For many reasons, living close to your rental investment property may not be possible. While living close by does make things easier, being a long-distance landlord can work if you are prepared. Modern technology and services allow investors to purchase property anywhere to get the most out of their portfolios. Join us below as we review what to consider before embarking on long-distance property management, along with when to hire help.
The Benefits and Downsides of Long-Distance Property Management
Investing in rental property takes careful consideration of both finances and logistics. So today, let’s focus on logistics and what landlords need to prepare for before buying a rental out of town or out of state. Continue reading for some of the benefits and potential downsides of this type of investment below.
What are the Benefits of Being a Long-Distance Landlord?
- Expanded Investment Opportunities – If the local area does not have the best profit potential, expanding your horizon offers better income potential. Typically, the best places to invest have good population growth, increasing median income, job growth, and a diverse pool of potential renters. Depending on your financial goals, it may make sense to investigate regions that are up and coming. Thus, allowing you the chance to buy an undervalued property and keep upfront costs low.
- Additional Income – Wherever the property is, owning rental homes allows investors to generate steady monthly income. However, when you live far away, owners must carefully create a realistic financial model with that in mind. While this takes a little more time upfront, it allows owners to set up a basically passive income source especially, if you opt to hire a local property management firm to handle tenant requests, marketing, leasing, and maintenance.
- Beneficial Tax Deductions – Any landlord can benefit from special tax deductions that can help increase profitability. That said, long-distance property management means additional deductions for things like travel expenses. Depending on where the property is in relation to the landlord’s location, these write-offs can add up quickly.
The Downside of Being a Long-Distance Rental Owner
- Local Knowledge – An essential part of being a successful landlord is choosing the right location. That said, being in long-distance property management means owners may not be as familiar with the local market as someone who lives locally. Thus, leading to potentially questionable or poor investment decisions.
- Responsiveness – Living far away can naturally affect response time in an emergency. Long-distance owners cannot drop everything and simply drive over to their property. So, when repairs or requests need to be addressed, they must be handled from afar, proving challenging.
- Less Control Over Your Business – Typically, landlords who are not local rely on hired help to run the daily operations of their business. However, choosing a reputable company can be a challenge. Without properly vetting the company, owners run the risk of hiring inexperienced or ill-equipped representation.
- Building Vendor Relationships – Every property, at some point, will need repairs or preventative maintenance. As an absentee landlord, relying on strong vendor relationships is critical. However, distance makes it difficult to meet vendors in person or see the results of their work. Sometimes, contractors can take advantage of this, and landlords end up paying the price.
How to Be a Successful in Long-Distance Property Management
Long-distance property management is not without its challenges. That said, owning rentals in another location can be a rewarding experience with the proper processes in place. Check out these essential tips for successful long-distance property management below.
- Make Software Work to Your Advantage
- Create a Rock-Solid Rental Agreement
- Choose the Right Tenants
- Have a Process to Handle Maintenance
- Build Vendor Connections
- Keep Communication Lines Open
- Perform Inspections
- Seek Help from the Experts
Make Software Work to Your Advantage
Modern technology can be a big help to landlords managing properties from afar. Whether you decide to use a free service or a paid subscription, property management software allows owners to streamline daily operations from anywhere. Moreover, landlords can use this software to complete the following tasks and much more –
- Collect and Process Rent Payments
- Assess Late Fees
- Respond to Tenant Communications
- Process Maintenance Requests
- Assemble Accounting Reports
- Easily Post Vacancy Listings
- Screen Rental Applications
Create a Rock-Solid Rental Agreement
No matter the location of a rental property, a thorough and legally binding lease is essential. The lease terms must be clear to be effective, so both landlords and tenants understand their roles and responsibilities. Many property management software providers allow owners to send and sign leases electronically – which is very convenient for long-distance landlords. Just be sure to include strict conditions on the factors that matter to you, such as no smoking or pet policies.
Choose the Right Tenants
The right tenants are key to a landlord’s success near or far. Part of thoroughly screening tenants for background, rental history, income, and credit history means you can better trust the tenants to take care of the property. Additionally, screening tenants include checking in with previous landlords and other references. This is an important step for any landlord, but for long-distance property management, it is a must. Some of the key questions to ask include –
- Were rent payments made on time and in full?
- What was the monthly rental rate?
- Describe how the tenant maintained the property?
- How did the tenant communicate with you?
- Would you rent to this tenant again?
- Did the tenant have roommates that contributed to the monthly rent?
- Were they evicted from the property?
- Did they have any pets?
- Did neighboring tenants ever make complaints against the tenant?
- How long was the tenancy?
- Why did the tenant choose to leave?
- Does the tenant smoke?
Have a Process to Handle Maintenance
Responsiveness to repair requests is at the top of any tenant’s list. It is essential to both tenant satisfaction and the overall health of the rental property itself. Keep in mind, maintenance on residential single-family properties is the owner’s responsibility. Therefore, being at a distance can present a challenge.
So, layout clear instructions for tenants on who and when they should call regarding maintenance emergencies and repair requests. Utilizing management software allows tenants to submit requests online and landlords to assign vendors and monitor progress remotely.
Build Vendor Connections
Whether you live close to your investment property or not, establishing relationships with trusted vendors is vital to addressing repairs quickly and affordably. However, in long-distance property management, this can be yet another challenge to tackle on your own. The best advice is to get recommendations from others in the field. However, if that is not possible, make sure you do your due diligence and use a trusted site such as Angie’s List to find highly qualified vendors in the area. Also, take the time to interview the maintenance companies and get to know their operating structure to decide if it is a good fit.
Keep Communication Lines Open
Communication with tenants is not always easy, but it is necessary for any good landlord-tenant relationship. Generally, this can be a quick email or text to check in every once in a while to see if everything is okay or remind tenants of a seasonal maintenance task or upcoming inspection.
Be sure to provide tenants with a current phone and email address along with an emergency contact if, for some reason, you are unreachable. Additionally, set up some expectations such as non-emergency matters should expect a return call within 24 hours. That way, tenants know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
When issues do arise, landlords should always keep the tenant informed of the steps being taken to make the situation right. Keeping everyone well-informed will help avoid frustrating and potentially costly disputes.
Inspections are critical to maintaining your valuable investment. At a minimum, landlords should complete a thorough move-in and move-out inspection to help discern if any tenant damage has occurred during the lease. If so, these damages can be withheld from the tenant’s deposit to help cover repair costs.
That said, be sure to record the property condition on an inspection checklist that both the landlord and the tenant sign. Additionally, take photos or a video to document existing damages further to aid in comparison later.
Seek Help from the Experts
Long-distance property management comes with many challenges that local landlords simply do not face. It is challenging to juggle the other obligations in life, such as work and family time. This leads some owners to seek help from qualified local experts. For a fee, a property management firm can take over daily operations on behalf of the owner. Therefore, simplifying the processes, boosting profit potential, and efficiently handling tenant needs.
For property owners in Maryland, turn to the experts at Bay Property Management Group. Our team of experienced managers, leasing staff, onsite accounting, and in-house maintenance techs handle every aspect of your business. Using the latest technology, owners can check in on their property from anywhere via a convenient Online Owner’s Portal with real-time reporting. So, whether you need help with long-distance property management, local property management, or just want to maximize your local portfolio, give us a call today.