area. On top of that, if you live in or near a place like Anne Arundel County, you may be able to use your knowledge of local attractions to entire tenants to live in your properties.

However, even the most knowledgeable local landlords are not immune from making bad decisions about which properties to invest in. Regardless of whether you’re a local or long-distance landlord, you should always do your research before you purchase a rental property.

More control over your business

Long-distance landlords must rely on property managers to run certain aspects of their business and handle problems with tenants and properties. This can be challenging if you pick a property manager who lacks communication skills, fails to properly screen tenants, or chooses to cut corners.

Local landlords, on the other hand, have more control over their rental property business and the ability to take a hands-on approach to running every aspect of it. For example, they can show their properties in person, inspect their properties as needed, and meet up with tenants when necessary.

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Of course, local landlords who prefer a more hands-off approach may still choose to take advantage of the benefits that come from allowing a skilled property management team to handle their unwanted tasks.

Local contractors

When you choose to invest in rental properties, you’ll likely need to work with a contractor at some point. Being local means that you can meet up with potential contractors in person to determine whether or not they are a good fit.

Obviously, long-distance landlords can’t meet up with contractors in person too often. Sometimes, that results in contractors taking advantage of the fact that the landlord lives far away by doing a poorer job than they might have done otherwise. When that happens, tenants are likely to become upset, which makes your job as landlord more difficult.

As you can see, local and long-distance landlords each face a different set of challenges, but each approach has its perks. Think about which challenges will be easiest to manage for you. Then, you can make a good decision about where you should invest in rental properties.

Remember, both local and long-distance landlords can reduce their responsibilities and get a good return on their property investments by partnering with a trusted property manager. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Bay Management Group today.