Generally speaking, real estate investing is a good strategy. (Most people are aware of this fact.) And when you consider how many different clever financing strategies there are, the majority of people could eventually own a rental property if they were disciplined.
What is it then that keeps 99 percent of people from investing in cash-flowing rentals? For many, it’s maintenance.
Maintenance is one of those things that people don’t want to manage. They imagine themselves sitting at home on a Friday night with the family and getting an emergency phone call that a pipe burst and is spewing water all over the house.
Or they imagine nightmarish scenarios where a property becomes so rundown that they actually become “underwater” on the mortgage.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
While rental properties can become a pain in the rear, there are ways to plan ahead so that you enjoy more of the good (cash flow) and less of the bad (maintenance issues). In this article, we’re going to show you how.
The Benefits of a Low Maintenance Rental Property
Owning a low maintenance rental property is beneficial on multiple fronts. Here are three of the biggest perks:
- Lower holding costs. Most rental property expenses are fairly fixed. You know what your mortgage payment is and can pretty well estimate things like insurance, taxes, and utilities. Maintenance, however, is hard to pinpoint. Thus, it becomes one of the critical factors in your profit margin. By lowering holding costs, you can significantly enhance your property’s profitability.
- Happier tenants. Tenants get frustrated when there are frequent breakdowns and repairs. By keeping your rental property low maintenance, you eliminate these points of contention and keep tenants happier. And as anyone knows, happier tenants come with less turnover.
- Less stress. At the end of the day, less maintenance leads to less stress. As a landlord, you’ll sleep better at night knowing that your property is in good shape.
When you combine lowering holding costs, happier tenants, and less stress, it results in a much more satisfied rental property owner. And once you figure out how to do it with one property, you can do it with two or three without much trouble.
5 Low-Maintenance Rental Property Tips
Low-maintenance rental properties don’t just happen by chance. You have to be intentional with the decisions you make before and during ownership. But if you follow these tips, you’ll put yourself in a much better position than most investors.
1. Choose the Right Property
It all starts with buying the right property. If you purchase a dilapidated house that was built in the 1920s and hasn’t been updated in 40 years, you’re asking for trouble. That’s not to say this type of property can’t be a good investment; however, it’s probably not going to be low maintenance in the early days.
A low-maintenance property should have good bones (solid foundation, fairly new roof, good flooring, functional appliances, and easy access to the crawl space and all major home systems). Durable finishes are also a plus (e.g. brick versus vinyl siding).
2. Use Low-Maintenance Landscaping Solutions
Landscaping is one of the most frustrating parts of owning a rental property. Because even if you set up the lease agreement to where the tenant is responsible for the yard, it’s hard to hold them accountable. And when it’s all said and done, this responsibility lands on your plate.
One way to cut down on landscaping is to use low-maintenance solutions like:
- Use a no-mow grass seed mix. These mixes usually consist of fine fescue mixed with ground cover seed like clover, monkey grass, or mass. They only require watering in the beginning. After that, you’ll need to mow once a month or less (as opposed to weekly). No-mow grades are also extremely hardy and require almost no fertilizer or chemical to continue looking good.
- Use hardscaping whenever possible. Rocks, stones, and gravel are easier to maintain than mulched beds and sensitive plants that require frequent watering.
- When installing fencing or decking, use synthetic materials. These will last much longer than wood. They won’t fade, split, or need to be repainted.
3. Select the Right Property Management Company
There’s no sense in trying to self-manage your properties. A property management company will do everything from screen tenants and collect rent to schedule repairs and keep all of your accounting in order. The key is to work with a property management company that’s local. This ensures they understand the local market and have established relationships with trusted contractors and maintenance professionals.
4. Be Proactive With Maintenance
Don’t wait until there’s a breakdown to fix something. By taking a proactive approach to maintenance, you can address small issues before they become serious problems. This lowers the cost of maintenance and keeps your tenants happier.
For example, if your HVAC unit has a 10-12-year lifespan and was installed 15 years ago, you might as well replace it. The unit won’t last much longer, and trying to nurse it along with repair after repair gets expensive.
5. Purchase Quality Items
There’s a temptation with rental properties to buy cheaper items to lower costs and maintain profitability. However, if you plan on owning the house for more than a couple of years, it actually pays to purchase higher-quality items and upgrades. This goes for appliances, furniture, and even finishes.
When it comes to finishes, durability is important. For walls, high-gloss and gloss finishes tend to be the best. They hold up well and are easy to wipe clean in high-traffic areas. For flooring, avoid carpet or tile. Instead, use plank vinyl flooring (which is easy to clean and doesn’t scuff or crack like other hard surfaces).
Choose Green Residential
At Green Residential, we eat and breathe property management. We’ve been in the industry for well over 30 years. Over that time, we’ve established some of the deepest relationships in the industry. We’re the property management company that Houston and Austin real estate investors choose when they want a partner they can trust.
If you’d like to find out more about our comprehensive property management services, we’d love to chat. Get your free analysis here!