Author Topic: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?  (Read 3387 times)

Nick_Miller

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For the past few months, I've been reading about landlording. Really, what spurred my interest was that we sold our home and bought a new one, and I just found all the real estate information related to that transaction really fascinating.

I have a legal background (attorney) and I'd do well with negotiations (once I educated myself more about the industry), contracts, following laws/regs, (if necessary) handling evictions, and such. My wife works for a property management company and is a people person. She is also very organized and a whiz at record-keeping. So we would seem to have good backgrounds for "getting into the game."

However, neither of us is particularly "handy," as in doing repairs/maintenance ourselves so we'd likely have to contract with a handyman (which I'm guessing some landlords handle themselves), in additional to the folks all landlords need to call like electricians, plumbers, etc. I would anticipate this would eat into our cash flow.

But would this be a crucial blow to any potential plans to buy a rental property? Or can it be overcome? And do most small landlords just rely on the inspection report to determine repairs a house they are considering buying might need? Or is it a huge advantage for the landlord to have experience in construction to get a better idea first hand of the condition of the property? I know you make your money at the buy, so that seems like the single most important factor.


ketchup

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 09:21:11 AM »
Being handy can help, but isn't necessary.  It might increase your costs at bit at first (having to farm things out more) but it's hardly a show-stopper if you've got the cash to get off the ground.  Just make sure you get a handyman that won't play games and blow smoke (or charge $200 to change out a light bulb).

Landlady

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 10:25:29 AM »
You and your spouse sound like a good landlord team. Almost no one has ALL the skills to make rentals happen single handedly. For example, my husband and I are handy but if there was a legal issue we would have to hire for that. Just make sure you put together the most educated guess on fixes and maintenance costs you can before the purchase. If the numbers work, then the numbers work.

Cwadda

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 10:43:45 AM »
You already have the basis for a great team. I'd recommend interviewing 3-4 handymen and vetting them out.

Also, if and do you have inspections, walk around with the inspector. You can learn a whole lot just being there and you will know what to watch out for next time. For this reason I don't schedule home inspections anymore (though I still write in the inspection clause). I've been through enough of them that I know what to look for and when to get a professional contractor's opinion.

Hope this helps!

Coach Carson

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 10:48:34 AM »
I have a legal background (attorney) and I'd do well with negotiations (once I educated myself more about the industry), contracts, following laws/regs, (if necessary) handling evictions, and such. My wife works for a property management company and is a people person. She is also very organized and a whiz at record-keeping. So we would seem to have good backgrounds for "getting into the game."

I think these are key skills - just as valuable as handy skills. Other than doing tear-outs and clean-up and some painting on my personal properties, I've not done any handy work in 15 years of real estate investing. But I have done TONS of work with overseeing contractors, negotiating, contracts, bookkeeping, property management, marketing, business strategy, etc.

I would anticipate this would eat into our cash flow.

Yes, you'll just need to budget for it. But with a legal background you can probably DYI some contracts and other things that others may have to pay for. I create my own notes/mortgages/quit claim deeds, for example, based on a template my attorney created originally - that's $100-200/doc.

But would this be a crucial blow to any potential plans to buy a rental property? Or can it be overcome? And do most small landlords just rely on the inspection report to determine repairs a house they are considering buying might need? Or is it a huge advantage for the landlord to have experience in construction to get a better idea first hand of the condition of the property?

Can definitely be overcome. We have had some HUGE repair costs years, but it has also freed up my time to make money in other ways. And I've always had in my mind a back-up plan to do more repairs if the next depression hits and I need to free up a bunch of cash. Anything can be learned (YouTube and these boards will help).  I do think construction experience helps so that you can identify punchlists, know if a contractor is ripping you off, etc. But I've learned mainly from watching other people do the work, youtubing weird situations, and asking questions of others. I also use inspectors on every closing, even now 15 years after starting real estate full time.

