REAL TALK RENTALS
Episode 18: Unlock the Secrets to Self-Managing Your Properties
Are you considering managing your own properties? Wondering about best practices and common pitfalls to avoid? In this video, Eric and Ben equip you with everything you need to know about self-management. They not only deliver practical guidance but also share advanced tips and tricks for running your properties successfully. Say goodbye to uncertainty and welcome increased income - start unlocking the secrets of self-managing today!
This episode covers:
- Self-managing your properties
- Mistakes To Avoid
- Research Your State Codes
Unlock the Secrets to Self-Managing Your Properties
Ben Bailey: Coming up on today's episode of Real Talk Rentals, we're going to walk you through the self-management process. What do you need to know and what do you need to have ready if you're going to self manage your property? Welcome back to Real Talk Rentals, a podcast brought to you by NQ Property Management. We're here to give you a behind the curtain look at everything that goes into property management. I'm Ben. I'm your host, and with me, as always, my co-host, Mr. Eric Dixon, the go to expert in all things property management. And we're going to really test that knowledge today because anybody who's listening to the podcast before knows we've Eric has told some horror stories, trials and tribulations of self management. So that's what we're going to talk about today is. What you got to do to do it correctly. Um, and I want to preface this and we'll touch on it a lot, but we're in Arizona. The laws are different wherever you are. So, you know, that's, that's my one tip is make sure you look up the laws and regulations for your state.
Eric Dixon: Yeah, we'll try and keep this general enough to where it applies to all states. But, you know, hopefully if you're in Arizona, you're considering us to manage it. But the truth is that a lot of people, regardless of area, whether you're in Arizona or elsewhere, are going to consider self management. So we're kind of wanted to provide a guide, and I'm hopeful that what we came up with will be, uh, helpful for for those listening. Yeah.
Ben Bailey: All right. So let's jump right into it. Um, you famously have told some mistakes you made in the early days and lessons learned, So let's kind of start at the beginning. You have a property, you want to rent it out, you've decided to self-manage. What are the first things a person needs to be aware of when going into self management?
Eric Dixon: Yeah, and this is actually kind of the we even when we're approaching our clients interested in our service, it's okay if the best solution for them is self management. We want to provide them with at least a little bit of a few tools and and help along the way. So I always tell people, be proactive. So if you're considering self management, truly considering it, listen to the what what will spell out here and I today I made kind of a list to make sure like here is kind of the guide that you would go through but then you can consider that and say, man, am I committed to doing that or should I consider hiring a third party property management company? But hopefully this this will open your eyes a little bit to like, Hey, maybe I could do this as a self manager. So number one would be be proactive and treat it like a business. So it really is whether you hire a business like us or another management company or whether you do it yourself, you have to treat it like a business. There's, you know, in Arizona, there's a there's even taxes and rental sales tax and stuff. It it is just like a business. Um, so you ask yourself the following several questions, right? Um. Boil down to even phone number like, Hey, what phone number am I going to use? Do I want to get a Google voice number? Do I want to get to a second, a second phone number? I know on the new iPhones, even you can have two SIM cards in one phone. So you're like, Hey, am I going to have a second number? I don't want to texting my personal cell phone. Or do you?
Ben Bailey: You got to do that right from the beginning, too, because once you give them your phone number, you say, Hey.
Eric Dixon: Yeah, use this number from now on. Yeah.
Ben Bailey: They're like, No, he's only going to answer if I text him at 3 a.m. to his personal number. Yeah.
Eric Dixon: And then along with the phone number. Right. It's an email address. Maybe you want your LLC or your rental portfolio to have its own email. And if you're going to go to the extremes of getting a another phone number, another email address, you got to get a P.O. Box, right? You don't want them knowing your home address, you know, and so the tenants and so forth. So P.O. Box for that or just get a you know, at the UPS or FedEx store they have the PO boxes there. And then you're ask yourself, okay, I've got all that stuff set up. How am I going to market this thing? Am I going to go on Zillow, Craigslist, Facebook, Marketplace, Trulia, rent bits, rental homes, dot com, you know, all these different websites, right? Am I going to do open houses on the weekends? Am I going to be available for showings and so forth? How am I going to take the pictures? Do I have a lock box? Where am I just going to keep the keys in my truck with me all the time? And then what's my availability for showings? So say, okay, I've got all that locked down, then say find somebody interested. What? How am I going to process their background, check their credit check? How am I going to know if they're sex offenders or not? Have a criminal history? Do I have a landlord verification form that I can send their previous landlord? You know, proactively walk yourself through those like so that when it comes up, you look like the pro self manager, you know, and yeah, um, what you don't want and this has happened to me where somebody likes the unit and they're like, Hey, I'll take it. I'll move in Saturday. And I'm so excited about them moving in Saturday that I'm like, Do you know what? They're pretty decent. Yeah. Car looks clean.
