5 Lessons Learned from My Years of Self-Managing Single Family Rentals


Embarking on the journey of managing single-family rental properties can be like diving headfirst into a tornado. From dealing with tenants to handling maintenance issues, every day presents a new challenge and a chance to learn and grow.

After four years of navigating this path solo, I’ve gathered a treasure trove of lessons that have helped me survive and thrive in property management. So, get ready for a journey through the five most valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Patience Is Not Just a Virtue—It’s a Superpower

It’s easy to lose your cool when a tenant calls at 3 a.m. complaining about a leaky faucet or when you’re waiting on overdue rent payments. However, through countless trials and tribulations, I’ve come to realize that patience isn’t just a virtue; it’s a superpower in the world of property management. 

Taking a deep breath and approaching each situation with a calm and collected demeanor not only keeps your stress levels in check but also fosters better relationships with tenants and vendors alike. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are well-managed rental properties!

2. Communication: The Glue That Holds Everything Together

If there’s one lesson that’s been repeatedly hammered into my brain, it’s the importance of communication. Whether it’s promptly responding to tenant inquiries or keeping your maintenance team in the loop, clear and effective communication is the glue that holds everything together in the world of property management. 

Establishing open lines of communication with tenants fosters trust and helps nip potential issues in the bud before they escalate into full-blown disasters. So, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, shoot off an email, or even send a carrier pigeon if that’s what it takes to keep the lines of communication flowing.

3. DIY Doesn’t Always Mean “Do It Yourself”

Ah, the allure of the good ol’ DIY approach. While it’s tempting to roll up your sleeves and tackle every maintenance issue yourself, sometimes it pays to leave it to the professionals. Trust me; I’ve learned this lesson the hard way after botching one too many plumbing repairs. 

While DIY projects can save you money in the short term, they often cost more in the long run if not done correctly. So, before you channel your inner Bob the Builder, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk or if it’s better to leave it to the pros.

4. Embrace Technology: Your New Best Friend in Property Management

Gone are the days of managing rental properties with a pen, paper, and a trusty Rolodex. In today’s digital age, strong property management software is your new best friend in the world of self-management. From online rent payment to lease signing, embracing technology can streamline your processes, improve efficiency, and make your life much easier. 

So, don’t be afraid to embrace the wonders of modern technology and let it work its magic in helping you become a property management rock star.

5. Expect the Unexpected (and Always Have a Plan B)

Finally, expect the unexpected. In the world of property management, no two days are ever the same, and Murphy’s Law is always lurking just around the corner. Whether it’s a sudden vacancy, a major maintenance issue, or a global pandemic (yes, that happened), it pays to expect the unexpected and always have a plan B (and C and D) up your sleeve. 

So stay flexible and adaptable, and remember that every curveball life throws your way is just another opportunity to showcase your property management prowess!

Final Thoughts

The journey of self-managing single-family rental properties is undoubtedly a wild and unpredictable adventure. However, by embracing patience, communication, technology, and the inevitability of the unexpected, you can navigate this exhilarating ride with confidence and finesse. 

Save time and money with this refreshing guide to managing your own properties.

In The Self-Managing Landlord, Amelia McGee and Grace Gudenkauf share the secrets of efficient property management, tenant screening and onboarding, and scaling your business—all to help you break free from the 9-to-5 grind and create lasting wealth through real estate.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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