Landlording is a team effort, especially when you have multiple properties. A successful team of real estate professionals includes people to help balance the books, secure reliable renters, solve legal problems, and keep properties in top-notch condition.
That’s a lot for one person to handle, especially if you’re a new landlord. Whether you own three rental properties or a hundred, it’s wise to form ongoing relationships with some or all of the following real estate professionals, so they’ll be there when you need them.
Related: Top 10 tips for first-time landlords
1. Certified public accountant
Few people enjoy keeping track of paperwork, but you can’t neglect it. If you do, you’ll regret it at tax time. An accountant keeps your files in order and your tax return accurate. A great accountant can save you money by ensuring you claim the deductions and credits to which you are entitled. Moreover, an accountant familiar with your situation is your go-to person for financial matters. You need this pro when contemplating purchases, investments of property, or any potentially risky financial transactions.
2. Real estate lawyer
Legal issues may not crop up often, but when they do, you need someone to file legal papers and to represent you in court. Landlords with multiple properties frequently keep a lawyer on retainer to avoid having to start from scratch whenever a problem arises. You’ll find a lawyer handy when an eviction, discrimination case, property damage, or liability lawsuit arises. Hopefully these situations will never happen to you, but it pays to be ready.
3. Real estate agent
Real estate agents are familiar with the local rental market and can help you set prices. They can even help you find qualified renters, although you can do that yourself by listing your property on Craigslist or—better yet—with a free Cozy listing. But keeping an agent on your team gives you access to their contacts, and that widens your pool of potential renters. You can also trust a good agent to handle phone calls, show your properties, and screen tenants.
4. Real estate appraiser
An appraiser you know and trust is an asset whenever you refinance or sell a property. The appraiser’s job is to evaluate the property to determine whether its value meets the requirements set by potential lenders. The appraiser’s impartial eye is a benefit to any landlord planning improvements to increase a property’s value. When an appraiser comes by, make their job easier by being available to answer questions and ensure easy access to appliances. A happy appraiser is more likely to regard your property positively.
5. Property inspector
It’s important to conduct an inspection whenever renters move out to determine how much, if any, of the security deposit to withhold. You don’t need a professional for this, but it helps. A qualified inspector will alert you to code violations and structural problems that need attention. This includes small issues, such as worn outlets that won’t hold plugs, which you or your handyman can easily fix. By acting on the inspector’s recommendations, you’ll avoid habitability issues that could result in costly emergency repairs when new tenants move in.
6. Property and casualty insurance agent
Every landlord needs insurance to protect against natural disasters, accidents, and lawsuits. A competent agent ensures you have sufficient coverage for common mishaps—such as wind and rain damage—as well as less common ones, like flooding. Insurance can cover you from a host of unexpected eventualities, such as disturbances by problem tenants. It’s important to have an agent on your team and review your policy regularly.
7. General contractor
When an emergency repair becomes necessary, who are you going to call? You won’t even have to ask if you’ve cultivated a relationship with a trustworthy GC. Emergency repairs are usually time sensitive, and tradespeople are often too busy to respond immediately. For this reason, a competent contractor who can handle plumbing and electrical emergencies is an asset you can’t do without. You’ll be higher on their list if you frequently send work their way and—just as important—refer your friends.
8. Property manager
If you’re an absentee landlord, a property manager can handle maintenance, manage tenants, and pay the bills. Even if you live close to your rental property, you can benefit from a property management service. This is especially true if you’re busy and don’t have time for everyday responsibilities that come with being a landlord. In fact, if you hire a great property manager, they may be the only professional you’ll need.
The bottom line
Your team of real estate professionals can help keep your business profitable, while ensuring your tenants have safe and comfortable shelter. And a profitable business is a sustainable one.