One area where new property investors may feel unsure is about how much repair and maintenance to do between renters. After all, there will be some small, obvious things to patch up, but doing too much rehab after every resident can really cut into your bottom line. How do you strike the right balance? Chesapeake property management professionals at Renters Warehouse have been evaluating what the right balance of maintenance, repair, and replacement is, and we can bring our formidable experience to bear on your own decisions, helping you invest in your property without wasting money.
Track Major Repairs and Stick to a Schedule
For the bigger repairs and replacements, such as HVAC systems or appliances, it is helpful to start tracking when items were installed and when they've had periodic maintenance. Renters usually don't demand a brand-new furnace, especially if they will only be with you for a year or two, but they don't want it to catastrophically fail in the middle of a snowstorm either. By keeping track of each property's major items, you will be able to note, as one resident moves out, what you should have inspected before you bring in a new person. Getting all of this work done in those intervening days and weeks can save your new renter some hassle and make you appear very professional.
Be Strategic About What to DIY and What To Contract Out
Whether you have a property manager by your side or not, you'll probably find yourself wondering whether to contract out certain maintenance items versus doing them yourself. By grabbing a spackling scrapper and some touch-up paint yourself and taking a Saturday morning to do a little wall repair, you may save yourself some money while giving yourself a break from your typical work duties. However, remember that your time is worth something, and especially if you'll have to learn a new skill to complete a task, you may be better off asking your property management team to find a great professional to make a repair.
Take Advantage of Bulk Discounting and Sale Shopping
Property managers work with many doors under management, so we use our connections to get all the basics for keeping homes maintained and looking great. Whether that means shopping sales when we know they happen, being a member in a bulk club, or getting wholesale contractor packs of items, we try to use economies of scale to get a better deal for all of our clients. You can do the same on a smaller scale by recognizing when you'll need, for instance, a lot of lightbulbs over time and want to buy in bulk rather than piecemeal. You'll lower the costs of normal wear and tear on your properties if you always have a stock of basic maintenance items that were bought at a bulk discount.
Take Reasonable Use of the Security Deposit
Chesapeake property management understands as well as anyone that you don't want to pull from the security deposit if any needed repairs are within the realm of "normal wear and tear" on the rental. After all, no one can live in a space without having any impact at all on the property. However, if the damage you discover goes beyond that general principle of the rental industry, you have the security deposit for a reason. One way to save a bit of money on the work you do between renters is to pay for bigger repairs that are renter-caused with their security deposit. The goal isn't to do this every single time, but also not to be afraid to do it when it is warranted.
Maintain, Don't Do Home Makeovers!
Many property owners turn the same eye to their rental properties that they would turn to their own homes. This can result in too much rehab and a tendency to try to improve the rental every time a lease ends. This isn't a terrible impulse, but it can cut into your profits if you are making improvements that don't increase your rental rate, get you access to a larger group of qualified applicants, or at least have a multi-year return on investment, like energy-efficient lighting. Focus instead on talking with your Chesapeake property management company about what maintenance and repairs are going to be expected by the renters in your area and what repairs might save you money in the future by preemptively solving problems.
By focusing on the most prudent repairs, you avoid making big renovations that please you but don't improve your bottom line as a property investor. Property managers are experienced in noticing which changes and repairs are essential and which are probably optional.