Many landlords want to manage their own investment property. This is understandable. You undoubtedly think you can save money by not paying a management fee every month. Maybe you like to do home improvement projects, and you imagine you’ll have no problem keeping up with the maintenance and repairs that your rental property needs.
DIY property management can work for some Atlanta rental property owners. If you have a lot of free time that you can dedicate to finding tenants, screening applications, managing resident requests, and keeping your home maintained, you can probably manage on your own successfully. If you’re willing and able to stay up to date on all the laws pertaining to landlord and tenant relationships and behavior, you won’t have to worry about expensive lawsuits or complaints from government agencies. And, if you follow the Atlanta 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 expertise to effectively manage your own investment property, you should seriously consider talking to a professional Atlanta property manager. A management company can save you money – and even help you earn more money – with the proper systems, procedures, and market knowledge.
Professional Atlanta Property Management vs. DIY with Leasing
Finding and placing a highly qualified tenant in your rental property is one of the most serious sides of being a landlord. If you don’t choose the right tenant or set the right rental price, you’ll have a hard time with the ongoing tenancy. Every investor wants a successful rental experience, and it starts with tenant placement. DIY landlords often find a tenant and get a lease signed pretty easily. However, if you really want to maximize what you earn and how your property performs, a professional Atlanta property management company can make a difference with a few important things.
- Preparing your property for the Atlanta rental market is a good way to help you earn more rental income and attract higher quality tenants. Your property manager can help with recommended improvements and upgrades. These inexpensive and simple things will make a difference. It might only take fresh paint, new hardware on the kitchen cabinets, or low-maintenance landscaping in order to make a difference in the amount of rent you charge and the types of renters who want to live in your home.
- Pricing your home has an acute impact on what you earn in the long term as well as the short term, and many DIY landlords in Atlanta choose any price that’s based on how much they want to earn or the amount they need to cover their own expenses. But, the market drives your rental price. A good property manager will understand the Atlanta market and the impact 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 difficult, especially if you’re a busy DIY landlord. Unless you have the time and the proclivity to meet tenants at their preferred times, you’ll have a hard time renting out your property quickly. Most 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 Atlanta market.
- Tenant screening is so important. You want to know everything you can about your future residents. It might seem easy to run credit and a background check, but you might find it more difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to really dig deep into a tenant’s application. It’s necessary 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.
- A strong lease is required to protect your own interests and the condition of your investment property. Many independent landlords make a mistake and they use a generic lease that they found 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 Georgia law and enforceable in Atlanta. Professional property managers have leases that are reviewed by local attorneys.
Maintenance and Repairs: Professional Atlanta Management vs. DIY
One of the best reasons to work with a property manager is because they can protect the condition of your rental property through inspections and responsive maintenance. 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. Documentation and invoicing is smooth and transparent.
As a DIY landlord, there may be complications. 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 licensed and insured 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 reduce your maintenance costs. We often have preferred pricing schedules with our vendors, thanks 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.
Collecting Rent and Enforcing Leases in Atlanta
Professional management can also make a big difference when it comes to on-time rental payment collection and the strict adherence to your lease agreement. Most 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 you don’t like to confront your tenants. 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 most property managers take seriously. 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.
At the end of a tenancy, it’s especially difficult to be a landlord. You have to distinguish between general wear and tear and tenant damage. This 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.
How to Decide Between Professional and DIY Management in Atlanta
If you’re an Atlanta 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?
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 Atlanta.