Ben Bailey: Probably not a sex offender.
Eric Dixon: Yeah, probably. Probably not a sex offender, you know? Do you know that guy would not be a criminal? Yeah. You know, and so they have great kids or whatever, and I'm just like, do you know what? If you guys sign the lease, give me the cash, whatever, And then I just move them in. And really what I should have done is said, Oh, yeah, I'm stoked that you're excited about it. Here's actually this form fill out this application, process it online or whatever. Yeah. So be proactive and have that, that set up. Um, assuming that, that all goes well, you know, checks the boxes. Credit's good, income's good, they move in. What lease am I going to use, you know, so you don't want to just the day before, say do you know what? I'm just going to Google it. Just like Arizona lease print template. You're like, filling it out. And then there's stuff in there that's like, wait a second, that doesn't apply to me or Right. Or even worse is you don't know what you don't know and you wish that you had a few paragraphs in there to protect yourself, not just some legal zoom, you know, Arizona lease. So say you've got the lease done. How am I going to collect the rent? Am I going to accept cash check or money order? Zelle, Venmo, PayPal, you know, whatever it is. So understand, Hey, this is how I want to collect it. And then what am I going to do? It should be in the lease. Like, hey, if the check bounces, but what are you going to do really? Like when the check bounces? Are you ready to send them a five day notice? Are you ready to reach out and do all that?
Ben Bailey: Are you prepared? You're not going to, you know, have to foreclose on this rental if they don't pay for two months? Yeah, it's.
Eric Dixon: Like it's like, hey, do I have enough in reserves because they're going to miss rent, you know, whether it's your first tenant, your second tenant, your third tenant, whatever it is, eventually you're going to have somebody that either bounces a check, pays rent late or gets in a situation where you have to you have to contact an attorney to help you. Um, so, you know, just walk yourself through that, okay? I've collected the rent and then the last little bullet point I put is make sure that and again goes with being proactive that you have relationships with with each kind of category within renting. So make sure you have an attorney that you've talked to before, like, Hey, Ben, maybe you're the attorney. Hey, I'm hoping I never have to talk to you, but what how much would it cost if I need to evict somebody? Hey, if I need you to work with me on a letter, how much How much is your fee per hour or whatever, You know, have that relationship ahead of time for landlord tenant issues. Make sure you have contractors and or handymen, plumbers, HVAC, roof landscaping, electrician, you know, have some have a Rolodex, not a physical Rolodex because it's 2023. But you know, have have a the contacts and info there and then insurance.
Eric Dixon: Make sure you have your make sure you're insured with an insurance brokerage or agency but make sure your tenant is as well. Right. You should have a referral for them, you know, for insurance and then make sure you have a good relationship with whoever's doing your books, you know, a CPA or a bookkeeper, whoever's going to help you, not just collect the rent and tally that up and keep track of that. But who's going to file your taxes every year, your income taxes? Who's going to write off the depreciation and the the fees and that sort of stuff? Um, and so really the starting the starting point is be proactive, go through that list and say, okay, am I willing to pay for a Google voice number, pay for an email address? Maybe that would be free pay for a P.O. box. You know, marketing it online, your first time, marketing it on Zillow is free. They get you. That's awesome. Hey, next time it costs money. So it's kind of like, hey, it's paying some of these nickel and dime things. Is it worth it or do I hire somebody? So a lot of times you're like, Nope, it's worth it. I've got the time and I've got the energy to do it. So yeah.
Ben Bailey: It's kind of like. Uh, I do a lot of web design for our company. And when before you start building a website, you literally you want to try it out on every possible.
Eric Dixon: Map, out all the scenarios.
