Perhaps the hardest part of owning a rental property is keeping up with repairs, maintenance and general upkeep. There are plenty of hands-on, do-it-yourself real estate investors who love to strap on a tool belt and take care of repairs on their own. But, more likely, you’ll want to find a dependable contractor you can call whenever you have maintenance needs at your property.
But how do you find a the perfect contractor to take care of your rental home? Unfortunately, too many contractors are slow to respond, late to arrive and expensive to pay.
You’ll want to find a contractor that you can trust — one that delivers value to your rental property business. Here are 7 ideas to consider as you search for the right contractor to help at your property.
- Start Looking Early
Don’t wait to look for a contractor until your property needs repairs or maintenance. When you wait until an urgent moment, you don’t have the time and space needed to conduct a thorough search and effectively consider your options before making a hire.
The time to find a dependable contractor is when you purchase your rental property. By establishing a relationship early on, you’ll know exactly who to call when you get a late-night phone call about a plumbing leak or a busted air conditioning unit.
- Ask Around
Referrals are the best way to find a dependable contractor. Ask others who own rental properties who they use for maintenance and repairs, and ask if they would recommend that contractor to someone else.
Any contractor can talk a big game about how inexpensive and prompt and effective they are on jobs of all kinds. But only someone who’s worked with that contractor can tell you whether or not those claims are actually true.
It’s a good idea to have a network of other real estate investors with whom you can bounce ideas off of and have conversations about the ins and outs of owning a rental property. Develop that network if you don’t have one yet, and ask people in your network for contractor recommendations.
- Place an Advertisement
It never hurts to place an advertisement for a contractor. You can post an ad on Craig’s List for free, and, you never know, you might find an eager and up-and-coming contractor who is looking for the right opportunity.
Of course, don’t just hire the first person to respond to your advertisement. You’ll want to conduct a significant amount of research and due diligence to get an idea of how well they work with property owners. (More on this below.)
- Do Your Due Diligence
When you find a promising contractor, ask him or her for references. These references can be clients they have served or even partners they’ve worked with on projects. In short, you want to find people who can speak honestly about what it’s like to work with that specific contractor.
In an ideal world, you would find another owner of a single-family rental property who has worked with the contractor before. Finding someone in the same situation will give you an even greater sense of what it will be like to work with that contractor.
- Pay Attention to Timeliness and Communication
Every message, every conversation and every interaction you have with a contractor should be part of the interview. Pay close attention to how timely and prompt a prospective contractor is, and pay even closer attention to how well the contractor communicates.
Timeliness and communication are the most important factors in finding the right contractor — even more so than price. So monitor whether or not prospective contractors call when they say they’re going to call, whether or not they show up at appointed times, and whether or not they can communicate effectively with you.
- Make Contractors Compete
There’s nothing wrong with identifying a small group of qualified contractors and asking them to compete for your business. You’ll want to find the best deal, of course, as what you pay a contractor will cut into your cash flow.
Also, consider test assignments for several contractors as you seek the perfect option. For example, ask one contractor to fix a fence, another contractor to paint your home’s interior, and another contractor to replace an appliance. By making these test assignments, you’ll be able to get an ever better sense of how timely, communicative and effective each of your contractor options is.
- Set Clear Expectations
This is so important: Make sure that expectations are made clear from the very beginning. Set expectations around communication, pricing, quality, vendors and other key aspects of the relationship.
If you decide to wing it and not make expectations clear from the outset, you can’t get upset when a contractor fails to meet those unspoken expectations. So get them out in the open right from the beginning.
Take Advantage of HUNTAHOME’s Preferred Contracting Company
At HUNTAHOME, we provide effective DFW property management that helps you maximize your investment in a rental property. We also use a sister company to service all rental homes in our portfolio — MakeReadyResidential.com.
When you choose HUNTAHOME for property management in Dallas or Fort Worth, you also gain access to MakeReadyResidential.com and its ability to respond quickly to repair and maintenance requests, as well as to handle home turnovers after residents move out.
Contact us today to learn more about our services as the leading provider of property management in Fort Worth and Dallas.