Being a landlord can be a great way to earn a living, or even just a solid way to invest for the future. However, not everyone is suited to it. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate whether or not this type of business or investment is right for you before you dive in. After all, while getting started as a landlord isn’t difficult, it is something that should be looked upon as a long-term investment rather than a way to make a fast buck or two.
First things first
Before we dig deeper into the personal traits and skills that make a great landlord, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions, namely:
- How do you intend to market and manage your property? Do you intend to handle the day-to-day management of the business side of things or are you willing to bring in experts who will help smooth the way to building a successful property portfolio?
- How do you intend to handle the practical side of the business? Are you already a keen DIYer who is capable of handling urgent requests from tenants or will you need outside help from tradesmen in order to keep your property properly maintained.
- What are your motivations behind wanting to become a landlord? Are you excited by the prospect of running your own property portfolio and turning it into a successful business? Or are you solely driven by the media reports of the money being made by other landlords up and down the country?
- Are you willing to put in the hours? Even if you employ others to take care of much of the day-to-day running of your portfolio, there will still be a need for you to give up some of your time in order to research current trends and future properties. Is this something you’re prepared to do?
Digging a little deeper
If you’re still reading, there’s a good chance you’re confident that this type of property investment is right for you. However, it doesn’t hurt to be certain, so let’s explore some qualities which we think helps turn ordinary landlords into super-successful ones.
How organised are you?
Great landlords know how to organise and prioritise all of the many jobs and issues that arise before, during and after a tenancy. If you intend to be hands-on in your management, you need to be confident of your prioritisation skills - especially if you are holding down a full-time job as well.
You will often find that problems and tasks come in peaks and troughs, so it’s important to be able to evaluate what needs addressing immediately and what can be put off for a while. An emergency doesn’t know you’re already busy, so it’s vital to able to handle changes to your schedule and be flexible as and when you are required to be.
Have you run a business before?
While this is far from necessary, it can be a huge help. Knowing how businesses work will give you a head start when it comes to the day-to-day running of a successful property portfolio. If you’ve been in business before, it’s likely that you’ll know at least a little about how to manage both your own time and other people.
If you are going to be employing others to help with tasks such as bookkeeping or maintenance problems, such skills can prove to be invaluable to your business. Handling others and keeping tabs on who’s doing what is imperative if you are going to keep business in good shape.
Do you enjoy dealing with people?
Some landlords get away with minimal contact with anyone, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be in the same position. In fact, it can be argued that being a landlord is most definitely a ‘people’ business, so you should be comfortable dealing with others if you want to handle a property portfolio.
As a landlord, you will need to build relationships; not only with the tenants who occupy your properties, but also with those who’ll help you with the tasks you don’t want to do. People are more likely to go the extra mile for someone they like, so dealing with others is an important element to running a buy-to-let business.
How do you handle pressure?
Are you a calm person or do you feel the heat when things are not going your way? Being a landlord can often throw up some unwanted surprises that require a cool head in order to get them sorted out quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, there will be times when your cool is tested.
Will you be able to handle problems with a smile? Or are you more likely to get angry at the slightest thing? Knowing yourself and being honest with how you think you’ll react can save you a lot of grief further down the line.
Are you a good communicator?
Communication is an essential skill to have if you’re going to make it as a landlord. Dealing with emails and phone calls is a regular part of a landlords’ day – so, how do you stack up? The fact of the matter is that most people think they are brilliant in this department, but the truth is that very few are.
Ask those who are close to you to give you an honest appraisal of your communication skills. Work colleagues can be a great place to start, but it’s important to ask those who you can trust to give you an honest answer and not just what they think you want to hear.
The good thing about the art of communication is that it can be learnt. So, if you get a thumbs down from those you ask, don’t be disheartened. Just buy some self-improvement books in this area and start working on your flaws.
Are you good with money?
While it could be argued that if you were good with money you’d already be on a beach somewhere posting pictures of your feet to Facebook, it’s still important to know whether or not you’re in good shape financially before trying to become a landlord. Plenty of people have attempted it whilst fiscally challenged…and many have failed.
Have you got a rainy day fund in place? Is your credit rating in good shape? Can you meet mortgage repayments if the property remains empty for longer than anticipated? Are you in a position to employ tradesmen at the drop of a hat if need be? All of these question (and possibly more) should be looked at honestly before you take on a new property.
This may seem like a daunting list of things to consider, but it is important that you go into a big investment (both of time and money) with your eyes wide open. It’s also worth reiterating that you don’t necessarily need to tick all of the boxes in order to become a success.
Many tasks can be outsourced, and some would argue that they should be – even if you can perform them yourself. Sure, they’ll cost you money, but it’s important to remember that doing them yourself will cost you time. Would that time be better spent elsewhere? For example, could you more effectively use that time to research and start the process of buying another property to add to your business?
It’s a calculation that few remember to make, but it’s one that can bring surprising rewards to those that do.
How we can help
Petty Son and Prestwich have extensive knowledge of the buy-to-let market in and around East London and West Essex. We have been operating in the area for well over 100 years, so we know exactly what it takes to be successful in the property markets of Wanstead, Buckhurst Hill and beyond.
Our lettings team can also help you with the day-to-day running of your portfolio, too. Regardless of the level of service you require, we have packages to suit your needs. So, if you’re ready to become a landlord or even if you want to broaden your existing property portfolio, get in touch with our experts today to discuss your next move.