Ben Bailey: All the scenario, and I'll think I have it all. And then I'll show it to my boss, Adam, and he'll be like, What happens if they click right there? Like, Well, they won't click right there. He's like, Somebody will click right there. What happens if they click right there?
Eric Dixon: The Lost 404 page Yeah, exactly.
Ben Bailey: I mean, you have to think of so really think of all those scenarios, you know, map it out and say like, hopefully they don't skip out on rent. But what if they do what? I think that.
Eric Dixon: A large portion of the population, they're great, they're rent, they're awesome tenants, they're self managers that are awesome and they're like, Dude, this is this is a cakewalk, right? It just takes one bad scenario for them to be like, okay, this is not worth it. And then they hand it over. And that's a huge part of our business, right? Is attracting those, those self managers that either run out of time, they figure out their time is worth way more than than the fees are and or they run into a scenario that they're like, dude, that is not worth it. Like just the risk reward is way off out of skew there.
Ben Bailey: All right. So. On that note, if you are self managing, what kind of tools, processes, software do you think you need to keep that all in check? You know, all those all those things you listed before the collecting, the rent and stuff like that. What do you need to to manage that if you're doing it by yourself?
Eric Dixon: So the, you know, there's kind of what I call bootlegging it and then there's or you can do kind of legitimize it, right? Bootlegging it for me was Google Sheets, you know, or at the time it was Excel. But um, but you know, you collect the rent. I had a view only version for the tenant. I shared it with them and then I had the editable one and it was kind of like, Hey, when you pay rent, I'll put, you know, the amount paid and the check number here, you're running balances there and it's like, Dude, you know what? It gets the job done. And if they're paying rent, it's easy to track. It shows them, shows their check number or their, Hey, Venmo cleared this date or whatever, and then it shows you two or there are third party things a lot of people do QuickBooks Online. They just, you know, it doesn't create a lease and it's not connected to DocuSign and it doesn't make it legit like that. But just money in, money out gives you the ability for them to pay online through ACH and stuff like that. It does have a ledger and you can have a customer and a lot of things.
Ben Bailey: An easy way for your your tenant to get their own tracking. I know like whenever I pay something on QuickBooks, the first thing that pops up is like, print an invoice. Oh yeah. And I can have that whole transaction recorded.
Eric Dixon: Yeah. And so for the tenants experience and the landlord, QuickBooks Online is a simple one. It's fairly inexpensive and it kind of the financials can be tracked year end stuff, quarter stuff, all that. Um, there are online property management applications. Those really aren't going to make sense unless you're managing 25 to 50 or more on your own, right? And then at that point, I'm telling you, even the more you get, you think you could save more with scale. It's like, no, that's when you really want to hand it over. Sure. But if you want to try and do it yourself, I actually have a neighbor. A funny enough, he has a 52 unit apartment complex. Hits me up. Hey, what software should I get to manage this myself? You know? And I gave him a couple options and said, Hey, look, it's kind of a what? You're going to pay that software company. Yeah. Isn't a lot less than you could pay us just to handle it, All right? And you wouldn't pay the software and you wouldn't pay this. And he's retired, and he's kind of just like, Look, man, this is my. This is kind of my day job. I love it. Yeah, that sort of thing.
Eric Dixon: But it made sense because he has 50 units and he can pay, you know, a big software suite, you know, to do that, you're going to have. So aside from the finances, maybe QuickBooks, you're going to want some third party site to do your background checks and make sure that that they do. Criminal background check, sex offender check, eviction history, landlord history, and then income debt to income ratios. You're going to want to study their bank statements and that sort of thing. So, um, if you're not super tech savvy, you could just go old school, like, bootleg the, the filing cabinet and the paper ledger and stuff. I, I've done everything in between as well. You know, it's like collect cash on a Sunday morning on my way to church and then you get there and they're like, hey only have 300, not 800. And you're like, Well, you collect it. Not realizing that collecting partial rent is actually accepting rent for that month. And so you're like, Dude, this is, this is crazy. So yeah, Um, and then I would say having some way to store your documentation, whether it's copies of leases, maintenance, work orders, that sort of thing. So you could go something simple, that's Google Docs, you could do Evernote or, or just save in a shared folder something.
