Rental properties can provide a great source of steady, passive income for Chicago investors. However, before you invest, you’ll have to decide whether to self-manage your Chicago rental property or work with a property management company. This article looks at some of the things you might consider.
How Much Time Can I Devote to My Chicago Rental Property?
It’s easy to speak of rental properties as producing a form of “passive” income, but that can be misleading. Every property owner will have to devote a certain percentage of their time to the property itself or its tenants.
This service means performing such tasks as:
- Routine building maintenance
- Tenant communication (questions, concerns, complaints, etc)
- Managing utilities
- Emergency repairs
- Marketing vacancies & leasing
- Screening tenant applicants
- Managing rent payments/accounting
- Evictions/legal issues
These responsibilities might not be enough to force you to quit your day job, but you should be absolutely certain your schedule allows you to handle these responsibilities.
What Is My Marketing Strategy?
Obtaining tenants is one of the most basic requirements of managing your own property. But Chicago is a big city whose residents already have many options for rental properties in the city and its suburbs. How will you make your rental units stand out from area competitors?
This likely means you’ll have to devote time to taking pictures, providing detailed descriptions, leveraging social media channels to advertise your property, or even managing your own website.
Not only does this take time, but it also requires a specific skill set. How familiar are you with these digital tools? Do you feel comfortable managing your rental property as well as the marketing materials you need to keep it filled? Managing your own rental properties demands a clear marketing strategy, one you will also need to run yourself.
What Lifestyle Factors Are Common in My Area?
How familiar are you with Chicago’s current demographics and trends? You’ll need to have some familiarity with your target market and how that relates to the type of property you’re renting.
For instance, younger millennials and Generation Z may be more apt to rent apartment units, but young families might be drawn to single-family homes. Understanding the trends in your immediate area will help you better market your unit, as well as cater to the needs of your specific market.
How Will I Screen Tenants?
Most real estate investors can get by with a standard boilerplate apartment rental application. But once applications start coming in, what’s your screening strategy? As a property manager, you’ll have to conduct your tenant interviews yourself, asking questions such as:
- Do you smoke?
- Do you intend to have relatives or guests staying with you?
- Do you have any pets?
- What’s your monthly income?
- Do you have any outstanding debts?
- Can we contact your previous landlord(s)?
This micromanagement also means you’ll have to do your due diligence in contacting references, employers, previous landlords, etc. Operating in this manner might seem time-consuming, but it will save you a hassle down the line if you make the mistake of renting to the wrong tenants.
How Will I Perform Maintenance?
Maintenance will be a major concern for every property owner. While some issues can be resolved yourself, you’ll likely need to have access to professional assistance when it comes to things like HVAC, plumbing, or electrical issues
This aspect of property management isn’t just a matter of logistics. Maintenance should be a part of your budget, especially if your rental property is older or not in the best overall condition.
Would I Be Better Off With a Property Management Company in Chicago?
Sure, you could manage your Chicago rental property on your own. But the factors explained above can cost you precious time and energy. That’s why many real estate investors turn to a property management company to help them with some of these essential tasks.
The money you invest in a property management company will prove well worth it since the time you save will allow you to focus on your investment and truly reap the benefits of your rental unit.
If you’d like to see our picks for some of the best property management companies in Chicago, check out our article here: Chicago’s Best Property Management Companies. If you’re looking for the best property management companies outside of Chicago, please take a look at our map of property management companies we recommend around the country: Property Managers We Recommend.
For more information on how a property management company can help you, contact the team at Landmark Property Management. You can contact us at Landmark Property Management via phone at 312-313-8553 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I hope we provided you with some valuable nuggets and I appreciate you stopping by!