I’m a military vet, and self certified expert in long distance real estate investing, including property management.
I had to be. I spent my entire career moving around the world with the military. I did most of my investing from overseas, including buy-and-hold properties and flips.
I’m going to teach you to manage all your properties with at least 75% less work than before.
I’m not exaggerating this number.
The way we traditionally manage our properties is out of the ice age. All these phone calls, trips to the bank, trips to your property, personally showing your listings, post office runs, retrieving cash payments, all unnecessary.
I’m going to show you a better way.
The solution is simple. It’s leverage technology. Make it all smartphone based.
Here’s a summary of how you can do it, then I’ll break down each section in a little more detail…
- Applications and leases all done online. No paper.. No need to ever meet in person (unless you want to).
- Showing Listings does not require your time or presence
- Communications with tenants and contractors by text
- All payments are electronic
Here’s a deeper dive into each part of online real estate management
Listing the Property
I use google voice to get a free number that has texting and voicemails you can change to be specific to the property. This number is now separate from my personal calls and texts, but can be managed from my smartphone or laptop with the google voice app.
Your market may be different, but I do very well listing on only Zillow and Facebook Marketplace.
My answering machine message tells applicants about the property.
I list my criteria of 3 times the rent, no evictions, and good rental history, and tells them I’ll text them with more info.
Anyone that texts or leaves me a message about the property gets an automatic text from me with all the info, a link to the listing with pictures, and instructions on how fill out an online application for free.
You’ll get lots of inquiries from Zillow and Facebook Marketplace. I text back that same prepared text to them. It takes them to my listing link hosted on the Tenantcloud property management website, which is what I use for most property management functions.
You can also use something like Buildium or Cozy for this.
Most people will ignore your texts because they don’t meet your minimum criteria. They likely are getting evicted, or have a poor income or prior rental situation.
Some will try to argue with you.
“Make an exception for me, my two evictions weren’t my fault”, etc.
I don’t waste time on this. If they meet the minimum criteria that I text to them, I ask them to fill out a short free online application.
If they don’t meet it, i ask them to reapply when they do, and I end the conversation..
I have a few cut and paste texts that use over and over. It’s much quicker than taking phone calls. You screen 97% of applicants out in your first text, not wasting time on people who have evictions or don’t have jobs.
I may do a separate video on the specifics of this where I actually show you my script. Comment if you want that.
Showing the Property
Many people will argue with you that they want to see the property before filling out an application. This is usually a waste of time, because many people that inquire don’t meet the minimum qualifications to rent.
I simply text them and say my application is free, I have plenty of applicants, and this is my process. If they fill out the easy free online application, they will be able to do a self-showing at their convenience once they are pre-qualified.
Using the online applications I get, I verify these people have verifiable income that is at least 6 months long, good rental references, and no evictions or felonies.
I verify they are telling the truth on their applications I then allow them to do a self showing.
I put a digital lockbox on the door, and then text them a code.
They can let themselves in, look around, and let themselves out. If they are an hour late or a no-show, it doesn’t waste any of your time.
I know what you are thinking, but this is actually a safe thing to do because I already have a copy of their drivers license, paycheck, checking accounts and lots of other personal info contained in the application.
I’ve also verified income and rental history before this and I’ve asked them to estimate their credit score.
Note: I don’t charge them to run their credit until they have seen and like the property.
I use a digital lock you can find at codeboxinc.com. Here’s a picture of it.
I can give out codes to the door that last for one day, then expire. I can use this for tenants or contractors.
Parties you trust can have a permanent code.
If the applicants like the property, I send them an electronic request to run their credit, check background and evictions. They pay for this.
I also send them an online lease from the Tenantcloud website, and I ask them to pay a holding deposit of one months rent electronically so I stop showing the property to other people.
Pro tip: I don’t stop showing the property until I have a holding deposit, and I’m clear and vocal about this. If someone loves the property, they will give the deposit so they don’t lose it to someone else.
So far, everything you’ve done with your tenant has been texting and online.
They will get used to, and prefer it to how they’ve done things in the past. I let them know if they have a maintenance issues, to text me, and I’ll get it taken care of.
When they text me to say, for example, the AC isn’t working right, I put them in a group text with myself and my AC guy. He will coordinate with the tenant by text and get it taken care of.
I will monitor the group chat until it gets done. I then pay him electronically. I often use Cashapp for this in Alabama.
I can also use a bank billpay option to send electronic checks for free.
If the tenant’s maintenance request seems a little iffy, I request texts pictures or video, and am often able to solve the problem, realize it doesn’t need attention, and maybe save a wasted service call.
Pictures also help contractors bring the right equipment.
I get my contractors and handymen/women used to doing everything by text and taking pictures of the work, both before and after.
In exchange for this, they typically get immediate payment, which they like.
Speaking of Payments…
A huge timesaver for me is taking electronic payments exclusively instead of taking cash, money order, cashiers check, or even normal checks.
I never have anything mailed to me, so no lost in the mail excuse, and I don’t need to go to a tenants house or to the bank.
I don’t have to chase people down to get paid. Worse case scenario, I send a text to remind them.
The Tenantcloud service I use for property management has an online system built in for payments. I
It’s connected to the accounting for the app. Additionally, I use another another payment system that many like.
In my case, Cashapp. Other services are Paypal, Zelle, Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay to name a few.
I’m able to track all income and expenses in the Tenantcloud app, and I keep all receipts in the cloud electronically. I have zero paperwork for my property management business anywhere.
It’s all cloud based.
With 30 doors, my taxes and accounting are pretty damn easy.
I really should buy more properties and self manage, but damn, prices are skyrocketing.
Let’s save that issue for another day
What flaws do you see in my strategy?
Any tips to add?
Rich on Money