Eric Dixon: But I would say you want to be able to access it 24/7 from your phone, from your iPad, from your laptop, because you know you're going to want to reference when the tenant says, Hey, the water heater is out again, like, didn't I just replace that thing? And you can look on and say, Dude, I just replaced that two years ago. That's under a six year warranty and you can kind of work on it from there. It's not just going by memory and going like, Man, I wish I would have saved that receipt. Sure. So, um, and then the, the other proactive thing with, especially with software and all of that is make sure you have a backup landlord ready, you know? Right. Um, you know, if you're on vacation or if you're going to be at a cell service or maybe you're on a hunting trip and you're going to be out of cell service for three days, I can tell you that'll be the three days that your fridge goes out. Sure. That'll be the three days that your HVAC, your heater, your plumbing, something will go out, right? Yeah.
Ben Bailey: So that happened to me, actually, with my landlord. I feel bad. I'm always. I'm not putting her on blast. She's a long, longtime listener.
Eric Dixon: Ben's landlord. Yeah.
Ben Bailey: Yeah, hopefully not. But, um, anyway, she was on vacation and had no cell service wherever she was, and our fridge went out. And you've told.
Eric Dixon: Me you guys never. You never really need anything. Hardly.
Ben Bailey: No, no, no. I think I know after working here that we're ideal tenants.
Eric Dixon: You're the model tenant.
Ben Bailey: Yeah. Yeah. Um, pay our bills. Everything's good. You know, We'll hit her up if something breaks. But the fridge went out, and I'm telling. In her texts and her husband nothing and was like, What? What do we do? I ended up she's in real estate and she's her partner is her dad. So there's signs all around our neighborhood when she's selling a house or something. So I called her dad and was just randomly not.
Eric Dixon: Not because she gave you that number? No, she.
Ben Bailey: Didn't give me a backup number. So, like, unless you want your tenant calling your dad, like I called him and he took care of it and he said, I'll get somebody out there. Don't worry about it. We'll figure it out. And and they handled it and it was great. But if you don't have that backup person, you get someone like me texting, you know, whatever public information is available, they'll.
Eric Dixon: Be scouring Facebook being like, Well, my landlord is friends with this Jennifer person. Maybe I'll just message her.
Ben Bailey: Let's see what Jennifer can do for me. Um, but yeah, her her dad had to set up a repair guy to come out and it ended up they had to buy a fridge and he was like, I'm just going to front her the money because they're on like an Alaskan fishing trip or whatever. And yeah.
Eric Dixon: No, and that's a perfect example of like, it wasn't life or death, you know, your fridge going out, food goes bad. It's a big deal. But it wasn't life or death. But it would have been so easy if you're like, she's like, Hey, I'm leaving town. Make sure if I'm. If you need anything, call my dad. Yeah, exactly. And so it's proactively letting him know when you leave town, when you hire management company, they've got somebody on call 24 over seven. Regardless if somebody's on vacation, somebody's got to answer that phone. Yeah. So I would just say be proactive with that. Have either technology in place or a third party service or, you know, somebody in your family or somebody that that is going to respond to texts and emails and phone calls in your absence.
Ben Bailey: Okay. So on that note, that's a perfect segue into the next question is how do you keep a professional relationship when you are also the property manager? You're going to be the face they know with the home. How do you keep that relationship professional? Um, like I said, I'm a perfect tenant so my landlord doesn't have to worry. But I know where she lives. Yeah. You know, like, I got to imagine that's not an ideal situation. Yeah.
Eric Dixon: And I've, I've gotten stuck in the middle of that, even myself personally, where it's just like, Hey, I'm wearing two hats. I'm the landlord and the property manager and they are two separate hats because as the property owner, you feel it's more emotional. You know, you want to take care of the house, they want you to do stuff for them. There's a trust with the property manager. There still is those things, but it's more of a business relationship where it's like, Hey, look, me as the property manager, my job is to uphold the lease. Then I'm going to go to the owner and say, Hey, these are your options. I'm going to go to the tenant, say these are your options, but when it's the same person, it can oftentimes be a little gray and you're like, Oh man, I want to help you, man. But look, the lease is this. And you know, we have to go down this route. So it is hard. You know, I. At the end of the day, I love being in property management because it provides housing and the most essential one of the one of our biggest needs in life. You know, we can if we knock it out of the park, we can provide that for them. And as a self managing landlord, you can do that, too. It's very fulfilling. Yes. And along the way, you can make some money while you're doing it, but you can make money and have a great investment while still being a rock star landlord. Right.
