At one point or another, many rental-property owners find themselves wondering, “How many properties can one person manage?” While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, we have some great food for thought as you consider where your landlord journey is headed—and your best options for today and the future.
People end up owning rental properties for a wide variety of reasons. Some of us land here on purpose, others unintentionally. Perhaps you’ve chosen to invest in a rental as a side gig or additional income stream; or perhaps that rental chose you when you couldn’t sell your home.
Whatever your starting point—and regardless of whether you already own property or are considering rentals as an option—it’s key to understand how many properties an individual can successfully handle.
To some extent, the answer varies from person to person. But even for the most organized and energetic among us, the workload of managing even one property can creep up quickly.
The Ebb and Flow of Property Management
One home or a couple of units won’t steadily create mountains of work; the needs will ebb and flow. But that inconsistency is actually a huge challenge for most landlords. You need to service your properties well, but needs flow in sporadically—and often pile up quickly.
Moreover, as a portfolio grows over time, every person will inevitably reach a point when he or she simply can’t handle all management responsibilities alone. Soon, stress mounts as important tasks get neglected, like
- Marketing the property
- Leasing the home
- Ongoing rent collection
- Repairs and maintenance
- Tenant correspondence
New landlords soon realize how much there is to learn—and how much time seemingly simple tasks can take. They find themselves consulting other landlords, online forums, and Google in search of important advice for landlords, such as
- What it takes to turnover a unit and make it ready for the next tenant
- How to adequately screen potential tenants
- What local laws and fees affect their rental properties
- How to ensure they have solid contract documents for proper legal protection
- And so much more…
Real Numbers: How Many Properties Can One Person Manage?
Let’s get into some real numbers:
Our owner launched his real-estate investment business one property at a time, and soon, he personally experienced the growing pains of owning and managing rentals. Having increased his portfolio to 24 single-family homes, perfecting his management processes as he went, he added an apartment building that doubled his number of total properties overnight.
That was the moment he had to make a change; he could no longer handle it all solo. So he could either hire a property-management company, or he could build his own from the ground up, using everything he knew as an investor to create a property-management service for investors.
His experience is a good starting point for understanding how many properties one person can realistically handle without help.
Dedicated property owners may be able to manage up to 35 or 40 units by themselves, but after this, the workload of overseeing so many properties quickly becomes unsustainable. There simply isn’t enough time in the day for one person to handle all the needs.
Furthermore, many rental owners have no desire to build a property-management company from scratch; they want to invest in rental property while continuing to pursue an unrelated career or other business endeavors. The needs of property management can quickly get in the way of those efforts.
In addition, waiting too long to get realistic about how many properties you can mange can actually put a ceiling on the growth of your investment business. You stop expanding, and in some cases, you can backslide because of overwork and poor management.
The solution? Get streamlined sooner. By partnering with a professional property manager before hitting maximum capacity—before you’ve created bigger problems that require more resources to fix—you can save precious time and money. And open up new opportunities for growth, sooner.
Why Go Professional Sooner?
In recent years, we’ve seen more investors launch their real-estate journey with our property-management services locked in from day one. And we’ve learned a lot from witnessing their streamlined success. Our conclusion? The sooner you move to professional property management, the better for your business. Here’s why:
1.Quicker Business Growth
As a property owner and investor, managing the units is just one aspect of running the business. But when you’re in charge of property management, you have little time to attend to those other business concerns.
By building a property-management service into the investment out of the gate, the landlord is freed up to attend to other business efforts that can support profit and growth, such as
- Locating available investment properties
- Finding new investment funds
- Strategically building an investment portfolio
- Forging strategic partnerships and relationships
2. Avoid Expensive and Time-Consuming Mistakes
There’s no doubt that approaching property management in a professional manner saves money and time. Even if an owner is managing just 5 units, the sad truth is, his or her “management” usually leaves a lot to be desired—for the owner and tenants alike.
Examples of costly property-management mistakes:
- Missing items on the turnover checklist. The turnover of just 1 unit involves 20 or more steps that must all be completed, often in a specific order. When a landlord is personally overseeing multiple units, managing the status of all these tasks can quickly get out of control. And forgetting even one item—say, scheduling the locksmith to re-key doors—can lead to big hassle, lost time, unnecessary costs, and even unintended liability.
- Having paperwork that’s not vetted. Sloppy paperwork can cost the owner. Take the rental application as an example: collecting too little, or incorrect information from prospective tenants puts you at risk of allowing an unqualified person in your property. At the same time, an application that is too long can overwhelm a prospective tenant and deter applicants. The key is to find the right balance, and systemize your paperwork processes.
- Insufficient screening process. Screening prospective tenants for red flags is another critical piece of the process—and one that takes experience. Owners who don’t have an established screening process may not pick up on important nuances. Do you have a process for authenticating pay stubs? Verifying employment? Confirming the validity of previous leasing information?
3. Better Quality of Life
At first, a new landlord might brush off the time spent managing units. What’s a few phone calls outside of work hours or an occasional showing with prospective tenants?
But small needs quickly add up to big time sucks. When you add irregular and inconvenient issues to the mix, quality-of-life begins to be effected quickly.
Nobody enjoys the 11 pm phone call about a broken water heater. And it’s stressful when the landlord is the only point of contact for tenants. It means that in a very real sense, you never get down time; you’re always at the mercy of your tenants’ needs.
You can’t place a value on the toll this can take on your personal life.
As your portfolio of rental properties grows, the work of managing those properties can quickly escalate from manageable to chaotic. Too many landlords learn the procedural nuances of managing properties the hard way. The downside of this approach is at best inconvenience, and at worst cost and liability.
The great news? Every owner has the option of benefiting from the proven systems and processes of a property-management company. The sooner you go this route, the sooner you can benefit from the advantages of quicker business growth, eliminating costly mistakes, and enjoying a better quality of life.
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