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Landlords – how to save money

Landlords – How to Save Money

Landlords too often fall into the mentality that their business is a passive one, where they buy a house, rent it out, and sit back. While this can occasionally be true (for very lucky landlords with rare tenants), there’s certainly plenty of work involved for most properties: mailing notices for late payments, filing evictions, screening tenants, repairs and maintenance… the list goes on.

But that’s all playing defense, trying to minimize losses and address problems. Today, we’re going to walk a less-traveled road, and talk about offense, and how landlords can find good deals on the things they need.

First and foremost, most landlords want to acquire more property. Where can landlords find deals on rental properties? Through the people they know, and I’m not just talking about the people in your real estate investment club. I’m talking about through their very tenants, through their contractors, through the groundskeeper at their office building; in a word, through the people who actually live in the neighborhoods you want to buy rental properties in.

You see, most landlords don’t think to network through non-industry people, but these are the people who will let you know that the neighbor across the street has a “chemical dependency” and needs to sell their house quickly. If you like a neighborhood for rental investing, get to know as many people from that neighborhood as possible on a first name basis, and make sure they know that they won’t be forgotten if they refer a good deal your way.

Landlords also need rental forms, like a rental application and rental agreement. There are a number of places to find these online, some better than others. You might have luck with the website of your local municipality, as they sometimes offer them. I personally like EZ Landlord Forms (see Author Resource Box), because their rental application is free and their rental agreement is customized based on your state and the preferences you enter, and because they have online property management software that keeps track of the rental properties for you.

As a landlord, it may be worthwhile to do minor staging of the property to make it look more attractive (for a great article devoted solely to real estate staging, see the author box). This may involve furniture, or wall decorations, or landscaping, or any number of other strategies to make the house more appealing to potential tenants. For furniture, Goodwill is a great place to start, because they only sell clean furniture in good condition, but they sell it cheaply.

For wall decorations, Hobby Lobby offers excellent sales (i.e. 50% off) on picture frames and all other types of home d?cor, usually on a biweekly or monthly basis. If you can charge your tenant a higher security deposit, you might consider hanging a flat screen television on the living room wall, because it’ll grab their attention immediately, and sometimes you can find excellent online coupons for these. As for landscaping, negotiate to have your contractor include it when they do the rental unit clean-out from the previous tenant.

Don’t fall into the trap of being an absentee landlord, because it WILL cost you money in the end. Negotiate aggressively for better deals, and remember that being pro-active will save you a phenomenal amount of money.

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