Ben Bailey: And without them knowing your personal address and phone number.
Eric Dixon: And then, you know, I mentioned it right at the beginning a little bit, too, but being one thing I did skip over, if you want to take the personal side out of it, they can know your name is Ben. Yeah, but to not have your personal address on on the documents and stuff, you can have that P.O. box, you could have it in an LLC. So the lease is actually between, you know, Ben Ben LLC and the tenant not, you know, you personally in the tenant, right. There is some barrier with just with the LLC. We talked about Google Voice or some sort of voice over IP texting service or phone number. I would consider another email address. I mean, it matters too, you know, if we're talking to you and you have one property that's awesome, that's not insignificant. Yeah, but it may be it may be overkill to go way, you know, new phone number, new email, new P.O. box, new everything for one. Yeah. But certainly if you're building a rental portfolio, it is legitimately another business. Like you need to make sure it should have a business address. Sure. You know, it shouldn't be your home. You know, it should have a business entity. It shouldn't be your personal name. You should have a tax ID, you should have everything separate so that if something does happen, heaven forbid, something crazy happens. They can't go after you personally. Right. Um, I you want to kind of separate the come to my church and state. That doesn't make sense. But you know it's the. Yeah. You want to keep your your business with your tenants and your business with your home separate. Sure.
Ben Bailey: Okay. So. Last question here. You've had some great stories in the past about mopping up blood with your mom and all sorts of stuff and self-management. Um. What do you think is the most common mistake if you were going to tell somebody in self management? I'm going to give you one piece of advice. Don't do this. What is the most common mistake they make?
Eric Dixon: It's just self managing in general.
Ben Bailey: Just in general, Yeah.
Eric Dixon: It's the biggest mistake you'll ever make. Not hiring.
Ben Bailey: Professionals.
Eric Dixon: No. But in all in all seriousness, I would say the biggest mistake in self managing is the. The idea that you're saving a lot of money doing it. If you're doing it strictly to save money, I encourage you go through the list of like, okay, these are the inexpensive things. And I know from experience because I have a couple of different things like Gmail, you can get your own business accounts five bucks a month. Yeah, like, okay, that's cheap. I want a voice over IP. Google number might be free, but then I want texting and all this stuff might be another five bucks. You know, my P.O. box is $15 a month. You know, all this stuff, and you're like, okay, it adds up. It's not a lot. You're not going to save a lot of money. Right. And then factor in your time and you got it. I mean, even the simple exercise of what's my hourly rate professionally, you know, and some of us are on salary or hourly rates and all this stuff, but it's like, what is what is my time worth? Yeah, whatever. Is it ten bucks an hour or 20 bucks an hour, $50 an hour or $100 an hour? Dude, just find out what your time is worth and then you factor that in and you're like, Dude, I'm going to be spending hundreds of dollars a month in time and resources and actual hard cash in managing this rental to save $100 a month or 75 or, you know, whatever the management fee is or a percentage or wherever, wherever it is. So I think the biggest mistake is just immediately deciding I'm going to do self management for cost.
Eric Dixon: Sure. Now self managing there is a place in the market for it. Absolutely. It's something like 50% or 60% or more of all landlords self managed. Oh really? You know, it's a big number, right? But it's dwindling. Every year it's going down because people are realizing, I think management used to cost a lot. You know, it was it was a huge percentage of rent. Sure. And they're like, Dude, I can't do this. But now it's like, dude, for pennies on the dollar, just take my problems away, right? So it's becoming that self management number is dwindling. But if you find yourself in that box, just understand, is it worth it? Are you doing it because you love it then Dude, dude, do you. You do you. And you love it. But if you're doing it to try and save money, almost pretty much guarantee you you are not saving money. Yeah. So I would say that's the biggest mistake. Your time is worth more. And I always tell people it's kind of a running joke, but your time is not tax deductible when it comes to managing your own property, Right? A management fee is. So it's like and tell that to your spouse or your kids. You know, it's like, I can't tell you. Luckily, my kids were young and maybe they didn't notice or see, but I'm like, Hey, hey, Jen, I got to run home and or I got to run by and pick up rent. So I'm gone for an hour, you know, going to pick up rent at Unit one, Unit seven. I'm running over to this one.
