Buying a home is a right of passage; always an expensive passage but hopefully a very exciting one! It’s a huge step of responsibility that for those in the military comes with a level of risk not common for our civilian counterparts. Frequent and sometimes unexpected orders to PCS can put military families in a position where selling on short notice is simply not feasible. In order to spare inordinate financial hardships, trading the title of homeowner for landlord becomes an appealing option.
Before you take the plunge and throw the “For Rent” sign in the front yard be sure you’ve researched the ins and outs of what being a landlord really means. The potential to supplement your income (or just to cover your mortgage) is wonderful, but if you don’t follow some simple steps when getting started, the process can quickly turn into a very expensive nightmare.
Decide if you want to use a property manager or run the rental yourself.
- Pros – A property manager should handle many of the details below. No midnight calls from the tenant!
- Do your research. Not all property managers are created equal. Ask for references.
- Read the contract entirely. Be sure you understand their responsibilities.
- Make sure they will not give the security deposit back to the tenant without an official walk-through and report damages, if any, to you.
- Cons – The property management fees, and they can be quite substantial, are going to cut into potential profit.
- No one is going to treat your home the way you would. This goes for property managers and tenants alike.
- Check those references you asked for! Don’t be afraid to ask for a status report on your home every six months or so especially if you are not living in the same area where your property is located.