With 24 rentals, working full time, Property manager and President of the HOA, my own plowing and mowing business, and doing most all of the rental maintenance myself, I can give a few tips on saving money and time in your rentals…
Paint. No smoking in any of my units. It makes for less painting and less smell and faster apartment turn overs.
All my paint is semi-gloss, color is Interactive Cream by Sherwin Williams (in Behr), or ProMar 200 from Sherwin Williams. I can touch up paint by wiping most dirty spots away with just a wet rag. The rest of the spots get touched up. All units are the same color, no worries about matching colors.
My ceilings are all painted semi gloss white. Behr pure white. Paint ceilings if you are changing carpet and they need it. Any spots on the ceilings can also be wiped off with a wet rag.
Maintenance. Fix/upgrade as much as you can between renters if you have time between tenants. You never know if the next turn will be a compressed time schedule. Always change water stop valves to the quarter-turn ball valve type. If you have to change a faucet with a renter in place, a good shut-off is worth it’s weight in gold. And if the shut-off doesn’t work, it may mean shutting all the water off, for all of your tenants. Not fun.
Make sure everything works. Have a good supply of cleaning materials and supplies.
Locks. All my locks are Schlage. Changing locks is easier, many parts just stay in the door. I make my own keys. All keys are Schlage, do not duplicate (DND) blanks. I can make DND keys without going to a locksmith as I have a key cutting machine.
Get good tenants. Good tenants do not leave the place in shambles. Get a good deposit. Renters that do not have the larger deposit money will be a problem anyway. With good tenants, you can show the apartment as soon as they give notice, and they help you ‘sell’ it. Great tenants want you to succeed too.
Tools. Carry a basic tool set everywhere you are. A tape measure, screw driver, utility knife, and a pair of pliers can fix many items. I find the 6 way screw drivers work great. They even have two sizes of nut drivers built in. Get a quality one.
Rent Collection. I have rent boxes in each building. I also take PayPal (free), bill pay, direct deposit, cash, etc. However someone wants to pay, I take it. Make it easy and you have less issues with rent collection. Great tenants just drop a check in the rent box, or make sure it gets to you on time with mail, Bill Pay or PayPal.
My last few apartment turns have been between 1 and 5 days, between the move out and move in. Some of my tenants have given me the keys back early, just to help me out. They have already moved to their new place early and cleaned up my place. Great tenants tolerate showings, and have a decent place to show. Tenant turnover is a landlords #1 avoidable expense. Keep it low to make money.
Sell extra time. Sell your apartment for renting/move in on the 15th, rather than waiting for the first of the month. Having two weeks to move in is an advantage for a renter. Great renters can afford the extra two weeks of renting both apartments and enjoy the convenience. Charge a partial month’s rent for the first month, and then rent is always due on the first of the month.
Learn to save money. Register your credit card of choice at Menards to get a 1% annual rebate in Menards money in their Contractor program. Take advantage of Menards Rebates. You still get credit cards points on the total amount.
Use Home Depot Paint Rewards Program for a 20% discount on Paint. Negotiate a price with Sherwin Williams to match Home Depot’s discount program. Get a US bank Cash Plus Visa card for a 6.875% total rebate from home improvement stores like Menards, Home Depot and Menards. That’s 7.875% after your 1% back from the Menards contractor program. Buy Lowes 10% discount cards on eBay for ~$2 each. Use them at Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards. All of them honor their competitor’s coupons.
UPDATE: US Bank took Home Improvement stores off the 5% list. It was unlimited and I probably ruined the program for everyone with the amount I spent.
So, have fun and make money in Real Estate. It really is not that hard to do.