Rental Realities: Property Management to the Rescue
Scenario 1: Your For Sale house is under contract, 48 hours after listing. But you have yet to find a house to buy. You need a rental home, in your school district. What do you do?
Scenario 2: Your elderly parents are moving into assisted living. They want to sell their house to your nephew after he finishes college. Meanwhile the family plans to rent out the property. What do you do?
Scenario 3: A friend is selling a house with in a great rental neighborhood. You think it has good income potential, but you haven’t been a landlord before. What do you do?
Scenario 4:Your company is moving you to Seattle for a six-month training course. Then you’ll return to company headquarters in Birmingham. You love your house, and don’t want to sell it. What do you do?
“We deal with each of those situations and many others on a daily basis,” says Connie LaBue, an associate broker/instructor with Sweet HOMElife Real Estate. “Alabama’s real estate market, including the rental market, is on fire right now. There’s a shortage of inventory for both For Sale homes and rentals.”
Brittany Rudulph, associate broker of Birmingham-based Rudulph Real Estate, agrees. Like LaBue, she works within a firm that handles both home rentals and sales, serving owners, buyers, investors and renters. She says clients represented by each of the above scenarios are best served by working with agents who deal daily with Alabama’s changing market.
“Since we handle sales and rentals, we can talk about rental comps and sales comps,” says Rudulph. “Experienced property managers help clients not only locate properties to rent, but also help owners ask the right questions.”
As Realtors/property managers, here the sort of advice LaBue, Rudulph and their colleagues routinely provide:
- If your Realtor doesn’t handle rentals, he or she can refer you to reputable property management firms that can show you potential rental homes. If you deal with online ads or individuals you could be at risk for the many scammers posing as owners/agents for homes they may not own or represent.
- Property managers do not charge clients a fee for their search services. And by working through one firm, you avoid having your credit dinged by multiple inquiries.
- Experienced property managers can prompt owners or their family members to consider potential unintended ramifications of renting, including the possibility of capital gains taxes after a family home becomes an investment property.
- Property managers can connect families to reputable professionals to determine the best options for elderly owners and their estates, including financial reserves for non-homestead exempted taxes, maintenance, utility transfers and repairs.
- Pre-purchase, a Realtor can provide rental comps to assess possible income, connections to contractors and confirmations that there are no covenants or restrictions prohibiting rentals.
- Pre-rental, property managers can conduct tenant pre-screening processes and notifications in accordance with federal and state housing laws.
- Post-rental, property managers serve as a buffer between tenant and owner, handling collections, repairs, maintenance and more.
- Property managers can handle homes for out-of-state owners planning to return. If owners choose to leave their homes vacant, managers can do regular walk-throughs and oversee maintenance, including monitoring pipes during cold weather.
- If owners choose to rent their homes while away, managers can handle the home as an income-producing property until the owner is ready to reoccupy the house.
“When the consumer is looking for a property manager, they should look for someone who is experienced,” says Rudulph. “One of the best questions to ask is how many evictions they have in a typical year. If they have more than a few, that should be a red flag for the owner.”
“Our job is to protect the property and our client,” says LaBue. “We facilitate the relationships between tenants and landlords, to protect owners and their investments.”