If you’re thinking about managing your own rental property, it’s understandable. You might think you can save money by not paying a management fee every month. And, if you like to do home improvement projects, and you probably think you’ll have no problem keeping up with the repairs that your property will need.
DIY property management can work for some rental property owners in San Antonio. If you have a lot of time that you’re willing to spend on finding and screening tenants, responding to resident requests, and maintaining your property, you can perhaps do it effectively. If you’ve studied the Texas Property Code and the federal Fair Housing Act, and you know what’s required, you probably won’t have to worry about lawsuits or complaints. And, if you follow the local rental market closely and you understand the needs and requirements of tenants in San Antonio, 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 San Antonio property manager. A management company can actually save you money – even help you earn more money – with their systems, procedures, and market knowledge.
Professional Management in San Antonio vs. DIY: Leasing
As a landlord, one of your most important jobs is to find and place great tenants. If you don’t pick the right tenant or set the right rent, you’ll have a hard time recovering personally and financially. 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. That part’s easy. However, if you really want to maximize what you earn and how your property performs, a professional San Antonio property manager can make a difference in a few key areas.
- Bringing your rental property up to code and preparing it for the rental market is essential. You’ll need to be prepared, and you’ll want to make sure you have the right curb appeal. A good San Antonio property manager will make recommendations on what could to be improved. Simple, inexpensive updates like fresh paint, new hardware on the kitchen cabinets, or low-maintenance landscaping can make a difference in the rental amount you charge and the types of renters who want to live in your home. You’ll have better marketing photos, and you’ll create a positive first impression for the prospective tenants.
- Expert pricing help will have a critical impact on your ROI. Many DIY landlords in San Antonio will randomly price their properties, based on what they think their property is worth. The market drives your rental price, and you cannot charge more than what tenants are willing to pay. Your property manager will understand the market and the location of your property. 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, especially if you’re busy with your own career or family obligations. It takes a lot of time to meet tenants at their convenience, you’re going to have a hard time renting out your property. Most tenants today prefer to see properties after work or on the weekends. They want to visit on their own terms, and they prefer to be independent. Tenants today don’t need to be followed around or supervised. In-person showings have their value, but professional property managers can offer an alternative. They 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 San Antonio market.
- Tenant screening is incredibly important. 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 use rental criteria. We use 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.
- Your lease is important because it protects your 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 San Antonio courts. Professional property managers have leases that are reviewed by attorneys.
Maintenance and Repairs in San Antonio
Nothing is more important than the condition of your rental property. You want your asset to increase in value, and to do this, inspections and responsive maintenance are required. 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 have a hard time 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 in San Antonio 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 is helpful with getting your rent paid. Property managers know how to enforce 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.
If rent is late, property managers will ensure the late fee will be 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 San Antonio 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 understand the value of your property, and what it’s worth on the rental market?
- Do you have relationships with professional vendors who can keep the property maintained?
- Do you have the time that’s necessary 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 San Antonio.