So You Think You Want to Be a Landlord?

So You Think You Want to Be a Landlord?

It is a cool, late summer afternoon in August. The year is 1999. I am sitting in the office of my real estate attorney. I am in his office, sitting patiently, waiting for his arrival, looking at my watch, hoping to god this guy does not charge me hourly for his services.

I am starting to get pissed, as I start to bite my lips to release some form of anxiety.

But, he shows up, apologizes, shakes my hand and he introduces himself. He is well prepared, as he talks to me about the property I am about to close on, reciting from memory all of the things I should pay attention to as written and documented in the Purchase Agreement. He then stops, looks at me with a smirk and asks the question,

“You look like an intelligent guy, smart, young…Why the hell do you want to get into this business?” He then explains to me that he represents or has represented property owners that lost their shirt and ass financially, to low class, yellow bellied snake in the grass tenants. Tenants that dragged them through the court systems, to the point where his landlord clients threw in the white towel, and walk away scarred and screwed. I was mortified. I could not believe this guy, my so called Lawyer, is basically predicting that I will fail in this new venture. Well, like a politician running for public office, I recited some bull rebuttal about how I wanted to make my finances better, and how much I wanted to take over the world, by buying real estate, one property at a time. I was such a naive fool, and he knew it.

Most novice real investors venture into this business without having a clue what it is they are doing. They go online, read as much as they can about finding properties at below market price, they watch the man himself, Donald, have his own real estate reality show, and all the niceties about becoming a self made millionaire. We venture into this game, not knowing our ass from our mouths, and dive head first into this business, only to get beat up mentally, and physically. Only to realize the legal system, and other forces are not in place to protect your interests. You will eventually realize that the tenants have more rights than you do, and they know it.

Nine years, and four properties later, I am still in the game. I have survived the real estate frenzy of the early 2000, surviving the real estate downturn in the present market, and avoided getting my ass kicked by some pretty bad tenants. I have survived. And i am proud. I think I have a knack for this crap. I usually always get the last word in, while having my tenants pay me my rent.

I am not a great business person, or anyway smarter than the next guy. I am not considered to be handy, nor am I a real estate guru. But, I do know how to collect my rents, and keep the tenants paying the rents, and evict them if they don’t, and still, at the end of the day, shake their hands as they are loading up the moving truck with their personal belongings. You see, when you own real estate,. The number one objective is to receive the rents on time at all costs. Cash flow is king in the real estate world, and if the rents are not coming in on a timely basis, you will be out of this business very quickly.

What I am good at, is not over reacting to any situation, and using my negotiation skills to manage every situation that should arise between me and my tenants. That skill was acquired by a college class I took almost twenty years ago,..and I still have the book on my bookshelf. I also have the god given knack for patience, complemented with my low keyed demeanor.

I will not take a deep dive into the real estate acquisition process, primarily the tasks involved in finding, and financing real property. Those tasks and processes are pretty straight forward, and there are professionals waiting at your doorstep to show and sell you the next great property, and there are mortgage sharks ready to take your money to help you finance your real estate ventures.

Instead, I will talk about the other components involved in owning real estate. The things the other real estate pundits fail to mention. And some of these things cannot be taught, or learned from a book. Instead, sometimes you will have to put on your armor, and walk into the darkness of the landlord world, and hope you make it out somehow.

I am talking about the skill set, and mindset involved in managing tenants, people, and situations. No two tenants are alike, just as no two properties are alike. Tenants, especially bad ones, can suck the life out of your real estate business, and give you a one way ticket to the mad house. How can they do this? Read on, and you will be enlightened.

But, in the end, I love this real estate thing, it keeps me going, and gives me something to work towards.


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