MommyCake

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2017, 11:29:02 AM »
I am definitely not handy but my rental is still cash flowing nicely.  As long as you factor repairs and maintenance (not just the expected ones an inspection uncovers, but the unexpected as well) into your equation prior to purchase, you should be fine.    Since your wife works for property management, she probably either already knows or can easily find out normal costs of things to ensure you don't get ripped off.  From experience I can say you will learn things along the way even if you don't try, from observation and such.  You can also actively learn things if you choose from youtube as others mentioned, or from classes.  Home Depot and Lowes offer classes (tiling is one example I can think of), which I think are free.

NoNonsenseLandlord

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2017, 08:57:46 PM »
When I got in it, I was a bit handy, but I learned a LOT and am much more handy.  By managing my own properties and doing the handy work, I probably add $70K+ to my bottom line.

« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 08:59:23 PM by NoNonsenseLandlord »

ducky19

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2017, 05:56:52 AM »
There is no better time to learn to be handy than with a rental property! My wife and I are in the process of rehabbing an older home that was in foreclosure. There is much of the work that we are confident in doing ourselves - YouTube can help boost your comfort level too on things that are iffy. That said, we know there are some things that are just flat out beyond our comfort level and will hire those things out. +1 on finding a good contractor that you can work with that won't drag your timeline out for months and nickel and dime you. We have a fairly aggressive timeline and hope to have the house rented by June 1. Doable, but we've got to stay on top of things to make sure it happens.

Peony

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2017, 07:39:35 AM »
I'm not handy but rentals have been my bread and butter for 20 years. What I do have is a good "team" -- reliable plumbers (plural because if someone's not available I need a backup), electricians, carpenters, roofer, mason, tree service, lawyer, realtor, bank (for credit line, in case I can't cash-flow something big). It's been fine. But you can't have your margin too thin -- you gotta be prepared to pay these people when you need them and have it not eat up all your profit. So choose your property wisely. It also helps if you can find any kind of listserv or social media group where people recommend service providers in your area.

Neo

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2017, 11:31:59 AM »
I agree with the others. I'm not handy and I do just fine with my 3 rental properties (11 total units). Youtube can teach you how to do the easy stuff and then finding a good team of reliable contractors can address everything else. I wouldn't let not being handy hold you back at all. If you are generally resourceful you will be fine.

totoro

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2017, 11:44:58 AM »
Not handy, also a lawyer.  DH has done some basic repairs but we hire everything out.  I manage everything overall.  I think you are well set up for it with your combined skill sets.  Your wife probably already has contacts with repair people.

Verdandi

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2017, 10:46:54 PM »
I have a legal background, too and I'm handy. However I choose not to do all the repair stuff myself. Last fall, my SO and I renovated a rental mostly by ourselves and had just the heavy stuff like replacing a toilet done by an expert. The result was great, but I was really worn out afterwards. A full-time job plus working every weekend in the rental was a lot. So when a tenant in another rental terminated her lease and it was clear that property had to be updated, too (hardwood refinishing, painting walls and doors and installing new door handles), I hired people. It was the best decision and also much quicker than I could have done that. So  I could rent it again much faster.

calimom

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2017, 02:13:12 PM »
What about forming a RE partnership with someone who *is* handy? You could take care of financing details, marketing, taxes, leases and all of that and they could do repairs and upkeep?

That's basically what I do: I own a duplex with my cousin and her husband. He is very good at fixing and building, but not in the least interested in administrative tasks. We have flipped two other properties and are currently considering another opportunity. It's a complete win/win. I can paint/clean/landscape, but don't have the desire to fix a sewer pipe or fix a balky AC unit. I wish I did, and I respect those who do butů

Just a thought. This has been lucrative for the 3 of us, and each year we meet to discuss details (though we are in contact a lot more than that) and have a quick "is this still working for us" discussion. If it isn't, one party has the right to buy out the other, or it would be decided that any property be listed for sale.

Blindsquirrel

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Re: Does anyone who is "not handy" get into the landlording game?
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2017, 04:33:10 PM »
  handy but very lazy so I pay contractors to do everything, being handy is not a requirement at all.