By Paul Branton, Director of Investor Services for Home Rental Services
Do you tend to be more proactive or reactive?
I think by default a great majority of us land in the re-active camp more often than the pro-active, despite wanting it to be the other way around. I mean, how many of us schedule to get the oil changed in our cars BEFORE the light comes on? I know that for me, without that light or the sticker up in the window, it would likely go unnoticed for too long.
In a recent survey (that I did not actually conduct), all of my fictitious participants agreed that they all preferred planned expenses vs. unplanned expenses. They all also agreed that it would be better to have to pay for an expense when they had income versus when they were without income. I was not at all surprised by my fake survey results… these participants seem to have sound logic.
Yet, too often that is not what plays out the majority of the time in rental ownership. (Or in most other parts of our daily life.)
What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.
In Dr Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he popularized the “Eisenhower Principle” with what he calls the “Urgent Important Matrix.” The former US President Eisenhower was quoted as saying, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” Oh boy, how true that is… especially in rental investments.
In the world of rental investing, I would rephrase it to, “What is out of sight is out of mind, and what is out of mind goes unattended.”
I bet you already know this from experience but second only to the initial acquisition costs, the most costly time to own investment property is when the tenants turnover. In addition to the vacancy costs (no income + holding costs) you have numerous costs for repairs and improvements to make-ready the property for the next tenant.
Spreading Costs Out
So… how about spreading out those turn costs and identifying what can be done while the home is rented? Here are some common repairs/improvements that can be done while the home is occupied:
- Wood Rot and Painting
- Driveway / Patio
- Deck Repairs (or replacement)
- Fence Repairs
- Landscaping / Tree Trimming
- Roofing / Guttering
- Light Fixtures
- Outlets, Switches, Pulls, Knobs, Hinges
- HVAC / Water Tank
If your tenants have renewed recently, for either the first time or the fifteenth (yes we do have those…), you will be hearing from us after we visit the home. We highly value these renewal visits and hope that you also appreciate the information we share. With that said, the information we share with you generally lands in the “important but not urgent” category.
Just remember, in rentals and in life: “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” Let’s all do more to be intentional with the things that are important!