It was late in October, on a cold Colorado afternoon when my wife came to me excited with news of her new job opportunity. She was pumped, I was pumped for her - until she told me where it was.
Move to Phoenix, eh? Job starts in two weeks? Well, let’s make it work - I remember well the panic that ensued.
What do we do with the house??
Do we sell? (ugh..) Do we rent? (double ugh..)
I have been in real estate most of my adult life, even managed several homes for others, but never had I had the distinct - dare I say pleasure - to manage my own home.
I loved this house, it was my first purchase: I just painted and put in new windows, renovated the kitchen, put on a new composite deck in the back yard - I just got it right where I wanted it. Now it's time to move.
So, what to do - sell and cash out? Or do we keep the property as an investment and reap the benefits of being business owners in a state we don't live in?
Well, to cut to the chase, after a few nights of mulling it over, how could we just sell this place after our love affair with it over the last decade? We decided to rent, at least until the market improved.
We moved to Arizona late in November, not the best time of year to try this maneuver, but none-the-less we were desert bound leaving a rental sign in the ground behind us. In truth, I thought we were in for a few months of making mortgage payments, but incredibly, we had a tenant apply and be approved within the first week after we left.
WOW - I thought - this is going to be great - I can do this on my own from Arizona!
And for the most part, the process was easy for what we were after. However, I have to say - having a solid manager as a local representative WILL be the difference between making money on your investment or feeling like your investment is slowly bleeding you dry. Not to mention not being physically available to solve issues is not beneficial for anyone involved!
Ever had a 3am phone call about a water heater that flooded the basement of your tenant's home? I have.
Not really how you want to wake up - 900 miles away..
I knew what to do, call the plumber, call for clean-up.. What I didn't have was a representative taking care of the issues as they arose. Which, in a flooded home was enormous to say the least.
I thought I could do it all remotely. I did - just not very well.
The coordination between vendor and tenant, the payments, the hassles - all could have been avoided by selecting a manager to take care of my home.
But, how could I know without being in that position to know?
Was the work completed? Yes
Was it fun coordinating a project from 900 miles away? Not even remotely. I should have listened to the manager who tried to get me to sign up with him before I left.
Needless to say, I signed up with him after this fun swampy, ego-draining lesson.
What can I pass along to you?: Protect yourself with a local representative! Hire a property manager to make sure your legal and financial interests are protected, and so that the tenants are held accountable without your effort. Good, physical representation is worth its weight in gold.
It's hard to be there for your tenant (customer), especially if you are not in the same state!