Being a property owner in D.C. is challenging: this is a fact of investing in our nation's capital that is quickly discovered when you happen to have condos for rent in D.C. that fall under your care. Even elite investors turn to and rely on partners to fuel their growth—which is why working a professional association management services provider can be so essential to your success.
When you choose an experienced ally who already understands the fine print of operating a rental property within a community, you benefit from that expertise as an investor. Choosing a property manager who also provides expert association management—or who knows how to navigate such communities' expectations—benefits your long-term returns.
At EJF Real Estate Services, one of our most important goals is to help you avoid the pitfalls of being a rental property owner in D.C. These are the most common mistakes we protect our clients from—and what to watch out for when you're managing condos or D.C. rowhomes on your own within a community structure.
Please note: This post is not a substitute for proper legal counsel. When in doubt, it's best to reach out to the professionals at EJF Real Estate Services or obtain guidance from a skilled attorney.
Not Screening Your Residents
More than any other factor, the success of your business rests on having the right residents. Problem renters can lead to all kinds of headaches, from not paying their rent to you (which impacts how you pay association fees) to damaging property and disrupting their neighbors.
This could spell disaster for investment within communities via complaints to the board that oversees your property—or worse. In some cases, such issues can even lead to lengthy and costly legal disputes. How do you avoid all these problems? Screen your residents! As a property owner, you simply cannot afford not to.
One of the most useful forms of support we provide from the perspective of D.C. association management services is thorough resident screening. That means a complete background check on each applicant, including credit screening, criminal history check, and a review of any previous evictions or foreclosures. This ensures that your condo continues to operate within the guidelines of the community by only housing respectful renters.
That being said, it's also important to make sure all background check procedures are legal. Whichever partner you choose to manage your properties should never verge on discrimination with their screening practices. When it comes to screening prospective renters, only rely on professional management services. 'Hobbyist' property management will never be able to adequately tackle the delicate nature of screening for properties located within community mandates.
Performing Unqualified Maintenance
As a property owner, maintenance can consume a significant amount of your time and resources (even for condos) when you own and operate multiple properties. Worse still, if you receive poor repairs or require an issue to be resolved more than once, you could be putting properties with shared walls at risk—and this could create pricey issues for you as the investor. Even if you happen to be a true Jack or Jill of all trades, a professional should always manage certain jobs. Besides, wouldn't you rather free up your time as a property investor so you can focus on investing?
Property managers such as EJF with experience in providing expert D.C. association management services are an advantage to you. We already understand the logistics of maintenance from maintaining and supporting communities across D.C., so we have issue-specific specialists like electricians and plumbers on call. Additionally, we have the leverage to contract maintenance crews at discounted rates because of the great volume and consistency of work we can offer.
Even if you choose to remain a hands-on investor, you can still save money and avoid costly repairs in the long run by hiring professionals to oversee maintenance.
Not Having a Crisis Plan
Property owners need to be prepared for various potential disasters—economic and otherwise. As the year 2020 has taught us, there are some things you just can't see coming. However, whether you're faced with a pandemic, a recession, or some other crisis we have yet to consider, you'll be better equipped to get through it if you have a contingency plan in place. This plan should include:
- Understanding how to be proactive instead of reactive
- Having cash in reserve for emergency expenses
- Knowing how long you can get by without rent collection
- Being prepared to work with residents who can't pay rent
- Knowing the current eviction laws in Washington, D.C.
- Developing clear communication skills with residents.
Setting the Rate—Without Knowing the Market
Whether you're the owner of a single condo within a larger community structure or multiple rowhomes, few steps are more important than getting to know the local market (especially within each community) before you set your rates. Most investors at least do a basic check of active listings around them to determine their pricing. However, setting appropriate rental rates requires going into greater depth with your research.
One of the great advantages of working with a property manager that provides D.C. association management services is performing in-depth market analysis with insight into community pricing. This includes finding the average rates in your specific area, determining the price per square foot, looking at the number of rental homes in your market, comparing services and amenities, and looking closely at comparable rentals to your own.
Skip these steps, and you're essentially taking money out of your own pocket.
Not Working With Experienced Management Providers
Of all the mistakes DIY property owners make, one of the biggest is choosing not to work with a professional. Of course, the partner you choose has to make sense based on your needs and budget. However, for most property investors, the benefits far outweigh potential drawbacks. The potential to savings in time, money, and resources is too great to ignore.
With the above in mind, it's absolutely crucial that you do invest in the right partner for your property. To make one easier to find, we're offering investors access to our Guide to Finding the Best Property Management Professional in Washington, D.C., without any obligation!