Rental properties in Houston are an incredibly valuable investment. Renter demand is high, so you should have no trouble finding a tenant who wants to move in. Price to rent ratios are favorable, so you should easily recover all your expenses each month. And on top of that, Houston is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, so your properties are going to appreciate in value over time, returning even more on your initial investment.
However, there’s one big downside when it comes to managing rental property in the Houston area—or any area for that matter: the time it takes to keep your rental property in order.
Fortunately, there are a few solutions that can help you reduce the time you spend managing your properties.
The Time Demands of Rental Property in Houston
These are some of the biggest ways you’ll spend time on a regular basis as a Houston landlord:
- Collecting rent. You’ll be responsible for collecting rent, one way or another. There are ways to automate this and allow tenants to pay online, but if they miss a payment or fail to use this system, you’ll still need to take action.
- Maintaining the property. It’s also your job to properly maintain the property. Depending on the size and nature of the property, this can take many hours per week. For example, you may need to mow the lawn, change filters, conduct cleanings, and manage inspections.
- Responding to tenant requests. Your tenants will periodically reach out to you with requests, which range from urgent to trivial. For example, they may point out an emergency repair that needs to be completed, or request that a change be made for their own convenience. Responding to these requests can take a lot of time, depending on the nature of the tenant and the nature of the requests.
- Handling tenant conflicts. If you have multiple tenants living in the same property, or if you own multiple properties in the same neighborhood, you may also have to deal with tenant conflicts. For example, you may have to serve as a mediator in resolving a noise complaint.
- Managing move-outs. Inevitably, even the best, most consistent tenants will have to move out. Managing that process can be difficult and time consuming, requiring you to ensure all their belongings are taken, clean the property thoroughly, and inspect the property for damage.
- Dealing with evictions. In rare cases, you may be forced to consider evicting a tenant, either because they’re not paying rent or because their behavior is egregious. Evictions can be very time consuming and stressful, lasting months in extreme cases.
- Finding and screening new tenants. Whenever a tenant leaves, you’ll need to spend time marketing the property in search of a new tenant. Collecting and reviewing tenant applications can take hours of work, especially if you’re screening your tenants thoroughly (as you should).
- Keeping track of paperwork and finances. If you want to remain profitable and manage your taxes effectively, you’ll need to keep track of all your paperwork and finances, which takes time in its own right.
- Looking for new properties to add to your portfolio. If you’re interested in expanding your real estate investment portfolio, you’ll also need to make time to look for new properties in the surrounding area.
There will be some weeks where you spend no time at all on your rental properties, but other weeks where they become a practically full-time job. It averages out to demand hours of your time each week, which is a lot to handle if you have other responsibilities—or if you’re interested in a truly passive source of income.
How to Reduce Your Time Spent Managing Property
These strategies can help you reduce the amount of time you need to spend actively managing your Houston rental properties:
- Hire a property management firm. The best thing you can do is hire a property management firm. A property management company will take care of nearly all property-related responsibilities on your behalf, including collection of rent, property maintenance, and even finding new tenants. In exchange, you’ll pay them a percentage of your gross revenue each month—which is a small price to pay to practically eliminate all your time-intensive property management responsibilities.
- Invest in renovations. Older homes tend to demand more time from landlords, since they generate more repair requests and more need for ongoing maintenance. You can get ahead of this by investing in renovations; updating the plumbing, the electrical work, the kitchen, the bathroom, or other areas of the home can seriously cut down on the amount of time you’ll need to spend in the future. Just make sure you’re choosing renovations capable of a significant return on investment (ROI).
- Keep things simple. Investing in state-of-the-art landscaping or a fancy new addition to a property may make it more attractive to prospective tenants, but it will also introduce more complexity to an already-complex project. If you want to reduce the amount of time required of you, it’s better to keep things as simple as possible.
- Be proactive with maintenance. You can prevent many large, expensive property issues by conducting regular, routine maintenance. Be proactive and inspect your property regularly; if and when you find issues, correct them before they become bigger issues.
- Thoroughly screen your tenants. You can also resolve a number of tenant-related issues by properly screening your tenants before bringing someone into your property. It’s tempting to fill a vacant property as quickly as possible, so you can start generating revenue, but it’s usually better to find the “right” tenant. A good tenant will pay their rent on time, they’ll be proactive when reporting issues, and they’ll never cause enough issues to warrant an eviction.
Are you interested in spending less time managing your rental properties, and more time doing things you actually enjoy? Green Residential can help. Contact us today to learn more about our property management services, or for more information about real estate investing in the Houston area.