5 Tips for Avoiding Common Property-Related Woes
Both in a personal and professional context, property can be an incredibly powerful thing, filled with deep potential and meaning.
On a personal level, the property we own affects multiple dimensions of our everyday lives. The environments we raise our families in. How productive we can be at work if we are entrepreneurs. Even how our social lives play out, and how healthy we are over time.
In a professional, financial context, property often represents the sum total of a person’s investment portfolio.
Wise – or lucky – property investment has made fortunes for all sorts of people. But mismanagement of property – and poor skills or instincts as a landlord – has caused endless headaches and dramas.
There’s a lot that goes into ensuring that you are in the best possible position for managing your property. For one thing, it really helps to be aware of potentially pertinent local legislation. If you know how to stop foreclosure in Texas, for example, that insight could be a game-changer. A lot depends on your specific circumstances.
While specifics will vary from person to person and case to case, here are some tips for avoiding common property-related woes.
Conduct a thorough inspection of any property you’re planning on buying, in advance
It might be that a property in a particular location is immediately appealing to you.
Maybe it seems – at first glance – to “tick all your boxes.” The right location, the right size, Good lighting – including well-placed windows – and so on.
While your initial instinct about a property is something you shouldn’t ignore, however, it’s not the whole picture either.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous sellers do exist, and they will often superficially “paper over” real issues.
If you jump onto the property after only a cursory inspection, you put yourself at real risk of exploitation. Even if there isn’t any deliberately nefarious activity going on, there’s still a lot that can be missed.
Even though it will likely seem very inconvenient in one sense, you need to conduct a thorough inspection of a property before buying. Particularly for larger and pricier properties, this will mean involving your own surveyor, among other things. It’s also important to pay attention to the paperwork, and make sure that everything is “accounted for.”
Especially if you are new to property investment, it’s natural That you will be exuberant and restless. But one thing that consistently separates the successful from everyone else in the world of property, is patience and an eye for detail.
Always be very skeptical if you’re being subjected to artificial pressure concerning a property you are thinking about buying
It’s natural for property in a prime location to be competitive. In other words, you shouldn’t expect a great place, in a great location, to stay on the market for too long.
Nonetheless, two essential skills that everyone involved in the property needs to develop are timing and patience.
One of the most immediate and blatant of all red flags is sellers who try to artificially ramp up pressure for a sale.
For example; you are attending a private viewing for a property, but find you are “accidentally” double-booked with someone else. On the surface, this may seem innocent. But unless the seller is unusually amateur or clumsy, you can count on it being a calculated strategy. After all, if there are two or more “competitors” viewing a property at once, thoughtful consideration naturally decreases.
Instead, an element of desperation can kick in, and decisions can be made in haste.
All too often, this is the kind of thing that sellers are directly looking for. It is always in the interests of a buyer to consider a decision carefully, and to investigate as much as possible. But it is virtually always in the interest of the seller to push for a quick sale with as little scrutiny as possible.
Whenever you encounter these sorts of dubious psychological tricks, be on guard. In fact, you might want to outright head in the opposite direction.
At the very least, refuse to be nudged into impulsive high-pressure property purchases. The more you can keep your cool and act thoughtfully and strategically, the better by far for you.
If you end up being tricked into buying a property without doing your due diligence, trouble’s almost guaranteed. Whether in the form of dubious legalities, shoddy repair jobs, problem neighbors, etc.
Ensure that any property you are thinking about buying abides by legal regulations, and that the documents match the layout
One thing that can easily get you into trouble when buying a property, is if the property isn’t legally fully “above board.”
Often, it will be difficult to tell at a glance that something is awry. But, if you look at the documentation for the property including the schematic and floor plan, you can learn a lot.
Have there been extensions built on the property which aren’t marked on the relevant documents? If so, what’s the explanation for that? Is the paperwork out of date? Is the correct paperwork missing? Has an extension been built on the property illegally and not declared? If the extension is supposedly legal, where is the proof, in writing?
People often “bend the rules” with properties, and hope to pass them on before anything comes to a head. But even if it’s a “normal thing” for the rules to be bent in the area, that can be a real problem for you. Anything that isn’t perfectly above board in the clearest terms makes you potentially liable.
Out of all the things that can cause you an immense headache, legal property issues are among the most serious. You certainly don’t want to go straight from feeling awesome about your new acquisition, to having to attend court the very next day.
It should go without saying that your lawyer should review any and all property documents. Ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting into upfront.
Properties that have been built in contravention of regulations, or where rules have been bent, risk totally ruining you. This is true with regards to your money and your time, but it goes beyond that. Your reputation is on the line, and so is the potential health and safety of future tenants.
Set careful standards for prospective tenants, before renting a property
Many new landlords begin their careers full of enthusiasm and optimism – only to then land a bad tenant.
In most places in the developed world, laws protecting tenants are stringent. This is a good thing since no one wants to return to a time of Dickensian landlords. But these protections unfortunately can be – and often are – abused by bad tenants.
It is hardly uncommon for landlords to encounter tenants who disrespect the property or outright stop paying the rent with no warning. While there is no perfect formula for completely mitigating the risks, there are certain pre-emptive steps to take.
First and foremost, don’t be careless when beginning to rent out your property. At the start of the process, you have all the power when it comes to choosing a tenant. But once the tenant is on your property, getting them evicted can be a real problem.
What you have to do is to set careful standards and criteria for your prospective tenants. People who come with good references, who have families and stable employment, are typically golden. This is because they come pre-approved, and have “skin in the game.” It is likely to be against their own interests to be bad tenants.
Wherever possible, make a point of meeting your prospective tenants before renting to them. This should, of course, be done in addition to seeing their references, proof of identity, and so on.
If you rent out a large number of properties, are overseas, or are otherwise unavailable, get someone to meet the tenant on your behalf. Someone you can trust, and who ideally has experience in property management.
Perhaps the main reason why many landlords choose to work through letting agencies, is precise because of problem tenants. When working with an agency, it is the job of the agency to chase up tenants and handle these sorts of issues.
Of course, working with an agency involves other fees and complexities as well.
Keep the curb appeal of your property up consistently
Virtually nothing is likely to tank the resale value of your home quite like letting the curb appeal down.
Even if the interior of your property is absolutely immaculately maintained, external appearance matters.
Ensure that street-facing elements of your home, in particular, are Immaculate. Particularly if you are planning to sell or let the property, get the place freshly painted, and fix any cosmetic issues.
While the property is certainly more than its facade, the facade largely drives the market and consumer decisions.
In this regard, it may also be important to keep your property looking “fashionable.” Certain looks and features are timeless, but if the property seems dated to the 1970s, it may not be an easy sell in the 2020’s.