I’ve always believed that my level of success in real estate is partly dependent on who I surround myself with.
As an independent landlord, “success” for me is having fully occupied properties, happy tenants, a happy wife, a positive monthly cash flow, and a cushy emergency/repair fund.
Building My A-Team
I have separate full-time job, and plan to keep it. I manage all my properties in my spare time. I will be able to retire early (maybe very early) on the equity I’m building, and substantial secondary income that my properties are generating.
To achieve this, I’ve had to assemble a reliable network of professionals; my own personal A-Team per say, of whom I can count on to help me grow and manage my rental portfolio.
But being a landlord is stressful, right? It doesn’t have to be. If you know who to call, and have the money saved up, property management becomes significantly less emotional. It becomes a business.
It’s All In the List
My sister-in-law, a Realtor, helped me secure my first rental property. At closing, she graciously gave me her elusive little black book of contractors, lenders, and other professionals. Honestly, it was a god-send. Without that initial list of reliable professionals, I would have been struggling to get my first property up and running.
Years later, I have my own list of independent contractors and real estate professionals who handle all my repairs, maintenance, and new acquisitions. They treat me like a king as long as I keep sending them business.
My A-Team is comprised of the following professionals, and I would suggest that you look for the same when building your list.
1. An Experienced Handyman
Don’t hire your buddy who renovated his kitchen all-by-his-lonesome. You want someone who has been a professional full-time contractor, in many trades, for most of their life. The more certifications, the better.
You’re looking to fill a position called “Hero”.
You’re looking to fill a position called “Hero” – and you might go through 2-3 handyman before you find a perfect fit. Preferably, he/she is skilled in everything from plumbing, electrical, and drywall, to even getting kittens out of treetops.
This person can ideally be trusted with the keys to all your properties and will treat your tenants with respect. In return, you will shower this person with tips and referrals.
2. Real Estate Agent / Lender
Unless you are licensed and rich, you will need an Agent to help you find a property, and a Lender to secure the financing. Many times, a purchase negotiation requires last minute changes to the sales contract and redundant lender approvals.
Agents often have a few lenders that they know and trust, and more importantly, that they work well with. Successful acquisitions require fluid collaboration between your Agent and Lender.
Successful acquisitions require fluid collaboration between your Agent and Lender.
3. Real Estate Mentor
I suggest finding someone who has already accomplished what you are seeking to do – someone who has been a successful landlord in your area for many years.
If you don’t know anyone like that, try learning from Gary Keller, in one of my favorite books, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor.
4. Real Estate Attorney
I think of Attorney relationships similarly to home insurance. They can be expensive, but absolutely crucial when an issue surfaces. I’ve built connections with a few local attorneys in case I need their services in the future.
I never sign a retainer contract unless I have an immediate issue that needs their attention over a long period of time.
5. A “Tech Guy”
Not an actual person, but rather a very specific set of online tools to help you find tenants and manage your properties. Cozy gives you a free webpage and online rental applications to market your vacancies.
After you find the perfect applicant, use Cozy to collect rent, track the leases, and manage the finances. Google Docs or Dropbox are also great tools to store and access your non-sensitive documents from any device.
6. Local Hardware Shop
Local hardware stores like Ace and TrueValue are usually more expensive than Lowes or Home Depot, but when you are in the middle of a DIY faucet repair, proximity matters. Local shops often have experienced staff who know how to fix anything, and can guide you through your repair project. You rarely find that level of expertise at the big box retailers.
Whether you are buying your first property, or have an empire of rentals, I believe you will accomplish more if you have a stellar network and delegate responsibilities. Your time is valuable, so let someone else paint the house. Save money where you can, but don’t sacrifice your personal life. As you continue to build your portfolio, try to remember that the many will almost always achieve more than the few.