Are you trying to decide whether to self-manage your investment property or to hire a Sonoma County property management company? There are a few questions you have to ask yourself.
First, how much time do you have? Second, how much experience do you have with rental properties? Do you know the laws? The most important question, perhaps is this: Do you see yourself as a landlord or a real estate investor?
Investors understand the value of professional management. Landlords prefer to hold onto the control they have over their property.
Here are a few things to consider as you’re deciding whether you want to work with property managers or take care of things on your own.
Marketing Sonoma County Rentals and Screening Tenants
Self-managing landlords often struggle with the marketing of their homes and the showing process. It starts with the rental value. Do you know how much you should ask for your property? It’s important to study the market and conduct a comparative market analysis.
You’ll need to hire vendors and get your property ready for the rental market. Then, you’ll have to take some high-quality photos and list the property on all the popular rental sites. It’s critical that you respond right away to inquiries and to schedule showings. You’ll need to manage the application process, screen your tenants thoroughly, and take care of executing the lease agreement. You’ll need to collect security deposit and move-in funds, and you’ll need to do all of this in compliance with federal and state fair housing and landlord/tenant laws.
Professional property managers have systems in place that can help you find and place a tenant quickly, to avoid long vacancies. You’ll be less likely to have to chase down late rent, address lease violations, and worry about eviction. If you’re going to manage the leasing process on your own, make sure you have the time to devote and the resources you’ll need.
Preparing for Rental Property Maintenance
One of the best reasons to work with a professional Sonoma County property management company is that you won’t have to worry about maintaining your home. A good management company will have a preventative maintenance plan in place and will respond swiftly to emergency issues at the property. If you self-manage, you’ll need to be on-call 24 hours a day and seven days a week in case there’s a leak in the middle of the night or a roof collapse over a holiday weekend.
Property managers also have access to great vendors. Property managers either have in-house vendors who can respond to maintenance or they contract with a preferred list of vendors who offer discount volume pricing and a high standard of workmanship. If you’re a self-managing landlord, you’re at a bit of a disadvantage in finding good, affordable vendors because you don’t offer them the same volume of work as property managers.
Sonoma County Rental Property Accounting
You’ll need to track and document all of the income and expenses associated with your rental property for tax purposes. Most property managers do this automatically with property management software. You can expect monthly accounting statements, reports, and end-of-year tax forms. You’ll know that your rent will be paid on time and consistently every month because property managers offer online rent payments to tenants.
If you’re managing on your own, you’ll need a system that works for you as well as a great tax accountant or CPA who can help you with deductions and reporting.
There’s a management fee involved in professional property management, but it’s worth your peace of mind and your long-term ROI. Expensive lawsuits, an extra month of vacancy, and a drawn-out eviction process are all risks that come with self-management. If you decide you want to earn more and spend less on your investment, contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.