For my first – I was scared. In response to this fear, I went to my local bookstore and bought several books on managing apartment buildings. During the two months before the closing, I read all of them. I developed forms and leases, had rental ads ready to go in the event of vacancies, and even spent my weekends looking at available rentals in the neighborhood, so I could price my units correctly.
My first official act as a real estate manager occurred the evening I closed on the apartment building when I had to shovel four inches of snow off the building’s sidewalk. I also slipped a note under each tenant's door introducing myself and providing my phone number in the event of maintenance needs.
Later in the week, I began calling tenants to set up meetings in order to get better acquainted. I was into the heart of management. The meetings with tenants went better than expected. For the most part, they were nice, reasonable human beings. Still, meeting with them wasn’t easy for me.
For one thing, asking if everything was O.K. in their apartments generated a lot of work orders. I also had to inform the tenants that I planned to upgrade the building, and their rents would be upgraded as well.
Surprisingly, the tenants were excited about everything. To my shock, they all stayed on and agreed to the rent increase. One gentleman made the error of telling me his checkbook was open after I described the changes. His rent magically went up an extra $10 a month. I made the promised improvements and increased the rents.
My real estate management career had begun.
Residential management takes time – lots of it. Showing rental units means devoting weekend and evening hours to meeting with prospective renters and selling them on living in your building. Many prospects never bother to show up. Then come the repairs that need to be done.
Standard maintenance, like cutting bushes and grass, or cleaning, is necessary. Rents must be collected and deposited. Bills have to be paid. It takes time, and the job never ends. Worse yet, a small number of tenants are very adversarial in nature. Their life's purpose seems to be making the landlord miserable.
I want to tell you how important management is and that it is indeed a survivable occupation.