Eric Dixon: Picking up rent. I could be playing with my kids. Yeah, could be, you know, building my relationship. I could be watching the sports game with my buddies. Yeah, but, no, I'm collecting rent to save tens of dollars this month. And while I'm there, I'm collecting cash and I'm doing all this stuff, and it just. It turns. It snowballs into this big thing. Um. The I had one more one more thought was in the references back to another pod we did about finding out your why. And so it's kind of like just understand that and if you're why is I want to learn I want to be able to retire from my job and self manage my portfolio. And that's what I want to do. More power to you. Listen to this and maybe it'll encourage you to go harder and more be a better self manager. Sure. But for the for the general, the general consensus is really going to be know my why is I'm buying investment properties to get out of the rat race of life and and want to spend time with my family and my kids and my friends. I don't want to collect rent. And it's going to help you realize like, dude, just hire an awesome property manager, be done with it. But the whole point of today is it is absolutely possible. This should be kind of a mini 20 minute guide of to do's of being self manager. And that will either you're going to sit there and go, okay, yeah, I can do that, or Oh, that sounds horrible. Yeah, I'm going to go hire a manager.
Ben Bailey: Yeah, exactly. We we, um, I'll tell one quick story here before we wrap up. Friend of the pod, Matt. We were at mentioning him every episode now, but we were. We used to work out together at the this CrossFit gym in the morning. And my neighbor also worked out there and he owned like two other 2 or 3 houses in our neighborhood. And, um, you know, Matt's a shark. And Matt just going, Why aren't you signing up with us? Why aren't you signing up with us? And he finally goes, You know, I would, but it's it's like 50% of my rent each month to pay you guys. And we're like, Who told you that? And he's like, That's how much property management costs. And we're like, Man, you know, we will tell you how much we charge, but go do some Googling. Yeah, yeah. And we'll talk to you tomorrow. Yeah, dude.
Eric Dixon: Yeah, the, uh, somebody actually. So recently, Matt was training a new a new salesperson here recently. And a call came in and they said, hey, what? I think they said 35 or 40%. They say, Are you guys 35 or 40% of rent? And they thought we were a vacation rental in like, I don't know, some obscure part of Arizona that actually they do. They almost charge 50% of rent because it's you know, it is very niche where this is. Yeah. And Matt ended up telling them like, no, we're flat fee and here's our kind of our breakdown. And they're just like. Flabbergasted. Like. Wait, what? Like, how do you guys make money? And it's it's one of those things where it's like we make money in in scale, but in service based businesses, we want to earn your business for one, two, five, ten years. We're not going to make money, you know, in the first year or two. You know, it's it's it's a long game. So it's funny, man. I think a lot of people, they think that they're going to save money. And I really do think that's the biggest mistake in self management. Right. I'm going to save $1,000 a year. And it's like, okay, let's boil that down by it's going to take you 100 hours. Yeah. So you're going to save ten. You're charging yourself $10 an hour. Yeah. Of your time, resources, liability, you know, all that stuff. It's just not worth it, you know? So I'm not.
Ben Bailey: Going to play with my kids, but it'll all be worth it when they see that $10 that I leave them.
Eric Dixon: And it's like, maybe maybe you're thinking, Hey, I'm going to save all this money. And then when my kid turns 40, they're going to inherit this thing. It's like, I can promise you, man, they'd rather spend time with you today than inherit your house in 40 years. Yeah, exactly right. I don't know. That's getting a little a little mushy and emotional there, but.
Ben Bailey: All right, well, you convince me I'm never going to self-manage, but this.
Eric Dixon: Is the guide to.
Ben Bailey: Self-management. I just know myself personally and I know looking at this list that I would be the first one to be like you. Here's the keys. You handle this. Um, my wife, on the other hand, would be amazing at it. She's very organized. So that's it for us this time. Be sure to follow the podcast on whatever platform you're listening to and leave us a five star review if you can. It really helps out. And we'll see you guys next time.
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Arizona Designated Broker: Eric Dixon
Texas Designated Broker: Rodney Henson